When Jim Borsig announced his decision to stay on as president of Mississippi University for Women during a speech at Poindexter Hall this morning, it may have appeared to be a bolt out of the blue for the audience.
Less than a week before he was to officially step down as MUW president and assume the role of commissioner for Mississippi’s Institutions of Higher Learning, Borsig’s decision caught everyone off guard.
Quite likely the announcement was not the sudden change of heart some may have suspected. It is far more likely Borsig approached the decision in the same thoughtful, measured way that has marked his decisions since he left the IHL to become The W’s 14th President in January 2012.
His initial decision to leave The W for the IHL was not a matter of leaving for a better position, he insisted. Rather, he said, he was leaving a job he loved for an opportunity to serve a larger role in advancing the cause of the state’s eight public universities.
But almost as soon as he made the decision, the IHL board became embroiled in a contentious dispute over its decision not to renew the contract of popular University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones. Borsig found himself cast in the unenviable position of managing a controversy not of his own making as the IHL’s de-facto commissioner.
While Jones ultimately rejected Borsig’s efforts on behalf of the IHL to reach a compromise deal that would have allowed Jones to remain in his post for an additional two years, he was complimentary of Borsig and the role he played in the dispute.
The conflict has seriously undermined the IHL’s status. The job Borsig took in February is likely very different than the job it is today.
No doubt the Jones’ episode was a searing experience for the incoming commissioner. And, as is often the case, with turmoil comes clarity and insight.
Borsig’s sure-footed leadership in his three-plus years at The W has born fruit, work that has to be personally rewarding.
He has elevated MUW on numerous fronts. Enrollment is up, programs have been added or expanded. Facilities have been upgraded and renovated. The bonds between W alumni and the university community have been strengthened. Earlier this month, The W was proclaimed the “Best Value” among colleges and universities in the state by SmartAsset, a financial data and technology company, achieving high marks for low tuition costs, costs of living, student retention and average starting salary for graduates.
When Borsig announced his decision to leave MUW in February, he acknowledged that the work was not completed, saying “a president’s work is never done.”
Borsig’s decision to remain as MUW President will allow him to continue that good work.
Certainly, The W benefits greatly from his decision.
Welcome back, Dr. Borsig.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.
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