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IHL leader listens to faculty, students, staff at Alcorn Natchez campus

 

NATCHEZ — New Mississippi Commissioner of Higher Education and former Alcorn State University President, Alfred Rankins Jr., Ph.D., met with and answered questions from the faculty and staff at Alcorn’s Natchez campus Tuesday afternoon.

Tuesday’s visit was Rankins’ latest stop on a listening tour that has taken him to all the state’s university campuses since he was appointed commissioner on July 1.

Rankins said his goal is to address the issues in higher education and hear the needs and concerns from each of the eight public universities in the state.

Donzell Lee, Ph.D., has served as interim Alcorn State University’s president since Rankins vacated the position when he accepted his new role as commissioner.

Members of Alcorn’s faculty and staff voiced concerns regarding budgetary needs, courses and activities offered as well as expressing the qualifications they desire from their next university president.

Rankins addressed the topics and told Alcorn’s personnel what he would like to see happen on the Natchez campus.

“Historically, this campus has been invested more in nursing and health courses,” Rankins said. “My concern is, this facility can be utilized for a lot more. What I would like to see is someone taking the initiative to find out what is needed in this community … and offer more programs to fit the need in this community.”

Rankins said the university’s faculty has the ability to change the programs and curriculum offered and should not rely on a newly appointed president to make those changes happen.

“The board hiring the next president is committed to finding the best fit for this university,” Rankins said. “Adjusting the curriculum … should start with the faculty. … They are in the best position for growing their programs.”

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