JACKSON, Miss. ― A state higher education administrator is the board’s choice to be the next president of Alcorn State University.
The board announced Thursday that Deputy Commissioner of Academic Affairs Alfred Rankins Jr. is its preferred candidate to become the next leader of the 4,000-student university.
Rankins previously served as interim president of Mississippi Valley State University.
The College Board began a rapid search for a new president after M. Christopher Brown II resigned in December. Brown stepped down as the board moved to suspend him during an investigation into purchasing problems.
Records reviewed by The Associated Press 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 law. And an auditor says the school spent more than $67,000 in bond money on projects not allowed in the lending agreement.
Norris Edney has been serving as acting president since Brown resigned.
Usually, the board appoints a search committee, hires a search firm when it looks for a new president and interviews multiple candidates, a process that takes months. However, last year, the board changed the rules governing presidential choices to allow it to speed up the process. No search firm was hired in the Alcorn search, and the board search committee which was named Jan. 24 appears to have held one meeting Wednesday to interview or discuss candidates.
Rankins is expected to visit the campus to meet with faculty, students and other groups. The College Board will vote on his/her appointment after those sessions.
Alcorn State, the nation’s oldest historically black land-grant university, has a main campus in Lorman and branch campuses in Natchez and Vicksburg.