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Borsig named new president of MUW

COLUMBUS — Jim Borsig will take over in January as president of Mississippi University for Women.

The state College Board offered Borsig the job yesterday and he accepted. Borsig spent several hours meeting with students, faculty and other groups on campus yesterday.

The job pays $218,000 a year, with about $25,000 of that coming from the university’s foundation.

“Dr. Borsig understands the most critical issues facing higher education today and has the experience and skills necessary to ensure that every student receives an excellent education. He will also ensure that the university is an essential partner for economic development in the region,” said board member Christy Pickering, who headed the MUW presidential search committee.

Borsig is currently the associate commissioner for external relations and public policy at the College Board. He holds degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi and Mississippi State University.

The board announced Nov. 17 that Borsig was its preferred candidate to lead MUW.

Claudia Limbert was MUW president from April 2002 until this past May. Allegra Brigham has been interim president since Limbert retired.

“Mississippi University for Women has a rich history of strong academic programs in liberal arts and professional education,” Borsig said after the announcement. “I look forward to working with all members of the MUW family to build on this tradition of excellence and provide opportunities for all students. I also look forward to working with the Columbus community to help both the university and the region to grow and thrive.”

In meetings earlier yesterday, Borsig said the university was not going to close or merge.

He also said MUW, which has also enrolled men since 1982, won’t abandon its historic mission of educating women.

“The women’s mission is important, but it doesn’t have to be our only mission,” Borsig said during an on-campus meeting with civic leaders.

In a meeting with faculty, Borsig promised transparency in the university’s top job.

“You have my word that I will tell you everything that I know when I know it to the extent that I can know it — although I can’t know everything,” he said.

In August 2009, the MUW administration proposed changing the school’s name to Reneau University to honor Sallie Eola Reneau, an alumna who more than 150 years ago urged the governor to establish the first state-funded college for women in the United States.

Supporters said a change to a gender-neutral name was needed to keep MUW viable. Legislators in 2010 rejected changing MUW’s name.

Borsig said yesterday that he’s neither advocating nor opposing changing MUW’s name.

“I’m not ruling anything in or out, and I’m not afraid to have the conversation, as messy as it could be,” he said. “But it’s not at the top of my list.”

Borsig said half the student population of the state’s colleges comes from community college transfers.

“We’ve got to figure out our markets,” he said. “The institution is much different than it was 30 years ago.”

MUW alumna Jackie DiCicco praised Borsig. “He seems so comfortable here,” she said. “He seems to embrace the school.”

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