Nearly two weeks after being put on administrative leave, Thomas Hudson has resigned as president of Jackson State University.
According to a Tuesday news release from the Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees, Commissioner Alfred Rankins has accepted Hudson’s resignation. It will be effective March 31. Hudson will remain on administrative leave, with pay, until then.
A call and text to Hudson’s cell phone was not returned. A JSU spokesperson told Mississippi Today that the university would not be releasing its own statement.
The IHL board did not provide a reason for why Hudson is stepping down less than two months after trustees renewed his contract. The release also did not answer any of the major questions about the circumstances surrounding Hudson’s leave but noted that the board will discuss “the future leadership of Jackson State” at its regular meeting on March 23.
Elayne Hayes-Anthony will continue serving as temporary acting president, according to the release. At a press conference last week, Hayes-Anthony told students, faculty and members of the media that IHL gave her no timetable for the appointment.
“I’m going to be here as long as I’m needed,” she said.
Hayes-Anthony has been over JSU’s Department of Journalism and Media Studies. She told Mississippi Today she would receive the same salary and bonus that Hudson did: A $300,000 annual salary from IHL plus a $5,000 annual bonus from the university foundation.
Hudson is a JSU alum and Jackson resident who was appointed president by the IHL board in November 2020 in the wake of a scandal. Earlier that year, his predecessor, William Bynum Jr., had resigned after he was arrested in a prostitution sting at a Clinton hotel. Bynum had been an unpopular pick for president, and under his tenure, JSU’s enrollment fell faster than any other public university in Mississippi.
Hudson was tasked with stabilizing the university. He had worked at JSU since 2012 in various roles, including Title IX coordinator and chief diversity officer. Under his leadership, the university’s finances appeared to blossom. JSU’s days cash on hand grew from 39 to 115, and annual alumni giving tripled.
“We have saved approximately $5,000,000 by restructuring our debt, cleared all audit findings, and have been removed from (accreditation) financial monitoring,” he wrote in a campus-wide letter on Feb. 10 to celebrate his third year as president.
Hudson also had campus support. Until he didn’t. In January, JSU’s faculty senate voted “no confidence” in Hudson and four members of his administration, citing a “continuous pattern of failing to respect” shared governance and other professional norms of higher education.
At the time, Hudson said in a statement he was proud of the work his administration had accomplished and that he was “committed to continuing the work to collaboratively execute the strategic plan to make Jackson State the best institution it can be.”
Molly Minta covers higher education for Mississippi Today, in partnership with Open Campus.