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Bill that would Close Three Public Universities is Dead

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CLEVELAND, Miss.–The bill that would require the state board of Institutions of Higher Learning to close three public universities is dead. The chair of the Senate Public Universities Committee decided not to bring it up before the committee Monday.

“The chair has killed my bill and we’re gonna study it. That way I can sleep tonight,” said state Sen. John Polk, as other members of the committee laughed.
But, the bill was no joke in cities like Cleveland and Itta Bena, homes to Delta State and Mississippi Valley State universities, which were considered vulnerable as the bill circulated around the state.
Committee Chair, Sen. Nicole Boyd, talked about the bill as if it had been misunderstood. Polk has told reporters that he wanted it to start a conversation about enrollment and finances. The conversations were much different and turned out to be more like, what will happen to city economies if universities like Delta State, which has experienced a tough few years, were to close.
The committee did pass a bill that will form a task force to study enrollment and university assets, such as dormitories that are not being used. Valley’s president said two weeks ago that because of the school’s record enrollment they will be remodeling at least one of their three abandoned dorms to house an overflow of students.
But, Delta State is experiencing low enrollment and other schools across the state expect to be.
“I…want to know how they are planning for this enrollment cliff,” said Boyd. “We need to be proactive in helping our colleges and universities manage this.”