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8/2/2018 - Jackson, Miss.

Concerns about state appropriations and the upcoming step-down and eventual loss of funding provided through the Ayers Settlement echoed across the sessions Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr., Commissioner of Higher Education held at Jackson State University on the latest stop on the Commissioner's Listening Tour.

"As Commissioner, I want to ensure that all of our universities remain accessible and affordable, maintain high quality programs and services for students, and are financially stable," said Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr., Commissioner of Higher Education. "Having adequate resources to achieve these goals is absolutely necessary and the Jackson State University community understands this. I would like to thank the members of the JSU family for sharing their concerns with me."

Dr. Rankins met with students, faculty, staff, administrators, elected officials and community members at the meetings held yesterday in Jackson. Many participants expressed concerns about funding for the university. State appropriations for the university system decreased 13.7 percent from fiscal year 2016 to fiscal year 2018. The program funding provided through the Ayers Settlement Agreement is scheduled to decrease from $13,467,000 to $6,733,000 in fiscal year 2019 and end in fiscal year 2022.

"It was a pleasure to host Commissioner Rankins on the campus of Jackson State University," said Dr. William B. Bynum Jr., president of JSU. "He understands the opportunities for economic growth of our state through education. I know that we can depend on him as a champion of our institutions in the state of Mississippi and beyond."

Also discussed during the sessions were the role of the Board of Trustees and Commissioner and ways to build on the strength of the system through enhanced collaboration among the universities, including expanding the research profile by seeking external funding for research grants through joint projects, developing more efficient ways to purchase items and provide services, and advocating for resources for to serve students and meet facility needs.

Many stressed the need for enhanced internal and external communications and the need to work with the City of Jackson and Jackson Public Schools to enhance educational outcomes for Jackson's children and improve the quality of life in the metro area.

Dr. Rankins visits the Delta on the next stops on the tour:

  • Delta State University on Thursday, August 23
  • Mississippi Valley State University on Friday, August 24

Additional details on the events will be released prior to each tour stop. More information, including a survey on various aspects of the university system, is available online at the following link: www.mississippi.edu/tour.

Named Commissioner of Higher Education on March 23, 2018, Dr. Rankins began serving in this role on July 1, 2018. As Commissioner, Dr. Rankins provides leadership to the university system, including all eight public universities in Mississippi.

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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