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Bryant nominates Columbus periodontist to College Board

JACKSON — Gov. Phil Bryant on Tuesday nominated a periodontist from north Mississippi to serve on the 12-member state College Board.

Dr. John W. Starr Jr., 57, lives in Columbus and has offices there and in Starkville. He is a graduate of Mississippi State University and the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Bryant chose Starr for a nine-year term that begins later this week. The governor had earlier nominated former Tupelo Mayor Glenn McCullough Jr. for the seat, but Bryant last week named McCullough as the state’s new economic development director.

Although senators confirmed McCullough to the College Board during the session that recently ended, McCullough said he won’t begin the term because he wants to concentrate on the Mississippi Development Authority job that he begins in June.

Starr will serve while awaiting Senate confirmation, which is not unusual for nominees who are chosen while the Legislature is out of session. The nomination could come up during the next regular session, which begins in January, or Bryant could add it to the agenda if he calls a special session before then.

“Serving in this capacity, to better advance Mississippi and its future, is a way for me to give back for the opportunities afforded me by the public university system of Mississippi,” Starr said in a news release from the governor’s office.

Members of the Legislative Black Caucus criticized Bryant during the recent session for what they say is too little diversity in his College Board nominations in a state with a 37 percent black population. Bryant this year tapped three white men and one black man to the board to succeed two white men, one white woman and one black man whose terms are expiring.

Starr is white, as is McCullough.

Starr was a member of the state Board of Dental Examiners from 2004 to 2010, and was president of the group in 2007.

Serving on the College Board is a part-time job that’s generally considered one of the most prestigious appointments in state government because of members’ power overseeing the state’s eight public universities. Among other responsibilities, board members hire university presidents or, in the case of the University of Mississippi, the chancellor.

 

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