Some University of Mississippi faculty members have expressed concern about the university possibly losing accreditation after the controversial hire of Glenn Boyce as the next chancellor.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Principles of Accreditation say that accredited institutions must operate with “integrity.”
It describes integrity further, saying, “the foundation of a relationship in which all parties agree to deal honestly and openly with their constituencies and one another.”
Jessie Wilkerson, assistant professor of southern studies and one of the protest members whose protest caused the announcement of Boyce as chancellor to be called off, said that the IHL did not handle the chancellor search with transparency.
“They don’t have our best interest at heart,” Wilkerson said. “They don’t have the interest of students, campus workers (or) staff in mind. I don’t actually know what they have in mind. It’s hard to know because they aren’t transparent about anything.”
Oxford resident and business owner Campbell McCool went before the IHL board at a listening session in September and warned the board against hiring “a former consultant to the board.”
“There is a very disturbing rumor floating around in the business community … I’ve heard it from so many people and it’s so specific in it’s verbiage each time that this group is going to review all the applicants and nobody is quite going to come up to par and that the job’s going to be offered to a former consultant to this board who was not an applicant,” McCool said. “… all I’m asking is that this please be a fair and legitimate process.”
Boyce was hired after a ten-month chancellor search that was narrowed down to eight candidates for interviews. The institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees interviews five of the eight candidates, then one member of the board moved to nominated Boyce.
Boyce arrived shortly after, interviewed with the board and was given the job. This move came after Boyce was previously hired as a consultant to interview community members and help build a profile of what the next chancellor should look like.
Section 4 of the Principles of Accreditation says that accredited institutions should have a governing board that oversees the institution and ensures viable leadership “integral to strong governance in the absence of undue influence from external forces.”
The principles also say that the governing board must include at least five members, exercise fiduciary oversight over the institution, ensure that both presiding officer and majority voting members do not have contractual, employment, personal, or familial financial interest in the institution and is not presided over by chief executive officer of the institution.
This is not the first time that the decision to hire a chancellor created concerns about accreditation.
The University of Mississippi lost its accreditation for around ten years after former Gov. Theodore Bilbo fired Chancellor Alfred Hume and replaced him with former Chancellor J.N. Powers in 1930, according to “100 Years of Mississippian Memories,” a history of The Daily Mississippian from 1911-2011.
When Gov. Paul B. Johnson tried to fire several key faculty members in 1940, then-editor-in-chief of the DM Wasler Prospere published an editorial saying that the university’s enrollment had dropped drastically after Hume was fired and accreditation was lost.
The editors of the Greenwood Commonwealth said in a 1939 Clarion Ledger editorial, that Hume’s removal would “remain everlastingly in the minds of those who place the welfare of their state above personal political prejudices.”
Powers, it will be remembered was Chancellor of the university from 1914 to 1924 and it was Powers who brought the University of Mississippi to the lowest ebb of its eighty years of existence,” the editorial read. “But political debts must be paid even if the interests of the state are sacrificed!”