By Therese Apel
JACKSON, Miss. (Reuters) - The University of Mississippi's popular chancellor has turned down an offer to extend his contract, after two weeks of on-campus protests against a state board which had threatened to fire him over spending for the school medical center.
The state Institution of Higher Learning's commissioner, Jim Brosig, said on Thursday he had made a "good faith effort" to reach a deal with Ole Miss Chancellor Dan Jones, but that the two sides had been unable to come to terms and the board will seek a replacement.
Jones followed by saying in a letter he released publicly that the board had offered to extend his contract for 21 months after it ends in September, as long as he agreed retire in June 2017.
"I feel strongly, as do most of my advisors, that serving two years as a lame duck would make it difficult to recruit and retain key leaders and continue our momentum in private giving," Jones said in the letter.
He added that he felt the board would not support his leadership.
"For the University to thrive and succeed, the University needs a leader who has the support of its governing board, which I clearly do not enjoy," Jones wrote.
He encouraged the Ole Miss community to closely follow the search process for the next Chancellor.
A crowd of some 2,500 people last week protested the board's decision to ax Jones, whom it contended failed to fix a system in which dozens of medical center contracts, some of which lacked spending caps, never received proper approach.
Famous alumni, including best-selling author John Grisham and former NFL quarterback Archie Manning, had been among Jones' most prominent supporters.
(Editing by Scott Malone and Richard Chang)