Trustees start search for new University of Mississippi head

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JACKSON, Miss. — The search is on for a new leader of the University of Mississippi.

College Board President Hal Parker on Thursday appointed fellow trustee Ford Dye of Oxford to lead the effort. Dye said he wanted all trustees to serve as members of the search committee

Dye in turn, is choosing a group of faculty, staff, students and alumni to act as an advisory panel, helping trustees screen applications and make recommendations. The trustees will ultimately decide on the choice.

Dye said he had a “working list” of people he wanted to include on an advisory committee, but urged trustees to give him their suggestions. Dye said he hoped to call and invite people to serve on the advisory group sometime next week.

Trustees also approved plans to advertise for a search firm, hoping to sign a contract in June.

The move comes months after Jeffrey Vitter resigned the chancellor’s post , less than three years in the top job.

Even before trustees acted, the university’s private foundation hired former Higher Education Commissioner Glenn Boyce to meet with influential individuals about what they want in the next Ole Miss leader.

“They’ve engaged him to go out and talk with the Ole Miss community, to go out and talk with people to see what they want in a chancellor,” Parker said.

Open listening sessions are likely to follow, with Parker saying the board would like to hire a new leader by year’s end.

A computer scientist, Vitter was provost at the University of Kansas when he was chosen for the Ole Miss post in October 2015. He began work in 2016 and was paid $600,000 a year. After stepping down in January, Vitter was given a post as “distinguished professor” in the School of Engineering. He was a finalist for the presidency of the University of South Florida in March.

Trustees refused to renew the contract of the previous chancellor, Dan Jones, citing disagreements over financial management at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. That decision sparked widespread protest .

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