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Commissioner of Higher Education
Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr.

Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr. was appointed commissioner of higher education by the Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) and began serving in this role in July 2018. As commissioner, Dr. Rankins advises the IHL Board on all matters pertaining to governing Mississippi's eight public universities and academic medical center. Dr. Rankins also supervises and evaluates the chancellor and presidents of the universities within the IHL system.

Shortly after his appointment as commissioner, Dr. Rankins initiated a statewide listening tour, where he met with students, staff, faculty, and community constituency groups to gain better insight into their needs and expectations from their university, the IHL Executive Office, and the IHL Board. As a result of the listening tour, Dr. Rankins commissioned two task forces to formulate recommendations for 1) lowering the price of electronic library resources and 2) awarding academic credit for military service. This work led to 1) a consortium agreement decreasing the cost of and expanding access to electronic library resources, and 2) a system-wide policy and guidance for the universities to award academic credit for prior military service. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Rankins also commissioned the Safe Start Task Force to recommend policies, practices, and protocols for operating IHL universities during the pandemic. Since fall 2020, all universities have offered face-to-face, online, and hybrid instruction and have not suspended campus-wide operations due to COVID-19 cases among students or employees. Over the past three years, Dr. Rankins has led system-wide advocacy efforts that have resulted in Mississippi's Legislature appropriating over $2.1 billion to the IHL system for campus operations and authorizing the issuance of over $291.4 million in state general obligation bonds to support capital projects.

Prior to being named commissioner, Dr. Rankins served as the 19th president of Alcorn State University. Under his leadership, the university enrolled its largest freshman class in its history and increased the average ACT scores of entering freshmen for three consecutive years. The university achieved its highest ever ranking by College Consensus as the #7 best HBCU and #1 best public HBCU in the nation. In athletics, Alcorn won several conference championships and a national championship, while graduating student-athletes in record numbers.

Dr. Rankins previously served in various roles in the IHL Executive Office including, deputy commissioner, associate commissioner for academic and student Affairs, and director of academic Affairs. While serving as deputy commissioner, Dr. Rankins also served as acting president of Mississippi Valley State University.

Prior to his appointment at IHL, Dr. Rankins served on the faculty at Mississippi State University (MSU), where he was a tenured associate professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and extension specialist with the MSU Extension Service.

Currently, Dr. Rankins serves on the State Workforce Investment Board, Education Commission of the States, National Association of System Heads Executive Board, Mississippi Health Insurance Management Board, and Entergy Mississippi Advisory Board.

A native of Greenville, Mississippi, Dr. Rankins received a Bachelor of Science degree from Alcorn State University and both Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Mississippi State University.

Commissioner's Listening Tour

Telephone: 601.432.6198
Fax: 601.432.6972
Email: Commissioner