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5/20/2010 - Jackson, Miss.

The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) voted today to appoint former Jackson City Councilman Dr. Leslie Burl McLemore as interim president of Jackson State University (JSU).

Dr. Ronald Mason Jr., 57, will step down as JSU’s president in June to accept a new position as president of Southern University and A&M College System in Louisiana. Dr. Mason was appointed as president of JSU in February 2000.

The Board also initiated searches for permanent presidents at JSU, Alcorn State University (ASU) and the Mississippi University for Women (MUW) by naming the Board Search Committees for each institution. Dr. Claudia Limbert, current president of MUW, is retiring in June. Dr. George Ross, former president of ASU, accepted a position as the new leader of Central Michigan University in February. Dr. Norris Edney is serving as ASU interim president.

Search committees are as follows:

  • ASU: Trustees C.D. Smith (chair), Ed Blakeslee, Dr. Stacy Davidson, Dr. Bettye Neely, Dr. Doug Rouse
  • JSU: Trustees Bob Owens (chair), Dr. Bettye Neely, Alan Perry, C.D. Smith, Amy Whitten
  • MUW: Christy Pickering (chair), Dr. Bettye Neely, Aubrey Patterson, Robin Robinson, Scott Ross

Timelines for the searches have not been determined.

“I am honored to have been asked to serve as the interim president of the institution where I have built my career over the last 39 years,” Dr. McLemore, 69, said. “I am prepared and ready to go to work for the people of Mississippi and for Jackson State University, one of the finest institutions in this nation.”

Dr. McLemore is the former Dean of the Graduate School, founding chair of the Department of Political Science and founding director of the Office of Research Administration at JSU. He is also a member of a group of faculty who founded the Fannie Lou Hamer National Institute on Citizenship and Democracy.

Dr. McLemore is currently a professor of political science at JSU.

“Jackson State needs an interim president who is supported by the university community. With his teaching and leadership experience at the university, Dr. McLemore certainly has that support,” IHL Board President Dr. Bettye Neely said. “The Board is confident that he is the right person to oversee the institution during this transition.”

Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Hank Bounds said Dr. McLemore’s relationship with the greater Jackson community will be beneficial to the system.

Dr. McLemore was elected to the Jackson City Council in a special election in April 1999. He served as President of the Council six out of his 10 years on the Council.

After the death of former Jackson Mayor Frank Melton, Dr. McLemore was appointed interim Jackson mayor.

“Dr. Mason began a great transformation of Jackson State that deeply connected the institution to the community around campus. It is important that we select a caretaker who is able to continue to grow that relationship,” Dr. Bounds said.

Dr. McLemore earned a bachelor’s degree in social science and economics from Rust College, a master’s degree in political science from Atlanta University and a doctorate in government from the University of Massachusetts. He has been a post-doctoral fellow at the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African American Research at Harvard University and The Institute for Southern History at John Hopkins University.

Dr. McLemore is married to the former Betty Mallett. They have one child, a son, Leslie McLemore II.


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.

Click here for more information about IHL and Mississippi’s public universities.

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