Friday, May 1, 2015
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Gov. Bryant says he will act quickly to choose a new state College Board member after he moved one of his own recently confirmed board nominees into a different job.
Glenn McCullough of Tupelo was confirmed to the 12-person College Board during the legislative session that ended in early April, but Bryant announced Thursday that he has chosen McCullough to become director of the state's job creation agency, the Mississippi Development Authority.
The College Board oversees the state's eight public universities, and the part-time job is generally considered one of the most prestigious appointments in state government.
McCullough had been scheduled to start a nine-year term on the College Board on May 9, but he said Thursday that he will give up that position before it starts. He said he wants to focus on the MDA job that he begins in June.
Bryant said he would interview potential College Board nominees Thursday and could name his choice Friday.
"No slowing down," Bryant said.
Bryant must choose a College Board member from the northern one-third of the state. Board members must be confirmed by the state Senate, and the new nominee will serve until the Legislature is back in session. Unless Bryant calls a special session before then, the Legislature won't be back at the Capitol until January. It's not unusual for board nominees to serve several months while awaiting confirmation.
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.
Among other responsibilities, the College Board hires university presidents or, in the case of the University of Mississippi, the chancellor. The board also decides whether to renew the university leaders' contracts. The current board came under sharp public criticism for its decision in March to not renew the contract of University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones, which expires in mid-September. Some board members said they were dissatisfied with Jones' financial management of the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Although Jones disagreed that problems at the medical center were as serious as board members said, he acknowledged at a news conference that he no longer had the board's confidence.
In reaction to the board's decision about Jones, some lawmakers have said they want to restructure the College Board, possibly to create a separate governing body for each of the eight universities.
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