Article Comment 

What’s not on the agenda? MUW president search


Jason Browne



Haley Barbour''s recent budget proposals have given the Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning plenty to discuss at their meetings today and Thursday in Jackson. 


But a replacement for retiring MUW President Claudia Limbert may not be one of them. 


An agenda released Tuesday on the IHL Web site lists the addition of a public safety administration degree and renovation to Poindexter Hall as the only MUW-related items to be discussed when the board holds committee meetings today or its general meeting Thursday. 


Board President and West Point Mayor Scott Ross said Barbour''s 2011 budget plan, which calls for mergers between MUW and Mississippi State as well as Alcorn State, Mississippi Valley State and Jackson State, likely will be discussed, though the topic does not appear on the agenda. 


Similarly, Ross said plans for searching for Limbert''s replacement may still be addressed. 


"That very well may come up," said Ross of the IHL''s search for a MUW president. "We frequently delve into matters, particularly for discussion purposes, that aren''t on the agenda. We''re pretty liberal in allowing board members to raise issues not even on the agenda." 


Ross wouldn''t comment on the likelihood the search for an MUW president would be discussed or what it would mean relative to Barbour''s merger proposal. 


"It would be hard for me to predict in which direction the discussion will go until we get together. I have not talked to any of the board members since I learned of the governor''s recommendations," he said. 


And the absence of the matter on the this week''s IHL agenda is no reason for raised eyebrows, according to Leah Rupp Smith, director of communications for the IHL. 


"Every presidential search varies," she said. 


"As far as when the board is going to start a search process for MUW, they haven''t discussed a timeline and we just have to wait and see when they do," said Smith, who noted each search is unique in its duration of time. 


The IHL uses the same basic process for selecting new college heads. A search committee, tapped by Ross, will draft a job description and select a search advisory committee based on interviews with campus constituency groups. 


The College Board''s search committee will decide who to interview, from a pool of at least five applicants suggested by the advisory board. 


After several rounds of interviews, the search committee, with assistance from a committee to advise during the interview process, will choose a preferred candidate to visit campus and meet with constituency groups. 


Depending on the feedback from campus groups, the IHL board will either hire its top choice or continue the search. 


Since the governor''s suggested cuts will touch every aspect of university operations at MUW and all eight state schools, Ross said, any topics affecting the university could be discussed at sessions today and Thursday. 


"Almost anything you talk about with The W, whether president searches or programs or really any other matter, is somehow impacted by the governor''s recommendations," said Ross. 


Barbour has called for an average 12 percent budget reduction for all state agencies in 2011. He also suggested consolidation of underperforming public school districts, a one-year suspension of teacher raises, merging Mississippi School of the Arts with Mississippi School for Math and Science, closing community college satellite campuses and reducing in spending on athletic programs at community colleges. 


The state Legislature will have the option of honoring all, some or none of Barbour''s recommendations when the House and Senate meet in January. 


Limbert last month announced plans to retire when her contract expires June 30, 2010. 


The MUW president''s announcement came two months after her recommendation to change the name of the school to Reneau University. 


After more than a year of research and committee meetings to select the name, the move to change the historic university''s name seems to be at a standstill. The matter has yet to find its way onto the IHL agenda, and area lawmakers aren''t supportive of the chosen name, if they support a name change at all. 


Rep. Jeff Smith, D-Columbus, has said he''s willing to introduce legislation to change the college''s name. But he wants to charge the College Board with finding a new name. He and other legislators want a geographic name. 


If a new name is selected for the university, whose future currently is uncertain, it will be the fourth name for the historic university. MUW was founded as the Industrial Institute and College in 1884 as the first state-supported college for women. 


In 1920, II&C became Mississippi State College for Women. And in 1974, MUW adopted its current name. The college began admitting men in 1982. 





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Reader Comments

Article Comment Wonderful... commented at 11/18/2009 9:57:00 PM:

That's just great - don't address the REAL need for this university: Finding a replacement for THAT WOMAN!!!


Article Comment TooGood commented at 11/18/2009 10:38:00 PM:

Apparently THAT WOMAN is too good to replace. No one can do the job she has done. Can't fill her shoes. Really now, she's done a lot of great things for the W. Can't replace the best when you have nothing else.


Article Comment A Sanborn commented at 11/19/2009 8:35:00 AM:

For the board to say to not read too much into this is akin to getting a phone call from a relative at 2 a.m. that starts with the words ... "don't worry, but". If the search is planned to be tabled for a certain amount of time, then this should be stated clearly at the outset. To skip to the opposite end of the spectrum, it would seem to me that at least the IHL sees no reason to start the search process because in some ways it seems to be a foregone conclusion that the 'W' will not be around for much longer in its current form. Only time will tell.


Article Comment walter commented at 11/19/2009 11:15:00 AM:

The time is ripe for an African American to head the "W." I am willing to bet that a truly fair and balanced screening and interviewing process will produce just the right person to fill the bill.

I know, based upon what I'm told, Mississippi has changed and is ready to make such a gigantic leap forward. Is there anyone out there who can help get word to the Governor? Southern, Ole Miss, The "W" and MSU have graduated a lot of African Americans since integration. Surely, there must be at least one who is sufficiently qualified and willing to seize the helm at The "W".


Article Comment Fred commented at 11/19/2009 2:19:00 PM:

The best candidate should be chosen regardless of race. You are a racist.


Article Comment V. commented at 11/19/2009 8:55:00 PM:

I 100% agree with you!!!!!


Article Comment 14/88 commented at 11/20/2009 7:52:00 AM:

get off it. Everyone is tired of the "change" bandwagon. The president should be, if one is appointed, a person capable and passionate enough to provide the leadership the university desperately needs and deserves. If a black man or woman is the fit, fine. If not, then that's the way it is.


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