MVSU Likely to Continue Without Permanent Leader

Tim Goral's picture

It appears Mississippi Valley State University is likely to lack a permanent leader for the foreseeable future, even though the College Board has recently named new presidents for two other state universities.

The College Board decided not to renew Donna Oliver's contract at the Itta Bena institution in October, four years after she was named to head the smallest of Mississippi's eight public universities.

But while the board moved quickly on openings at Delta State University and the University of Southern Mississippi, it has been slower in replacing Oliver.

"We're not going to be in a hurry," trustee Ed Blakeslee said. "We're going to make sure we get everything worked through. We don't have a timeline, but it won't be quick."

In November, the board named Alfred Rankins Jr., the College Board's associate commissioner for academic and student affairs, as acting president. The board then voted in a closed meeting Jan. 17 to hire Portia Shields from the Registry, a group that provides interim leaders to universities.

Shields served two years as interim president of Tennessee State ending in December, with a mandate to clean up an administrative mess, solve accreditation problems, and lift enrollment and graduation rates. Those are similar to the problems faced by Valley.

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