MSU urged to merge colleges, departments

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – Mississippi State University is considering the merger of two colleges and nine departments and the elimination of 17 degree programs in response to state funding cuts.
Like other universities, MSU has seen its state funding slashed by 8.6 percent for the current fiscal year. It anticipates further cuts that would result in a 2012 budget that is 23 percent less than this year’s original budget.
If that happens, the university may lose as much as $47 million from 2009 to 2012.
“I needed to have ideas and recommendations for efficiency and savings across our campus,” MSU President Mark Keenum said. “It is a very serious issue for us.”
In response, Keenum formed a 33-member committee in October to recommend savings from both academic and non-academic areas. The committee report, released Wednesday, contained 59 recommendations. Among them:
- Merge the College of Forest Resources and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
- Merge several departments.
- Eliminate degree programs with low numbers of degrees awarded.
- Seek IHL approval for a retirement incentive program. The program already has been put on the IHL’s current agenda and would allow someone who is eligible to retire to receive 50 percent of their annual gross salary. That would emulate what was done in 2002.
- Recoup credit card fees from card users. The university was charged more than $1 million in credit card processing fees during the 2009 fiscal year.
- Use a paperless payroll system.
- Reallocate tuition dollars.
- Attract more community college transfers. Community college enrollment is now at an all-time high.
The report has been made available to all students, faculty and administrators. Keenum and the committee will gather feedback to determine what steps to take and how much would be saved.
“The real work is now beginning,” Keenum said. “We now have to take these recommendations and give serious considerations to how they would be implemented.
“I envision a large number of recommendations being implemented on our campus.”
The school has already announced it will raise tuition by 6 percent for the 2010-11 school year and by 6.3 percent for the following school year.

Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@djournal.com.

Department mergers

On Wednesday, a Mississippi State University committee released 59 recommendations to save the school money in the face or current and looming budget cuts. Among those proposals is the merger of the College of Forest Resources and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. It also called for the merger of several departments:

Accounting and Finance

Agricultural Economics and Economics

Animal and Dairy Science and Poultry Science

Biochemistry and appropriate department(s)

Educational Psychology and Psychology

Entomology and Plant Pathology and Plant and Soil Sciences

Kinesiology: Teaching and coaching programs to Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education; non-teaching programs to Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion and/or appropriate departments(s)

Music to College of Architecture, Art and Design

Theatre to College of Architecture, Art and Design

Degree Deletion

Among the 59 recommendations in Wednesday’s report by Mississippi State University was the deletion of 17 degree programs that award low numbers of degrees:

Agriculture Pest Management, B.S.

Integrated Pest Management, B.S.

Trade and Technology Studies, B.S.

Electronic Visualization, M.F.A

Architecture, M.S.

Biological Engineering, M.S.

Biomedical Engineering, M.S.

Computational Engineering, M.S.

Food Science and Technology, M.S.

Horticulture, M.S.

Education, Ed. D.

Biomedical Engineering, Ph. D.

Computational Engineering, Ph. D.

Elementary Education, Ph. D.

Environmental Toxicology, Ph. D.

Secondary Education, Ph. D.

Weed Science, Ph. D.