Dear Ole Miss Family,
It is with a very heavy heart that I received the news from our governing board, the Mississippi Board of Trustees of Institutions of Higher Learning (the College Board), that they will not renew my contract as Chancellor of the University of Mississippi. The Board has the responsibility of selecting and overseeing leaders of the eight public universities in our state. I am grateful to the College Board for initially selecting me as chancellor in 2009 and giving me the opportunity to lead this great university.
But I am very saddened by the decision that I will not continue as chancellor. Lydia and I have loved serving the university in this role the last six years. I very much wanted to continue to serve for another four-year term, and I am disappointed that will not happen.
The College Board’s decision is not related to my health. Many of you have expressed concern for me and my family as I have battled cancer in recent months. Thankfully, my health is good. I’ve been blessed with a remarkable response to the chemotherapy. I’m grateful for all the expressions of concern and support during that time. And I’ll look better when I have hair, eyebrows, and color. But I’m working mostly full days and not constrained from fulfilling my responsibilities.
In meeting with board representatives, I was informed a key concern for the board was my relationship to board members and the Commissioner and my unwillingness to adjust to the board’s desired governance structure. Over the last couple of years, I have expressed concern and disagreement with the board in some areas, including the funding allocation plan that distributes state funds to various public universities, business issues at the medical center, and responsibility for managing the selection process for the position of vice chancellor to lead the medical center.
I am a person with strong passions about our university and medical center. Although the Board may view our conflict differently, for me, every disagreement we experienced was rooted in trying to do what was best and fair for our university.
In closing, Lydia and I thank every alumnus, student, staff member, and faculty member for your kindness to us. We intend to serve these last days until the end of my contract on September 14, 2015, with joy and gratitude. The university is in a great position for continued progress on most every measure of success:
- There is no finer leadership team in higher education than ours, and they will continue the great work that has been instrumental in our growth and progress.
- We have an outstanding and productive faculty dedicated to the success of our students.
- We have an incredibly talented student body that is growing in quality and quantity with amazing student leadership.
- We have a world-class medical center making a difference every day through their programs of clinical care, research, and education.
- We have a very strong program in athletics with superior leadership.
- And we have alumni and donors supporting us in unprecedented ways.
Ole Miss is in a great position and will continue to do well.
And so will Lydia and I. As we finish our work here, we will begin exploring what God has next in store for us. So far in our lives, He has provided some pretty unusual and amazing opportunities. We look forward to the next chapter. Wherever we land, we will always be proud Ole Miss Rebels.