Mississippi Public Universities
Commissioner of Higher Education
Dr. Hank M. Bounds

Whether leading a classroom of 30, a school of 1,000, a district of 7,500, a K-12 system of 500,000 or a university system of 80,000, Dr. Hank M. Bounds has demonstrated visionary leadership that is student-focused and facilitates the dynamic teaching and learning necessary for students and faculty to succeed.

During Dr. Bounds’ tenure as Commissioner of Higher Education, the number of students enrolled and the number of degrees awarded have increased every year. His progressive direction has enabled students to enter college prepared, both academically and financially, and then helped them to reach the goal of earning a diploma.

As Commissioner of Higher Education, Dr. Bounds provides leadership for the state’s university system, which includes four research universities, four regional universities, one academic health science center and the executive office.

He manages the human, financial and physical resources of the university system, including:

  • 80,000 students
  • 26,000 faculty and staff
  • $4 billion budget
  • 1,600 buildings with 33 million square feet of space
  • $600 million in research and development
  • $200 million in private giving

The universities are a collective, powerful and unmatched resource for advancing Mississippi. The eight universities include two land-grant universities, three historically black institutions, a law center, an academic health science center, a School of Veterinary Medicine and 200 Institutes and Centers.

He has led progressive efforts to ensure accessibility by designing and implementing efficiency efforts that range from energy and space efficiencies to technology acquisition and implementation and textbook pricing. A system-wide course redesign initiative, where 17 lower division course sections were redesigned, resulted in improved student learning outcomes and a reoccurring cost savings of more than $750,000 annually. The redesigned courses include a blend of classroom and online instruction.

He has also helped create a seamless transition between community colleges and universities by providing leadership in the development and implementation of articulation agreements specific to the majors selected by the majority of community college transfer students.

Dr. Bounds has been instrumental in working with the Education Achievement Council to build momentum and develop strategic plans to increase educational attainment in Mississippi. The Council brings together legislative leaders, business leaders and educational leaders from all levels and both public and private institutions.

He worked with the presidents of all eight universities to develop multi-year business plans to maximize resources while addressing the needs of the students on each campus and fulfilling each university’s unique mission. These plans included streamlining operations, reducing costs and sharing costs when appropriate.

A Sustainability Policy, adopted by all eight universities, includes the adoption of highly efficient building design standards and introduces a funding mechanism to capture savings and fund future energy initiatives. This has resulted in a 22 percent drop in energy use per square foot since FY06, culminating in a $61 million avoidance of natural gas and electricity costs across the system.

As Commissioner, Dr. Bounds worked with the Board of Trustees to implement a performance-based allocation model that distributes funds equitably and rewards universities for operating efficiently and achieving attainment outcomes. The new model replaced one that had been in place for more than 15 years.

Dr. Bounds has worked with the legislative leadership to improve education and provide greater opportunities for students. In addition to approving an increase in appropriations, the Legislature has provided a three-year bond bill championed by Bounds to help the universities plan for capital improvements. In the months and years following Hurricane Katrina and the BP Oil Spill, he worked with local, state and federal leaders to secure the resources needed by Mississippi schools and universities to aid in the recovery efforts. In 2009, he worked with state leaders to pass the Children First Act legislation that was crucial to the turnaround of Mississippi’s underperforming schools.

He has collaborated with the research faculty at the universities, under the leadership of the Mississippi Research Consortium, to coordinate research and development efforts that lead to new industries, quality jobs and higher wages.

Along with the Board of Trustees, he has solicited input and feedback from faculty and staff, students, alumni and the community while conducting searches for presidents at six of the eight universities.

Recognizing that diversity enriches higher education and contributes to the capacity that our students develop for living in a multicultural and interdependent world, Dr. Bounds and the Board of Trustees asked each university to define underrepresented groups for its campus, set goals for increasing participation of the underrepresented group in the student body, the faculty and staff and vendors. He and the Board also set a goal to enhance the overall education experience through infusion of content and programming, both in the classroom and beyond, that enhances multicultural awareness and understanding.

He has helped raise the profile of the university system through a marketing and branding campaign that highlights the contributions the universities make to advance the state together through teaching, research, service and outreach.

The “On the Bus” marketing campaign, a statewide campaign to inspire students to stay in school, was launched while Dr. Bounds was State Superintendent and garnered national attention. He partnered with State Farm to secure the resources necessary to launch the campaign.

In 2011, Bounds was tapped by the business community to chair their effort to build a statewide Blueprint for Mississippi. Blueprint Mississippi 2011, a major statewide initiative to create an action strategy for putting Mississippi in the place of greatest opportunity, was supported by research conducted by Mississippi’s research universities on focused on four broad foundational areas:

  • Education Achievement
  • Resource Management
  • Economic Competitiveness
  • Technology Commercialization

It also looked at issues that cut across all four foundational areas, including:

  • Community Life
  • Racial Reconciliation
  • Health Care
  • Infrastructure

The $1.25 million research project was funded by the private sector in cooperation with the Mississippi Economic Council, Mississippi Partnership for Economic Development and Momentum Mississippi.

As Commissioner, Dr. Bounds established the Office of Business and University Relations within the system office to facilitate access to university staff and research for business and industry, to streamline efforts to engage businesses and ignite innovation.

Dr. Bounds secured $20 million in funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to design a Center for Education Innovation. At its founding, he served as chair of the Center, which focuses on improving learning opportunities for children and works as an agent for sustainable change in communities where poverty, low educational attainment and a lack of infrastructure intersect.

As Commissioner, he has facilitated the launch of the Mississippi Higher Education Opportunity Endowment, which works to with diverse constituencies to secure funds to expand and enhance program offerings, support faculty, improve campus facilities and provide scholarships at Mississippi’s three historically black universities.

Since appointing Hank Bounds as Commissioner of Higher Education on July 27, 2009, the Board of Trustees has twice demonstrated great support for his leadership, voting unanimously to extend his contract in 2011 and 2012.

Dr. Bounds served as State Superintendent of Education from 2005 to 2009. During this time, he spearheaded an effort to design a more rigorous state curriculum and assessment system to meet national standards and ensure that students were college and career ready. This resulted in a dramatic improvement in reading as measured by NAEP, with the average scale score in Grade 4 Reading increasing from 204 in 2005 to 211 in 2009, and a significant decrease in the dropout rates. He also implemented High School Redesign, a plan to rework Mississippi high schools to ensure students are college and career ready and prepared to compete globally.

Before being named the State Superintendent in August 2005, Dr. Bounds served as superintendent of the Pascagoula School District. He was principal of two high schools and on K-12 school. He holds both a Bachelor of Science degree in Sports Administration and Secondary Education and a Master of Education in Educational Administration for the University of Southern Mississippi, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership from the University of Mississippi.

Dr. Bounds and his wife, Susie, are the parents of a son, Will, and a daughter, Caroline.