JACKSON — After much anticipation, the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) has named Dr. Hank Bounds, Mississippi superintendent of education, as the preferred candidate for the position of commissioner of higher education, and Dr. Dan Jones, current vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC), as the preferred candidate for chancellor at the University of Mississippi.
“Dr. Bounds has all the qualities we were looking for. He is an exceptional leader with vision, and he has proven that he can work effectively with a range of constituency groups, from elected officials to school and university leaders.” said Commissioner Board Search Committee chair Ed Blakeslee. “We are confident he is the right choice.”
As the state superintendent, IHL said Bounds has changed the landscape of education in the Mississippi. He has garnered statewide support to decrease the state’s dropout rate, implemented a new, more rigorous curriculum and assessment program and guided the creation of a new school performance classification system. He has also launched a plan for redesigning education to better prepare students for today’s workplace.
Bounds served as superintendent of the Pascagoula School District. He was principal in two high schools and one K-12 school. He holds bachelor of science and master of education degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi and a doctor of philosophy from the University of Mississippi.
On June 17, Bounds will participate in open interviews at the IHL Executive Office building in Jackson with various constituency groups. Individuals attending the open interviews will be given the opportunity to provide feedback to the Board of Trustees regarding their impressions Bounds. At the end of the day, the Board will announce either that Bounds will be the next commissioner, or that the search will continue.
As to Jones, UM Board Search Committee chair Amy Whitten said, “The Board and the Search Advisory Committee have searched nationally to identify the best candidate to lead the University of Mississippi. It is a testament to the quality of leadership in our universities that we found the right candidate among our own people.”
In addition to his role as vice chancellor and dean, Jones is also the Herbert G. Langford Professor of Medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He is UMMC’s CEO, overseeing five schools and the health system.
A native Mississippian, Jones graduated from Mississippi College and earned his M.D. and completed residency training at the UMMC. He had a private practice in Laurel until he went to Korea in 1985 as a medical missionary. In 1992, he returned to the UMMC as a faculty member, and has been there ever since.
Jones is actively involved with the American Heart Association and served as the organization’s national president for 2007-2008. He has been named one of the “Best Doctors in America.”
Jones’ interviews will be held June 15 on the University of Mississippi campus.