People from other parts of the country often look at Mississippi as a banana republic somehow washed up on our nation’s shores. Its citizens, this stereotype goes, favor indolence over labor, ignorance to education, demagogues over democracy.
Apparently, some of our leaders embrace stereotype.
Last week, the state’s Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees bypassed its own hiring process by appointing Dr. Glenn Boyce as the Chancellor to the University of Mississippi. Boyce, a former IHL commissioner who had been hired to advise the board regarding its search, decided to apply for the job belatedly. In essence, he got paid $87,00 to assist with a search, then helped declare himself the winner.
The IHL held no campus interviews with faculty or students. You need not imagine how students reacted. According to the Ole Miss Faculty Senate, IHL skipped 12 of the 20 steps outlined in the school’s hiring plan.
The twelve members of the IHL board have all been named by Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant. They seem to have taken a page from the preferred method of his party’s parliamentary procedure: discuss all important items in a smoky backroom, develop legislation away from the prying eyes of voters and the media, approve the legislation without opportunity for debate or improvement. IHL leaders accommodated other stakeholders in the process to the same degree that Republicans accommodate Democrats in the state legislature. It may be efficient, but it isn’t right because it lacks transparency and oversight.
IHL Trustee Ford Dye said that the board moved quickly because “there’s a lot of division in the Ole Miss family right now. We wanted to get Dr. Boyce on campus to unify the Ole Miss family.” His comments can be placed in the same logical and ethical framework as a sitting president asking foreign rulers for dirt on political rivals.
Dr. Boyce may be perfectly capable of leading Ole Miss in a positive direction. However, by eschewing process in favor of promptness, the board that hired him has acted with insouciance unbecoming a public institution.
Although prompt action may have been what was needed, a group as prominent and important should not be able to simply skip past the majority of it’s processing. Yet it seems to have done just that with no resistance. Of course, there is plenty of cries of bull now, but there’s no way to stop something that’s already happened. Anyway, the point is that there needs to be limitations on what a board can do. There is no need to make another position above them, to supervise the supervisors, simply make it to where they cannot do whatever they want because they feel like it is necessary. The effect of this decision leaves many involved in the 12 skipped steps feel unimportant; being treated like your opinion does not matter is not right and those that did that to others need to have their decisions revised.
The hiring of Dr.Glenn seems to be the first time that the IHL has bypassed 12 of the 20 steps outlined in its own hiring plan. The fact this was allowed to happen sets precedence for other rules to be bypassed or ignored by the IHL, which, is not necessarily a good thing. Rules that are apart of an Institution are usually there for a reason, whether it be to make transitions go smoother, to prevent money being embezzled, or to prevent conflict. Either way, the bypassing of 12 out of 20 of the hiring law was not the best move on the IHL’s behalf.
Mr. Dye states that the board moved quickly to reunite the Ole Miss family, but by moving quickly, they broke it up even more. Without completing the entire process, they left out the students and faculty of the school being able to interview him. This brought separation because there was no background check on Dr. Glenn Boyce, and the students did not have a chance to see what kind of person he is. Therefore, how are they able to trust him. Skipping the steps gave the students and faculty the impression that their opinions did not matter. Although Dr. Glenn Boyce may make a great Chancellor to the University of Mississippi, the IHL should not have skipped the steps necessary to determine this.
I believe these actions are not justified. Although the board said the acted to “unify the Ole Miss family,” I don’t see how they could think this would happen. How would bypassing rules you set for yourself unite the people of the campus. Now the only thing unified will be the protesters you are forcefully removing outside of the press conferences as you discuss how to fix your screw up.
People in positions of power should be held responsible for making sound decisions. By bypassing twelve of the twenty steps required to hire someone, the IHL is setting a terrible example for all of the students on campus and all of the young leaders in Mississippi. Making a fast decision is very rarely the best decision, and going back on anything that is established is always a bad one. There is a reason that the hiring process was so long and extensive: because at one point it wasn’t. Twenty steps might seem absurd and unreasonable, but the reason that the hiring process calls for it is to prevent inadequate people from filling important positions. Skipping the majority of steps to hire yourself is—quite frankly—bullshit. I’m personally extremely disappointed in this outcome and I support the students and everyone else in their outrage.
Even if the hiring of Dr. Boyce was the best decision for Ole Miss, they are setting a precedent of neglecting rules and procedures for unethical hiring practices. It should not be allowed for someone who is on the search committee to then be hired after not applying for the job at first. The committee should have taken more time to find the right person in the right way instead of hiring someone who should not have even been considered. It looks bad on the search committee and the school, and I think it will create more division as students and onlookers will see the unethical practices and be angry about how the committee turned a blind eye to its own rules to appoint someone who was on the committee, which is clearly unethical.
No matter what this was not a justified action. Rules and procedures are put into place for a reason. Even with a prominent group, these rules should not be worked around for the sake of convenience, no matter how great the need. Public outcry is clearly justified, for they broke a series of rules that were put in place for a reason. However, what’s done is done, and I feel though everyone should just get over it eventually.
In my personal opinion, I believe that Dr. Boyce was justified in performing this action. This is because Mississippi is currently in a state of fogginess, and it could use some speeding up in order to promote efficiency and conciseness. This is because people from around the country see Mississippi as the outcast of society, and even the prompt says that “People from other parts of the country often look at Mississippi as a banana republic somehow washed up on our nation’s shores”. Some people state that this was not a justified action, as rules and procedures are put into place for a reason. I do not agree with these statements, as rules were created to be broken.