College Board May Again Take Up MSU Presidential Search

The state College Board on Wednesday expects to consider when it will resume the search for a new president at Mississippi State University. The 12-member board, which will be holding its annual retreat on the Gulf Coast, had called off the search last month when college trustees couldn't agree on a list of top candidates.

"I hope at this meeting we'll come up with an appropriate and realistic plan and resume the search right away,'' said board member Scott Ross of West Point.

The board, after interviewing several candidates, decided five weeks ago to suspend its recruitment and start over this fall. It had earlier planned to have a new president in place for the new school year that is about to begin.

The Starkville-based university is currently being led by interim President Charles Lee, who replaced Mack Portera in January. Portera left MSU to become chancellor of the University of Alabama. Ross and board member Carl Nicholson of Hattiesburg agreed that MSU employees, alumni and supporters are anxious to have a permanent leader.

"I sense there is some anxiety among the MSU family who want to move forward as quickly as we can,'' Ross said.

The feedback heard by the board has come from a broad spectrum ranging from campus employees to MSU sports fans uneasy about the presidential-search delay, they said. Nicholson said Lee was providing the leadership needed to guide the university this school year.

In June, the College board decided who it wanted to present to the public as presidential finalists. However, it interviewed one more candidate in July and then decided to temporarily shut down the search. Board members will not disclose the names of presidential candidates until it decides who the front-runners are. The trustees' split on just who the front-runners are reflects the different constituencies promoting their candidates, Ross said.

"I guess there are always factions when we've got as diverse a group of alumni and friends as Mississippi State has,'' he said.

The 16,900-student, 3,340-employee university is Mississippi's largest school.