The Board of Directors for the Mississippi Association of Partners in Education (MAPE) recently announced that Dr. Hank M. Bounds, Commissioner of Higher Education, has been selected to receive the 2014 Winter-Reed Partnership Award. Launched by MAPE in 2007, the award is named for Gov. William Winter and Tupelo businessman Jack Reed Sr. in honor of their lifelong contributions to public education and is presented each year to provide ongoing recognition for Mississippi's outstanding education leaders.
A lifelong educator, Bounds has served as Commissioner of Higher Education since 2009. In this role, he provides leadership for the state's university system, which includes four research institutions, four regional institutions, one academic health science center and the executive office. During his tenure, both the number of students enrolled and the number of degrees awarded have increased significantly. His progressive direction has enabled students to enter college prepared, both academically and financially, and helped them to reach the goal of earning a diploma.
"Mississippi is fortunate to have such an intelligent and energetic leader, not to mention outspoken advocate for improving education at all levels, at the helm of its university system," said Michael Bentley, MAPE president and an attorney at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP. "As Mississippians, we have long benefitted from the good work of Dr. Bounds, who has helped advance the connection between strong public schools and a more prosperous future for our state. He exemplifies the qualities of our award's namesakes, Gov. William Winter and Jack Reed Sr., and we are very pleased that he will join the esteemed group of Winter-Reed Award Recipients."
Previous recipients include Dr. Aubrey Lucas, president emeritus and professor of higher education at the University of Southern Mississippi; Jim Barksdale and Claiborne Barksdale, Mississippi businessmen whose visionary leadership and philanthropy have strengthened early childhood literacy and public education; State Rep. Robert Clark, Dr. Andy Mullins, Dick Molpus, David Crews and John Henegan for helping engineer the historic Education Reform Act of 1982; and Dr. Cathy Grace, founding director of Mississippi State University's Early Childhood Institute. In 2008, MAPE posthumously honored Sen. Grey Ferris, considered the architect of the Mississippi Adequate Education Act.
"I am honored to be selected for the Winter-Reed Partnership Award," said Dr. Bounds. "Both Gov. Winter and Mr. Reed have inspired me by living lives that demonstrate a stalwart commitment to education and the state, a dedication to service above self and integrity in all endeavors. Each day, they serve as amazing examples of what true leadership is and what making a difference means. Being recognized by MAPE, the organization that brings communities together to make a difference for children across Mississippi, is truly an honor I will cherish always."
The award will be presented during a tribute dinner on Tuesday, September 30 at the Jackson Convention Complex. Ticket information is available on the Mississippi Association of Partners in Education website, www.mapie.org.
As Commissioner of Higher Education, Dr. Bounds manages the human, financial and physical resources of the university system, which includes more than 80,000 students, 26,000 faculty and staff, 1,600 buildings with 33 million square feet of space, $600 million in research and development and $200 million in private giving. The university system includes two land-grant universities, three historically black institutions, a law center, a school of veterinary medicine and 200 institutes and centers.
"Commissioner Bounds understands the critical role that Mississippi's institutions of higher learning play in growing Mississippi's economy through groundbreaking research," said Mississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum. "His broad range of experience in both secondary and higher education helps him focus on the total education path in Mississippi - the one that Gov. Winter long ago talked about in terms of the road to progress and better jobs running past the school house and then by our universities. Like Mr. Reed, Dr. Bounds brings a pragmatic, businesslike approach to leading our higher education system in this state. He is a most deserving choice to receive this very prestigious award."
Dr. Bounds has been instrumental in working with the Education Achievement Council to build momentum and develop strategic plans to increase educational attainment in Mississippi. The Council brings together legislative leaders, business leaders and educational leaders from all levels and both public and private institutions.
In 2011, Dr. Bounds was tapped by the business community to chair its effort to build a statewide plan for Mississippi's future. Blueprint Mississippi 2011, a major statewide initiative to create an action strategy for putting Mississippi in the place of greatest opportunity, was supported by research conducted by Mississippi's research universities and focused on four broad foundational areas, including Education Achievement, Resource Management, Economic Competitiveness and Technology Commercialization.
"As Commissioner, Dr. Bounds has taken numerous steps to strengthen the relationship between our university system and the business community," said Christy Pickering, a member of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning. "In addition to spearheading the Blueprint initiative, he has established an Office of Business and University Relations, which focuses on connecting business leaders and economic developers with university assets. He understands the role that our universities play in improving economic development in Mississippi and I am glad to see him recognized with the Winter-Reed Award."
Prior to being named Commissioner of Higher Education, Dr. Bounds served as State Superintendent of Education from 2005 to 2009. During this time, he spearheaded an effort to design a more rigorous state curriculum and assessment system to meet national standards and ensure that students were college and career ready. This resulted in a dramatic improvement in reading as measured by the Nation's Report Card and a significant decrease in the dropout rates. He also implemented High School Redesign, a plan to rework Mississippi high schools to ensure students are college and career ready and prepared to compete globally.
"Although changes in education often take years to implement, Dr. Bounds worked with a sense of urgency to improve education in Mississippi," said Charles McClelland, member of the Mississippi Board of Education. "He introduced the accountability system and set the tone for education in Mississippi, leading the effort to increase the rigor of the curriculum and assessment system, decrease the dropout rate and ensure more students were prepared for life after high school. His work gave us a foundation for the continued improvements we are making today."
Dr. Bounds has worked with the legislative leadership to improve education and provide greater opportunities for students on both the secondary and post-secondary levels. In addition to approving an increase in appropriations for the university system, the Legislature has provided a three-year bond bill championed by Bounds to help the universities plan for capital improvements.
"I am delighted to hear that Hank Bounds has been selected as the recipient of the prestigious Winter-Reed Partnership Award," said Senator W. Briggs Hopson III of Vicksburg. "Dr. Bounds is someone that has given his entire adult life to the cause of educating citizens of the State of Mississippi. I have had the pleasure of working with him on many important legislative issues over the years as he served first as the State Superintendent of Education and then as the Commissioner of the Institutions of Higher Learning. Dr. Bounds has been and continues to be an innovative, tireless and principled leader of our state's education systems. His outstanding work is clearly reflective of his intent to advance the educational achievement of the state as a whole. Again, I am very pleased to learn of his selection for this award."
In the months and years following Hurricane Katrina and the BP Oil Spill, he worked with local, state and federal leaders to secure the resources needed by Mississippi schools and universities to aid in the recovery efforts. In 2009, he worked with state leaders to pass the Children First Act, legislation that was crucial to the turnaround of Mississippi's underperforming schools.
Dr. Bounds served as superintendent of the Pascagoula School District prior to being named State Superintendent. He has also served as a teacher and principal. He holds both a bachelor's degree and a master's degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and earned his doctorate from the University of Mississippi.
Dr. Bounds and his wife, Susie, have a son, Will, and a daughter, Caroline. They reside in Madison.
# # #
The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.
This year marks MAPE's 30th anniversary as a statewide network of educators and community partners. MAPE was designated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 1994 and is committed solely to providing training and resources to help build local support for the success of all students.