Names bubble up for new Ole Miss chancellor

OXFORD – The leader of the University of Missisisippi Medical Center and a Jackson attorney are being mentioned as possible replacements for Ole Miss Chancellor Robert Khayat.
Khayat announced in early January that he would retire June 30 after 14 years on the job, one of the most successful periods in the university’s 161-year-old history.
Since the announcement, Dr. Dan Jones of Jackson has been mentioned most often and most seriously as a successor in discussions within the university and among alumni. But another name has cropped up recently: Barry Cannada, a prominent Jackson business attorney.
The state Board of Trustees of Institutions of Higher Learning, commonly called the College Board, will ultimately make the decision after a search process that includes input on names from an advisory group.
Both Jones and Cannada are Ole Miss graduates, mentioned in recent campus meetings by some as important for the new leader.
Jones got his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Mississippi College, but earned his medical degree from UMC in 1975. He’s now University of Mississippi vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.
Cannada received his business degree from Ole Miss in 1977 and his law degree in 1980. He’s the Corporate and Securities Group leader at Butler Snow O’Mara Stevens and Cannada law firm in Jackson.
Both men are in their 50s.
Cannada’s name was mentioned in conversations on the Ole Miss campus this week.
Jones had no comment about the search, and Cannada did not respond to Daily Journal requests by phone and e-mail Friday.
Also mentioned in the hunt are former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove and former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott. Musgrove is known to be actively promoting his candidacy.
Lott’s age and questions about the judicial bribery problems of his brother-in-law, Dickie Scruggs, probably have hurt his chances, if he were interested in the job.

Selection process
When Khayat came to the post as 15th chancellor, he was a lawyer who had taught in the Ole Miss Law School, and he also came with experience from four years as president of the NCAA Foundation.
The IHL board vote will come after a campus Search Advisory Committee sifts through the applications and recommends its top choices to IHL’s search committee, chaired by Amy Whitten of Oxford.
The process is very similar to the one at Mississippi State University, which ended with IHL’s hiring alumnus Dr. Mark Keenum in November.
The MSU search was marked by overt alumni lobbying for favorite candidates and with one hopeful’s withdrawal from the process. Vance Watson, the school’s interim president, withdrew from consideration because of an investigation into the use of MSU employees to landscape the home of then-IHL Commissioner Dr. Thomas Meredith.
Before that scandal, Meredith often was mentioned as someone likely to seek the Ole Miss job when Khayat retired.

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.

Patsy R. Brumfield/Daily Journal