The first-ever African American has been named to oversee Mississippi’s eight public universities.

According to the Associated Press, the state College Board announced Friday that Alfred Rankins Jr. will become higher education commissioner July 1 when Glenn Boyce retires. Rankins is the current president of Alcorn State University.

“My experiences at Alcorn will inform my decisions as commissioner, which will help me to serve all eight public universities in Mississippi as we work together to advance the system and the state,” Rankins said in a statement.

Associated Press, Jeff Amy and Sarah Mearhoff