JACKSON – The state College Board will name its “preferred candidate” for commissioner of higher education today, and several Capitol sources have confirmed to the Daily Journal that state Superintendent of Education Hank Bounds is a contender for the post.
The board also will name its choice for chancellor of the University of Mississippi, a position that has received most of the attention leading up to today’s scheduled dual announcements.
The publicly identified preferred choices then will meet with interested constituencies, such as faculty and students, before the College Board makes its final decisions.
Throughout the search process, most of the public discussion has centered on a replacement for University of Mississippi Chancellor Robert Khayat, who announced in January his plans to retire June 30.
Dr. Dan Jones, head of the University of Mississippi Medical School, is among those rumored to be in line to replace Khayat.
The possibility that Bounds could be the next commissioner of higher education is a surprising development. The commissioner of higher education is the chief executive of the eight-university system and answerable to the 12-person Board of Trustees of Institutions of Higher Learning, commonly called the College Board.
All individual university chief executives report to the commissioner.
The superintendent of education carries out state Board of Education policies governing Mississippi’s more than 150 local K-12 school districts.
Bounds, 41, was named state superintendent in June 2005. He received high praise almost from the beginning of his tenure, taking over just before Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
He has led an aggressive effort to strengthen Mississippi’s curriculum, improve standardized test scores and reduce the dropout rate.
Previously he was superintendent of the Pascagoula School District.
IHL searches are confidential until the naming of the preferred candidates, and board members routinely decline to comment publicly until settling on their choice.
Bounds has his undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi and a doctorate from the University of Mississippi.
Aubrey Lucas, former president of the University of Southern Mississippi, has been serving as interim commissioner of higher education.
He replaced Thomas Meredith, who stepped down in November after it became known that that Mississippi State University provided free landscaping work at his Jackson area home.
Contact Bobby Harrison at (662)-353-3119 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal