Students at the University of Mississippi are up in arms over the ousting of Chancellor Dan Jones, carrying red and white signs offering their support and asking classmates to sign a petition and attend a protest rally on campus.
The sudden decision has been met with an outpouring of emotion from angry alumni and faculty as well.
“This is a guy who was doing right in my eyes, and because he was doing right and standing up for what he believes in, he’s no longer allowed to be in that position,” said Chandler McKinley, a sophomore from Raleigh, N.C.
The 12-member board came to the decision quickly in what is being called a “cowardly manner” by Sam R. Hall for The Clarion-Ledger. No public announcement was made concerning the decision that was made only four days after Jones had returned to work following lymphoma treatment.
A statement was made the day after the decision was handed down in which the board said that while they were pleased with his leadership skills, their concerns stemmed from a financial angle over the University of Mississippi Medical Center, which Jones also oversees.
Students on campus are angered by the decision, with many of them gathering together to form the grassroots movement “Students for Chancellor Jones,” the group in charge of the rally set to be held in an effort to get the board to overturn their decision. Many appreciated his efforts to make the campus inclusive and lessen the racial climate once found to be controversial, writes Kayleigh Skinner for The Jackson Free Press.
“Well, honestly, a lot of us are shocked,” said senior Phillip Waller. “This blindsided us. We couldn’t believe that a chancellor that has given so much to this university and made the university succeed in so many ways was unceremoniously dumped.”
A number of efforts to reverse the decision have been started on campus, including an online petition on change.org, which currently has over 7,000 signatures. In addition, the faculty senate will be holding a vote concerning a resolution, and State Representative Steve Holland is at work to have a resolution passed in the Mississippi legislature. About 60 students and faculty members attended the most recent IHL meeting in support of Jones.
“Losing Dr. Jones’s presence on campus – I think there would be a general morose feeling on campus. It would be like we had lost, you know, a member of our family,” student Sarah Stewart said.
Similar rulings made concerning educational leaders in Virginia and Texas were both overturned due to pressure from students and faculty members. However, the Board of Trustees for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) does not seem to be considering a reversal.