Article Comment 

Administrators: MUW can't offset budget cuts


Jason Browne



While administrators are working to boost enrollment and have raised tuition, budget cuts expected for Mississippi University for Women in coming years will be too steep to offset, school officials said Friday. 


MUW administrators outlined the state of MUW during a question-and-answer session Friday afternoon in the Nissan Auditorium as part of the university''s weekend-long Homecoming 2010 celebration. A small group of 10 to 15 people were on hand to hear from Vice President of Student Services Bucky Wesley, Vice President of Finance and Administration Nora Miller and deans of several MUW colleges. 


Wesley spoke about student enrollment, particularly the perception that enrollment is low at MUW. 


"Enrollment is relatively high and relatively strong," he said. 


For 2009, MUW''s enrollment was 2,478 students. Enrollment peaked in 1995 at 3,061, but many of those students were part time. Wesley says the number of full-time students now enrolled at MUW indicates healthy enrollment. 


But other factors have changed. In 1970, when enrollment was again approximately 2,400 students, 1,800 of those students lived on campus while 600 were commuters. In 2009, the number of campus residents and commuters inverted, meaning less money being spent on rooms and meal plans. 


Wesley acknowledges MUW needs to significantly increase its enrollment to offset a possible 2012 budget shortfall of 25 percent below 2010 appropriations. MUW is anticipating a 2 percent enrollment increase in the fall, which will coincide with a 5 percent tuition increase, but even if the enrollment trend continues, it won''t be enough to offset the cuts. 


"We''ll have 2,628 students for 2012 if we maintain our growth. That''s short of what we need to maintain the operations you see today," said Wesley. 


To keep pace with changing demands, Interim Provost Hal Jenkins said MUW hopes to begin offering "global e-college" online courses in August. Wesley says the online offerings could eventually attract up to 3,000 new students without packing residence halls that are already at or near capacity. 


Jenkins said students coming from two-year community college programs could use the online courses to complete a degree in as little as 18 months. 


"That''s the same as the for-profit (online) schools offer, but we''re cheaper," he said. 


The W has already begun offering dual degrees in nursing and culinology through a limited partnership with Mississippi State University. 


MUW has also entered a tuition-guarantee partnership with East Mississippi Community College which allows all Lowndes County students who have completed a two-year degree with a 2.5 GPA at EMCC to attend MUW free of charge. 


The state College Board recently instructed MUW to identify a number of administrative duties to be turned over to MSU in an effort to cut costs. 


Teresa Wooten, of Tallahassee, Fla., a 1986 MUW graduate in speech pathology, said she wasn''t surprised by anything she heard during the presentation. She sounded confident the university is doing its best to address the budget shortfall. 


"I''m glad they''re doing more e-classes. It sounds like they have more graduate programs and it sounds like they''ve got a plan in place," she said. "I know they''re looking at cooperation with Mississippi State. I would like for the school to remain independent, but I don''t know if that''s best." 


Emma Jean Powe McKee, of Waynesboro, a 1960 business education graduate of MUW, expressed similar hopes, but less confidence. 


Asked whether the school could remain open without partnering with another school, she replied, "No. Not by itself." 


Jane Pryor House, of West Memphis, Ark., also a 1960 business education graduate, is one of the few alumni to publicly state she doesn''t care if the school merges with another university or changes its name to remain open. 


"It wouldn''t really matter to me," she said. "They could teach certain things here and have certain things in Starkville. A lot of colleges are that way." 


Madge McKee Wooten, a 1959 mathematics graduate, wouldn''t venture a guess as to whether MUW would remain independent, saying simply, "I certainly hope so." 


The MUW Today administrative presentation was one of several events held over the weekend to welcome former students back to campus. An open house and tour was held Friday night along with an art exhibition and a reception for the Class of 1960. MUW''s Culinary Arts Institute hosted a Homecoming Bash Friday evening. 


Saturday saw alumni gather for social club and fraternity reunions and Springfest in the evening. 


This morning, the school was hosting its Farewell Breakfast to say goodbye to alumni.




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Reader Comments

Article Comment ROSHELL commented at 4/19/2010 2:40:00 PM:

MUW dont wont to make any money they have a long list of people trying to get in their schools they are trying to be to picky yet they are losing money dumb asses compare whites to hispanics to blacks, etc....... muw is a joke it makes me mad talking about it they want their school to be top ranked in academics so bad that their risking to get it closed dumb dumb dumb ughhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Article Comment J commented at 4/19/2010 4:34:00 PM:

It's interesting to see that you went with the doom and gloom headline when within your article it is apparent that the university has already found a solution to its problems in the form of enrolling more online students. This is a tool that many universities have already used for years. It helps students who may have nontraditional situations to finish school in a timely manner (For instance, a soldier stationed in Iraq or someone local who already has a full time job but wants to further their education). It also helps the school to educate more students without the extra overhead expenses it would bring to have those students on campus. Some universities even use online courses as a tool to get former students who had to drop out for whatever reason before to come back to finish their degrees. If marketed properly, this could allow MUW to gain students from all over the world and more than double its current enrollment.


Article Comment Alumni commented at 4/19/2010 4:51:00 PM:

To Roshell: MUW has always challenged each and every student to be the best they can. As for the high academic standards they place on prospective students, I believe your post explains why. Unable to spell, unable to communicate effectively, and unable to use proper punctuation. Let me explain this in a way you may understand, Don,t hate the playa" hate the game! Get the education you need in high school and you can go to any college you want.


Article Comment Current Student commented at 4/19/2010 5:32:00 PM:

Roshell: Alumni is correct about your situation. We are challenged as students and if you can not communicate with other students and professors than why should you attend the W?


Article Comment Amused commented at 4/19/2010 7:34:00 PM:

Roshell: Perhaps, you should learn how to write properly before you go bashing a school for the decisions they make. If anything is dumb, it is your lack of intelligence.


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