IHL’s shortcut short circuits promising hire in Boyce

By BRYAN DAVIS EDITOR,

What should have been seen as a new beginning for the University of Mississippi last week has turned into a public relations nightmare for the state’s flagship university and a rocky start to Glenn Boyce’s tenure as chancellor of the school.

Students protested on campus late last week after it was announced that the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning had chosen Boyce as Ole Miss’ next leader, cutting the search process for the chancellor well short of its original schedule.

It is understandable that many students, and other stakeholders, are upset at how the whole thing went down.

The process seemed arbitrary, and due to the fact that Boyce was hired as a consultant early in the search, accusations of conflicts of interest have emerged.

According to Boyce, all of his consulting was ethical and done prior to the official start of the search.

Based on what I know about Boyce, this announcement, had it not been marred by the timing, should have been a joyous one, as far as the students are concerned.

Prior to leading IHL, Boyce was president of Holmes Community College for almost a decade.

I attended Holmes under his predecessor, the late Starkey Morgan, who in 2006 was convicted on two counts of embezzlement.

Morgan’s tenure at Holmes was the furthest thing from student-friendly.

His relationship with the student body was next to nothing, and it was apparent even prior to being charged with a half-dozen counts of embezzlement (only two stuck) that he enjoyed living like a king in the small town of Goodman.

One of his last building projects was the construction of a large home, for himself, overlooking the campus.

When Morgan’s time at HCC was over, the school needed a fresh start, and Boyce provided that.

My wife, Callie, had the privilege of attending HCC while he was president there.

From what she’s recounted, and from everything I’ve heard from others who were there, he was a student’s president.

He turned the taxpayer-funded president’s home that Morgan had constructed into a multipurpose building, hosting school and private events.

I met Boyce at a school function around 2010. He was personable, and he really seemed to have the students’ interests at heart.

Unless something has drastically changed about his nature, Boyce seems like a logical fit to get Ole Miss back on track and raise student, faculty and alumni morale.

The announcement of Boyce’s hiring was interrupted last week by loud protests of mostly students.

They held signs that said, “Not my choice, not my president.”

I think the students have a right to be mad, but I think they should give Boyce a chance.

The lone student representative on the search committee, Barron Mayfield (president of the Associated Student Body) said he was frustrated from the start of the process, namely because there was not more student representation.

Students should certainly have a voice, but there is a difference between having a voice and having a vote.

Many students held up signs at the protest that said, “Abolish the IHL.”

That sort of foolish thinking is why students get input and are not among the decision makers.

After the Ole Miss campus police chief carried one of the protesters out of the announcement ceremony, I’m guessing to make an example of her, Ole Miss officials went behind the curtain for several minutes before cancelling the event.

It would have been wise for the chief to have used restraint from the start, but the last thing Ole Miss needs is photos of police arresting hundreds of students as they announce their already unpopular “student-focused" chancellor.

Boyce has a tough job ahead of him.

He was hired early, IHL said, to unify the campus as quickly as possible.

The students are certainly unified, against Boyce and IHL.

He will have to oversee the rejuvenation of the Oxford campus, the continual growth of the state’s largest hospital, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and he must get the students back on his side.

A tall order, but Boyce may be the man for the job.

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