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Clyda Stokes Rent Presidential Papers

Identifier: UR-001-06

Scope and Contents

The collection is contained in twenty two boxes comprised of three series. The first series consists of materials related to Clyda Rent's inauguration in 1989. The second pertains to the university's application for National Landmark status, and the last documents the Ayers Case.

Series 1: The collection is contained in five folders which are contained in one box. Most of the collection is news clippings of Rent's inauguration in 1989.

Series 2: In 1990 a second application was filed with the National Park Service to have the front of the MUW campus designated as a National Historic Landmark. This was a collaboration between Clyda Stokes Rent, The Mississippi Department of Archives and History, And Sally and Bruce McMillan. The first application was filed in 1965. Both were rejected. The collection is contained in twenty folders which are contained in one box. Most of the collection is documentation on the History of the institution thought the years and history and floor plans of the buildings that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Series 3: Jacob Ayers filed a class action lawsuit vs. the Governor of Mississippi, the Board of Trustees for Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL), the Commissioner of Higher Education, and others in the five historically white public Mississippi universities in 1975, alleging that the state maintained de facto segregation in its universities by inadequately funding historically black universities, a violation of the Equal Protection clause. The case, Ayers v. Allain, was decided against the plaintiffs in the US District Court, but overturned on appeal and heard by the US Supreme Court in 1992. The court found that the state had not done enough to dismantle its old segregated university system.

From there the case was remanded to the district court, where the state proposed merging Mississippi University for Women with Mississippi State University, and Mississippi Valley State University with Delta State University, among other changes. In March 1995, presiding judge Neal B. Biggers Jr. of the US District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi rejected the proposed mergers, allowing the two universities to continue operations. An alternative set of remedies was settled upon, and the case was adjourned in 2002.

The collection includes the legal documents required by all universities in Mississippi involved in Ayers case to house in their libraries for public reference, which originally appear to have come from the office of Dr. Rent. Her notes also feature prominently. This series also includes grant information from the same period. Three boxes include materials that appear to have been brought into Dr. Rent’s office from the offices of Admissions, Academic Affairs, and Financial Affairs.


  • Creation: 1989 - 2001
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1990 - 1997

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open without restriction for research use.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

Copyright is held by the Mississippi University for Women unless otherwise noted. All unpublished materials are protected by copyright held by Mississippi University for Women. Permission to publish or reproduce must be requested in writing to the University Archivist. Published materials may also be protected by copyright, and the user must locate and request permission from copyright holder to publish or reproduce.

Biographical / Historical

In 1989 Clyda Stokes Rent became the twelfth person and first woman to serve as President of the Mississippi for Women. She is a native of Charlotte North Carolina. She earned her B.A, M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Sociology from Florida State University. Before arriving at MUW she was associated with Queens College in Charlotte North Carolina. During her time as president, the university experienced such challenges as the Ayers Case and the threat of closure. Under her leadership MUW also applied for National Historic Landmark status and saw substantial growth in student enrollment and funds. She was widely popular at the beginning of her presidency but her later years were marked with controversy that would eventually lead to her resignation in 2001.


22 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Ayers Case series housed in Fant Library Special Collections until transferred to University Archives on September 24, 2014.


Ayers Case files are required by court decision to be permanently housed in the library and made available to the public.

Clyda Stokes Rent Presidential Records
Charles Griffith
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Beulah Culbertson Archives & Special Collections Repository

Fant Memorial Library
1100 College Ave, MUW-1625
Columbus Mississippi 39701