November 21, 2009 10:05:00 PM
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 They just went on teaching anyway, even after he had withdrawn the money to pay them.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.