Alcorn State’s preferred candidate visiting

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, March 4, 2014

NATCHEZ — The candidate selected to lead Alcorn State University will visit the university’s Natchez and Lorman campuses today before an official decision is made on the presidency position.

Alfred Rankins Jr. was selected last week by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning as the preferred candidate to become the next leader of ASU.

Rankins, who is deputy commissioner of academic affairs and student affairs for IHL, is an Alcorn alumnus and served for a year as interim president of Mississippi Valley State University.

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Rankins is scheduled to be at the graduate school of business auditorium in Natchez from 9 to 9:45 a.m. today before heading to Lorman for the remainder of the day.

Rankins will meet with faculty, staff, students and alumni in Lorman from 10:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.

The public is invited to attend any and all of the sessions throughout the day.

The IHL board will meet at 3 p.m. today in Lorman to vote on Rankins appointment or decide to continue the search process.

IHL Commissioner Hank Bounds said today’s meetings are beneficial as part of the search process.

“We feel like we have the right person for the job, but before a final decision is made, the board will put him in front of these various constituency groups and ask them for their feedback on him as an individual and potential president,” Bounds said. “He loves the university, and I think we have an opportunity to connect a really special person with a really special university.”

Rankins said every presidential search he’s been a part of since being commissioner has resulted in the preferred candidate eventually being named president.

“I feel like we’re doing the appropriate level of due diligence, so my hope is that the board will confirm Dr. Rankins as president,” Bounds said. “I’m confident he is going to do amazing work there.”

The search process for a new president came after former president M. Christopher Brown II resigned in December. Brown stepped down as the board moved to suspend him during an investigation into purchasing violations.

Records 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, a former interim president of Alcorn and Natchez-Adams School District Board of Trustee chairman, has been serving as acting president since Brown resigned. According to board policy, the acting president is not eligible to apply for the permanent position.

Rankins and his wife, Juandalyn, have two children, Aftyn and Alfred.

Alcorn’s main campus is located in Lorman, with satellite campuses in Natchez and Vicksburg. The historically black university is fully accredited with seven schools and degree programs in more than 50 areas, including a nursing program.