The Ole Miss Office of Admissions weighed in on Twitter after tweets surfaced showing that Chancellor Glenn Boyce visited several private schools in the Jackson area, but did not visit any of the predominantly black public schools there.
Boyce has visited several high schools since his appointment in September. His expedited appointment as chancellor drew protests after the IHL board cut the search process short.
Social media posts from Jackson Academy, Jackson Preparatory School and Madison-Ridgeland Academy show Boyce speaking with students on the respective campuses. The Office of Admissions confirmed on Twitter that Boyce also visited Germantown, Clinton, Madison Central, Northwest Rankin and Ridgeland high schools in the Jackson metro area and St. Joseph Catholic School and St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Madison.
Three of the seven high schools in the Jackson Public School District — Forest Hill, Jim Hill and Wingfield — said that the university has not made contact with them to set up a visit from Boyce. Murrah, Callaway and Provine could not be reached for comment, and Lanier High School did not confirm if the university had contacted them.
A communications spokesperson for JPS said he could not confirm whether or not the school district had been contacted by the university to plan future visits from Boyce.
A university spokesperson said that the Office of Admissions scheduled all of the chancellor’s high school visits months before he was selected for the position and that he is continuing to add more high school visits to his schedule. They did not answer whether or not Boyce would plan to visit JPS schools in the future.
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said that he was unaware of what circumstances may have lead Boyce to visit or not visit JPS schools but that it was a missed opportunity for the university.
“I see this as a lost opportunity for Ole Miss more than anyone else because the JPS students have a variety of gifts and abilities that would be an asset to not only Ole Miss but any institution around the country,” Lumumba said. “(JPS) students have demonstrated over time an ability to succeed in any arena around this globe. As a proud Jackson Public Schools graduate and proud JPS parent, I think that the alumni base of Ole Miss needs to ask the question (of) why this opportunity was missed.”
Jody Lowe, interim director of admissions, said that the admissions office had been directed to send all questions regarding Boyce visiting high schools and the recruitment of in-state students to UM Communications.
Recruiting in-state students has been a constant topic of discussion among university community members. At an Institutions of Higher Learning listening session in June, Provost Noel Wilkin said that the university had a plan to increase the recruitment of in-state students.
A university spokesperson said that the admissions office is hiring additional recruiters, planning visits with high schools, adjusting scholarship offers to Mississippi students and engaging with alumni to identify prospective students.
Tre Powell, after graduating from Forest Hill High School a year early with a 3.87 GPA, came to Ole Miss with the Ole Miss Opportunity (OMO) scholarship.
OMO provides tuition for fall and spring semesters, an unlimited meal plan and housing in a university residence hall. Powell found out about the OMO program after talking with former Jackson area admissions counselor Trey Carroll.
“He came to my school to talk to the graduating seniors to try and convince them to come, but only me and another close friend who graduated early talked to him personally about it,” Powell said. “He felt the need to help us personally, and he did that.”
When Powell decided to attend the university in 2017, his decision was met with harsh criticism by his peers and those in his community.
“Everybody was really shocked,” he said. “They didn’t know why I picked Ole Miss. I didn’t know why I picked Ole Miss … They were just looking at me like they were really just judging me.”
Powell, who is biracial, said that most of the criticism he received about attending the university was because of its history with racial segregation, but he has found that after being a student for the past three years, most of the criticism was overemphasized.
“They would tell me, ‘Why are you going to that racist school?’ and people in my high school would joke about it and be like, ‘You’re going to get lynched,’ and nobody took it seriously,” Powell said. “I’ve pretty much never come across any racists vibes (here). I have (before), but not as often as I thought it would.”
Powell said that recruiting representatives from the university did not visit Forest Hill often and that most universities visited the school sparingly. The only other schools he remembered coming to recruit were the University of Southern Mississippi, Hinds Community College and Jackson State University.
“(Ole Miss) didn’t come as often,” Powell said. “It would be a bunch of other colleges. (Ole Miss) came once, but then (Trey) came a bunch after that to help me.”
Former Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter also made a recruiting trip to Jackson during Powell’s senior year of high school but did not visit Forest Hill. Powell said it would have meant a lot to him if the chancellor had visited his high school.
“I feel like it would have made a big difference because the chancellor is the big dog around campus,” Powell said. “If he personally made an appearance, I would feel like he wanted us to come personally because he took out his time and came to talk to us,” Powell said.
Will Fletcher and Steven Wyatt, who graduated from Jackson Preparatory School in 2017, decided to come to Ole Miss toward the end of their senior year of high school. Fletcher and Wyatt originally planned on going to college out-of-state, but neither could justify paying higher tuition fees.
“I didn’t really want to come here, honestly,” Fletcher said. “I wanted to go to (the University of Alabama) because I wanted to go out of state and experience something new. Just for money reasons, I didn’t go because there was no reason to spend as much money as I was about to … overall I’m paying way less here than I was for high school.”
Fletcher said that around one-third of his graduating class of 170 at Jackson Prep came to Ole Miss for college.
“I was kind of scared that it was going to be ‘High School 2.0,’ but it hasn’t been,” Fletcher said. “I like meeting people and nothing against the people at Prep, I loved high school, but I just knew I needed to branch out.”
Fletcher said that he was in touch with local university recruiters in Jackson who visited Jackson Prep around once a month.
“It got to the point where people would come to Prep just to help people out with applications,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher and Wyatt said that the chancellor coming to visit their high school would not have had any effect on where they decided to go to college.
“It would have been cool, I guess, but I’ve never felt connected to the chancellor now,” Wyatt said. “I felt like he was hiding for a little while … I know he did (The Longest Table) but besides that, I’ve never seen him.”