A little late, but still new to me...
Last week, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour proposed a cost-cutting plan to merge all the state-funded historically black colleges and universities into one saving a whooping $35 million dollars out of a state budget that is running hundreds of millions in deficit for Fiscal 2010. There is also plans to merge or do away with the women's institution, Mississippi University for Women into Mississippi State University.
"Under Barbour's plan, no campuses would close but Alcorn State and Valley would be merged into Jackson State. Each of the smaller schools is roughly 100 miles from Jackson. Barbour said the merger would save money by reducing administrative costs and eliminating academic duplication. He also wants to consolidate Mississippi University for Women with nearby Mississippi State University. The governor said the restructuring could save the state $35 million out of a nearly $5.5 billion budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.The black university presidents have made clear they want to remain independent."The governor's proposed budget cuts will change the face of higher education in Mississippi for decades," JSU President Ronald Mason said in a statement. Alcorn State President George Ross said the university leaders didn't find out about the plan until Monday."Now his plans calls for the merger of Alcorn State and Mississippi Valley State universities into Jackson State University (JSU) in Jackson. The state only has 3 publicly-funded universities, but the thing is that those other 2 besides JSU are all rural universities serving the very impoverish regions of Mississippi's Black Belt and Delta regions where like in Alabama, it's predominately black.
Before I attack Barbour, I'll be pragmatic for a minute and say this: HBCUs were very pivotal institutions for providing the educations for a significant number of black leaders who led cultural and scientific breakthroughs for modern society here in the US and the world over. However, since the Civil Right era they become mostly cultural hubs for young blacks who want to get a taste of black culture for the first time or places where alums come back to every year for the homecoming festivities. On that I digress, the majority of them are publicly funded (barely) or privately funded with lacklaster results from alums and donors. The exceptions to this rule are Howard, Hampton, Clark Atlanta, Morehouse, and Spelman.
However, this is clearly callousness on Barbour's part, who for the record said last week that, "a state with about 2.9 million residents can't afford eight universities. He said Monday he's not worried about appearing racially insensitive with his proposal."
There it is for you, another Southern white governor that doesn't care, but that's too simplistic because he is also the former Chairman of the RNC in the 1990s and current head of the Republican Governors Association. Also Barbour could careless since he is term-limited and can't run in 2011, but this will buy him some cool points with that "certain demographic group", i.e., rural whites. However, this doesn't stand a chance in hell of passing Mississippi State Legislature in the 2010 general session due to the shear numbers of the black legislators and how barely helps their deficit.
Oh, the irony!