Ole Miss foundation to pay $500,000 of new leader’s salary

Education

OXFORD,MIss. (AP) – Campus groups continue to express unhappiness Friday with how trustees chose Glenn Boyce as the new chancellor of the University of Mississippi, seeking to thread a needle by not attacking Boyce himself.

Anger over the selection process persisted even as the university’s private foundation voted Friday to pay Boyce a $500,000-a-year salary supplement, ending questions about whether its directors would balk at the request from Higher Education Commissioner Al Rankins and trustees. The salary decision came less than 24 hours after the school’s Faculty Senate voted “no confidence” in College Board trustees and in the board’s selection process, but not in Boyce himself.

Trustees voted to pay Boyce $800,000 a year no matter what the foundation agreed to give when they hired him Oct. 3, matching the salary that Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum began getting earlier this year.

An email obtained by The Associated Press shows Rankins was asking the foundation to increase its contribution to $500,000, even though it is still paying off a $300,000-a-year pledge for the contract of former Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter, who made $600,000 overall.

“The board of trustees greatly appreciates the continued support of the University of Mississippi Foundation,” Rankins said in a statement Friday.

Boyce — while he was Mississippi’s higher education commissioner — was paid $87,000 by the foundation, at Rankins’ request, to interview influential people about qualities desired in a chancellor. Trustees then hired him despite his not applying for the job, and campus groups say they weren’t adequately consulted. Boyce started work Monday.

Foundation CEO Wendell Weakley wrote in his email that when the foundation agreed to pay Boyce for consulting work on the chancellor’s search, there was no “indication Dr. Boyce was or would become a candidate for the chancellor’s position. In fact, it was just the opposite. If he was a possible candidate, the (trustees) should not have recommended him for the consulting work.”

Foundation Chair Suzan Thames and Weakley said in a joint statement Friday that the foundation, with $577 million in assets held for the university’s benefit, decided to approve the $500,000 despite “clear disappointment expressed regarding the selection process.”

The university will contribute $300,000 in state funds.

“The foundation board separated the process from the request to increase funding for the position,” the two said. They said the increase was merited by the duties of the post, what other university leaders are paid and the need for Boyce to raise private money for the school.

The faculty advisory group voted in a closed meeting Thursday night. The resolution has no binding effect, but it does question whether trustees violated accrediting standards forbidding “undue influence from external sources,” a move that could spark outside scrutiny of Ole Miss by its accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

The senate also voted “no confidence” in the selection process, but not in Boyce himself.

Noonan said the omission of Boyce’s name was intentional.

“There are a number of reasons that that would be, not the least of which (is), the faculty are going to be working with Dr. Boyce for some time to come,” he told The Daily Mississippian . “The dissatisfaction with Boyce is not necessarily due to any actions of his own. For the most part, it’s primarily, ‘We don’t trust or like the way the (trustees) did this, and for this reason, we don’t support its result.'”

The student government senate on Tuesday passed a resolution condemning the search process, but not Boyce.

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Follow Jeff Amy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jeffamy

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