Extend the contract for University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones
This petition had 7,479 supporters
On March 20, 2015, the Board of Trustees for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning announced an attack upon the University of Mississippi. Around 4:30 PM, the IHL released its to decision not to renew Chancellor Dan Jones’ contract. The announcement comes within days of his return to his Oxford office after a few months of battling cancer. In a letter to the Ole Miss family, Chancellor Jones says the decision was not related to his health.
After six years of unwavering service for Ole Miss, Dan Jones will step down from the position of Chancellor. During his tenure, he has led the University to record enrollment, unrivaled fundraising, and incredible faculty recruitment. Jones pushed the University of Mississippi in a positive direction. During his tenure, the chancellor successfully sought to promote a service-oriented community. Within the past six years, students formed campus organizations sharing his vision, such as the Big Event (during which students spread across the Oxford community to assist anyone who needs help) and RebelTHON (a 12-hour dance marathon benefitting the Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson, MS).
Jones’ retirement was not a consensual choice. “I am very saddened that I will not continue as chancellor,” Jones wrote. “I very much wanted to continue to serve for another four-year term, and I am disappointed that will not happen.”
The decision seems to be based on politics. Jones has battled the IHL on a few issues – for example, when the IHL overstepped policy in an attempt to select the Vice Chancellor for the University of Mississippi Medical Center where the statute calls for the chancellor to make the selection (and who is better qualified for that than Chancellor Jones, who previously served the University as dean of the medical school?) or when he resisted a funding allocation plan that distributes state funds to various public universities. Additionally, Chancellor Jones has been attacked for progressive efforts since the beginning of his term, such as in 2009 when he ordered the band to quit playing a transitional part of “From Dixie with Love” (during which students would chant “The South will rise again”) or when he announced that the affectionate name "Ole Miss" would be used primarily in referencing athletics programs, promoting using "The University of Mississippi" as the school's academic identification.
The strongest supporters of Ole Miss voiced disappointment with the decision shortly after its release. Jim Barksdale, the University’s largest donor who has contributed over $30 million in the past fifteen years, expressed, “In my opinion, they’ve made an unforgivable decision. The school has never done better.” Other leaders feel the same way – Doug Sullivan-Gonzalez, dean of the Sally McDonnell-Barksdale Honors College, said, “I hope Gov. Phil Bryant asks the IHL to reconsider.” With the vocal support of these men, along with many others, the IHL will be faced with a difficult decision.
We, as members of the Ole Miss family, must support Chancellor Jones and formally call for Governor Phil Bryant and the Board of Trustees to reconsider their decision. With Dan Jones as our chancellor, we are Ole Miss.
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