One week before the faculty senate at Jackson State University voted “no confidence” in President Thomas Hudson, the college board voted to renew his contract for another four years.
During an executive session after its regular monthly board meeting on Jan. 19, the Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees voted to renew Hudson’s contract through 2027. They also renewed the contract for Jerryl Briggs, the president of Mississippi Valley State University, for another four years.
The contract renewals were made public in this month’s board book.
The contract renewal does not mean Hudson or Briggs received a raise, according to IHL spokesperson Caron Blanton. As of last year, both presidents received a $300,000 annual salary from the state of Mississippi and an additional $5,000 foundation bonus.
The contract renewal signals the IHL board is supportive of Hudson as he is now dealing with the fallout from the faculty senate’s no-confidence vote. A JSU alum, Hudson was appointed president in the wake of a scandal after former president William Bynum was arrested in a prostitution sting.
At Thursday’s meeting, Hudson told Mississippi Today he is “always grateful for the support” from the IHL board.
In a statement to Mississippi Today sent after the story published, Hudson continued: “We’ve seen excellent progress over the last three years and I look forward to the work ahead. I’d like to thank the IHL board for their continued support of my administration and our accomplished students, faculty and staff.”
Tom Duff, the IHL Board president, said the board is “very pleased” with Hudson and that the contract renewal was not connected to the no confidence vote.
“Candidly, Jackson State is moving forward,” Duff said, citing the university’s financial and enrollment metrics and graduation rate.
At public universities, faculty senates are governing bodies elected by faculty to represent their concerns. No-confidence votes are relatively rare in Mississippi: The most recent happened in 2019 after the Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees appointed Glenn Boyce as chancellor at the University of Mississippi.
The JSU faculty senate’s two-page resolution accused Hudson and four members of his administration of a “continuous pattern of failing to respect” shared governance and other professional norms of higher education. It cited the fact that Hudson has not met with senate leadership since last August, according to faculty senate meeting minutes, instead requesting that concerns be sent in an email to members of his administration.
The resolution also calls out persistent issues of campus safety and the continued lack of a pay equity study for faculty and staff, which the senate has for years been asking Hudson’s administration to undertake.
Hudson’s administration has maintained that JSU could not afford to pay the vendors that responded to two requests for proposals for a pay equity study, though it is unclear how much money Hudson has committed to the study.
After the no-confidence vote, the Clarion-Ledger reported that IHL will investigate.
Duff told Mississippi Today Thursday that the IHL board’s commissioner, Al Rankins, will look into the vote and bring a recommendation to the board.
Rankins works directly with the university presidents in Mississippi, meeting with them frequently.
During a listening session at JSU after he was appointed in 2018, Rankins, who served as president of Alcorn State University, said that matters of shared governance don’t fall under his purview.
“Nothing gives me the authority to address shared governance,” he said. “Shared governance does not mean that all these different groups tell the president what he should do. Ultimately, the decision rests with the president.”