By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
COLUMBUS – The new leader of Mississippi University for Women said the school can quiet consolidation talk by making itself “indispensable.”
“The best way to address that is to imagine what we can be in the 21st century and just go do that,” said Jim Borsig, who was named on Wednesday as the next president of the 2,600-student school.
Borsig, 55, will begin his new job in January with unanimous approval from the state College Board. He will replace interim President Allegra Brigham, who filled in after Claudia Limbert retired in June 2010. The job pays $218,000 annually.
Currently working as associate commissioner for external relations and public policy for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, Borsig begins his new job after a tumultuous period at the university.
That stretch included a failed attempt to change the name of the school and an unsuccessful plan by Gov. Haley Barbour to merge it with Mississippi State.
“This university is not going to close or merge,” Borsig said Wednesday, drawing applause from the room.
His vision for the university includes reaching “under-served” students, specifically targeting the large number of women in the state who have an associate’s degree or some college experience, but no bachelor’s degree.
If the university is successful in doing so, he said, it also will have success in attracting males in a similar situation. He also spoke of expanding online courses, making it easier for community college students to transfer to the university and marketing the school’s size as a strength.
“We have a private university feel with a public university price,” he said.
The IHL Board had previously named Borsig as its preferred candidate. Trustee Christy Pickering, who chaired the Board’s search committee, said he brings a well-rounded experience given his 30 years of working in higher education, government and the private sector.
Pickering noted his experience of working for universities and for the IHL, where he learned what is expected of the state’s institutions. He’s also worked directly with the legislature in his current position, which Pickering listed as another strength.
“Based on his level of experience, I really see him pushing us forward,” said student Leander Williams, 21, of Beulah. Williams is president of the student government association.
Alumnae Renee Flynt of Jackson was impressed by Borsig’s vision.
“What stood out to me was his sincerity and that he cares about this university,” she said. “I think he sees a real potential for this university to thrive and grow.”
CURRENT POSITION: Associate commissioner for external relations and public policy for IHL
PAST EXPERIENCES: Assistant commissioner of government relations for IHL; Executive Assistant to the president of USM; Research and development coordinator for the John C. Stennis Institute of Government. Has also served as a visiting professor at Jackson State University since 2007.