Acting leader backed for permanent Mississippi Valley post
ITTA BENA, Miss. (AP) — Arguing that they already have the man for the job, some Mississippi Valley State University alumni, faculty and students want the state’s College Board to name a president without a full search.
The Greenwood Commonwealth reports acting president Jerryl Briggs garnered prominent support Thursday at a meeting where trustees asked Valley supporters to discuss desired qualities in a president.
Briggs, who had been the university’s chief operating officer, has run the 2,500-student school since William Bynum Jr. left in June to become president of Jackson State University. Briggs says he’d like to be the president of the historically black school, and Bynum endorses him.
A trustee committee led by Shane Hooper of Tupelo is deciding whether the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning will conduct a broad, months-long search, or choose a new president without a search. As the acting president, Briggs, by rule, would be ineligible for the post if trustees open a broad search, board spokeswoman Caron Blanton has said.
Trustees next meet Thursday. It’s unclear if they will act then.
Hooper told attendees that Valley is financially stable and has a steadily growing enrollment. Faculty, students and administrators urged committee members to select a president who would not be content with current numbers but would work for better funding to meet infrastructure needs and promote growth at the state’s smallest public university.
“I get the point of fixing things, but we also need new things to make us competitive with other schools,” said Camerly King, a student from Itta Bena.
Several speakers supported reviving the now-defunct Delta Research and Cultural Institute.
Administrator Elizabeth Evans, a Valley grad with a military background, said Valley needs “a leader, not a manager, someone with a vision and expectations about where the institution is going.”
Students emphasized that because the university is remote and rural, it’s important to have connections with Greenwood, the nearest city.
Information from: The Greenwood Commonwealth, http://www.gwcommonwealth.com