November 11, 2009 9:59:00 AM
Gov. Haley Barbour is expected to recommend Mississippi University for Women be merged with another school, possibly Mississippi State University, as a cost-cutting move when he submits his proposed budget to the Legislature this Monday, according to sources briefed on the plan.
Even so, local legislators are expressing doubts a merger would take place as the Legislature pushes through a final 2011 budget.
"(A merger) is required to pass both the House and Senate. I don''t think it will pass either," said Rep. Gary Chism, R-Columbus.
Chism says MUW alumni have heard rumors of consolidation or closing for the past 20 years and have become adept at expressing their disapproval of both options to local legislators.
"People (in government) listen to their constituents more than the governor''s way of trying to balance the budget. If W alums start calling legislators, they''re going to vote like their constituents want them to vote," he said.
The budget from the Legislature''s Budget Office, which will be released Dec. 2, according to Chism, is the one to pay attention to.
"The governor''s budget, what the Legislature usually does with it is throw it in the garbage. He''s required to put one out, and we never really pay any attention to it," said Chism. "I''m not belittling his suggestions. Some of them may be picked up on. As far as us carte blanche using his budget, we never do."
Sen. Terry Brown, R-Columbus, says a merger may take place, but it''s too early to make that determination.
"I don''t want them to pick programs out and move them to (MSU). I don''t think they would do that, but I want to make sure of all that before we go forward," said Brown.
MUW President Dr. Claudia Limbert is taking a similar wait-and-see approach to news of Barbour''s recommendation.
"I have no way of knowing (about a merger). I''m not even sure it would be with State. I''ve heard rumors it could be with Ole Miss or East Mississippi Community College," said Limbert.
Limbert is unsure what a merger would entail for MUW, but says committees are exploring all possibilities.
"We''re planning for every eventuality," she said.
MSU President Mark Keenum, in a prepared statement, dismissed talk of mergers as a secondary concern.
"We are focused on budget matters affecting Mississippi State and making it the best university it possibly can be. Issues relating to possible closures or mergers would come under the purview of the Institutions of Higher Learning and the Mississippi Legislature," he said.
The discussion of merging MUW, and possibly closing the school altogether, comes as Limbert and her staff are asking the Legislature to approve a name change to Reneau University.
Chism says the name change is unlikely, and if it doesn''t pass this year, it''s less likely to pass next year during an election year.
"I''ve heard from several of my colleagues who are already in contact with W alums in the area. They''ve already committed to alums they''re not going to support a name change. I don''t think it''s even going to get out of committee," he said. "I think when the session is over, MUW is still going to be MUW."
Brown says closure is even less likely than the name change.
"I don''t think the W will get closed at all. I don''t even think that''s an option. I don''t think we''re going to close any institution in the state," he said.
However, as MUW faces nearly $5 million in funding cuts over the next three years, sweeping changes are inevitable. Limbert expects 24 staff positions to be cut in 2010, followed by another 45 cuts in 2011. If enrollment remains steady or increases and the IHL allows the school to make a proposed 5 percent tuition increase, Limbert says the cuts will be less severe.
Lee commented at 11/11/2009 2:28:00 PM:
Merge with MSU, Make MUW an MSU Nursing/Culinary school
Brittany commented at 11/11/2009 2:59:00 PM:
MUW is primarily a fine arts institution, not just culinary and nursing. A merger is not the answer to MUW's problems. When the alumni get back on our side (when Limbert is gone), money won't be an issue anymore. A merger will only serve to drive more people away.
Alice commented at 11/11/2009 3:01:00 PM:
Given the infighting, the real lack of communication between Limbert and the alums is this a surprise to anyone? I wondered how long it would be before this was an actual possibility. Maybe if it merges, then there will be an honest to God effort to ACTUALLY RECRUIT some folks. I've said many times that many opportunities have been lost because the school has not been actively recruiting outside of the area. If you don't publicize the school can you honestly and in good conscience say that you've done everything you could? If nothing else, maybe this will cause a bit of identity and soul searching to be done. At least we can dream.
bob commented at 11/11/2009 3:37:00 PM:
If they won't to grow and become a major university they need a name change. Men don't won't to go to a school that has women on its degrees. haha.
Whatsavings? commented at 11/11/2009 3:45:00 PM:
How will merger be a cost-saving plan?! Even Hank Bounds stated when on campus at MUW earlier this year that it would NOT save money... the grass still has to be cut and buildings maintained. It might help MSU's enrollment figures, but it certainly will not help MUW, nor the students who attend there, nor the programs that are offered there. There will likely even be students who transfer this next semester due to fear of merger!
A "wait and see" approach is what has been taken for the past seven years when it comes to recruiting. We waited and now we see the results!
Common Sense commented at 11/11/2009 3:48:00 PM:
Bob-- Your Very Right!
Layla commented at 11/11/2009 3:49:00 PM:
If anyone thinks MSU will actually sink money into a Columbus campus when MSU is getting cut by $40 million themselves is sadly disillusioned. A merged campus that may offer a couple of education options alone (i.e. nursing,culinary or arts) or perhaps just be a college of nursing or arts alone, does not benefit a whole community and will give few options to students. As far as the Alumni "back on our side" and then money will not be an issue, take a look at the amount of $$ needed and the current state of the economy. Also criticism of recruiting efforts in my opinion is unfair. Try recruiting with the current name and you are dismissed before you ever have the chance to show what is offered. Also publicity and recruiting take money. Then find the $$ for recruitment, advertising AND all the programs and every day costs in an ever shrinking budget!!! Talk about dreaming!!! Either get on board with supporting the university and your community or watch it get swallowed up or worse while you stand on the sideline and point fingers.
