Higher ed Colleges face 'nervous time'

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal

At the University of Mississippi, only six of 19 open positions in the College of Liberal Arts are being filled because of the state’s dire budget situation.
Those same budget problems are causing “angst” at Mississippi State University, said Blake Jeter, the student body president.
“It is a very nervous time around the campus – probably on all college campuses,” said Jeter, a Brandon resident and a major in biomedical engineering. “We know we have to make cuts … and probably won’t be able to keep all jobs.
“We’re working hard to get recommendations wrapped up to make cuts. Until the recommendations are finalized, there is a lot of angst out there.”
All eight of the public universities are looking at ways to deal with $36.3 million in cuts for this fiscal year. The College Board has approved tuition increases for the next two years, 653 positions are being cut on the campuses and 33 departments are being eliminated.
Ken Sufka, chairman of the Ole Miss Faculty Senate, said that conservative planning by the university’s administration has prevented layoffs so far, but he questioned how long that could last.
“Everything is on the table,” he said. But he added that he believes the result of the cuts will be that Ole Miss “will be more lean and more focused, but I am confident we will continue to support excellence in our academic programs.”
At Mississippi State, Jeter said it would be hard to reduce faculty when the university is growing. Pending layoffs, he said, “might have to be those on staff.”
Those paying for college will see tuition go up an average of $325 next year and $351 the following year. In two years, the average tuition systemwide will be $5,418 per year.
Despite the hike, Jeter said excellence must be maintained.
“A tuition increase is something we don’t want to see, but we don’t want the quality of education to drop,” he said. “It is a difficult balancing act.”