On Glenn Boyce’s first school day as chancellor, he’ll be met with a crowd of students, faculty and Oxford residents outside of his office — and they won’t be there to welcome him to campus.
The group, organized by the Abolish IHL coalition, plans to march to the Lyceum at 12:30 p.m. on Monday in protest of the Institution of Higher Learning’s selection process. They will demand Boyce resign on his first day as chancellor.
Along with demanding Boyce’s immediate resignation, the group demands the immediate resignation of all 12 IHL Board of Trustees members and that the chancellor search process be reopened and selected by a democratically elected committee of university stakeholders.
The coalition was formed following the Oct. 3 news of Glenn Boyce as the university’s 18th chancellor. Since then, they’ve demonstrated twice. Members of the coalition protested the IHL Board of Trustees official announcement of Boyce’s hiring on Oct. 4, causing the press conference to be shuttered and ultimately forcing the IHL to announce Boyce’s hiring via email. The group also silently marched last Tuesday at the Faculty Senate meeting in support of a no-confidence vote in both Boyce and the IHL.
In the 12 days since Boyce was named, Abolish IHL has focused on broadening their coalition to include all stakeholders at the university, including those with varying political ideologies.
“This isn’t an issue that is something that is solely left-leaning or solely right-leaning people would get behind. It’s something that people should be upset about across the board, regardless of their political ideologies,” Olivia Hawkins, a member of Abolish IHL, said. “We’re hoping that we can attract a broad spectrum of people from all political ideologies and backgrounds to this because there’s strength in numbers, and together, it’s easier to get things accomplished like this.”
Abolish IHL’s demands suggest a dramatic overhaul of the way higher education is governed in Mississippi, and they’re unprecedented. However, the group plans to keep pressure on the IHL by connecting with groups at the other seven Mississippi public institutions that are both governed and troubled by the IHL.
“We’re hoping to build coalitions across the state because this isn’t the first infraction the IHL has made against a public university in Mississippi,” Hawkins said.
Matuh Abron, a sociology student and member of Abolish IHL, said that Monday’s protest is different than the past two demonstrations.
“I think this action is more planned than the previous action. This is more proactive,” Abron said. “People are more organized…We know more concretely that Glenn Boyce needs to resign, the IHL needs to be abolished and the search needs to be reopened. We want to clearly dictate these things and get the whole community involved.”
Neither Hawkins nor Abron divulged specifics of future actions, but Abron added that their demonstrations “will get to the point where Glenn Boyce or the IHL and the state legislature have to acknowledge that this is an issue.”
How did the university get to this point?
Boyce, the former IHL commissioner and Holmes Community College president, faces a set of daunting tasks in his first days as chancellor. Primarily, he has to unify a campus fractured over the process in which he was hired. In March, Boyce was paid $87,000 by the UM Foundation to serve as a search consultant in the wake of Jeffrey Vitter’s resignation in January 2019, a search that would ultimately find Boyce, the former consultant, as its candidate.
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Mississippian, Boyce said that in order to unify the campus, he has to be a “great communicator and a great listener.” He didn’t offer concrete steps on how to unify the university, but said being visible on campus and meeting with student leaders is essential to doing so.
“That’s how you get this done. I need them to know who their chancellor is, I need them to know the respect I have for them,” Boyce said.
In addition to serving as an initial search consultant in the chancellor search process, Boyce did not submit a formal application for the position. He did not comment on the search process and directed questions about the process to Ford Dye, IHL Board of Trustees vice president. While Boyce’s hire did not directly follow the 20-step plan laid out in the IHL bylaws, their bylaws allow the IHL to select a candidate through an expedited search process.
In the tele-news conference following Boyce’s hire, Dye told reporters that Boyce received more nominations in the nominating process than any other candidate.
On Tuesday, the ASB Senate will vote on a resolution condemning the IHL Board of Trustees and their process in selecting a new chancellor. The Faculty Senate, which passed a resolution last week demanding an explanation of the process of Boyce’s hiring, gave the Board of Trustees until 5 p.m. on Tuesday to deliver their explanation. The senate could potentially hold an extraordinary meeting on Thursday to discuss more severe legislation if their demands are not met.