Sunday, January 3, 2010

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour on Proposed Mergers

Mississippi House Universities and Colleges Committee Chairman Kelvin Buck recently said that the proposed higher education mergers "wouldn't happen on his watch," and Governor Haley Barbour defended his plan for merging state universities. Barbour suggests potential cost savings of merging the institutions including fewer administrators, athletic programs and reduced degree and course offerings. Barbour remarked, "Candidly, we don't need eight schools of education in Mississippi. And I think you would see some moving around of offerings, not only graduate offerings but undergraduate courses as well."

I don't doubt that the State of Mississippi is in a serious budget crunch. Other states including Ohio have looked at reducing the duplication of programs among state universities. But for Barbour to delve into a racially-sensitive issue (by suggesting merger of the HBCUs) to solve a budget problem was probably not the best idea. Merging colleges and universities should not be done exclusively for fiscal reasons anyway, so this idea never really had legs to begin with.