The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning demonstrated great support for Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Hank Bounds when they voted unanimously to extend his contract for four more years.
Since being named Commissioner in 2009, Bounds has witnessed record enrollment across the system and worked hard to streamline operations and efficiencies while maintaining the quality of the academic programs.
“I have enjoyed working with Dr. Bounds over the past two years,” said Robin Robinson of Laurel, President of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning. “He has brought a sense of urgency and focus to helping our universities advance our state through service, research, teaching, and enhancing relationships with the business community. His leadership has been instrumental in ensuring that Mississippi Public Universities maximize their potential as a collective, powerful and unmatched resource for our state.”
As Commissioner of Higher Education, Bounds provides leadership for the state’s public four-year university system, which include the Institutions of Higher Learning, four research institutions and four regional institutions. Mississippi Public Universities enroll more than 80,000 students and award more than 15,000 degrees each year.
“I have been very impressed with Dr. Bounds' leadership and am pleased to know the board has extended his contract,” said Dr. Carolyn Meyers, President of Jackson State University. “His support of Mississippi's institutions of higher learning is a key part of our success.”
Since beginning his tenure in 2009, Bounds has faced numerous challenges, including increases in enrollment and reductions in state appropriations. This year, enrollment increased by over 3,600 students or 4.7 percent from fall 2010 numbers. This year’s increase is the largest single-year increase in enrollment. System-wide enrollment has increased annually since 1994 and for the first time fall enrollment exceeds 80,000 students.
To address these issues, Dr. Bounds has implemented several strategies, including working with the Board of Trustees to develop and approve a system-wide textbooks policy aimed at expanding the used book market and reducing the costs to students.
In addition, he led the university presidents in efforts to develop three-year business plans to prepare for possible reductions in state appropriations. He also worked with the Efficiencies Task Force, an ad hoc committee of the Board, and university presidents to find efficiencies in operations, such as reducing energy costs, and cost-sharing.
“Hank understands education issues in Mississippi from A-Z and has a unique ability to work so well with the wide-ranging constituencies that make up our IHL system, said Dr. Mark Keenum, President of Mississippi State University. “He recognizes the strengths our institutions bring to the mission of moving our state forward and has a vision to help Mississippi's Public Universities produce a more educated workforce, boost economic development and create job opportunities here at home for the next generation of Mississippians.”
In addition to ensuring that the university system serves as good stewards of their resources, Bounds has worked hard to ensure that more students are able to reach the finish line of obtaining their degrees. He served on the Graduation Rate Task Force, which was comprised of 19 business, education and state leaders, and continues to serve on the Education Achievement Council, the permanent organization that grew out of the Task Force. The Council works to establish education achievement goals for the state and monitor on the state’s progress toward these goals.
These goals are in sync with the recommendations of Blueprint 2011, which Dr. Bounds chairs. Blueprint 2011, a project to update the existing Blueprint plan and explore new areas of opportunity, includes among its recommendations to increase the educational achievement level of Mississippians and to support the Education Achievement Council in its efforts to increase the number of associates and bachelor’s degree holders.
“Hank is a proven change-agent – who isn’t afraid of setting tough goals and driving toward them,” said Blake A. Wilson, President of the Mississippi Economic Council. “This is just one reason why he was selected by the business leadership of the state to chair the Blueprint Mississippi strategic initiative that will help put our state in the place of greatest opportunity. Dr. Bounds has a unique ability to pull leaders together to achieve important milestones of progress – and it is good to know our state will continue to benefit from his leadership.”
Toward these goals, Bounds has also provided leadership in the development and implementation of major-specific articulation agreements between all eight public universities and 15 public community colleges for students majoring in elementary education, business and physical education. Other majors will follow and will help thousands of community college students enjoy a seamless transition to the university of their choice and reduce the time necessary to obtain a bachelor’s degree.
“Hank has brought courage and vision to his leadership of the university system,” said Ed Blakeslee of Gulfport, Vice President of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning. “His principled approach ensures that all of us working in the university system remain focused on providing the highest quality education to our students and the best return on investment to our state.”
Bounds has also facilitated the Board of Trustees’ search process for the presidents of three universities, including Alcorn State University, Jackson State University and Mississippi University for Women.
Through his work as chair of the Center of Education Innovation, Dr. Bounds continues to focus on the full spectrum of education, from early childhood education to lifelong learning opportunities. Funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Center for Education Innovation focuses on five essential elements to improve education in Mississippi, including enhancing a culture of education, establishing early childhood education as a statewide priority, having quality teachers in every classroom, having quality leaders in every school district and building public will for public education. The Center works as an agent for sustainable change in communities where poverty, low educational attainment and a lack of infrastructure intersect.
Dr. Bounds, a lifelong educator, previously served four years as State Superintendent of Education. As the chief executive officer of Mississippi’s public K-12 school system, Dr. Bounds launched several groundbreaking initiatives including On the Bus, a statewide dropout prevention campaign that garnered national attention.
Dr. Bounds also spearheaded an effort to design a more rigorous state curriculum and assessment system to meet national standards, and implemented High School Redesign, a plan to rework Mississippi high schools to prepare students effectively to compete in the 21st Century world.
Before becoming the State Superintendent in August 2005, Dr. Bounds served as superintendent of the Pascagoula School District. He was principal of two high schools and one K-12 school. He holds both a Bachelor of Science in Sports Administration and Secondary Education and a Master of Education in Educational Administration from the University of Southern Mississippi, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership from the University of Mississippi.
Bounds and his wife, Susie, are the parents of a son, Will, and a daughter, Caroline.