Thomas Howard: Ole Miss chancellor search stumbles at end

By THOMAS HOWARD,

The decision to hire Glenn Boyce as Ole Miss Chancelor was wrong.

I don’t know much about the internal workings of R1 institutions like the University of Mississippi, the qualifications of a good chancellor or much about Ole Miss in general. I’ve never actually been to the campus, though I did stop at a gas station near Oxford a few weeks ago to let my dogs water the grass. As a proud MSU alum, I say that’s close enough.

I do not know if Boyce has the skills needed to lead Ole Miss, solve the fundraising and minority recruitment issues and manage the cultural shift that seems to be taking place among students and faculty. I’m not qualified to answer whether he was the right man for the job.

That being said, the decision by the Institutions of Higher Learning board to hire him last week was deeply troubling, highly disturbing and flat out wrong.

For those that haven’t been following along, IHL, the board that governs Mississippi’s 4-year colleges and universities, has been conducting an international search for the next Ole Miss Chancellor for a little over a year. Assisting with the search has been an advisory committee made up of faculty and staff from the university.

Multiple applications were received, and IHL had begun interviewing select applicants when, last week, they suddenly announced Boyce would be the next Chancellor. There are several problems with that.

First, Boyce did not apply for the job. In fact, he was the consultant IHL hired to the tune of $87,000 to help with find applicants.

Second, IHL passed on interviewing other applicants, folks who had gone to the trouble of polishing their resumes, collecting letters of recommendation, etc.

Third, in the 20-step hiring process outlined in IHL policy, the board skipped the last 12 steps, most of which have to do with giving the university a chance to weigh in before a final decision is made.

And lastly, rumors about Boyce being rammed through as the next chancellor had been drifting around, and some Ole Miss alumni, faculty and university leaders had taken it upon themselves to share with IHL how much they did not want Boyce to be chosen.

Will Boyce make a good chancellor? I don’t have a clue. But what I do know is the hiring process used to make him such reeks of shady politics and backroom deals and sends a clear message to all 4-year institutions in our state that IHL is not looking out for their best interests.

I wish Boyce the best of luck in his new position. Judging by the protests and outrage at Ole Miss, he’s going to need it.

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