Confused commented at 11/11/2009 4:35:00 PM:
So..... will merger take legislative approval or not? I have heard the College Board has that authority alone. Evidently some of our local legislators disagree. That is a critical issue.
Doubletalk commented at 11/11/2009 4:41:00 PM:
The Mississippi Constitution does not give the IHL power to merge universities.
ARTICLE 8, Section 213A states, "Nothing herein contained shall in any way limit or take away the power the Legislature had and possessed, if any, at the time of the adoption of this amendment, to consolidate, abolish or change the status of any of the above named institutions."
Clearly, this puts the power to change the status of Mississippi's universities in the hands of the Legislature only.
Making Sense commented at 11/11/2009 6:51:00 PM:
If the Governor nor the legislature look at the ungodly amount of school districts in Mississippi then they are not serious about saving money and should shut up and sit down.
Silvia commented at 11/12/2009 12:06:00 AM:
Merger, smerger. The W ought to be closed. It's not pulling the weight to justify sinking more money into it. In fact, Mississippi has at least four more schools that ought to be closed. I hope the governor and the legislature summon the gumption necessary to do some serious restructuring of higher ed. It's been needed for a long, long time. No offense intended, and the W had its day in the sun, but now it's time for the W to go away.
14/88 commented at 11/12/2009 6:24:00 AM:
Some pretty strong feelings posted here. The W supporters should welcome any avenue of approach to keep the doors of the university open, even if the answer is a merger. I believe the answer to saving the university is to merge. I really do not feel the quality of education will decrease and after all, a degree is a degree, right?
Tim commented at 11/12/2009 8:30:00 AM:
I agree. The only way to save the W is a merger. People who don't see the benefits of a merger with ANY university, not just MSU, are delusional. I am sorry but the W is a money pit that really has no business being open. Sorry to all of the butch women that can't get that through their lumberjack looking heads.
Upnorth commented at 11/12/2009 9:33:00 AM:
Merge with MSU, create a school of education, ala peabody and Vandy, link the MSMS to Eng,Vet and have a Health Science option for other majors. There you have it.
Indyguy commented at 11/12/2009 1:16:00 PM:
They need to add more degrees in occupations where there is a demand...pharmacy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, radiology Tech, other medical degrees.
Stop duplication of degrees that you can get at MSU.
TwoThumbsUp! commented at 11/12/2009 2:17:00 PM:
MUW has very strong education, nursing, and culinary arts programs. MSU does not have a culinary arts program or a nursing program. MUW has a very rigorous education program where all graduates of the education department have to obtain passing PRAXIS scores before entering their student teaching, thus all education graduates can qualify for a degree and a teaching license upon graduation.
In the past (I'm not sure about now.) you could graduate from the education department at MSU while not having passed the PRAXIS, thus an education student would have a degree, but might not be able to obtain a teaching license.
I feel that MSU would be an asset to MUW and MUW would be an asset to MSU.
This is the first great news I've heard about MUW in a while! I am a "W" graduate and would be in support of it merging. I believe it would promote economic growth and academic growth!
I'm tired of all of the name changing news in relations to MUW.
I believe MUW would make a great satellite campus with concentration on the arts, nursing, and education.
I was actually excited when I read the paper yesterday.
outofthebox commented at 11/12/2009 2:34:00 PM:
The State of MS should "give" the W to an institution and let them run it as a private college. No need to merge it with MSU (or any of the others). That wouldn't save significant dollars. Give it to MC and let them have another campus in that part of the state. Require the receiving institution to continue operating as a liberal arts college as a condition of the gift. Get the State out of operating the W, but retain the benefits that the W gives as an educational institution.
namechange commented at 11/12/2009 6:30:00 PM:
Without a name change University has no future even in best of the economic times. Therefore, I have serious doubts that alumni are the well wishers of the University. Resisting a name change they are doing a disservice to their loved institution.
night runner commented at 11/13/2009 1:26:00 PM:
The merger does make sense, but it has a long way to go. There are several other schools in MS that need to be considered as much, if not more than MUW.
I just get tired of hearing alums whining.
I work for a university & can't tell you how many times I hear a student say, "My tuition pays for this place", or alumni who say, "Don't you know how much money I've donated...".
My wife works for our city. She hears similar statements, such as,"My taxes pay your salary".
Get over it.
If the W alums contribute so much, then let them support the school and give state money to schools that are actually operating successfully.
They fussed so much about the name, Reneau... That name may not be a problem much longer.
Mark commented at 11/14/2009 12:13:00 PM:
Change the name to Tombigbee University, or Merge it with MSU as MSU Columbus Campus, like Meridian did, and give part of campus to East MS community college as a sattelite campus for Lowndes Co.
sharon commented at 11/14/2009 5:03:00 PM:
a merger with MSU would be a gift from God to my son who has always dreamed the big dream of attending MSU. The problem is he wants a bachelor degree in nursing. This would allow him, the best of both worlds. When asking him about attending the W he says, Thats for women. So I desperately
pray for this merger.