MSU President Search Put On Hold

The state College Board announced Tuesday it was suspending the search for a new president at Mississippi State University.

Higher Education Commissioner Tom Layzell said the board will resume its work in the fall.

"To be successful, a presidential search requires a stronger consensus about presidential attributes than appears to be present at this point,'' Layzell said in a statement. "The board has interviewed some very talented and competent individuals but in these circumstances believes the best course of action is to suspend the search and reopen it in the fall.''

The board held a private meeting with one candidate on Monday. The board has not said how many people have been considered for the job of leading Mississippi's largest university.

Charles Lee is temporarily heading the 16,900-student school. He became interim president in January when Mack Portera left to become system chancellor of the University of Alabama. Portera had been MSU president since 1998.

Layzell said Lee will remain on the job until a new president is named.

The list of interviewees reportedly has included New Mexico State University President Jay Gogue; Mark Keenum, chief of staff to Republican U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.; Navy Vice Adm. Paul Gaffney II, president of National Defense University in Washington; and University of Florida vice president Michael Martin.