JSU Madison campus closes; dean asks new president to reconsider journalism school

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Jackson State University’s Madison campus

As part of Jackson State’s Budget Reduction and Recovery Plan announced Wednesday, no classes are scheduled at the school’s Madison campus for fall semester 2017. However, termination of JSU’s lease at the Galleria Parkway location remains unresolved.

The university plans to focus on its dual enrollment agreement with Holmes Community College in Ridgeland, signed in 2013. Classes that had been held at JSU’s Madison campus will move to JSU’s main campus in Jackson, to the Holmes campus in Ridgeland or be offered online.

Immediately after Dr. William B. Bynum Jr. was selected as new president of Jackson State University by the Board of Trustees of the Institutions of Higher Learning on Wednesday, university officials distributed details of the restructuring plan that was developed by interim president Dr. Rod Paige and staff to solve the university’s financial crisis.

Bynum says his first priority is getting Jackson State’s finances in order. He assumes the presidency July 1.

All the university’s recommendations must be approved by the Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees at its monthly meeting in June. Upon approval, the recommendations will be implemented immediately.

Last January, Paige asked personnel across university departments with various expertise to form advanced development groups to propose recommendations, which included eliminating jobs and merging some academic departments.

“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,” Paige said in a statement on Wednesday.

In addition to the elimination of 65 vacant positions, 42 currently filled jobs will be terminated. This will affect one dean, seven department chairs and one program coordinator, but no faculty will be lost.

Dr. Elayne Hayes-Anthony. Dean of the School of Journalism at Jackson State University

The School of Journalism will be consolidated with the College of Liberal Arts. Dr. Elayne Hayes-Anthony’s position as dean of the journalism school is being eliminated; she has been asked to become chairman of the newly structured journalism department.  

“I am concerned about the proposed move from school status to department status. I do recognize Dr. Bynum is new and I hope he will reassess the decision,” said Hayes-Anthony.

In 2015, under Hayes-Anthony’s direction, Jackson State announced the creation of a journalism school out of the Department of Mass Communication.

Anthony questions whether recent increases in partnerships between the school and other groups, student recruitment and proposed courses in media literacy will be affected by the realignment.

The plan to combine parts of the Department of Speech Communication and Theater with the Department of English and Modern Foreign Languages and Department of Art will affect Dr. Mark G.Henderson. A tenured professor and chair of the Department of Speech Communication and Theater, Henderson will return solely to professor status.

Dr. Mark G. Henderson, chair of the Department of Speech Communication and Theater at Jackson State University

The plan would also reorganize the College of Business from four departments to two departments. One department titled business administration will include business management and business marketing programs; the other department, which hasn’t been named, will include accounting, finance and entrepreneurship programs.

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 academic and administrative restructuring beginning in fiscal year 2018.

The goals are to “reorganize and reclassify,” said university spokesman Danny Blanton. 

“This transition was as smooth as to be expected. We are not limiting classes or programs, but increasing the efficiency,” he added.

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.