Dozens gathered in the Cochran Ballroom Wednesday to hear the announcement.
Mississippi University for Women had been waiting for this moment for 18 months.
They had time to prepare: A flurry of bright blue balloons flew into the room; the startling sound of noisemakers came with them.
A group of MUW staff had been waiting in the wings holding dozens of strings of light blue and royal blue balloons.
At 3:36 p.m., they got their cue: Dr. Jim Borsig was announced as the next MUW president.
As Borsig made his way to the podium, he was met with a standing ovation.
Jo Anne Reid was among those who stood to applaud him.
A 1960 graduate of The W, Reid was glad to know Borsig plans to preserve the college’s long-standing traditions, as well as introduce new efforts.
“I’m encouraged,” said Reid, who also is a past president of the MUW Foundation. “In the past, male presidents have been very popular with alums. I expect he will be, too”
It has been 23 years since MUW has had a male president.
“He seems like a great guy, like he’ll bring a lot of good things to The W,” said Cydney Archie, a senior communication major from Ocean Springs.
Borsig is open, friendly and approachable, qualities needed in a university president, she added.
Brenda Dickey waited with a crowd at Welty Hall to welcome Borsig to a reception.
“I think he’s a fine candidate,” said Dickey, who recently joined The W’s College of Education faculty from Mississippi College.
Dr. Marilyn Evans, also a new professor in the education department, was impressed with Borsig’s emphasis on diversity.
He also isn’t afraid to compete with what he called the neighboring giants, said Evans, who came to The W from Belhaven University and University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas.
The nearby giants include the University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University and the University of Alabama.
“When he said (that), you could tell he really had a stake … in the university,” she said, pausing to join the rhythmic handclaps ushering Borsig to his welcoming reception.
He was flanked by alumni, faculty and other well-wishers, as he entered the atrium.
And a group of about half a dozen women led an impromptu singing of a traditional university song, “Hail to Thee.”
“The spirit of our MSC is one of loyalty and true fidelity …” they sang enthusiastically, with arms around each others’ shoulders.
Borsig said he was overwhelmed and touched by the warm reception.
After knowing the university intellectually, Borsig said, he has found new appreciation for the school and fallen in love with it.
Borsig’s appointment was the fruit of two rounds of interviews and vetting more than 40 applicants.
As cameras flashed and people gathered excitedly to welcome Borsig, Interim President Allegra Brigham stood on the other side of the melee.
When the party moved from Cochran Hall across the street to Welty, Brigham stayed behind for a moment, talking with friends and fellow alumni.
Among them was Betty Lou Jones, who was head of the MUW Alumnae Association when the past university president, Dr. Claudia Limbert, cut ties with the more than century-old group.
Jones departed, and Brigham made her way to a planned reception, both with looks of approval and optimism.
It was a sign of old wounds healing and a university ready to embrace the future.
You can help your community
Quality, in-depth journalism is essential to a healthy community. The Dispatch brings you the most complete reporting and insightful commentary in the Golden Triangle, but we need your help to continue our efforts. Please consider subscribing to our website for only $2.30 per week to help support local journalism and our community.