the man behind the title: dr. james b. borsig

President James B. Borsig, Photo by Chris Jenkins

Julessa Oglen

Managing Editor

You may see him dressed in a suit walking to a meeting, or see him in the cafeteria eating with the students. You may even see him serving food or having a meal with students at his house. Where ever you see him, you know who he is and why he’s there. He is the new president of The W.

Dr. James B. Borsig, called Jim by his close friends, has been described as exceptionally savvy and an intellectually motivated individual.

Borsig, the 14th president of Mississippi University for Women, started his college career at the University of Southern Mississippi where he obtained his bachelor’s degree in political science and American studies.

“I never knew another option except to go to college. I honestly didn’t know I had another option but to graduate in four years,” Borsig said.

He said his parents never tried to box him into whatever they wanted him to be. They just wanted him to create a solid foundation in education.

Just like a freshman entering college, he didn’t know what he wanted to do.

“I started out in the business field and I liked it, but I gravitated to political science and government management,” said Borsig. 

Soon after, he graduated from USM and found his niche. He worked for 10 years in local government. He wrote federal grants, was the assistant to the mayor, the director of planning and was the chief administrator officer in Hattiesburg.

“That’s what I wanted to do, and I went to school for a year, full-time, for my master’s, and then I went to work and finished my doctorate in about a 10-year period, but I knew I wanted to be in public service and local government,” said Borsig.

He received his master’s in political science with a concentration in public administration at USM and obtained his doctorate in public policy and administration at Mississippi State University.

He moved to Washington, D.C., for two years and worked as a department director and traveled from the East to the West coast 40 weeks out of the year.

He returned to Mississippi to work at USM as the executive assistant to the president.

That role also gave him a chance to do something he had always wanted to do, and that was to teach.

“That job prepared me and was great experience for my job as the president, and I ended up on the Mississippi Board of Trustees Staff of State Institutions for Higher Learning,” said Borsig.

“When I was on the Board of Trustees I taught urban planning graduate courses for five years at Jackson State University to graduate students. That was very fulfilling for me because I like to be in the classroom with students,” he said. 

Along the way, he came in contact with a few people who now consider him as a dear friend and for some, he is like family.

“Jim is a regular person on top of being a very unique professional,” said Jimmy Clarke, senior associate at HCM Strategists.

Borsig and Clarke have known each other for some time, first as colleagues and later as family.

“We met while he was working at IHL. Jim was a person I watched with interest because he navigated some extraordinary circumstances and was very insightful and understood how democracy worked. He had the capacity to listen and took the time to ask about my personal life, such as my family, even though at the time we were just co-workers,” said Clarke.

“I live in Louisiana and Jim lives in Mississippi, but even though we have quite a distance between us, and we may not speak for two months, but when we pick up the phone it’s like time hasn’t even passed,” said Clarke.

Borsig says the older he gets, the clearer it becomes to make more time for family and friends because people can move off or you can lose them, and that can clearly be seen in his personal life.     

“Life is short and people are precious. Experience has taught me to do things differently,” Borsig said.

“I’m not surprised that Jim became the president. This is a capstone job and well-fit,” said Annie Mitchell, a close friend of Borsig and director of university marketing and special initiatives at Belmont University.

“He is a bridge builder, and every decision he makes is in the best interest of The W. He is really good with interpersonal relationships. He has good experience, a good career and a good job,’ she said.

The same care that Borsig shows to his friends is the same care he shows to his university and his students at The W.

“This was an unexpected opportunity and the most satisfying thing I’ve ever done. My job is to create possibilities for people. Presidents, at least in my mind, are stewards, and I want to make sure I leave the university better than I found it. This is always with me in whatever I do,” said Borsig.

“This is one of the few human institutions created that change people’s lives, and it is an honor and responsibility, and it’s amazing to me. I get to work with committed faculty and staff and students, and it’s the best thing in the world,” he said.

It’s been said that Borsig forgets that his job is to be in the office because more often than not you can see him around campus.

“Talking to students lets me know about their hopes and dreams, and spending time with them brings the university to life,” said Borsig.

He also taught a public budgeting class at The W last spring, and he believes this allows him to be another faculty member, and that’s how he hopes his students feel.

He also goes off campus to spend time with the woman who has molded him into the man he is today, and that is his mother.

“I see my mother one weekend day out of the month. She’s 94 years old, and I talk on the phone with her every day. I’m an only child, and it may be for only five minutes, but I talk to her every day, regardless. She preached education to me, and it’s gratifying that she has had a chance to see me end up here,” Borsig said.

When asked what he would like people to know about him, he became quite serious and gave a humble answer.

“I want people to know that at every step of my life, from the very beginning, I’ve had good people help me. From the day I was born, I’ve had good people do good things for me,” said Borsig.

He’s now attempting to do the same for those at the W.