JACKSON — The College Board has again turned to one of its own to take the post of higher education commissioner, promoting former Holmes Community College President Glenn Boyce.
The board chose the 57-year-old Boyce on Thursday in a closed session and announced the decision Friday. Board President Aubrey Patterson said Boyce will get a four-year contract with a starting annual salary of $385,000.
“We believe he has the vision and ability to lead the universities as we advance the state together,” Patterson said. “We know he will approach decisions thoughtfully, drawing on his experiences, keeping students first.”
Boyce joined the board last summer as associate commissioner for academic affairs, but spent most of his career in K-12 and community colleges. He served as president of Holmes from 2005 to 2014, earlier leading in workforce development for Holmes and serving as assistant superintendent and principal in the Rankin County school district.
“There is much work to be done, and there always will be much work to be done,” Boyce said. “We need to continue pushing educational attainment. Our facilities and our infrastructure will continue to need resources. We need to ramp up even further our research capacity and make greater investment in this critical area of higher education, and make sure we continue to support our faculty and staff.”
The board had named Mississippi University for Women President Jim Borsig as its next commissioner in February. He was to replace Hank Bounds, who left to become president of the University of Nebraska after six years. But Borsig announced April 9 that he wanted to remain as leader of the Columbus university instead. That announcement came as the board was buffeted by criticism over its refusal to renew the contract of University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones, although Borsig said it was unrelated.
To replace Borsig, the board skipped an extended search where it could have received input, with Patterson saying the stability of a permanent commissioner is important. It’s also unclear how deep a field of outsiders might have applied, with legislative threats to restructure the board because of the uproar over Jones.
“I think if we had been in what might be called ordinary times, there might have been some consideration of an expanded search,” Patterson said. “But I think we would have come to the same decision.”
The quick vote means Patterson and three other outgoing trustees got to participate in the choice, instead of four new members named by Gov. Phil Bryant who will join the 12-member board next month. Patterson said the incoming trustees were not consulted.
“We certainly see no reason why our proceeding to the conclusion of the process is unfair,” Patterson said.
Boyce said that finding a replacement for Jones at Ole Miss would “right at the top of the list of my priorities.” He also said he planned to meet with lawmakers and others in the near future.
The new commissioner said he thought he would be well-served by his broad experience, including working with Nissan Motor Co. after the Japanese automaker set up shop while he was working for Holmes. Boyce has also co-chaired the Education Achievement Council, a body meant to coordinate Mississippi’s public schools, community colleges and universities.
“I hope this means we will have an even stronger, more cooperative relationship between the universities and the community colleges,” said Community College Board Executive Director Eric Clark.
Senate Universities and Colleges Committee Chairman John Polk, R-Hattiesburg, was complimentary, saying “from what I see, he could be a very good choice.”
Sen. Gray Tollison, R-Oxford, said he thinks Boyce will do a good job, but said the appointment hasn’t changed his desire to restructure university governance.
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