It is certainly noteworthy that in choosing Alfred Rankins Jr. as Mississippi’s next commissioner of higher education, the state College Board made him the first black person to hold the position of great influence and responsibility.
However, it is far more notable that Rankins has an excellent track record of achievement — at Mississippi universities, no less — that makes him well-qualified for the job.
Rankins has experience both at the College Board offices and with universities in the state. He was a deputy commissioner in the central office before the College Board handed him two difficult assignments.
In 2012 Rankins became the temporary president of Mississippi Valley State, “sent on a cleanup mission to a university that was losing students and money,” as The Associated Press put it. His job was to stabilize Valley so that the College Board could attract a pool of capable candidates to hold the position permanently.
Once finished there, the College Board sent Rankins to Alcorn State, his alma mater, after that school’s president resigned over purchasing questions. Rankins has continued in the job at Lorman ever since.