Video: IHL Leader Accepts University of Nebraska President Job
JACKSON, Miss. (WCBI and Press Release) — Mississippi Commissioner of Higher Education accepted the top job at the University of Nebraska Monday afternoon. University leaders made the announcement via Twitter.
The Nebraska Board of Regents approved Hank Bounds, to become the 7th president.
Bounds has overseen the eight public universities in the Magnolia State since 2009. The 47-year-old is a native of Forrest County. He began his career as a teacher, principal and superintendent over the Pascagoula School District.
“I have had many wonderful opportunities to serve in my home state and, as a lifelong Mississippian, it certainly will not be easy to leave our extended family and friends,” said Dr. Bounds. “The University of Nebraska is a great public university with even greater potential. I look forward to having the opportunity to make a difference and help fulfill that potential.”
The University of Nebraska’s Board of Regents announced four finalists, including Dr. Bounds, for the position in early November and has been conducting on-campus interviews and forums with each finalist, beginning in mid-November and continuing through late December.
“Dr. Bounds has made a tremendous difference in higher education in Mississippi and, in fact, on all levels of education in our state,” said Aubrey Patterson, president of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning. “He has supported each institution in fulfilling its unique mission, while understanding the critical role that the university system plays in the economy and quality of life of our citizens. He has united the eight public universities in an unprecedented manner. His visionary leadership has fostered a strong connection between the business community and the university system that will continue to fuel economic growth for years to come. While we certainly hate to lose his talents in our state, we understand why the Nebraska Board of Regents has selected him to lead the university. He will bring to them the same kind of dynamic, strategic and innovative leadership that he has provided here.”
As Commissioner of Higher Education, Dr. Bounds provides leadership for the state’s university system, which includes four research and four regional universities, one academic health science center and the executive office. The universities include two land-grant universities, three historically black institutions, a law center, a School of Veterinary Medicine and 200 Institutes and Centers.
He manages the human, financial and physical resources of the university system, including: 80,000 students, 26,000 faculty and staff, approximately $4.5 billion budget, 1,600 buildings with 33 million square feet, $500 million in research and development and $250 million in private giving.
“Dr. Hank Bounds is a committed leader who demonstrated a great vision for advancing higher education in Mississippi,” said Dr. Mark Keenum, President of Mississippi State University. “His departure marks a big loss for the Mississippi higher education system and a major gain for the future of the University of Nebraska. I wish Dr. Bounds and his wonderful family every possible success in this new chapter of their lives.”
Understanding the need to manage resources effectively to maintain accessibility, he worked with the presidents to develop multi-year business plans to maximize resources while addressing needs of students and fulfilling each university’s unique mission. He has led progressive efforts to reduce costs through energy and space efficiencies, technology acquisition, course redesign and textbook pricing.
Dr. Bounds worked with the Board of Trustees to implement a performance-based allocation model that distributes funds equitably and rewards universities for operating efficiently and achieving attainment outcomes. The new model replaced one that had been in place for more than 15 years.
“Dr. Bounds has been a great advocate for higher education in the state of Mississippi,” said Dr. Carolyn Meyers, President of Jackson State University. “He is a joy to work with. His leadership, professionalism, brilliance, and passion will be missed. Mississippi’s loss is Nebraska’s gain. And his selection reflects well on the talent in our state. The entire JSU family joins me in congratulating him and wishing him continued success.”
Dr. Bounds advocated for higher education with the legislative leadership to provide greater opportunities for students. In addition to approving an increase in appropriations, the Legislature has provided a three-year bond bill to help the universities plan for capital improvements. Following Hurricane Katrina and the BP Oil Spill, he was able to build and leverage alliances with local, state and federal leaders to secure the resources to aid in the recovery efforts.
“We will certainly miss Dr. Hank Bounds and his leadership at our Mississippi universities,” Gov. Phil Bryant said. “However, I am proud to see one of America’s great universities choose a Mississippian to be their president. Deborah and I extend our best wishes to Hank and his family as they begin this new journey together.”
In 2011, Bounds was tapped by the business community to chair Blueprint Mississippi 2011, a major statewide initiative to bring together diverse perspectives and create an action strategy for putting Mississippi in the place of greatest opportunity. The collaborative effort was funded by the private sector in cooperation with the Mississippi Economic Council, Mississippi Partnership for Economic Development and Momentum Mississippi.
“Getting more done with limited resources is a hallmark of how Dr. Hank Bounds approached public administration – in K-12 and at the university level,” said Blake Wilson, President and CEO, Mississippi Economic Council. “Despite the challenges of recovering from a major natural disaster, Hurricane Katrina, and a tough international recession, Dr. Bounds has continued to move public education in Mississippi forward with focus and tenacity.
“Dr. Bounds raised the bar in accountability and raised the curtain in transparency so that Mississippians could definitely learn how their individual schools performed academically as easily as they could assess their athletic capabilities. At the University level, he created a collaborative approach among eight presidents, to promote the concept of working together for a better allocation of state resources and for a cooperative approach in undertaking research and other programs to benefit Mississippians. This spirit of collaboration has enabled our universities to move forward individually and collectively, while bringing a sense of stability and mutual respect to the university system.
“The University of Nebraska will benefit from his rifle shot ability to cut to the heart of an issue, develop a strategy for approaching it and then build support among a diverse group of stakeholders for assuring success. Dr. Bounds cuts a sharp leadership path, but has the unique ability to actively involve stakeholders of varying perspectives in implementing initiatives, while remaining flexible in their execution to make useful course corrections.
“Focus, flexibility and an ability to listen are examples of a strong leader – Dr. Bounds will approach his work in Nebraska with these skill sets teamed with the highest level of integrity and heartfelt compassion.”
Dr. Bounds served as State Superintendent of Education from 2005 to 2009. Prior to that appointment, Dr. Bounds served as superintendent of the Pascagoula School District. He holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. He earned a doctorate from the University of Mississippi. Dr. Bounds and his wife, Susie, are the parents of a son, Will, and a daughter, Caroline.
Dr. Bounds will continue to serve as Commissioner of Higher Education through April 12, 2015 and begin serving as President of the University of Nebraska on April 13, 2015. The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning will announce a timeline for the search for the next Commissioner of Higher Education soon.