The Clarion-Ledger Editorial, 11/14/8

While Mississippi State University welcomes its new president, the state College Board and Legislature should see the need for restoring stability and openness in the university system.

If there is a legacy of this Board and retired higher education commissioner Tom Meredith, it is that public confidence was damaged. Tuitions have been raised repeatedly, university heads essentially have been chosen in secret and spending priorities and practices questioned.

The secrecy that has been the official presidential search policy with this Board is to a great extent to blame for public loss in confidence. A public university system cannot survive without firm public support.

Yet, at every turn, from increasing tuitions nine times in 10 years to cloaking its decisions, the Board under Meredith seemed intent on excluding public input.

It has reached the point that the Legislature now is considering proposals to go back to the Bilbo-era politics of having each university with its own board of trustees. While the frustration is understandable, such a change in governance could spell the demise of an efficient university system.