Higher education in a state of flux
Dec. 2, 2001
A good argument could be made that higher education in Mississippi is in a state of flux. Grappling with an elusive settlement in the longstanding Ayers case has kept the college board busy for what seems like generations and, hopefully, a final solution will be achieved one of these days.
In the meantime, searches are under way for presidents at three institutions of higher learning and the individuals eventually selected to head them face troublesome new problems related to budgets and state funding. Economic recession has turned many college budgets into legislative mush and there is renewed talk of more cuts, just at the time when education should be employed as the best way to rescue economic development.
Education and economic development are joined-at-the-hip issues. They can't successfully be separated. One visionary, Dr. Malcolm Portera, formerly of Mississippi State University, is gone from the Mississippi picture. His knowledge of the direct relationship between economic development and education will be hard to replace. His personal leadership and commitment to revitalization projects in downtown Meridian will be hard to replace.
As the college board conducts its searches, we hope its members fully recognize the direct connection between education and economic development. The individuals selected to head MSU, USM and MUW must also be devoted to that view.