Mississippi university president will resign months after no-confidence vote

Published 9:57 pm Wednesday, March 15, 2023

The president of Jackson State University will resign at the end of this month, weeks after the board that governs Mississippi’s eight public universities put him on paid administrative leave and months after the JSU faculty senate took a vote of no confidence in him.

Thomas K. Hudson was named to the top leadership role at Mississippi’s largest historically Black university in November 2020. On Tuesday, Higher Education Commissioner Alfred Rankins Jr. announced Hudson’s planned resignation, which takes effect March 31.

The board of trustees for the state Institutions of Higher Learning put Hudson on leave on March 2 but has not disclosed its reasons. Caron Blanton, spokeswoman for the board, did not immediately respond to questions from The Associated Press about why Hudson was put on leave and whether the board’s decision was related to the January vote of no-confidence.

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Elayne Hayes-Anthony will continue serving as acting president of JSU. The board will discuss the future leadership of Jackson State at its March 23 meeting. She had been chairwoman and professor in JSU’s Department of Journalism and Media Studies since 2015.

The JSU faculty senate issued a statement with its vote of no confidence in Hudson, saying members had raised concerns about whether the university administration was providing a “healthy, safe and secure environment” after automobile thefts occurred on campus.

The group also raised concerns about the appearance of the campus and said Hudson had failed to consult the faculty on decisions about curriculum changes. The statement called for “restoration of shared governance, transparency, accountability and academic democracy.”

JSU’s enrollment for the fall semester was about 6,900, down from nearly 7,100 a year earlier. Enrollment at most of Mississippi’s public universities decreased from 2021 to 2022.

Before Hudson became JSU president, he served nine months as acting president. He had several roles at JSU since 2012, including chief operating officer and chief diversity officer.