Dr. Hank M. Bounds was appointed by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning as Mississippi's sixth Commissioner of Higher Education on July 27, 2009.
As Commissioner, Dr. Bounds oversees the state's public four-year university system, which includes the State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL), four research institutions and four regional institutions. Mississippi's public universities enroll more than 80,000 students and award more than 15,000 degrees each year.
Since beginning his tenure in 2009, Bounds has faced numerous challenges, including increases in enrollment and reductions in state appropriations. This year, enrollment increased by over 3,600 students or 4.7 percent from fall 2010 numbers. This year's increase is the largest single-year increase in enrollment. System-wide enrollment has increased annually since 1994 and for the first time fall enrollment exceeds 80,000 students.
To address these issues, Dr. Bounds has implemented several strategies, including working with the Board of Trustees to develop and approve a system-wide textbooks policy aimed at expanding the used book market and reducing the costs to students.
In addition, he led the university presidents in efforts to develop three-year business plans to prepare for possible reductions in state appropriations. He also worked with the Efficiencies Task Force, an ad hoc committee of the Board, and university presidents to find efficiencies in operations, such as reducing energy costs, and cost-sharing.
In addition to ensuring that the university system serves as good stewards of their resources, Bounds has worked hard to ensure that more students are able to reach the finish line of obtaining their degrees. He served on the Graduation Rate Task Force, which was comprised of 19 business, education and state leaders, and continues to serve on the Education Achievement Council, the permanent organization that grew out of the Task Force. The Council works to establish education achievement goals for the state and monitor on the state's progress toward these goals.
These goals are in sync with the recommendations of Blueprint 2011, which Dr. Bounds chairs. Blueprint 2011, a project to update the existing Blueprint plan and explore new areas of opportunity, includes among its recommendations to increase the educational achievement level of Mississippians and to support the Education Achievement Council in its efforts to increase the number of associates and bachelor's degree holders.
Toward these goals, Bounds has also provided leadership in the development and implementation of major-specific articulation agreements between all eight public universities and 15 public community colleges for students majoring in elementary education, business and physical education. Other majors will follow and will help thousands of community college students enjoy a seamless transition to the university of their choice and reduce the time necessary to obtain a bachelor's degree.
Dr. Bounds served as chair of the Center for Education Innovation, which is funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and focuses on the improving learning opportunities for Mississippi's children. The Center works as an agent for sustainable change in communities where poverty, low educational attainment and a lack of infrastructure intersect.
Dr. Bounds, a lifelong educator, previously served four years as State Superintendent of Education. As the chief executive officer of Mississippi's public K-12 school system, Dr. Bounds launched several groundbreaking initiatives including On the Bus, a statewide dropout prevention campaign that garnered national attention.
Dr. Bounds also spearheaded an effort to design a more rigorous state curriculum and assessment system to meet national standards, and implemented High School Redesign, a plan to rework Mississippi high schools to effectively prepare students to compete in the 21st Century world.
In 2009, Dr. Bounds worked with state leaders in both legislative chambers to pass the Children First Act, legislation crucial to the turnaround of Mississippi's underperforming schools.
Before becoming the State Superintendent in August 2005, Dr. Bounds served as superintendent of the Pascagoula School District. He was principal of two high schools and one K-12 school. He holds both a Bachelor of Science in Sports Administration and Secondary Education and a Master of Education in Educational Administration from 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.