JACKSON, Miss. — Interim Jackson State University President Rod Paige says his main priority is to get the university’s finances in order, which includes hiring a chief financial officer.
Paige, speaking to The Clarion-Ledger editorial board, said he is trying to get his hands wrapped around issues at his alma mater, but the main financial issue is expenses currently exceed income at the approximately 9,000-student university. That leaves two options: reduce expenses or expand revenue, he said.
No decision has been made yet on reducing expenditures, but he says a review is underway of the benefit-to-cost ratio of JSU’s auxiliary facilities, including the Downtown Jackson campus, the Madison campus, the Jackson Medical Mall office, the E-Center in Jackson and the Walter Payton Wellness Center on the main campus. “I’m not ready to rule anything off the table,” Paige said.
He also said he should have an interim CFO in place within two weeks. However, he believes it could take years to get the university’s finances in order. “I’m optimistic it can and will be resolved,” he said.
However, it’s unclear whether those issues can be resolved before Paige’s term ends. The state College Board appointed Paige interim president on Nov. 1 after Carolyn Meyers’ resignation became effective. He’s expected to serve until a permanent president is selected, hopefully within seven months.
College Board spokeswoman Caron Blanton said members of the Campus Search Advisory Committee should be made soon.
Paige, 83, a former U.S. secretary of education, graduated from JSU and is also a former JSU football coach. The Monticello native helped implement the national No Child Left Behind program when he was education secretary from 2001 to 2005, during President George W. Bush’s administration.
“This university is amazing to me in so many ways,” Paige said. “I’m very amazed about its potential, spirit of the students, and the power of the programs.”