Understandable and disappointing, those are some of the words being used to describe USM President Horace Fleming's decision to resign.
Thursday night, after a five hour meeting, the state college board offered Fleming a one-year contract to continue as USM's president. In essence he told the board, thanks but no thanks. Fleming had been working under a four year contract.
"The board has not given me what I think is necessary to be effective as president of USM, and I would be doing a disservice to the institution that I love dearly to precede under those circumstances," Dr. Fleming told reporters.
On the Coast, even the Vice President of USM's Gulf Coast campus Dr. Jim Williams says he is baffled by the board's decision.
"I personally hate to see Dr. Fleming leave the university," he said. "I think we as an institution and we as a state are losing a good leader."
Jim William's describes Horace Fleming as a man who was not afraid to tackle difficult and controversial issues, and because of that, made some people unhappy. As for Dr. Fleming, he has no regrets.
''I look back and say would I have taken a different direction would I have taken a different step on the initiative, no. I am very mission driven, give me a mission and I will accomplish that mission."
Since the college board's meeting was behind closed doors, even now, no one knows for sure why Fleming was only offered a one-year contract. Although most speculate it had something to to with Fleming's funding priorities.
Soon, the process will begin to find a new president. Coast legislator Diane Peranich, a Fleming supporter, says it might be difficult to find anyone who wants the job.
"Who is going to come in and endure at least a two year budget crisis, and assume this mantle other than this courageous man who they put in this situation?"