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Portera exits MSU

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Nov. 10, 2001
While community leaders wish Malcolm Portera well in his new endeavors as chancellor of the University of Alabama System, his position could mean tough competition for east central Mississippi.
The announcement came Friday that Portera, president of Mississippi State University, will take office as chancellor of the UA System near the first of the year.
But Portera's contribution to the community extends far beyond downtown streets, Jones said, noting Portera was also involved in industrial recruitment.
Jones said Portera helped develop a relationship with MSU's various departments and faculty and gave the community the relationship it needed to pursue programs in place, through the Stennis Institute of Government and the Small Town Center, for example.
The base Portera built, Jones said, is strong enough to hold even in his absence.
The Board of Trustees for the State Institutions of Higher Learning said in a statement released Friday its members regret Portera will be leaving MSU where he has served "most ably" as the 16th president since Jan. 1, 1998.
But, they said, they are confident Portera will continue his support for the region even though he will be residing in Alabama.
Portera spent more than 25 years in several positions at Alabama, including vice chancellor of the Alabama system and vice president of the University of Alabama, before going to MSU.
He said his No. 1 challenge would be working to increase state support for the three-campus system. No more than 30 percent of the system's budget comes directly from Montgomery, Portera estimated.
The Alabama chancellor oversees campuses in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham and Huntsville. The system has 40,000 students and an annual budget of $1.8 billion.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at