The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning appointed Mississippi University for Women President Jim Borsig as Commissioner of Higher Education at a meeting held earlier today in Jackson.
“Dr. Borsig brings more than 30 years of experience in higher education and policy, all in Mississippi, to the position,” said Trustee Aubrey Patterson, president of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning. “In addition, he has the experience of leading a campus and understands the challenges and opportunities our universities face today. His skills and experience make him the best choice to lead the university system at this time and to continue and accelerate the progress being made.”
Serving as President of Mississippi University for Women since January 2012, Dr. Borsig has promoted an atmosphere of inclusivity by seeking input from broad-based campus constituency groups on a number of important issues, renewed a focus on student recruitment and retention and expanded undergraduate and graduate program offerings, while retaining the university's historic focus on academic and leadership development for women.
“I am leaving a job I love to serve a System I believe in,” said Dr. Borsig. “I look forward to the continuing work of the public university system to advance Mississippi. Serving as president of The W will always be one of the highlights of my professional career. I will cherish my time here along with my valued colleagues and friends. I am confident the Long Blue Line will remain strong as The W continues its important and unique role in our state's higher education system.”
As president, Dr. Borsig has continued student focus groups to gather feedback on their university experiences and expectations. He established an Enrollment Task Force to establish goals and strategies to increase student recruitment and retention. The task force has now been constituted as a standing Enrollment Management Council, an indication of the increased emphasis he has place on working collaboratively across campus to boost student retention. In addition, he has reshaped processes to support student success, named a director of the Student Success Center and added navigators for each of the four colleges.
“Dr. Borsig has been a transformative leader as President of The W, and I know that he will do great things for the State of Mississippi as Commissioner of Higher Education,” said Nora R. Miller, Senior Vice President for Administration/CFO at Mississippi University for Women. “The Board of Trustees could not have picked a better or more qualified person to be at the helm of the System. We are grateful for all that has been accomplished during his tenure and for the vision and processes that have been put in place to help guide our future actions.”
Dr. Borsig has sought campus input on a number of important issues, including branding and messaging, a possible return to athletics, and continued analysis of technology capabilities and future needs. Following business advisory group recommendations, Dr. Borsig convened a campus task force to plan leadership design for the 21st century and engaged a nationally recognized thought leader to assist with that effort.
“I am delighted to welcome Dr. Jim Borsig as the new Commissioner of the State Institutions of Higher Learning,” said Dr. Rodney D. Bennett, President, The University of Southern Mississippi. “Dr. Borsig is a seasoned administrator who possesses both campus and system experience as well as a proven record of working with the Mississippi state legislature. His calm demeanor, attention to detail, and extraordinary communication skills will serve him well in this new role as he advances public higher education in Mississippi and beyond. I am confident that his ability to work with multiple stakeholders, balance competing interests, and truly understand the unique strengths of each IHL institution will further establish Mississippi as a national leader in higher education.”
In December, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) reaffirmed the accreditation of Mississippi University for Women for another 10 years. It is an extremely rigorous process that looks at every aspect of the institution and requires extensive analysis and documentation. Reaffirmation required years of planning by faculty and staff as well as documentation and demonstration of the university's compliance with regional and national standards of excellence.
“Commissioner Jim Borsig is the right man at the right time to lead Mississippi public universities,” said Dr. Mark E. Keenum. “He brings years of outstanding leadership experience in our state's higher education system and has done a remarkable job in leading The W. His prior experience at IHL will ensure a very orderly transition as Commissioner Hank Bounds departs for his new position in Nebraska. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Jim as a colleague, and I look forward to working closely with him in his new role as commissioner. He understands the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead and is immensely qualified to provide the vision and leadership to advance higher education in our great state.”
A number of academic programs have been added and expanded during Dr. Borsig's tenure. The Doctor of Nursing Practice program awarded its first degrees in December 2013 and the first student enrolled in the new master's in global commerce program graduated in August 2014. The Board of Trustees has also approved a new MFA in creative writing and a master's in women's leadership.
The master's in women's leadership is an illustration of the university's continued focus on leadership development for women. Another is the N.E. W. Leadership Program. Now in its third year, NEW LeadershipTM is a national bi-partisan program developed by Rutgers University to address the under representation of women in American politics. Mississippi N.E.W. Leadership brings together college women from across the political spectrum to discuss the roles of women in leadership and politics. The program exposes participants from colleges and universities across the state to new ideas and opportunities as they consider their future careers.
He has expanded the culinary arts programs with the addition of 2+2 programs in concert with a number of community colleges in the state and a grant from the Hearin Foundation to fund Project CHEW, a healthy eating initiative.
Alumni engagement has increased, with a 7.28 increase in the number of gifts and 170 new donors. The total assets held by the MUW Foundation reached a new record of $45 million at the close of the last fiscal year.
“In less than four years, Dr. Borsig has increased enrollment, added new programs, expanded giving and initiated improvements to our campus,” said Jenny Katool, President, MUW Alumni Association. “His dedication to serving our students, faculty, staff and alumni has resulted in significant enhancements in every aspect of campus life. We are grateful for his service to The W and congratulate him on becoming Commissioner of Higher Education, where his proven leadership will now benefit the entire State.”
The success at MUW is garnering national attention, including being named to The Chronicle of Higher Education's Great Colleges to Work For Honor Roll for two consecutive years and to the President's Higher Education Service Honor Roll. Washington Monthly has included MUW among its Top 50 Master's universities for three consecutive years. In U.S. News and World Report's Best Colleges report, MUW was ranked No. 18 in the Southern Public Regional category. The university also received the Nightingale Award as Mississippi's Nursing Program of the Year.
“Jim Borsig has accomplished wonderful things as MUW's president, and it has been my privilege to work with him during his time with the University,” said Ruth Pettey Jones, Chair, MUW Foundation. “I'm confident that, as Commissioner of Higher Education, he'll continue his commitment to excellence in our state's colleges and universities. The W's loss is Mississippi's gain.”
A Jackson native, Dr. Borsig has more than 30 years of experience in higher education, government and the private sector and served as Associate Commissioner for External Relations and Public Policy for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning prior to his appointment as president of Mississippi University for Women. In his role at IHL, he provided leadership for the university system's work on raising Mississippi's education attainment level by increasing the number of college graduates produced by the university system. These efforts required consensus building within the IHL system, as well as with state legislative leaders, the Governor's Office, both the K-12 and community college systems and the private sector.
He also served as Assistant Commissioner for Government Relations for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, as Executive Assistant to the President of the University of Southern Mississippi, and as Research and Development Coordinator for the John C. Stennis Institute of Government. He was a visiting professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at Jackson State University from 2007 through 2011.
Dr. Borsig holds a bachelor's degree in political science and American Studies and a master's degree in political science with a concentration in public administration, both from the University of Southern Mississippi. He earned his doctorate in public policy and administration from Mississippi State University.
Dr. Borsig will begin serving as Commissioner on April 15, 2015 and will begin transitioning into the role immediately. The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning will announce a timeline for the search for the next President of Mississippi University for Women soon.