Article Comment 

Show your support for The W




Columbus was also a place of intellectual stimulation. There was always so much going on there. It was a wonderful place to be in at that time. Two years at the college were taught by teachers who had been unsupported financially by then Governor Bilbo. They just went on teaching anyway, even after he had withdrawn the money to pay them. 


--Eudora Welty, speaking about her time at MSCW in a 1995 interview about Tennessee Williams published in the Mississippi Quarterly  




As has happened before, there is talk around the state of eliminating Mississippi University for Women, specifically, merging the school with Mississippi State. Last week Gov. Haley Barbour floated the widely anticipated proposal in his budget. 


Many in the community, long tired of the 3-year-old feud between W alumnae and the school, have welcomed the proposal. The feud has eroded much precious good will townspeople feel for the school. "I''m sick of hearing about The W," a vendor at The Hitching Lot Holiday Market told us Saturday morning. He''s not alone. Outside the university community, we''ve heard a lot of support for a MSU-MUW merger. 


It''s unclear how the merger would work and what the Columbus campus would look like as part of MSU or, for that matter and more significantly, how it would save the state money. 


In recent years MUW has appeared to be a ship without a rudder. The alumni dispute has hamstrung President Claudia Limbert''s ability to move the school in any discernible way. We have lauded her for undertaking the controversial but necessary business of name change, but that effort has stalled out and has taken a back seat in the heat of current events. 


MUW is in a unique position among the state''s universities. The school has the potential to reinvent itself as a high-achieving liberal arts university on the model of an ivy league institution. With a mandate from the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, dynamic leadership and a name change, that process could easily begin. 


For more than a century, MUW has been an essential part of this community. It is difficult to imagine Columbus without the school. Yes, the past three years of caterwauling have not been easy to take, and citizens are justifiably disgusted. The time for unity is now. The various alumni factions have put aside their differences. It is time to show our love for this vital community asset. 


Legislators need to hear and see community support. An opportunity for that comes today at 2 p.m. on The W campus at the Nissan Auditorium. 


We hope to see you there.



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Reader Comments

Article Comment George commented at 11/21/2009 11:04:00 PM:

"dynamic leadership and a name change, that process could easily begin."

Prove it. Both alumni associations should draft a joint letter to the Governor, the Legislature, and the IHL, promising to support a name change and a merger of the two groups into one. Follow that up with the election of a single set of officers representing ALL of the alumni.

Unless they are willing to join together and make the tough changes, including a name change and support of Limbert, then it is just more talk.


Article Comment Wgrad84 commented at 11/22/2009 9:28:00 AM:

So surprisingly this becomes once again our way or the highway huh George. That supporting Limbert and a name change is the only option. You have an alumnae association that has elected officers and directors that represent all of the alums by its sheer design and I can assure you it is not the organization created by Limbert. The organization she created exists to represent her as far as I can tell. You have to be "accepted" for membership in that organization so by its design it is exclusive and not fully representative and can never be.


Article Comment Wgrad84 commented at 11/22/2009 9:28:00 AM:

So surprisingly this becomes once again our way or the highway huh George. That supporting Limbert and a name change is the only option. You have an alumnae association that has elected officers and directors that represent all of the alums by its sheer design and I can assure you it is not the organization created by Limbert. The organization she created exists to represent her as far as I can tell. You have to be "accepted" for membership in that organization so by its design it is exclusive and not fully representative and can never be.


Article Comment George commented at 11/22/2009 10:49:00 AM:

No it is not my way or the highway. It is quit your petty fighting and support the changes that must be made or the school will perish.

Don't believe it? Just watch.


Article Comment Hmm. commented at 11/22/2009 1:08:00 PM:

"Petty fighting" to you = "Not rolling over and letting them do their thing after handing them the vaseline" to others.


Article Comment past supporter commented at 11/22/2009 2:24:00 PM:

Seems merging could be a positive at this seems to be a dying institution looking at enrollment patterns and financial support.


Article Comment Jeff Smith commented at 11/22/2009 3:13:00 PM:

I strongly support the "W" and will do all I can
in the Legislature. I hope, if and when I can,
to introduce legislation to help the "W" and
will work as hard as I can to stop any measure not in the best interest of MUW.

Jeff Smith


Article Comment mark commented at 11/22/2009 5:21:00 PM:

close the burden and quit the drama over a stinking name!


Article Comment Stan commented at 11/22/2009 6:12:00 PM:

The W, can't pay their bills, merge are close it down. Hard earned tax money can just go so far. I don't want mine wasted on this school.


Article Comment D.Matt commented at 11/22/2009 8:47:00 PM:

The proposed merger is not about The "W" it's about Mississippi and it's the right thing to do.
I am a W Alum & I see this as a win-win move for our state & improving education and saving money.

This is a move that should have been done at least 20 years ago. This is the best move a "lame duck" governor could do who really has no political capital in the state.

If the "Old Guard" is so interested in keeping the W a separate sustainable entity, why don't they put their money where their mouth is & go "private."


Article Comment Cheryl Jackson Cooper commented at 11/22/2009 10:27:00 PM:

Thank you, Jeff Smith! Please know you will have the support of a large number of MUW alumnae and that you already have our gratitude.


