JACKSON – Robert Khayat stepped down at the end of June as the chancellor of the University of Mississippi, but he will remain part of campus life.
On Thursday, the 12-member Board of Trustees of state Institutions of Higher Learning awarded Khayat the title of chancellor emeritus and approved a request from new Chancellor Dan Jones to make Khayat a “distinguished professor and consultant in university advancement.”
“He has been a real champion for the university and for the state of Mississippi,” said Higher Education Commissioner Hank Bounds. “I think this gives us an opportunity use him as a resource. I think he will be invaluable not only to the university, but to the entire system.”
Khayat, 71, is a Moss Point native who earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Ole Miss. After a stint as a professional football player, he served as a law school professor and in other administrative posts at Ole Miss.
He was named chancellor in 1995 and is generally credited for leading the university in a period of progress that culminated with the hosting of the first presidential debate in 2008.
He also made a mark as a fundraiser, bringing a record amount of private resources to the school.
Jones indicated that Khayat will continue to play that role for the university.
“People tell me he’s a pretty good fundraiser,” quipped Jones, who served as head of the University Medical Center before being tabbed by the College Board to replace Khayat. “I also hear he’s a pretty good teacher.
“We would like him to be involved in both of these activities. I’m certain students in our leadership classes would love to hear about what he has learned during his 40-plus years with this amazing university.”
Khayat said he looks forward to his new duties, which he said will be defined in the coming weeks.
While Khayat said he assumed he would do some work in development – “making contact with perspective donors” – he added he would like to teach.
“The Lott Institute (at Ole Miss) has a leadership program,” he said. “I feel like the work I have done as chancellor would give me some experience that might be worthwhile (for students) and it would be a fun thing to do.”
Also on Thursday, the College Board officially approved the suggestion of Bounds that the budget request to the Legislature for the system be reduced $217.7 million to $844.6 million for the coming year.
Bounds suggested reducing the request because of a slowdown in tax collections during the current tough economic times.
Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal