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The board that governs four-year public colleges in Mississippi is defending its handling of a search for a new president of Jackson State University. Alumni leaders of Jackson State have criticized the board's choice of William Bynum, president of Mississippi Valley State University, and said that an alumni advisory committee recommended a better candidate. The state board issued a statement Tuesday from its president, C. D. Smith.

"The board, while it is entrusted with the duty of making the selection, makes extensive efforts to secure input from all of the many constituencies of the university -- including alumni, students, faculty, staff, community, donors and taxpayers," the statement said. "However, while the board seeks advice and information from the aforementioned, the board does not allow any person, persons or group to dictate which candidate will be finally selected by the board. To the extent that some of the members of the Jackson State University (JSU) advisory committee believe that they are entitled to direct the board as to which candidate would be selected as the preferred candidate, they are mistaken."