As I read the Chancellor’s email Friday afternoon, my heart sunk and my stomach churned.
And as difficult as it was to try and simply comprehend IHL’s decision (worthy of a complete article itself), the timing of the decision was even more difficult to understand. Although, on the other hand, the timing spoke volumes.
No, it wasn’t just that the news was released on a Friday afternoon, a time when negative press is often released in an attempt to bury it over a weekend. More disconcerting, simply on a human level (not even as an alumni and staff member), was that the decision had been made during Chancellor Jones first week back to work from a lengthy battle with cancer.
I was speechless. Stunned. Shocked.
Delivering such a strong and impactful decision mere days after a man had returned to work from months of intensive cancer treatment?
I thought, “who does that?”
Well, the answer was simple: no one.
The timing of the decision may not have been (and surely wasn’t) intentional, but it sure should have been (not that I agree). Such a decision should have “intentionally” been made at a later date and time.
You can’t tell me not a single board member knew that the chancellor had just gotten back to work last week. No way.
And with that institutional knowledge, the human, compassionate, empathetic and respectful thing to do would have been to “intentionally” wait until a later time to deliver such news.
The chancellor is a strong man inside and out and certainly wouldn’t want to be pitied, but such a successful leader of a thriving flagship institution should have received better.
We would have expected better for members of our own families, and we (I) would have expected the same for the leader of our “Ole Miss Family.”
The old adage “actions speak louder than words,” could never be more true.
Regardless of what comes of this situation, Chancellor Jones, you’ll forever have the unwavering love and support of the Ole Miss Family.
I am a 38-year-old returning senior that first came to Ole Miss in 1995 for my freshman year. That was during Chancellor Khayat’s first attempt to remove the stigma that this school suffered. It was a completely different place then. There wasn’t much inclusion, and it felt like the way Ole Miss has been perceived on the national level. Khayat started improving that by banning the confederate battle flag at football games. The truth is, something had to be done if we were going to change the way the country looked at us. And it worked. Chancellor Jones continued and intensified that changing of perception. I don’t have to mention his accomplishments; we are here and live them. If the elected leaders of this state want to rewind the clock of progression by firing a man that has done nothing but vastly improve this school and the educational standard of this state as a whole, they are going to see a mass exodus of the intelligent and educated minds of the state. By firing this man, they have just proven that success does not matter if you go against the grain. Shame on you, IHL. Shame. You have insulted the intelligence of the people of Mississippi. Congratulations. Your attempt to rewind the clock of progression has won a battle. You will not win the war.
I am very disappointed to see the IHL decide to not renew Chancellor Jones’ contract, especially at a time when it seems that Ole Miss is growing and improving in almost every way possible. If there is a legitimate reason for his termination, I am willing to hear and accept it, but as of right now it appears to be nothing more than petty politics. This is a bad day for Ole Miss and a bad day for the state of Mississippi.