JSU recovery plan slashes 42 jobs, merges schools and departments

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Ashley F. G. Norwood, Mississippi Today

Dr. Rod Paige, interim president of Jackson State University, on the Gibbs-Green Plaza.

Immediately following the announcement of a new president for Jackson State University, the university announced plans Wednesday to solve its financial crisis by eliminating jobs and merging some academic departments.

Around 2:30 on Wednesday, the Board of Trustes of the Institutions of Higher Learning announced Dr. William Bynum would be JSU’s next president; he formerly was president of Mississippi Valley State University.

Bynum withstands protests; takes reins as JSU president

Thirty minutes after the announcement, JSU officials distributed a Budget Reduction and Recovery Plan under which 42 jobs that are currently filled are recommended for termination. This will affect one dean, seven department chairs and one program coordinator, but no faculty will be lost.

These moves coupled with an earlier reduction of 65 vacant positions should result in $6 million in savings for the university.

The plan calls for placing the School of Journalism and Media Studies under the College of Liberal Arts as a department. In 2015, Jackson State officials announced the creation of a journalism school from the department of mass communication.

In addition, the plan would reorganize the College of Business from four departments to two departments. Current undergraduate programs in the college of business include departments of accounting; economics, finances and general business; management and marketing; and entrepreneurship and small business.

The restructuring plan also includes moves made in recent months to shore up budget gaps, including a hiring freeze, suspension of all internally funded travel, eliminating all unfilled positions, reducing commodities spending, ending a number of terminable contracts and resizing satellite campuses along with academic and administrative restructuring beginning in fiscal year 2018.

The administrative restructuring plans also include:

  • Combine parts of the Department of Speech Communication and Theater with the Department of English and Modern Foreign Languages and Department of Art.
  • Combine the JSU Global and the Office of Community College Relations with the Division of Undergraduate Studies and Enrollment Management.
  • Merge Department of Special Education with Social Science and MAT in College of Education.
  • Reorganize College of Science, Engineering and Technology from eight departments to five.
  • Move Office of Grants and Contracts to Division of Business and Finance.
  • Consolidate Welcome Center and Events Department in Division of Institutional Advancement.
  • Move Institutional Research to Division of Information Technology.
  • Move Title III to Academic Affairs.
  • Separate Academic and Student Affairs.
  • Move JSU Online to Academic Affairs.

“We did everything possible to avoid implementing a reduction in force. However, due to an additional $4 million in cuts to our state appropriation in fiscal year 2017 — and $1.8 million in additional cuts projected — it became inseparable,” said interim President Rod Paige.

This comes as JSU tries to rebound from having its cash reserve drop by 89 percent from fiscal year 2012 to fiscal year 2016 under then President Dr. Carolyn Meyers, who resigned from the position Nov. 1, 2016.