Citing demonstrated leadership, exceptional vision and a bias for action, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to extend the contract of the Commissioner of Higher Education for four more years.
Serving as Commissioner since 2009, Dr. Hank M. Bounds has emphasized the need for long-term business planning for the universities and helped raise the profile of the university system, particularly with the business community.
“Dr. Bounds is a tremendous asset to our university system,” said Trustee Ed Blakeslee of Gulfport, President of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning. “He is focused on advancing the state by increasing the educational attainment level and is a great facilitator in helping our universities work together to attain this goal.”
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 almost 81,000 students and, with May, August and December graduates included, awarded more than 16,000 degrees this year.
During his tenure, enrollment at Mississippi Public Universities has increased, despite difficult budget times and decreased state support. He has focused on the need to streamline operations and increase efficiencies while maintaining quality in the classroom.
“Dr. Bounds has worked with the Board and the universities to explore every avenue available to use resources wisely and manage the campuses as efficiently as possible,” said Trustee Bob Owens of Jackson, Vice President of the Board of Trustees. “Despite very tight budget conditions, the universities continue to grow and provide an excellent education to every student. He also understands the research enterprise and the important role that our universities play in attracting and supporting businesses in Mississippi.”
Last year, Dr. Bounds served as chair of Blueprint 2011, a major statewide initiative to create an action strategy for putting Mississippi in the place of greatest opportunity. Research for Blueprint Mississippi 2011 was conducted by Mississippi's research universities and focused on four broad foundational areas: Educational Achievement; Resource Management; Economic Competitiveness; and Technology Commercialization. It also looked at issues that cut across all four foundation areas, focusing on Community Life, Racial Reconciliation, Health Care and Infrastructure. The $1.25 million research project was totally funded by the private sector in cooperation with the Mississippi Economic Council, Mississippi Partnership for Economic Development and Momentum Mississippi.
He also works with the Education Achievement Council to increase educational attainment in Mississippi. The council was established by the Mississippi Legislature during the 2010 regular session to establish education achievement goals for the state, monitor and report on the state's progress toward these goals and prepare an annual report card compiled from the annual reports submitted by each state institution of higher learning and community and junior college in the state. The Mississippi Education Achievement Council consists of representatives of the Mississippi Legislature, the Governor's Office, the State Institutions of Higher Learning, Mississippi's Community and Junior Colleges, the Mississippi State Board of Education, the Mississippi Department of Mental Health and the Mississippi Economic Council.
He has provided leadership during five presidential searches, including the searches for the presidents of Alcorn State University, Jackson State University and Mississippi University for Women, which have been completed, and Delta State University and the University of Southern Mississippi, which are ongoing.
“I have enjoyed working with Dr. Bounds over the past three years,” said Trustee Christy Pickering of Biloxi, Chair of the Mississippi University for Women Board Search Committee. “He is a dynamic, motivational leader who understands the full spectrum of education and has made tremendous strides in helping all facets of Mississippi’s educational system work together to improve education and economic development in our state.”
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.
Dr. Bounds and his wife, Susie, are the parents of a son, Will, and a daughter, Caroline.