COLUMBUS, Miss. – On Friday, Feb. 15, Dr. James B. Borsig will be installed as the 14th president of Mississippi University for Women in the university’s almost 130-year-old history. The formal inaugural ceremony will be held in Rent Auditorium, Whitfield Hall, 10 a.m.
The university will host various events including an Afternoon of Service for MUW students, faculty and staff Wednesday, Feb. 13 from noon to 5 p.m. The MUW Student Art Exhibit and Reception will follow from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Eugenia Summer Gallery in the Fine Arts Building.
On Thursday, Feb. 14, there will be a performance by pianist Elena Klionsky in Kossen Auditorium in Poindexter Hall. The event is sponsored by the Leslie F. Threadgill Lecture and Artist Series.
The celebration will close with the Inauguration 5K Campus Run and 1 Mile Walk on Saturday, Feb. 16 at 9:30 a.m.
Dr. Borsig has had a long career in higher education and public service.
Prior to his appointment, he served as associate commissioner for external relations and public policy for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, a role in which he provided leadership for external and governmental relations and communications, as well as staff support for the system’s research enterprise, public policy and economic research.
He also has served as assistant commissioner for government relations for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, as executive assistant to the president of the University of Southern Mississippi and as research and development coordinator for the John C. Stennis Institute of Government.
While at IHL, he led work on raising Mississippi’s educational attainment by increasing the number of college graduates produced by the university system.
A native of Jackson, he holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and American studies and a master’s degree in political science with a concentration in public administration, both from the University of Southern Mississippi. He earned his doctorate in public policy and administration from Mississippi State University.
As President Borsig steps onto the inaugural stage, he will don the presidential gown and medallion, a tradition that has spanned over the university’s history.
The history of academic dress can be traced to 1321, when gowns were required at the University of Caimbra in Portugal. The wearing of a long gown was prescribed in England in the second half of the 14th century. It has been suggested that the gowns may have been necessary for warmth in the unheated buildings which were used by medieval scholars. Since all scholars were churchmen in the Middle Ages, much of the academic costume retains vestiges of ecclesiastical attire.
The president’s gown has full, round, open bell-shaped sleeves, is faced with blue velvet and carries four bars of blue velvet, trimmed with gold cording on each sleeve to denote rank.
The president’s medallion is an integral part of the president’s regalia and symbolizes the Office of the President. The medallion is the official University Seal, which bears the university’s name above and Columbus Below. The center of the seal is a bald eagle with outstretched wings basking in 10 rays of sunlight. The number 1884 is emblazoned upon the sun, denoting the year of the university’s founding. The medallion hangs from a ribbon of MUW Blue, worn around the president’s neck.
MUW’s mace is wood, carved in the shape of torch and the phrase “We Study For Light To Bless With Light” is engraved across the face of the mace.
Ceremonial maces were originally carried as a symbol of royal authority, dating back to the Middle Ages. The academic mace is a symbol of the authority invested in the president by the university’s governing body.
The university mace is carried by a member of the faculty before the president in academic processions in formal ceremonies such as commencements and inaugurations.