Adam Ganucheau’s article on Mississippi Today is the best I’ve read on the IHL board’s hiring of Glenn Boyce to be the next chancellor of Ole Miss. It captures a lot of my thoughts on the process.

I have no opposition to Dr. Boyce, in theory. I like his story. He seems qualified on paper. It was fine to hire him. Just not like this.

My biggest reservation about Boyce is that anyone who would agree to being hired under these circumstances may not be smart enough to handle such a high profile position that oversees a lot of moving parts. He should not have allowed himself to he hired under these circumstances.

I liked this assessment by former Ole Miss Law School Dean Richard Gershon:

“I really am sorry for Dr. Boyce in a lot of ways,” said Richard Gershon, former dean of the University of Mississippi School of Law and current law professor, who tweeted over the weekend that Boyce should resign. “He was put in a position where instead of celebrating his appointment, there’s a lot of dissension. Had the campus had the opportunity to meet him as was set forth in the procedures of the IHL, there might have been some disagreement but not this dissension. We’ve now got a much worse situation because they bypassed this input. That’s unfortunate because he could be really good for this university, but he’s starting out behind the curve.”

Exactly. He’s set up to fail. And he let himself be set up to fail.

Boyce had a conflict of interest since he was involved in the hiring process as a paid consultant. If IHL wanted to hire Boyce, it needed to go slower–not faster. It should have taken steps to remove the conflict by reopening the application process, making Boyce apply and interview and return his compensation related to the search. They did none of that.

So people are rightly skeptical:

“The process is obviously flawed,” said Chuck Ross, history professor and chair of African American Studies Program who has taught at the university since 1995. “When you select an individual that was a consultant, that’s very problematic on its own. But why didn’t (the IHL board) feel comfortable putting this person into the process? That calls into question his credentials. The fact they didn’t do that could indicate they didn’t necessarily feel that strongly about his credentials relative to those of other candidates.”

I’m an Ole Miss Law School graduate and Mississippian. I’m not mad about the hiring. I’m embarrassed. It makes us all look dumb. Twelve people on the IHL Board and no one realized how bad this was going to look? Or worse, just didn’t care?

Apparently, there were a lot of applicants for the position. Some were current or former business people, judges, attorneys and politicians. People I don’t know well, but have heard of. They were all competent.

Perhaps their backgrounds made them an unconventional candidate for Chancellor, but they were smart enough to quickly learn the job. Certainly there were good enough candidates so the IHL should not have blown-up its own process and given the position to an insider.

It seems like the IHL liked Boyce the most. Of course they did. They knew him best. But it should not be about who they would like to tailgate with this weekend.

One sure fire way to lose credibility–professionally and personally–is to not do what you say. The IHL said it was going to use a certain process to hire the Chancellor. They didn’t do what they said, in about the worst possible way. The optics are bad for Boyce, but they are terrible for IHL.

Hopefully, current and future IHL members learn from this. Because let’s face it, there’s a good chance they will be looking for another Ole Miss Chancellor within the next few years. Because based on where Boyce is starting, there is a huge chance this does not work out.

I’m going to put the over/under line on Boyce’s tenure at 30 months.

  • Anonymous

    Like you, I am stunned that neither Dr. Boyce nor, apparently, any of the esteemed members of IHL anticipated the reaction to this appointment and initiated a plan to avoid it. This ridiculous lack of foresight alone should be sufficient to disqualify all of them from their positions. How can they be trusted to do their jobs if they didn’t see this one coming?
    Lest there be any glee concerning Ole Miss’s predicament among rival institutions, know this: if IHL will do it once, it will certainly do it again–perhaps to your favorite school next time.
    How will IHL ever entice qualified applicants for such openings in the future? Who, being qualified, would waste time applying and interviewing knowing the dog-and-pony show already has a predetermined winner?

  • Pieter T

    The red tape and politics make the over the safer bet (but not by much). Seems like Boyce is a Triple C (caretaker compromise candidate). While I did not attend Mississippi’s flagship university, there is no glee. As Anon summarizes well, this is a ridiculous lack of foresight. Why can’t we do better? Why why why? And what competent individuals will want to apply next time? Maybe now more folks will appreciate Khayat.