USM: Getting Weirder by the Minute
More holes were punched today in President Shelby Thames' excuses for failing to pay attention to reaccrediting the University of Southern Mississippi.
At the Hattiesburg American, reporter Kevin Walters is staying on the case. Today's article on the accreditation crisis features Myron Henry, a Professor of Mathematics at USM who served as Provost from 1998 to 2001. Henry denied that the university encountered any snags with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools while Horace Fleming was president and he was provost. In fact, Henry spent a year on strategic planning, producing a detailed document in 1999 that has been completely ignored by the Thames administration.Thames' special assistant, Joan Exline, retorted that USM has no need of the 1999 plan. Thames and crew have put together something a whole lot better:
But Southern Miss officials have created a new strategic plan for the university which was begun last year and a draft of it has been distributed to administrators, Exline said.
"This is not an issue anymore," she said.
The all-important monthly meeting of the Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees began at 1:30 this afternoon. Thames was supposed to appear before the Board today to answer questions about USM being put on probation by SACS. ( Another item on the agenda was USM's request for"legal assistance" to deal with requests under the Mississippi Public Records Act. It seems that that the USM Faculty Senate and the Hattiesburg American are demanding to see a lot more USM documents than used to be the case.)
In the end, however, Shelby Thames never showed up for the Board meeting this afternoon in Jackson. Provost Jay Grimes was summoned in his place. Grimes added to the mystification by refusing to say what agenda items he had been brought in to address, and insinuating that the Board might not get around to considering USM's accreditation problems at all (!). The Board's spokeswoman also insisted that any discussions of USM's being put on probation would take place in executive session. Apparently the fact that many are calling for Thames' removal from office over his mishandling of accreditation is sufficient to turn accreditation into a personnel matter.
The 6 PM news on WDAM-TV has it that Thames will make his appearance in Jackson tomorrow morning. Stay tuned.
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