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BILL CRAWFORD: Dan Jones not the angel he is portrayed to be

Bill Crawford

Bill Crawford

“It was pride that changed angels into devils,” taught Saint Augustine.

 
Media reports on the controversy between Dr. Dan Jones, Chancellor of the University of Mississippi, and the IHL Board of Trustees have painted Dr. Jones as an angel and board members as devils. That is not a fair characterization. Good people serve on the board and Dr. Jones has displayed piques of prideful behavior.
 
Appropriately celebrated publicly for upbuilding the university and its medical center, this affable, gifted leader chose to fight attempts by the IHL Board to improve lax business practices and inadequate controls at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. “I was unwilling to replace people at the medical center who I thought were honest, hardworking people trying to make this problem better,” he told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. “I was unwilling to throw them under the bus.”
 
That Dr. Jones took great pride in the medical center and its staff and was unwilling to make changes desired by his board was one issue. But, it was his manner of unwillingness that became the terminal issue. The personas university presidents present to public constituencies do not always resemble the personas they present to the IHL Board. Dr. Jones’ behavior in private meetings with the board on the medical center over the past two years has been described as angry, uncooperative and defiant.
 
Finally, a large majority of the board decided Dr. Jones’ unwillingness and behavior had gone on long enough. They began to discuss not renewing his contract.
 
This is not to say board members contributed nothing to the deteriorating relationship. Strong, prideful board personas pushing hard to get their way can stir emotions and umbrage in strong university leaders. But it’s up to presidents to adapt to the board, not the other way around.
 
Two weeks ago all this came to a head when Dr. Jones insisted the board tell him the status of his contract. When board members said they did not see a way for renewal to pass, he reportedly stormed out of the meeting. 
 
As this column was written there were reports that negotiations between the board and Dr. Jones were occurring. Actually, incoming IHL Commissioner Jim Borsig was talking with Dr. Jones to see if he was now willing to take steps to reconcile with the board. However, attacks on board members by Ole Miss supporters were making them bow up.
 
“It is humility that makes men as angels,” goes the rest of Saint Augustine’s quote.
 
A meaningful turn to humility by both the Chancellor and IHL Board members will be needed to sustain any reconciliation that may occur.

NOTE:  This same opportunity occurred in 2013 when the board offered Dr. Jones a mid-term contract extension out to 2017. It came with the proviso that he address the issues at the medical center and be more responsive to board oversight. Mid-contract extensions are standard board actions. Reportedly, the Chancellor bowed up over the medical center provision so no extension occurred.
 
»Bill Crawford, a former IHL Board member, is a syndicated columnist from Meridian (crawfolk@gmail.com)

 

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15 comments

  1. Wow talking about a homer propaganda story – surprise headline, a former college board member attracks chancellor jones character and supports current group citing “private meetings” leaks from the Board.

  2. “Behavior” in private meetings and St. Augustine? Try a little harder, Bill. I don’t care one bit that he was upset at getting fired for a job at which he’s been performing quite well. Storm out, curse, yell, whatever you want to do. This is the big leagues.

  3. I’m sorry, you imply that Dan Jones should have kissed the feet of the IHLBoard members, that is ridiculous! I admire the fact that Dan Jones stands up for his beliefs, and should he have begged when they said his contract wouldn’t be extended? I would be mad as hell too!

  4. “Dr. Jones has displayed piques of prideful behavior.”

    Sounds like someone wants a more brown-nosey chancellor? I don’t care if he’s a complete snot, Dan Jones has done a fantastic job running Ole Miss and UMMC. Make him promise that future contracts of more than 250k get board approval, give him his four years and move on.

    The IHL members look more and more petty, arrogant, and lacking a sense of proportion about this whole affair as it drags out, and Bill Crawford just exacerbated that. Good job, Bill!

    Also, what kind of idiot uses the phrase “bowed up” in an op-ed? Are you talking about contract negotiations or a bar fight at Hal and Mal’s?

  5. “Bowed up”? Was this written by an adult?

  6. The most incredulous aspect of this whole thing is that the IHL had problems with Dr. Jones for months or years, and no one on the board ever thought to pick up the phone and contact someone within the UM family. Do you honestly think these people don’t have numbers for the UM alum president or Robert Khayat or even Barksdale? All they had to do was say, ‘we’re having these problems with your guy and you need to talk to him”. That they didn’t speaks VOLUMES. Obviously, they couldn’t count on support for their position from those guys. Otherwise, the Ole Miss family wouldn’t have been blindsided and consequently, up in arms.
    And Bow Up? Twice? Seriously? Please.

  7. Here is the difficulty with Crawford’s assessment – it is never offered as “cause” by the IHL board, which laid out its reasons for non-renewal not once, but twice, and had expounded on those reasons on more than one occasion. As I wrote in our editorial; we can only judge the IHL’s decision based on the reasons they presented. If there was, as Crawford suggests, insubordination on Jones’ part that is something most people understand is a major issue, one that might warrant the decision they reached. It is unfair to both parties to render judgement based on rumor. The IHL board stated its reasons; we must examine those reasons to see whether or not the justify the action taken. In my view, they do not.

  8. This article only fuels the rumor mill and never affords a real solution.

  9. I thank God and St. Augustine that this pompous ass who thinks “prideful behavior” is more important than actual professional success is merely a “former” IHL member. Sadly, I have no reason to think that the high-minded arrogance and lack of professionalism displayed by Crawford isn’t symptomatic of the current IHL members.

  10. Dan Jones has a history of creating conflicts that will allow him to be seen as the winner of a battle. It’s a character flaw. I hope he will learn that the hired help doesn’t always win when they get in a spitting battle with their employers.

  11. And if we needed any further reason to know Dan Jones is the good guy, ColonelRebSez is against him.

  12. It is time to disband the college board. We are still living in the 1960’s in MS. They no longer serve a useful purpose for the colleges or taxpayers.

  13. Friend of Chesterton

    Despite the flaws of the IHL, the last thing Mississippi needs is a separate Board for Ole Miss. A board full of Halleys, Dickies and Trents would elevate the football “recruiting ” budget while it simultaneously gutted the academics of the schools.

  14. He’s not paid to be an angel. He is paid to run an enormous operation, increase enrollment, increase test scores and increase giving (all of which are at record levels). This is about like the Patriots firing Bill Belichick right after he won the super bowl because he didn’t bow down to some stuffed suit….like that would ever happen.

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