JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -The state’s Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees are under the microscope. Their recent process of naming the Ole Miss Chancellor sparked protests.
Now, lawmakers are pushing back on their power. There are multiple proposals that would lead to a power shift within the state college board. Republican Rep. Trey Lamar filed a bill that would give appointments to the Governor, Lt. Governor and Speaker.
“What that would prevent is a situation that we’ve had the last several years we are all 12 members were appointed by one individual,” said Lamar.
Another bill targets a controversial issue of naming new school leaders. HB 1571 would take away the sole authority from the board of trustees. Instead, it suggests a seven member search committee made up of appointed alumni from that school and one member selected by the board. Rep. Chris Bell’s proposal is more drastic. It proposes abolishing the IHL Board.
“It’s imperative that each school has a voice and selecting individual that’s going to lead them to the next decade," explained Bell. "As it relates with IHL, we have had them to be a part of this selection process. It hasn’t worked out in certain instances.”
But a pathway out for his proposal is now unlikely because of all the committees it would need to clear.
“It was disheartening to see my bill be triple referred," said Bell. "I was told that that’s rare in this building to have a piece of legislation triple referred. to have a triple referred was just saying that we don’t wanna hear what you have to say.”
Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann says he hasn’t read the details of any of the bills that would put some appointment power in his hands. But said this about the college board.
“I think we need to give them some leeway on making decisions like that," noted Hosemann. "There have been complaints on the last two about not having input or whatever. So, we can always do better.”
Both Lamar and Bell have filed House Resolutions that would seek to change the state constitution, as well. The structure of the IHL Board is found within both the state constitution and the state law.