PATSY R. BRUMFIELD: Rebs feel nervousness about hire

Rebel blood’s starting to boil as the search moves ahead for a new chancellor at the University of Mississippi.
I’ve seen it before, in the not-so-distant past, when Bulldog Nation worried about Mississippi State’s new leader – and with good reason. They had just spent two years with an ex-military president, who had good intentions but poor people skills.
After a lot of politics out front and behind the scenes, Dr. Mark Keenum “came home” to set aright the ship of State.
From all appearances, he’s made the faithful very happy and is moving ahead with a bold vision for his beloved alma mater.
But just as the decks cooled for the Institutions of Higher Learning, Ole Miss’ star leader Chancellor Robert Khayat announced his retirement effective June 30.
We all knew it was coming. Khayat’s been at that helm some 14 years, and time has marched on.
And so, IHL must be on the fast-track, if it wants to replace Khayat before he departs.
As with the MSU search, the Rebel faithful have their own candidates. Some names have started to bubble up.
But IHL’s substantially secret or closed process – which got the MSU folks riled up – has started working up Rebel-land.
That means I’m getting phone calls from alums, just like what happened during the MSU search. They think “stuff” is going on. Maybe things they won’t like.
“I hear this may turn out like Doc Foglesong,” said one anxious Oxford alum Wednesday. What he meant was that he’s worried nobody will know anything until some super-secret person, who doesn’t go through the vetting process, winds up hired before anybody else can react.
Oh, no, I assured him. Surely that won’t happen with IHL, especially after the fine mess they created by hiring Foglesong without any public scrutiny.
Then, I hung up the phone and thought to myself, well yeh, that could happen. Why am I so sure it won’t?
I’m not.
Here’s why: I completely understand why IHL has set up a selection process that keeps candidates’ names secret. They fear the men or women may feel employment consequences, if they are known to be candidates or fail to be hired.
But it also limits real disclosure and time to reveal deep background on candidates.
According to IHL, April 19 is the application deadline.
A campus Search Advisory Committee will sift through and discuss the applicantsm then vote on at least five to go to IHL’s Search Committee.
As in the MSU search, the Ole Miss faithful aren’t likely to be happy unless it’s one of their own. They want another Robert Khayat. Heck, that’s what MSU alums said, too.
The obvious question: How many “new” Robert Khayats are out there?
Of course, the answer is: none.
I’d like to hear from anybody who knows anything about the search, who they think will apply for the job or anything else you want to tell me about it.
We got a pretty good conversation going with MSU’s process. Ole Miss ought to have the same.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.

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