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Marcus L. Thomas Named New Jackson State University President

Marcus L. Thomas will be the new president of Jackson State University, the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi State Institutions of Higher Learning decided during Thursday morning’s board meeting.

The body, which oversees the state’s public colleges and universities, announced the decision for the historically Black university’s new president via a press release this afternoon.

“I’m very honored to be named President of Jackson State University because I believe in its mission, purpose and most of all, the outstanding faculty, staff, alumni and students who embody our school’s motto of challenging minds, changing lives,” Thompson said in the IHL press release. “I look forward to working closely with all of them to develop a consensus about strategic goals and objectives we can achieve by working together.”

Thompson is the deputy commissioner and chief administrative officer of IHL. His role includes overseeing the IHL staff and day-to-day operations of the agency.

He has also served as chief of staff and assistant to the Mississippi State Superintendent of Education. He earned bachelor’s degrees in history and Spanish and a master’s degree in education from Mississippi College; he also holds a doctorate in urban higher education from Jackson State University. Thompson previously served as an educator and administrator in the Jackson and Copiah County public school districts.

“The Board selected a leader who knows the unique historic importance of the university who will articulate a bold vision for the future and will be indefatigable in the pursuit of excellence for Jackson State University,” Dr. Steven Cunningham, chair of the Board Search Committee, said in the IHL press release.

The length of the process drew scrutiny. IHL appointed the members of the search committee in April and named Cunningham, a JSU alumnus, as chair. It also selected the company Academic Search to assist in the process. The board held online and in-person listening sessions with faculty, staff and students to provide feedback and created an advisory panel to help create a profile of the next president.

Still, many saw the process as too secretive. The search began with nearly 80 applicants. The hiring

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