Dr. Rod Paige, interim president of Jackson State University, is assembling advanced development groups to resolve the university’s financial crisis.
Faculty, students and alumni have expressed their concerns about cost-cutting decisions that could harm the quality of education and experience at the university.
No final decisions have been made, says university spokesman Danny Blanton, however “nothing is off the table.”
Paige describes JSU’s financial issues as a “bitter taste of medicine.”
“Mississippi needs Jackson State,” Paige said during Thursday’s Institutes of Higher Learning board of trustees meeting in Jackson. “We will make sure it reclaims its former brilliance.”
Last October, the Institutes of Higher Learning trustees reported Jackson State’s cash reserves declined from $37 million to $4 million over the past four years. The board hired Matthews, Cutrer and Lindsay, an accounting analytics firm, to assess the university’s finances between fiscal year 2012 and fiscal year 2016.
Less than a week later, Carolyn Meyers announced her resignation as university president. Paige took over as interim president on Nov. 7.
Set to begin meeting next week, the advanced development groups will focus on two areas: operations and academics.
“The way to go about that is to go out into the open market and get audit firms. Obviously, we can’t afford that,” Paige said.
Instead, Paige and his staff have identified personnel across different university departments with various kinds of expertise to form the advanced development groups.
Those dealing with operations will consider student recruitment and retention, streamlining contracts and other ways the university handles business. The academic groups will consider the financial viability of all classes. All of the groups will identify, discuss and recommend measures that will better balance the university budget.
In an interview with Mississippi Today last week, Paige said more money-generating activities at Mississippi Memorial Stadium also could help reverse the financial deficit.
Paige welcomes recommendations from others, too. They should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paige doesn’t expect JSU’s financial issues to be resolved during his time at the university, but he is beginning the process for the next president, who he expects will be in office by July 1.