According to a report by the Associated Press, Belle Wheelan, president of the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, wrote to retiring Community College Director Eric Clark that she had been contacted by some community college presidents concerning what they consider meddling by Gov. Phil Bryant in the choice for a new director.

From the report:

“I believe it would be a serious mistake for Mississippi to allow political interference to impact the selection of the new CEO and to give the impression that the board is willing to bend to political pressure,” Wheelan wrote, saying the state could also suffer bad publicity.

SACS accredits individual colleges, but not the statewide board.

Bryant spokesman Knox Graham described Wheelan’s letter as “baseless and condescending.”

The governor asked the board to drop requirements for an academic doctorate or experience in educational administration.

“I would hope you would reassess the existing job description and broaden the focus to include experience related to workforce training and development,” Bryant wrote in a Nov. 14 letter.


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