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Barbour names four to College Board

By Staff
from staff and wire reports
April 15, 2004
JACKSON Lauderdale County's longtime presence on the state College Board was swept away Wednesday as Gov. Haley Barbour appointed four new members with connections to Mississippi's largest universities.
While lauding the accomplishments of his nominees, Barbour's office did not immediately respond to a question on whether Meridian attorney and GOP activist Rick Barry was seriously considered. Barry, who also serves as attorney for the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors and was Barbour's co-chairman, had been recommended for one of the positions.
The term of Bill Crawford of Meridian is among those expiring in May. Previous College Board members from Lauderdale County include the late Tom Bourdeaux, who was a local attorney, and Diane Walton, an educator.
Barbour, who campaigned heavily and was rewarded with a huge vote in Lauderdale County in last year's election, went another route in his first College Board appointments since a constitutional amendment was adopted last fall requiring that they come from each of the three state Supreme Court districts.
Every one of these nominees has a very clear understanding of the economy, of what it takes to create jobs,'' Barbour said. Their view is bigger than just their hometown and even their home state.''
The appointments require Senate confirmation.
Robin Robinson of Laurel, Bob Owens of Jackson, Ed Blakeslee of Gulfport and Aubrey Patterson of Tupelo will replace four College Board members whose terms will expire in early May.
In addition to Crawford, College Board members leaving in May are Bryce Griffis of Starkville, Ricki Garrett of Clinton and Carl Nicholson Jr. of Hattiesburg.
Robinson is a member of the Mississippi Gaming Commission. She expects to resign from the gaming panel if confirmed for the College Board.
Robinson is director of organizational communication at Sanderson Farms in Laurel. She is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi.
It is an exciting time for Mississippi and I pleased to have the honor to work with these folks and the folks who are currently serving on the IHL Board,'' Robinson said.
Owens, a Jackson lawyer, attended Jackson State University. He is the former president of the Mississippi Bar Association.
Blakeslee, a Mississippi State graduate, is vice president of Mississippi Power Co.
Patterson, a University of Mississippi graduate, is chairman and CEO of BancorpSouth Inc. He is also a member of the executive board of Mississippi's Public Education Forum and has been instrumental in several of Barbour's early initiatives.
Tupelo-based BancorpSouth handles millions of dollars on behalf of the University of Mississippi and Barbour's office did not immediately respond on a question of whether Patterson's appointment to represent Ole Miss on the College Board represented a potential conflict of interest.
Barbour stressed the importance of the College Board's impact on the state's education possibilities and each nominee's strong commitment to higher education.''
The state of our higher education in our state is critical to our goals of job creation and increasing the quality of life for the people of Mississippi,'' Barbour said.
Robinson and Blakeslee represent the Southern Supreme Court district, while Owens and Patterson represent the Central and Northern districts respectively. Lauderdale County is in the Central Supreme Court District.