JACKSON, Miss. — Trustees looking for a new president for Jackson State University have been unable to reach a consensus.
After hours of closed debate Thursday, College Board President C.D. Smith said trustees are now broadening their search beyond three unidentified finalists they have been considering. Smith says it’s wrong to say the search is being reopened because the board always had the option to consider additional candidates. He said no votes were taken in the closed meeting.
Carolyn Meyers resigned as president of the 10,000-student university last year after trustees intervened in finances, citing dwindling cash reserves. Former U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige is interim president, but isn’t eligible for the permanent post. Paige, though, is likely to announce budget cuts in coming days, and austerity could make it hard for the next president to build campus support.
“Our goal is to identify the right person to lead this university at this time and it’s no secret these are issues that we’re working on, that we’re dealing with,” Smith said.
Jackson State National Alumni Association President Yolanda Owens released a letter Wednesday saying that eight JSU representatives involved in the search all backed one finalist.
“The JSU constituents were reminded by the board that our voices and opinions would honestly be considered as the final decision was made,” Owens wrote. “We believed you.”
Owens, who took part in interviews, was required to sign a secrecy agreement and declined further comment.
Higher Education Commissioner Glenn Boyce said trustees will meet again to discuss presidential candidates before their scheduled June meeting, but no date has been set.
Trustees typically name one preferred candidate, who meets with campus groups before a final vote by trustees.