Article Comment 

MUW doesn't plan to lay off faculty


Jason Browne



Mississippi University for Women''s tenured professors'' jobs aren''t in danger for fiscal 2012. 


Following news this week that the University of Southern Mississippi would not renew 29 faculty members'' contracts in 2012, MUW''s Vice President of Finance and Administration Nora Miller clarified tenured staff by law are due nine months notice of nonrenewal. She added MUW is using "very conservative estimates" of projected revenues, including the loss of federal stimulus money, to plan ahead for fiscal year 2012, which begins next July 1. 


"Our plans for next year would not involve dismissal of any tenured faculty," she said. 


This year MUW is working with approximately $1.4 million less than last year, yet enrollment is up and adjunct, or part-time, faculty has been added to teach additional class sections.  


"We raised the class size on most general education courses such as art and music appreciation, history, literature surveys, speech, mathematics and philosophy as well as some of the lower division courses in several majors," said Dr. Hal Jenkins, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs. 


MUW''s V3 online college also added new programs, including a public administration degree for emergency responders, and the nursing program continues to expand. 


The addition of adjunct faculty is a regular occurrence at universities and figured into the budget. 


Residence halls are also filled near capacity, including 100 men living on campus. 


Miller says overflowing classes and dorms are a "great problem to have," but they''re not going to solve the budget shortfall. 


In February the State College Board directed MUW to work with Mississippi State University to identify administrative services which could be turned over to MSU to perform for both schools. After studying the available options, Miller says the school identified only a handful of prudent options. 


"It ended up that investing in the cost of extra sections of Banner (MSU''s web-based administrative program) would be cost prohibitive. There would be an eight- to 10-year period before we saw cost benefits. We need some things to give us instant savings," said Miller. 


What the schools did agree on was having MSU perform internal audit services for MUW. The MSU police department will also perform an assessment of the MUW police department and help with administration and management services. Miller says MUW hopes to have the results of the audit and assessment sometime in September. 


With the budget situation expected to get worse before it gets better, English professor Gloria Bunnell, president of MUW''s faculty senate, says layoffs are always at the front of teachers'' minds. 


"We''re very concerned about the possibility of faculty cuts. It makes the faculty very nervous. But we''ve been able to find ways here at The W to cut as much as we can without having to sacrifice any faculty positions," said Bunnell. 


With the smallest enrollment of any of Mississippi''s eight public universities, MUW is in a particularly tight spot with regard to funding. Yet Bunnell says employees remain optimistic. She cites the installation of Interim President Allegra Brigham as a major reason. 


"We''ve had several faculty members say there''s an air of excitement on campus this semester. It''s like a new beginning," she said. "There''s been a real mood change on campus."




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Reader Comments

Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 9/2/2010 9:35:00 AM:

Just like a town drunk, it's only a matter of time before it stumbles off into a ditch.

Have another drink MUW.


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