By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Gov. Phil Bryant did not know Shane Hooper of Saltillo until he was recommended for a seat on the Board of Trustees of the state Institutions of Higher Learning by Aubrey Patterson of Tupelo.
On Friday, upon the recommendation of Patterson, Bryant announced Hooper as one of four appointees, including Dr. Ford Dye of Oxford, for pending vacancies on what is commonly referred to as the College Board.
After meeting Hooper, Bryant said he was impressed with his dedication to service.
“I thought, what a great guy. We are very fortunate to have him,” Bryant said.
Patterson, a current member of the board, said, “Shane is an outstanding pick. He has been a leader in everything he has been involved here in Tupelo and will be a leader at IHL.”
Hooper, president of Success Learning Corporation; Dye, an Oxford physician and son of former Lt. Gov. Brad Dye; Karen Cummins, operations manager for the Southaven office of Atmos Energy; and Hal Parker, a Jackson area business owner of distribution and contracting companies, will face confirmation hearings in the state Senate in the coming weeks.
If they are confirmed, they will take seats on the 12-member board that oversees the eight state universities for nine-year terms. They will replace Scott Ross of West Point, Amy Whitten of Oxford, Stacy Davidson of Cleveland and Bettye Neely of Grenada, who are completing 12-year terms. Their terms officially expire in May.
The law was changed in 2004 so that all appointees eventually will serve nine-year terms with four each being appointed from the three Supreme Court districts.
Bryant said he looked for appointments that were diverse in terms of the universities in which they had connections. But he stressed to all that they will represent the entire university system.
Hooper, a graduate of Itawamba Agricultural High School and Itawamba Community College, earned a bachelor’s degree from David Lipscomb in Nashville and then served as an officer in the Marine Corps. He has worked in the insurance and financial services industries.
Dye earned an undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina and then obtained his doctorate of medicine at the University Medical Center in Jackson. He is a board certified otolaryngologist.
Cummins graduated from Delta State. Parker is a Mississippi State University graduate.
Bryant said he asked the appointees to work to ensure “our campuses are student-centric, and to ensure we focus on making our universities incubators for economic development and creative workforce centers for technology advancement.”
Hooper, who is involved in various organizations in Lee County, ranging from the Community Development Foundation board to the Good Samaritan Free Clinic and the North Mississippi Medical Center boards, said he saw the College Board appointment as an opportunity “to help move Mississippi forward.” He is also a past president of the Tupelo Rotary Club.
Dye said he has spent a substantial part of his life in university settings and hopes to work toward improving the system.
Because of the change in law from 12-year to nine-year terms, Bryant will make four additional appointments to the College Board in 2015.