OXFORD, Miss. (AP) – An official with firsthand knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press late Thursday that former state Higher Education Commissioner Glenn Boyce will be the next chancellor of the University of Mississippi.
A news conference that was scheduled for noon Friday on the Ole Miss campus was canceled as demonstrators protested before the meeting.
The AP source spoke on condition of anonymity because although trustees voted to approve Boyce’s selection in a closed session Thursday, the announcement won’t be made until Friday in Oxford, home to the university.
Boyce, 61, declined comment to the AP on Thursday night. Hischoice brings to a close a politically sensitive search for a new leader of OleMiss after former Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter resigned in January after less thanthree years on the job at one of Mississippi’s two largest universities.
Boyce was involved in the search earlier after the university’sprivate foundation hired him to meet with influential individuals about whatthey sought in the next Ole Miss leader. At the time, Boyce denied he wasseeking the job.
Ole Miss has more than 23,000 students between its Oxford campusand the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. The medical centeralone has more than 10,000 employees and a budget of more than $1 billion.
The next chancellor will face several challenges. Among them,Boyce will inherit declining enrollment, flagging fundraising and an ailingfootball team. Also looming over the incoming leader is the ongoing struggleover how the university should deal with the symbolism of the Confederacy andwhite supremacy, including a statue of a Confederate soldier on the Oxfordcampus that administrators are trying to relocate to a less prominent location.
Boyce became Mississippi’s higher education commissioner in 2015when the College Board trustees who oversee the state’s eight publicuniversities were in a similar jam. After choosing Mississippi University forWomen President Jim Borsig as commissioner, Borsig had backed out and insteadreturned to lead that university. Boyce had been working for the board asassociate commissioner for academic affairs for less than a year at the time.
Boyce has never been a professor on a four-year campus. He servedas president of central Mississippi’s Holmes Community College from 2005 to2014, earlier leading efforts in workforce development for Holmes and servingas assistant superintendent and principal in the Rankin County school districtin Mississippi.
Larry Sparks, who was in charge of finance and administration, hasbeen serving as interim chancellor.
A computer scientist, Vitter was provost at the University ofKansas when he was chosen for the Ole Miss post in October 2015. He began workin 2016 and was paid $600,000 a year. After stepping down in January, Vitterremained as a distinguished professor in the School of Engineering.
Trustees refused to renew the contract of the previous chancellor,Dan Jones, citing disagreements over financial management at the University ofMississippi Medical Center. That decision sparked widespread protest.
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