Mississippi Hires First Black Higher-ed Commissioner

JACKSON, MS (Ben Caxton) — The first-ever African American has been named to oversee Mississippi’s eight public universities. On Friday the state College Board announced that Alfred Rankins Jr., currently president at Alcorn (ALL-corn) State University, will become higher education commissioner July 1st when Glenn Boyce retires. Rankins previously served as deputy commissioner and temporarily led Mississippi Valley State University before becoming president at Alcorn, where he earned his undergraduate degree. He has a four-year contract for the same annual salary as Boyce, $358,313. It’s the second time in a row the board has named a commissioner without an extended search process after choosing Boyce that way in 2015. Rankins says securing adequate funding will be his biggest challenge as commissioner as universities scrap for more money from lawmakers. Schools have focused on increasing enrollment to maintain and increase revenue, with most offering tuition discounts to attract out-of-state students. The Board has not formulated a plan to replace Rankins at Alcorn.



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