JACKSON — University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones says he remains in talks over his job status, but he doesn’t expect an agreement Friday, despite trustees calling a meeting to discuss the situation.
Jones, chancellor at Ole Miss since 2009, said he met face-to-face with Higher Education Commissioner Jim Borsig on Wednesday and Thursday. But he declined to discuss details of what he described as “conversations”
“It’s likely going to take a couple of days for us to consummate our discussion,” Jones said in a phone interview. “He and I don’t want to negotiate through the media.”
Jones said he won’t attend Friday’s College Board meeting.
The campus has been in turmoil since the board refused to retain Jones. Trustees said they had become worried about financial and contracting practices at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and said Jones hadn’t respected the board’s authority to provide oversight.
Students and faculty have rushed to his defense, staging protests in favor of keeping him at the school. His supporters include top alumni like author John Grisham and football star Archie Manning, and one foundation has threatened to withhold a $20 million donation.
Another protest is scheduled Sunday at the College Board office in Jackson.
Individuals informed by people directly involved in negotiations said Thursday that trustees proposed a two-year contract extension to Jones, instead of the usual four-year contract. The individuals spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they weren’t authorized to discuss sensitive negotiations publicly.
Jones was initially hired on a four-year contract in 2009 and received a new four-year agreement two years later in 2011, said College Board spokeswoman Caron Blanton.
Talks, including some mediated by former Gov. William Winter, began soon after the board’s decision not to renew became public.
Under the proposal, Jones would make a public apology to trustees. It’s unclear how far apart the sides remain, or how long it might take to reach a resolution. A vote of the full 12-member board would be required to approve a new contract.
The 66-year-old physician, who headed the Jackson-based medical center before being named chancellor, said he still believed he could have a functional relationship with trustees.
“Over the course of a long career, I have had effective and health relationships with people I’ve worked for,” Jones said. “I’ve never lost a job.”
He pledged to do more on his part to work with and listen to trustees.
One factor working in Jones’ favor is he’s negotiating with Borsig, until recently the president of the Mississippi University for Women, and not the outgoing Hank Bounds, who’s becoming the president of the University of Nebraska. Jones said Friday that his relationship with Bounds was “at times strained.”
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