JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Dr. Dan Jones said Friday that the state College Board is not renewing his contract as University of Mississippi chancellor, and he will leave the job when his current four-year contract expires in mid-September.
"I am very saddened by the decision that I will not continue as chancellor," Jones said in a letter on the university website (http://bit.ly/1FglY8w ). "I very much wanted to continue to serve for another four-year term, and I am disappointed that will not happen."
Jones, a 66-year-old physician, has led the university since June 2009 after serving six years as the university's vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.
He recently returned to work full time on the main campus in Oxford after treatment for lymphoma. He said Friday that his departure is not related to his health.
He said board members expressed concerns about his "unwillingness to adjust" to the way they conduct business for the state's eight public universities.
"Over the last couple of years, I have expressed concern and disagreement with the board in some areas, including the funding allocation plan that distributes state funds to various public universities, business issues at the medical center, and responsibility for managing the selection process for the position of vice chancellor to lead the medical center," Jones wrote.
"I am a person with strong passions about our university and medical center," he continued. "Although the Board may view our conflict differently, for me, every disagreement we experienced was rooted in trying to do what was best and fair for our university."
Jim Borsig, the incoming commissioner of higher education, said in a statement that the College Board voted Friday to direct him to prepare for a search for a new University of Mississippi chancellor. Borsig said Jones' contract ends Sept. 14.
Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, who has chosen four of the 12 current College Board members, was "absolutely not" involved in the board's decision about Jones, the governor's spokeswoman, Nicole Webb said.
"He did not ask the board not to renew this contract," Webb told The Associated Press.
Bryant said in a statement: "Dan Jones has served Ole Miss honorably as both chancellor of the university and as vice chancellor of health affairs for the University of Mississippi Medical Center. I wish him the best in his future personal and professional endeavors."
Jones has sought to distance Ole Miss from some of its Old South symbols, winning praise from students and alumni who say the university needs a more forward-looking image and criticism from those who say he has tried to rob the campus of its character.
He released a plan last August to try to make the campus more inclusive by creating a mentoring program for black students and documenting the less-than-flattering aspects of the school's history, including the struggle over integration in 1962.
The United States is not yet "a truly post-racial society," Jones explained in a memo releasing the 2014 plan. "Our unique history regarding race provides not only a larger responsibility for providing leadership on race issues, but also a large opportunity — one we should and will embrace."
Confederate Drive, a short street near Fraternity Row, was renamed Chapel Lane, and Jones said plaques could be installed to explain the history of symbols such as a Confederate soldier statue near the main administrative building. The report recommended creating a new job of vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion. It also recommended that the university do more to tell the history of slavery, secession, segregation and their aftermath in Mississippi.
Update 3/20/15; 7:40 p.m.
Statement from Commissioner of Higher Education (verbatim):
“The contract of Dr. Dan Jones, Chancellor of the University of Mississippi, concludes on September 14, 2015 and the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning has not extended the term of that contract. The Board voted today to direct the Commissioner to begin appropriate preparations to conduct a search process for the next Chancellor of the University of Mississippi in accordance with the Board’s policy,” said Dr. Jim Borsig, Commissioner of Higher Education.