Jeffrey Vitter, the former chancellor of the University of Mississippi was not hired as the President of the University of South Florida. The college announced their decision Friday after selecting Vitter as a finalist for the job from a pool of 33 applicants.
The University of South Florida Board of Trustees instead voted to name Steve Currall as the university’s president-elect.
Currall is provost and vice president for academic affairs at Southern Methodist University will become USF’s seventh president. pending confirmation by the Florida Board of Governors next week.
During the interview process, Vitter addressed reasons for his sudden departure from Ole Miss. Vitter said he didn’t have enough time to assemble a broad leadership team before taking the job at the university, according to an article published by the Tampa Bay Times.
“I was brought in to be a change agent,” he said. “But, I made the mistake of underestimating, really, the level of entrenchment and lack of common agreement at Ole Miss.”
Vitter also said much of the “human capital” he did have was spent dealing with ongoing tensions at the university over racial issues related to Mississippi’s Civil War history, and an ongoing NCAA investigation.
“That attention really drew away … from academic issues,” Vitter said, adding that despite the multiple controversies, Ole Miss marked its best three years of fundraising during his time as chancellor.
Committee members praised the finalist’s 38 years at institutions in the AAU. Professor Robert Frisina called him an “engaging communicator” while others praised him for visiting USF Tampa’s student center on Tuesday.
USF has an enrollment of approximately 50,000 students, twice the number of students enrolled at Ole Miss.
Vitter served as chancellor of Ole Miss from January 2016 until January 2019. He resigned from his position and became the shortest-tenured chancellor since the university’s first chancellor resigned in 1849, a year after the university’s founding.
Since his resignation, Vitter has continued at the university as a distinguished professor in the computer science department. He has been conducting research for the university and has not taught a class in his half-semester as a faculty member.