- Associated Press - Friday, October 9, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - College Board trustees begin interviewing candidates next week to find a permanent replacement for a popular chancellor at the University of Mississippi whom the board forced out by declining to renew his contract.

Board President Alan Perry of Jackson said Thursday that the trustees will hold first-round interviews Tuesday and Wednesday at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, seeking a permanent successor to former Chancellor Dan Jones. Morris Stocks, now interim chancellor, isn’t eligible for the permanent job.

Trustees declined last March to renew Jones’ contract, citing concerns about contract management at the medical center. The decision prompted protests by students, faculty and alumni, but Jones and trustees couldn’t reach an agreement for Jones to remain. A physician, Jones has since rejoined the faculty at the medical center, leading clinical research into obesity treatment and prevention.

Perry wouldn’t say how many candidates are to be interviewed initially. He said the pool contains “a good number,” but the exact figure is “not material.” Trustees typically try to keep details private of their searches for leaders of the eight public universities they oversee, and Perry said releasing even a number would invite speculation.

Perry also won’t say whether any candidates are Ole Miss alumni, or whether any now lead other schools.

“There are a lot of quality candidates,” he said. “We’re very pleased to have the choices we have.”

The board plans to interview a smaller number of candidates in a second round in November, Perry said, with plans to announce a “preferred” candidate before the end of the year. That single candidate is typically brought to a university’s campus for interviews with faculty, students, staff and alumni. Unless a problem arises, the board typically then votes to hire that person.

Board members say they hope to name a new chancellor for the 24,000-student university by year’s end.

Candidates were screened by a 34-member campus search advisory committee, where each member voted on people they wanted trustees to consider. Perry said all of the candidates chosen for interviews by trustees had at least “some support” from the committee. However, he said trustees might have different opinions than the committee.

“We have a lot of information through our consultant that the Campus Search Advisory Committee doesn’t necessarily have,” Perry said.

Bill Funk, president of the Dallas-based search and consulting firm R. William Funk & Associates, is advising trustees.

Provost Morris Stocks has been serving as interim chancellor since June 15.

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Online: University of Mississippi chancellor search: https://www.mississippi.edu/ieo/um/

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


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