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6/2/2009 - Jackson, Miss.

The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) announced in a press conference today that Dr. Hank Bounds, Mississippi Superintendent of Education, is the preferred candidate for the position of Commissioner of Higher Education. The announcement was made following a meeting of the Board of Trustees and search consultants with Parker Executive Search.

"Dr. Bounds has all the qualities we were looking for.  He is an exceptional leader with vision, and he has proven that he can work effectively with a range of constituency groups, from elected officials to school and university leaders." said Commissioner Board Search Committee Chair Ed Blakeslee. "We are confident he is the right choice."

As the State Superintendent of Education, Dr. Bounds has changed the landscape of education in the Mississippi. He has garnered statewide support to decrease the state's dropout rate, implemented a new, more rigorous curriculum and assessment program, and guided the creation of a new school performance classification system. He has also launched a plan for Redesigning Education to better prepare students for today's workplace.  Dr. Bounds secured a $17 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and developed partnerships with numerous foundations and corporations both within and beyond Mississippi. He has also worked with the state's elected leaders to pass legislation crucial to the improvement of schools. Before becoming the chief executive officer of Mississippi K-12 Public Education, Dr. Bounds served as superintendent of the Pascagoula School District. He was principal in two high schools and one K-12 school. He holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Education degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi and a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Mississippi. A biographical sketch and photo of preferred candidate Dr. Hank Bounds may be found here.

On the morning of Wednesday, June 17, Dr. Bounds will participate in open interviews at the IHL Executive Office building with various constituency groups (schedule forthcoming). Individuals attending the open interviews will be given the opportunity to provide feedback to the Board of Trustees regarding their impressions of Dr. Bounds. At the end of the day, the Board will announce either that Dr. Bounds will be the next Commissioner of Higher Education, or that the search will continue.

IHL's executive officer search process allows Mississippi to be on the consideration list of the highest caliber professionals in higher education. The process is open, transparent and representative-based, and works in accordance with today's recruitment standards for high-level institutions of higher learning. For more information on IHL's executive officer search process, including search-specific timelines of events, visit

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.


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