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10/20/2008 - Jackson, Miss.

During its emergency teleconference, the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning accepted the resignation of Mississippi State University Interim President Dr. Vance Watson, effective immediately, and acknowledged his decision to retire from Mississippi State effective October 31. A statement from Dr. Watson is attached to this press release.

"Dr. Watson is a true example of a servant leader," said Board President Amy Whitten. "He has worked for Mississippi State University for over 42 years, and we are grateful for his service to MSU and to the State of Mississippi."

The Board also announced that long-time MSU Vice President Dr. Roy H. Ruby will serve as Interim President. Dr. Ruby was raised in Yazoo City and Belzoni. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Mississippi State University, and a doctorate from the University of Mississippi. Prior to his retirement in 2004, he worked for MSU for 40 years, including 17.5 years as Vice-President for Student Affairs, and three years as Dean of the College of Education. For one-and-a-half years, he was both Vice-President and Dean of the College simultaneously. Dr. Ruby has been married to Patricia Randle for 46 years, and they are the parents of two children: Mary, from Hoover, AL, the mother of their two grandsons; and Robert, a special agent with the FBI, stationed in New Orleans.

The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.



In light of the recent landscaping controversy that has arisen, I have decided that it is in the best interest of Mississippi State University and myself if I resign from my position as Interim President of Mississippi State University and retire. I have had the pleasure of working for MSU for over 42 years and I have loved every minute of my service there. I would never intentionally do anything that would be disrespectful nor bring dishonor to this great institution. It is my hope and prayer that Mississippi State will continue to be one of the leaders in education not only in the South, but also in the Nation.

I have met with the State Auditor's office and cooperated with them in every way regarding their investigation of this landscaping matter. I settled the matter with the State Auditor's office by paying the full amount that they determined was due. It is important that you realize that this was a civil claim by the State Auditor's office and not a criminal one. I never derived any personal gain out of this matter. I have great confidence that any further investigation will substantiate that fact and clear me of any alleged criminal responsibility.

My retirement will be effective as of October 31, 2008. I will assist the new Interim President in every way necessary to ensure a smooth transition. It is my hope that Mississippi State University can now have closure on this matter and continue the important mission of higher education in Mississippi.

Dr. Vance Watson

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