September 12, 2018 10:42:33 AM
Mary Pollitz - [email protected]
Mississippi University for Women has faced numerous state budget cuts in recent years, causing student tuition to fund more than 50 percent of its expenditures.
Acting President Nora Miller said tuition funding the majority of university operations was not always the case.
"We used to be 60-percent dependent on the state and 35- to 40-percent on our tuition, but that has flipped," Miller told Columbus Rotary Club members Tuesday afternoon at Lion Hills Center. "That is also a national trend."
In an effort to combat the state financial cutbacks, Miller said, MUW has added seven new sports teams to its campus this year, including women's soccer, men's and women's basketball and men's and women's tennis.
The additional sports teams added 80 new students to MUW, which totaled an additional $600,000 in tuition, thus avoiding university budget cuts, Miller said.
Last year, MUW totaled nearly 3,500 students. Miller said the numbers for this academic year will be released once they have been reported to the Institute of Higher Learning Board.
"As the state support dwindles, we become more and more focused on our students and we have to realize they are the ones who are providing us with funding," she said.
Miller said the new athletic programs have helped incorporate the university into the community. This past spring, Miller said the Owls baseball team helped celebrate a young boy's birthday at a local restaurant by singing happy birthday and the entire team signing a baseball as a gift.
"That's the kind of stuff you can't buy, those are the kind of students we want to have," Miller said. "That's the impression we want people to see that The W cares and The W is a big part of this community."
Miller also highlighted several recognitions MUW has received this year, including being named one of the best colleges for employees. Miller said that goal is evident since MUW has more than 60 percent of its faculty financially giving back to the university, well over the national average of 22 percent.
"That's amazing, particularly when we haven't had a raise in three years," Miller said. "People are still finding ways to give and it shows that we really believe in our institution."
One of the primary goals for Miller is continuing degree completion at MUW. Last year, MUW awarded 894 degrees and had 31.8 per 100 students with degree completion. Miller said it was the highest completion rate in the IHL system.
Miller, who is vying for the permanent presidential position, took the role as acting president July 1 after former president Jim Borsig's retirement. The IHL board will meet at MUW this Friday to hold a listening session for the community, which will lead to a permanent president announcement in the coming weeks.