Fortunately, College Board Stands Its Ground With Dan Jones

Ole Miss alumni on both sides should move forward

A week ago the battle of Ole Miss apparently ended with Chancellor Dan Jones’ press conference and his statement that he and the college board could not reach an agreement to extend his contract beyond September. Jones finally did what he should have done earlier. Despite the actions of his supporters, the college board did not reverse its decision on extending Jones’ contract. When the college board voted 9-2 on March 20 not to renew his contract, it never received much publicity that the two board members who supported Jones did not go to Ole Miss. Of the four members that voted with the 9-2 majority to fire Jones, two of the four attended school on the Oxford campus and two went to school at the medical center in Jackson. There was never a presumption in the press that the overwhelming majority, with the facts they had at hand, made a decision that was in the best interests of Ole Miss. Now it is time for Ole Miss alumni to move forward regardless of their support or non-support of Jones. I have little doubt that the college board will conduct a nationwide search for Jones’ successor. The best thing that can happen now for Ole Miss is that a truly outstanding candidate will be selected to lead the university.

Clarion-Ledger’s pro-Jones bias and coverage loses its “victim”

Right to the bitter end and even past Jones’ decision on March 9, the very biased press coverage of the controversy continued. There were numerous offenders but perhaps the worst were Clarion-Leger reporter Therese Apel and executive editor Sam Hall. On social media Apel said “…I’m convinced now EVERYONE thinks most of the IHL board is a bunch of knuckleheads. Prob even God.” She also said that the IHL board was “absolutely WORTHLESS.” Again, the caps are Apel’s. These are just two of her social media comments and there were more, including an earlier one about people thinking the college board were “A-holes.” Yet on Monday, March 30, Apel’s byline was on the lead front page story about a pro-Jones Sunday protest at IHL headquarters in Jackson. There were plenty of holes in that story, both in the story itself and the subhead to the main headline: “Chancellor backers rally in Jackson.” However, Apel’s social media comments reflected a total lack of professionalism from a person who was reporting the Jones controversy. Hall was not far behind. He took the “IHL leadership” to task on Twitter for a news release IHL sent minutes before Jones’ March 9 press conference. Hall said, “Way to stick it to him (Jones) one last time.”

There was nothing wrong with the IHL release considering how Jones publicly reacted from the time his contract was not renewed. Why should the college board let Jones set the news agenda? In a later column Hall started with the following: “The sordid affair surrounding University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones came to an end this week. Usually there are two sides to every story with the truth lying somewhere in the middle; however, this story seems to be as lopsided as it appears on the face.” I disagree. What was lopsided was The Clarion-Ledger’s coverage of the Dan Jones story. What is even more interesting is that the newspaper seemed to have sympathy for the University of Mississippi Medical Center. The newspaper talked about the decisions the college board made behind closed doors. Yet every time legislative changes have been attempted to remove the open meeting and public records exemptions for UMMC and other publicly owned hospitals in the state, UMMC officials were leaders in opposing legislation for more transparency of public hospitals.

Dr. Jim Borsig an excellent choice as IHL commissioner

[Note: This was written prior to Dr. Borsig’s announcement, subject to college board approval, that he desires to return to MUW as president rather than serve as IHL commissioner.]

Former Mississippi University for Women president Jim Borsig was an excellent choice as commissioner of IHL. Borsig had a very impressive resume prior to becoming president of “The W” when he was an associate commissioner at IHL. On this one, I will give Dan Jones credit for his comments about Borsig. In Jones’ statement announcing he was stepping down, he said, “Commissioner Borsig has dealt with me in a candid and transparent fashion. Please remember that he was thrown in the middle of a difficult situation and was not involved in any of the decisions about my future.” Jones is right.

Borsig was just recently installed as commissioner and was put in a difficult position involving one of the college board’s most controversial issues in many, many years. A lot of people in the state were enamored with Borsig’s predecessor, Hank Bounds, who is now president of the University of Nebraska. I was not one of them. Interestingly enough, Jones and Bounds were apparently not fans of each other. On this one, I again side with Jones. When Bounds left IHL for Nebraska I felt that Mississippi’s gain was Nebraska’s loss.

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