The Mississippi State College Board, the governoring board which oversees Alcorn State University, has named George Rosss as its "preferred candidate" to lead the college. Ross, 55, currently serves as vice president for finance and administrative services and treasurer at Central Michigan University.
The College Board will make the final decision after campuses inteverview with Alcorn stakeholders runs its course.
Ross is vying to succeed the late Clinton Bristow Jr., who died of a heart attack on the Lorman campus in August.
"My interest is academic excellence. Whether it is at an historically black university or white institution, it is about improving lives," Ross said by telephone after teaching a business class on the 27,000-student Central Michigan campus in Mount Pleasant.
Ross, who had visited the Lorman campus before, said he wants to "improve upon what they are doing right already" but didn't offer specifics.
Ross, who left Mississippi just before grade school for Washington, D.C., where his father landed a job working on bridges, is a certified public accountant with experience working at two historically black institutions: Clark Atlanta University and Tuskegee University in Alabama.
"He is quite personable and takes time to attend campus events," CMU student body president Dan Nowiski said Tuesday.
Alcorn State student body president Larry Edward Duncan of Hattiesburg served on a campus advisory committee that met with Ross and describes him "very, very energetic. He's a very charismatic person."
At Central Michigan, Ross grappled with $30 million in budget cuts in two years because of a downturn in the auto industry and troubles for the Michigan economy.
In the Alcorn State search, 14 percent of the candidates were sitting presidents.