Jackson State University President Thomas Hudson has been put on administrative leave with pay, the Institutions for Higher Learning announced Thursday.

Thomas Hudson Credit: JSU

The news came in a press release from IHL and did not detail the circumstances which required the Board of Trustees to place Hudson on leave. 

Hudson did not return a call or text message sent by Mississippi Today on Thursday. 

The IHL board met twice Thursday for a special called meeting to discuss “a Jackson State University personnel matter.” Both times the board immediately went into executive session. None of the members were present at IHL’s office in Jackson where the public meeting took place; all who attended did so via zoom.

JSU spokespeople said the university does not comment on personnel matters and directed questions to IHL. 

Elayne Hayes-Anthony will serve as temporary acting president, according to the release. Anthony currently chairs JSU’s Department of Journalism and Media Studies.

Dr. Elayne Hayes-Anthony. Dean of the School of Journalism at Jackson State University

“I am so pleased to lead the university that launched my career. I plan to work with faculty and staff for the betterment of the students, alumni and community we serve,” Hayes-Anthony said in a text message to Mississippi Today after her appointment was announced Thursday evening.

Hayes-Anthony is a Jackson native who spent 17 years at Belhaven University before moving to back JSU in 2015 (she spent 10 years at the university prior to her time at Belhaven).

“We are grateful that Dr. Hayes-Anthony has agreed to serve as Acting President,” Board of Trustees President Tom Duff said in a statement. “As alumnus and long-time administrator and faculty member at the university, she understands the campus, its students, its challenges and opportunities.”

The news comes after IHL voted in January to renew Hudson’s contract through 2027.

JSU’s faculty senate voted “no-confidence” in Hudson and his administration in January, a rare but ultimately symbolic move taken to demonstrate dissatisfaction with the president because of a “continuous pattern of failing to respect” shared governance and other professional norms of higher education. At the time, Hudson said in a statement he was proud of the work his administration had accomplished and he was “committed to continuing the work to collaboratively execute the strategic plan to make Jackson State the best institution it can be.” 

Hudson is a JSU alum and Jackson resident who was appointed president by the IHL board in November 2020. Prior to that, he was leading the university in an interim position after former president William Bynum resigned in February 2020 after he was “charged with procuring the services of a prostitute, false statement of identity and possession of marijuana,” according to a Clarion-Ledger report. A Clinton municipal judge convicted him of all misdemeanor charges.

Hudson receives $300,000 a year in salary from IHL plus a $5,000 annual bonus from the university foundation. Hayes-Anthony told Mississippi Today she would receive the same salary and bonus.

IHL said the board will “discuss the future leadership of Jackson State” at its next meeting on March 23.

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Kayleigh Skinner joined the Mississippi Today team in January 2017 as an education and legislative reporter and advanced to a senior staff member in her four years with the company. Before joining Mississippi Today, Kayleigh worked at The Hechinger Report, Chalkbeat Tennessee, and The Commercial Appeal. She has appeared on MSNBC, NPR, and BBC Newsday Radio to discuss her reporting.