More on Mississippi’s College Merger

jsuseal.jpg

Earlier this month the College Guide reported on Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour’s controversial proposal to save money by consolidating his state’s public, historically black schools.

Many students, alumni, and administrators at the schools, Alcorn State University, Jackson State University, and Mississippi Valley State University, oppose the move. They say it unfairly targets black students.

Well apparently one person likely to be impacted by the consolidation, Jackson State president Ronald Mason Jr., has been quietly (and extensively) preparing for a merger. According to an article in the Jackson Clarion-Ledger:

Mason, JSU president since Feb. 1, 2000, publicly spoke against the proposal. But his 34-page presentation obtained by The Clarion-Ledger suggests creating another university – dubbed Jacobs State University – is a better alternative than letting “financially weak ASU, MVSU, JSU become weaker” in the state’s budget crisis.

The presentation notes historic inequities in the university system, calling the historically black schools the “poorest institutions of higher learning in the poorest state in America.”

Yesterday Mason was booed several times when he met with students to discuss the merger. Some students said that they were betrayed by Mason. In December Mason told NPR that he opposed the merger plan because:

I think it’s money-driven and there’s no connection as I could tell between the money they expect to save and the proposal that they’re making. And then second, you know, these are three very viable, strong institutions that serve different parts of the state. And, you know, we can talk about working together in order to produce a better educational product, but the notion of merging is first of all, politically unfeasible. And secondly, you know, not well thought out.

But Mason now claims that Mississippi’s black students would be better served by one strong university than three impoverished ones.

Well, when life gives you lemons…

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer