Board of Trustees names preferred candidate for Alcorn State University

Board of Trustees names preferred candidate for Alcorn State University

The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning announced today the selection of Dr. Alfred Rankins, Jr. as the preferred candidate for the presidency of Alcorn State University. An Alcorn State University alumnus, Dr. Rankins currently serves as deputy commissioner for academic and student affairs for the Institutions of Higher Learning. He served as Acting President for Mississippi Valley State University for one year, beginning in November 2012.

Since 2008, Dr. Rankins has served in Academic Affairs at IHL, most recently as deputy commissioner. In this role, he has served as the system’s chief academic officer, manages a $14 million budget, and advises the Board of Trustees and the Commissioner of Higher Education on all matters pertaining to academic programs, policy and planning; student access, readiness and success; and faculty affairs.

A native of Greenville, Miss., Dr. Rankins holds an undergraduate degree in agricultural economics from Alcorn State University and a master’s degree in weed science and his doctorate in weed science, both from Mississippi State University. In addition to holding degrees in agriculture from land-grant institutions, Dr. Rankins has also worked at MSU, where he served as a tenure-track assistant professor, tenured associate professor, extension specialist and assistant vice president intern for academic affairs.

As the Acting President of Mississippi Valley State, Dr. Rankins was responsible for serving students, managing the university’s operational budget, leading more than 500 employees, managing 114 buildings totaling 2,110,320 square feet, with a total asset value of $186 million. He focused on student recruitment and retention, which resulted in a 30 percent increase in first-time freshman over the previous year, and streamlined processes in many facets of the university, including student support services, business operations, alumni engagement and planned giving.

Dr. Rankins was recommended by the Board Search Committee, chaired by Trustee C.D. Smith.

“I believe Dr. Rankins is the perfect fit for Alcorn State University,” said Trustee C.D. Smith, chair of the ASU Board Search Committee. “He loves the university, certainly, but, more importantly, he has proven leadership ability and experience gained at universities, both land-grant and historically black universities, as well as the system office.”

In addition to Chair C.D. Smith, the members of the ASU Board Search Committee include Trustees Ed Blakeslee, Bob Owens and Robin Robinson.

“Dr. Rankins has proven to be a capable, thoughtful and visionary leader in higher education in Mississippi,” said Aubrey Patterson, president of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning. “He understands both the academic and administration sides and will lead the university to a bright future that honors the history of the university while meeting the needs of today’s students.”

As the system chief academic and student affairs officer, Dr. Rankins provides leadership and direction to the chief academic officers and chief student affairs officers at the universities. He was instrumental in the development of a state-wide reverse transfer Memorandum of Understanding between the eight public universities and 15 public community colleges in the state. In addition, he formulated a system-wide policy for accepting for transfer the Associate of Arts degree from Mississippi community colleges. He led the system-wide course redesign pilot in 17 courses resulting in improved student learning outcomes at a reduced course delivery cost.

While at Mississippi State University, he taught several undergraduate and graduate level courses in the Department of Plant and Soil Science. His research on topics in weed science has