November 14, 2009 8:33:00 PM
I read Jason Browne''s Nov. 11 article on Governor Barbour''s comments from Afghanistan on merger or closure with disbelief. I am a graduate of The W but now live in Georgia. Barbour is traveling with four governors, one of them, Sonny Perdue, is from Georgia.
While Barbour has insisted that eight universities are too many for a state to support, Georgia continues to maintain 35. That''s right, Georgia''s Board of Regents, its version of the IHL, manages four research universities, two regional universities, 13 state universities, eight state colleges, and eight two-year colleges. And there''s been no talk of closing any of them.
Of course our state has a budget crisis too, and the governor did impose state mandatory non-paid furlough days for employees, including teachers. State employees were expected to take three days in this half of the fiscal year. In the coming year it is expected that each employee will be forced to take an unpaid day a month, but will have their jobs.
Mississippi, on the other hand, looks to higher education for budget cuts, in a state where education couldn''t be more important. Abolishing the only institution with a women''s mission in the state with the highest teenage pregnancy rate doesn''t make sense either. Merging and closing a few universities seems like the wrong way to go as they offer different fields of study. Consolidating some of the state''s 153 K-12 school districts is more logical, as they are all required to essentially teach the same things.
Merging with MSU presents a myriad of problems. Students will be forced to drive an hour round trip for classes when gas is at a premium. What about library services? Housing issues? And closure won''t eliminate state expense, as it will be forced to care for buildings as they deteriorate. In fact, the state will lose revenue as those workers leave the state in search of other jobs, no longer paying income and sales taxes in Mississippi.
Hire a president with a vision and look to the future of the state. The future of the state lies in higher education.
MUW Class of 1991, Lilburn, Ga.