JSU alumni file lawsuit against IHL Board claiming "racially dis - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

JSU alumni file lawsuit against IHL Board claiming "racially discriminatory practices"

Source: JSU Source: JSU
Source: IHL Source: IHL
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Jackson City leaders express no confidence in the State Institutions of Higher Learning Board and Commissioner Dr. Glenn Boyce.

The City Council passed resolutions showing no faith in the college board and supporting an anti-discrimination lawsuit against the body.    

The resolution passed in a three to one vote.

This comes after the IHL Board named Dr. William Bynum as the preferred candidate for the job of the next Jackson State University President. 

READ MORE: IHL names preferred candidate for vacant Jackson State University Presidency

Retired JSU Professor Ivory Phillips and attorney Alvin Chambliss urged the council to support the resolution.

Chambliss filed a lawsuit alleging discrimination in the states higher education system.

Phillips and Chambliss say IHL has no black college representation, unfair funding and excludes black colleges in their choice for college president.

"You would never take a president sitting at Ole Miss to Mississippi State," said Chambliss. "I mean do these people think we're crazy."

RELATED: Critics fight IHL's apparent choice for JSU President

"There has never been a representative from all three of those institutions at the same time," said Phillips. "At this particular point, there are no representatives who are alumnus of Jackson State, Alcorn nor Valley."

"There's something broken in the system there at IHL and I remember what happened to Dr. Dan Jones and the disturbance that that caused," said Margaret Barrett Simon, Ward 7.        

Dan Jones served as Chancellor of Ole Miss from 2009-2015 before  IHL declined to renew his contract.

Chambliss filed suit on behalf of Dr. Phillips and others against the IHL Board of Trustees in Hinds Chancery Court, for racial discrimination when it comes to historically black colleges and universities and its selection process.

In response to the lawsuit, IHL Board President C.D. Smith said in part: "Our state Constitution provides that the IHL Board of Trustees has the duty and responsibility for selecting the presidents of all state universities. The Constitution created that system in order to isolate the selection process from political pressure from any source."

Here is Smith's full statement: 

Our state Constitution provides that the IHL Board of Trustees has the duty and responsibility for selecting the presidents of all state universities.  The Constitution created that system in order to isolate the selection process from political pressure from any source.

The Board, while it is entrusted with the duty of making the selection, makes extensive efforts to secure input from all of the many constituencies of the university – including alumni, students, faculty, staff, community, donors, and taxpayers.  However, while the Board seeks advice and information from the aforementioned, the Board does not allow any person, persons, or group to dictate which candidate will be finally selected by the Board.  To the extent that some of the      members of the Jackson State University (JSU) advisory committee believe that they are entitled to direct the Board as to which candidate would be selected as the Preferred Candidate, they are mistaken.  

While we understand that people may have different views as to the best candidate for JSU, we are certain that any attempt to make the selection of its next president a debated political issue is divisive, and therefore, has the potential of being harmful to the university.  As a result, our policy requires all search committee members to provide certain written assurances by signing the Search Committee Code of Ethics. These written assurances outlined in the Code of Ethics include:

As a member of a Search Committee and/or as a facilitator of or participant in the search process, I accept my responsibility to protect the integrity of every prospect and candidate and of the process itself. Furthermore, I agree to the following:

1. I certify that I am personally not a candidate for the position. Any appearance of real or potential conflict of interest between myself (or any members of my family) and a prospective candidate will be disclosed promptly and completely to the Commissioner of Higher Education.

2. If serving as a search committee member, I pledge to keep as my primary focus the committee’s charge to attract, review, screen, and refer the best qualified candidates. I understand that the Search Committee must work together to achieve this goal and I will strive to help the group resolve any differences of opinion in a constructive professional manner.

3. If serving as a search committee member, I will adhere to the following code of responsibility, accuracy, confidentiality, and integrity:

a) I pledge to respect the absolute confidentiality of all prospects and candidates. I will not reveal to anyone, unless authorized by the Board of Trustees, the name of, or any information about, any candidate before or after the completion of the search process.

b) I will avoid permitting personal interests to distort or misrepresent the facts in all written communications and/or discussions.

c) I will be fair and unbiased and I will guard against inaccuracies, carelessness, bias and distortion made through either emphasis or omission of information.

d) I will diligently review all relevant materials.

e) I understand that only the Board of Trustees and the Commissioner of Higher Education are authorized to make public comments regarding the search.

f) I consider the content and intent of this statement to be a matter of personal responsibility.

The selection of the best candidate requires a determination as to which of several candidates has the talent and experience to deal with the issues that will be faced by the University over the president’s tenure.  In addition to overseeing the academic affairs of the institution, the president must oversee and direct finances to assure budgetary soundness. The president is responsible for staffing and employment practices, assuring compliance with all legal, regulatory and accreditation requirements, overseeing competitive athletics and the related budgets, and when possible assist in securing additional financial resources.  Finally, the president must relate to all of the constituencies of the university, enlisting them in support of all of the programs of the university.  All of these are very important – and none can be neglected.  The task is to select the candidate who will best lead the university in dealing with all issues.

JSU, particularly at this juncture of its history, needs to become united behind whoever is selected as the next president. In the view of the Board, the experience of Dr. Will Bynum made him the most qualified preferred candidate.  The Board is confident that he has the talent and experience to be an able and effective president of Jackson State University.

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