Article Comment Bryan commented at 11/23/2009 8:20:00 AM:

Why don't we put it up for a vote to the people of the state? I'd venture to say that the handful of people that are complaining about the proposal the Gov. had issued would find that the taxpayers are tired of the waste. Why would any one be opposed to saving taxpayer money by at least consolidation of the administrative functions? That goes for JSU, MVSU, and Alcorn merger as well. If they are bleeding the taxpayers dry, then we have to stop the bleeding before we end up like California. Stop the complaining and whining about a school that has fewer enrollments than ICC. It's a burden and should be addressed.


Article Comment bert commented at 11/23/2009 8:23:00 AM:

Rep. Smith, please have the courage to do what's in the best interest of the people of Mississippi. You are a very smart man and a skilled legislator but your post was so nakedly political.

It seems the biggest arguments for the "W" are tradition and value. Guess what, the customers aren't buying. The old gal ain't what she used to be and continuing to spend millions to keep her on life support is a disservice to the taxpayers of Mississippi.

I'd also offer that it's a disservice to the proud alums of the past who put on their rose colored glasses and see the "W" as it was but, sadly, not as it will ever be again.

Please take this opportunity to lead, if good men such as yourself don't do it who will? It's time to be a statesman not a politician.


Article Comment Bryan commented at 11/23/2009 8:37:00 AM:

HERE HERE Bert! That was SPOT ON.


Article Comment Denis commented at 11/23/2009 9:51:00 AM:

MR. Smith,
If you have access to the financials, please publish for the past fiscal year the total federal & state money sent to school coffers, divided by the number of students enrolled, & how that ranks with everybody else. I bet if we took that figure, give half of it to the student, they could get a full ride somewhere else. This is not the time for sentiment, we're broke! Half of the 4 yr colleges need to be shut down.


Article Comment MB commented at 11/23/2009 12:56:00 PM:

What are the two or three main programs that the school offers? I say cut every thing but nursing, culinary, and then what ever is the #3 program. The school can not survive on its own and the State of Mississippi can not afford to keep operating when tax revenue is down. MERGE IT WITH MSU OR SHUT IT DOWN!!!

I have a lot of respect for Rep. Jeff Smith but if he fights to keeps this money hole open with out merger then I think its time to get him out of office. He has been a good legislator but keeping a money hole open like the "W" is a bad idea and makes me wonder about him now. Rep. Smith, you are a smart man so do not let something like this hurt you politically! Merge it or shut it down!!!


Article Comment dave commented at 11/23/2009 2:44:00 PM:

I hope none of you are residents of Columbus who are wishing away the W. The MUW tuition is actually 16% less than MSU's. For Resident Students it is even less since Room and Board at MUW is also considerably less than MSU's. The State appropriation is however 19% higher for each Full Time Equivalent student enrolled at MUW as opposed to MSU. I would say the W is run dang well considering that MSU is 6 and a half times larger than MUW. Any business person knows that volume reduces costs. With the looming budget cuts MUW if merged with MSU would produce only 10 million more dollars to be spread around to the other remaining institutions and with MSU scheduled to recieve a 40 million dollar cut there will not be anything left for MSU to operate their "NEW" Columbus campus.

Anyone been by Mary Holmes College in West Point lately? My guess is that is what Columbus can expect the W Campus to look like in a few years if this goes through, not to mention the loss of jobs and dollars for Columbus and Lowndes County.


Article Comment Bryan commented at 11/23/2009 2:52:00 PM:

I am not a resident of Columbus, nor am I a resident of Starkville. What I am is a TAXPAYER OF THE STATE OF MS! One that is tired of my hard earned money going to waste, and I am willing to bet that I am in the majority (If we voted on it). If the citizens of Columbus want the "W" to stay open, then take it off the State's wallet and put it on the City budget.


Article Comment MB commented at 11/23/2009 3:43:00 PM:

What you left out is where you save money with administration costs. If the "W" was under MSU it would eliminate positions for some which would save money. Enrollment is down at the "W" but up at MSU. It would put more students on campus at the "W" if MSU took over. There are a lot of students that commute to MSU every day that are in Columbus and the surrounding areas. They could go to the Columbus campus of MSU for their basics and keep from having to drive that additional 30 or so miles. I think it would definately put more students on campus there. We got to streamline and the "W" can not survive with the current enrollment it has. If I am not mistaken, enrollment is up at every other college and JUCO in the state but down at the "W".


Article Comment dave commented at 11/23/2009 4:41:00 PM:

Enrollment is up at MUW! Something like 5% and I believe the largest percentage increase among the 8 state institutions this year. Since 2001 enrollment is up over 17%. Why are you so sure those basic classes would still be offered on a MSU Columbus Campus and that enrollment would be up. How about the students who prefer and are more successful with the smaller size of MUW. If you completely defunded MUW and gave it all to MSU it is still not near as much as MSU recieves in state aid now, after the proposed cuts in the next few years. I believe any cuts to services would come here Columbus in order to keep cuts from going as deep on the main campus of MSU.


Article Comment gogetum commented at 11/25/2009 1:05:00 PM:

Hey Bryan-- good idea but the city can't pay it's bills either. Can't even fill the pot holes . The whole force is on vacation 3 days a week plus holidays and the Mayor gets his boxers in a wad cause the county won't work for them on Fridays while they go to the beach. What a nerve! Close the W or what ever it's called now!!! Merger is the next best thing.


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