James Borsig, who has been on the job since Jan. 1, 2012, was officially invested on Friday as the university’s 14th leader.
“The radical idea on which we were founded – that access and opportunity belong to all of our state’s citizens – remains as necessary today as it ever did,” Borsig said during his inaugural speech inside Rent Auditorium.
About a half million Mississippi residents between ages 25 and 64 have some college education but not a bachelor’s degree, he said. That total includes 65,000 more women than men.
Reaching those students, especially homebound women, “is clearly within our historic mission,” he said.
Borsig called for the university to expand leadership and in particular women’s leadership. At the same time, he said being coeducational is an important part of MUW’s future. The two are not contradictory goals, he said.
“It goes back to the strength of our academic programs,” he said.
Gov. Phil Bryant, who delivered the keynote address, said afterward that Borsig has done much to solidify MUW’s standing in the state. Not long before he came to the school, there were questions about whether it would close.
“So many people in the Senate and House know Jim Borsig, and he’s been able to bring his leveling ability to the Mississippi Legislature,” Bryant said. “Now, they say, don’t worry, Jim is there. I see a calm and commanding presence with him.”
Meanwhile, Student Government Association President Menuka Ban, a senior political science and math major from Nepal, lauded Borsig’s approachability. He is present at many student activities and often visits the cafeteria for lunch with students, she said.
“He’s very good about listening to us,” she said.
Borsig called on MUW to collaborate with other universities and community colleges to raise educational attainment. He said the university would expand its commitment to service and also challenged the school’s students and alumni to invest in tutoring and other volunteer partnerships with the state’s public K-12 schools.