Board taps search firm for university posts

JACKSON – The 12-member state College Board, facing the daunting task of filling three university presidential vacancies, will start the Jackson State search immediately, Commissioner of Higher Education Hank Bounds said Monday.
The College Board on Monday selected Arlington, Va.-based Ayers amp& Associates to conduct the searches for Alcorn State and JSU, both historically black universities.
Atlanta-based Parker Executive Search was chosen for the Mississippi University for Women search.
Asked why the board would start first with JSU, Bounds said, “There are opportunities for real significant challenges for all of them. No university is more important that the other in how we do the search.”
But with Jackson State, he said, “you are talking about a large, comprehensive research university.”
Because of that, Bounds said, a larger community needs to be involved in a potentially longer search process.
The next step in process at the three schools is for Bounds, with help from the College Board, to select campus search committees to assist in finding new presidents. After the JSU search begins, the other two will follow in two- to four-week intervals.
The College Board has known about the vacancy at MUW the longest. Claudia Limbert announced in October her plans to step down in June. Ronald Mason announced in May he was leaving JSU to assume the top spot at Southern University in Baton Rouge, and George Ross announced in December he was leaving Alcorn to become president of Central Michigan.
The College Board has named interim presidents at all three schools.
The College Board search process generally takes about six months, but Bounds said it is not feasible for all three posts to be filled this year because of the time the College Board members must devote to each search.
Under state law, the College Board could have selected search firms without taking bids. But the board took bids and heard proposals from four firms on Monday.
Ayers’ bid equaled $84,853 per school while Parker’s bid equated to $60,000 for one school. Parker’s bid was the lowest of the four firms while Ayers was the highest by about $5,000 when broken down per school.
But Bounds said both firms have expertise that is needed. Ayers has expertise with historically black universities and has worked in Mississippi at Tougaloo, a private college, and at Mississippi Valley State.
Parker also has worked in Mississippi, including the search for commissioner of higher education, which resulted in Bounds being hired, and at the University of Mississippi last year when Dr. Dan Jones was selected as chancellor.

Contact Bobby Harrison at (601) 353-3119 or bobby.harrison@djournal.com.

Bobby Harrison / Daily Journal Jackson Bureau