When the news broke that the Institutions of Higher Learning had selected Glenn Boyce to become the University of Mississippi’s next chancellor in October 2019, Boyce’s reputation preceded him. After having served as IHL commissioner and then consulting on the IHL’s search for chancellor, he made a name for himself before even setting foot on campus as the 18th chancellor of the University of Mississippi.
Traditionally, a newly-selected chancellor sits down with The Daily Mississippian once he settles on campus, but Boyce and his office declined the DM’s interview requests for over a year and a half — until now.
Here’s what Boyce finally had to say.
Boyce claims he has a strong relationship with the UM community
Regarding the IHL selecting him as chancellor and how the UM community felt about the process, Boyce said since he’s become chancellor, he’s been very open, visible and extended himself by getting to know members of the UM community.
“I’ve been here for a while now. Those (problems) are in the past, so the more time has gone by, the more people I’ve gotten to visit with, to know and just to see the kind of leadership that I’m offering, which is open leadership, communicative leadership,” Boyce said.
Those “problems” included several protests regarding his selection and potential calls of “no confidence” from various councils around campus at the very beginning of his term. Boyce now feels very strongly that he has a good relationship with the UM community.
“My office door is always open. Always. I don’t say that lightly,” Boyce said. “I enjoy visiting with people. I enjoy communicating with people and I enjoy listening to how we can take and further the institution. Input is something that I value, and when you have such great students, great faculty, staff, people have a lot of great ideas around this institution. They need to be heard.”
After miscommunication and community frustration surrounding the Confederate monument relocation and potential headstones being added to the cemetery in July 2020, Boyce began meeting with the nine leaders of the largest Black student organizations on campus monthly.
Nicholas Crasta, the outgoing president of the Black Student Union, has been a part of those meetings, and in November, he spoke with The Daily Mississippian about the progress he and other student leaders had seen with Boyce.
“For Chancellor Boyce, he’s trying his hardest to build a relationship with students as much as possible, knowing that he kind of came in with a lot of distress and a lot of tension from the UM community,” Crasta said. “He’s been trying to do his best and working as much as possible and trying to kind of get down to earth as much as possible.”
He will not give back the IHL consulting salary
Boyce said he never returned the approximate $87,000 he was paid to consult on the IHL’s search for a new chancellor, though he once considered doing so to mend his relationship with the UM community.
“That was money that I earned. It didn’t have anything to do with the search. People got confused about that. I was just hired by IHL in order to assist them with understanding what the university might need,” Boyce said. “I was finished with that task in that position before this search. I didn’t have anything to do with this.”
Boyce went on to claim that his consulting job had nothing to do with the actual selection process of the chancellor.
“(The job) was just to go out and to spend time with alumni and other folks in order to learn what the community was looking for in the next chancellor,” Boyce said. “It was just simply to visit with constituent bases of the university. I included professors, administrators, alumni, students and asked them, ‘Okay, what are you looking for in the next chancellor?’”
Boyce doesn’t anticipate struggles with UM’s new diversity plan
After the release of the Pathways to Equity Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Institutional Strategic Plan in January, Boyce said that he’s very excited about carrying out the plan over the next five years.
“What’s fantastic about it is that it’s an operation across the entire campus. It’s not just a specific plan and devoted to one area to look at, but it’s a plan that’s being implemented campus wide,” Boyce said.
The plan comprises three goals for the university to achieve: advance institutional capacity for equity, cultivate a diverse and equitable community and foster an inclusive campus climate.
Boyce said that while the plan is only in the beginning of its implementation phase, the university is already taking steps in order to increase diversity at the university. Part of the plan includes working with the Associated Student Body Senate.
“We’ve asked ASB Senate to look at our student body — to look at the representations that they have on all these committees,” Boyce said. “Everybody’s looking into it and determining how they need to be moving forward with it, including if any policy changes should be made.”
Boyce said that he does not anticipate any struggles along the way with incorporating diversity on campus.
The Ole Miss name
Ever since the name “Ole Miss” was coined by Elma Meek in 1896, there has been controversy surrounding the name for its antebellum vernacular. Boyce said he is aware that people have conversations about it, but he does not have any plans to change the name.
“We have conversations about it in terms of there’s conversations that people have about (the name) from time to time. Even national articles will put out conversations about (it),” Boyce said. “But Ole Miss is a beloved term. It’s a term that represents a modern day university and who we are today. It’s a term that represents the transition of what we become as a university.”
Boyce said he believes that Rebels is a beloved term as well, and he emphasized that it’s a name that thousands of athletes have certain distinctions under. In 1939, the university’s student-led newspaper “The Mississippian” reported that Meek was inspired “from the language of the Ante-bellum ‘Darkey,’ who knew the wife of his owner by no other title than ‘Ole Miss.’” The headline read, “Ole Miss Takes Its Name From Darky Dialect, Not Abbreviation of State.”
“Thousands of players have performed under and continued to perform under (the name Rebels) today,” Boyce said. “I’m about the present and the future. That’s where I am: the present and the future. I believe deeply that what we represent today, I’ll put up against anyone. We’re an outstanding institution made up of outstanding students, faculty and staff.”
He has a back-to-school plan
The plan for the fall semester is to go back to in-person classes, according to Boyce. He said that while the plan is to have the upcoming year as an in-person, on-campus experience as a move back to normalcy, he thinks Zoom will still play a part in some classes.
“People often ask you, ‘Okay, what is going to be something that is sustainable, that you will use that you learned from COVID?’ I think Zoom is one of those things that will stay with us through meetings, probably save a lot of travel time and different things like that,” Boyce said.
He also thinks Zoom will be used in instructional format for years to come because it offers the opportunity for students to be more flexible with their schedule. Still, he doesn’t believe it will replace face-to-face classes.
How he’s done so far
It’s been over a year and a half since Boyce has been selected as chancellor of the university. He believes that while it’s been a very difficult and challenging year, the university has a lot to be proud of.
“It’s been amazing how the university has been so resilient. If you really start investigating how universities did nationally through this pandemic, I will put the efforts of this university and I’m talking about everybody up against anybody else’s levels,” Boyce said. “We stayed open. We kept moving forward…students did a great job progressing toward their degrees. That was no easy task, obviously, for anyone, and I think we did this incredible job.”
Boyce credits everyone at the university for being so resilient throughout the year, saying that all the students, faculty and staff did an amazing job.
“This would be a time that I think this university should be awful proud of itself,” Boyce said.