- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 4, 2014

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Alfred Rankins Jr. was named the next president of Alcorn State University Tuesday by the Mississippi College Board, which chose an insider following an abbreviated search that became necessary after its former president resigned over a purchasing scandal.

The only person interviewed for the job, replaces M. Christopher Brown II, who stepped down in December as the board moved to suspend him during an investigation. Meeting in Lorman, board members unanimously voted for their 42-year-old deputy commissioner of academic affairs to take the reins at the 4,000-student university.

“I’m just ready to come back home and get to work,” said Rankins, a Greenville native who earned his undergraduate degree from Alcorn.

Rankins served for a year as interim president of Mississippi Valley State University. Board members said they believe Rankins proved he could lead during that time.

“After five years of working with him, I know he loves this university and he loves this state,” said Higher Education Chancellor Hank Bounds.

Rankins said he wasn’t sure when he would start, but didn’t foresee a “long delay.”

Records reviewed by The Associated Press show Alcorn spent almost $89,000 on furniture and renovations at the president’s house without seeking bids as required under state law. Documents also show Alcorn paid $85,000 in fees to a concert production company associated with a Brown aide, possibly violating state ethics laws. And an auditor says the school spent more than $67,000 in bond money on projects not allowed in the lending agreement.

Norris Edney has been serving as acting president since Brown resigned.

Usually, the board appoints a search committee, hires a search firm to look for a new president and interviews multiple candidates, a process that takes months. However, last year, the board changed the rules governing presidential choices to allow it to speed up the process. No search firm was hired for Alcornam, and the board search committee named Jan. 24 chose Rankins barely a month later.

Rankins met Thursday with faculty, staff, students and alumni on both the Natchez and Alcorn campuses. The school has a third branch campus in Vicksburg.

“My ultimate vision for Alcorn is for Alcorn State to be the model university, not in the state of Mississippi, but nationally,” he said repeatedly.

To students, he pledged an effort to make the university work smoothly for them.

“I know what it is like to be a student at Alcorn. I know the good, I know the bad. I want you to know that if I am president, I will listen to the concerns of the students.”

Rankins has said wants to wait for the state auditor and Ethics Commission to finish their investigations before proposing changes. But he repeatedly made clear that he didn’t want to repeat Brown’s mistakes.

“We can’t do anything about the past, but we can make sure past mistakes don’t happen again,” he said. “I know how to get things done and I can do things the right way.”

A number of College Board members were unable to attend Tuesday’s session in Lorman after a plane that was supposed to carry them was unable to be de-iced, Bounds said.

____

Follow Jeff Amy at http://twitter.com/jeffamy

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

blog comments powered by Disqus

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide