Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Merger No Longer a Threat for Mississippi Valley State

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Merger No Longer a Threat for Mississippi Valley State

Article excerpt

Over the years as the fate of a small, Black, rural

institution unfolded in and out of the court, business was as

usual as it could have been at Mississippi

Valley State University.

MVSU President William Sutton made sure of

that, Recruitment efforts are in high gear and

multimillion dollar renovation and new

construction projects are underway on the campus

that Sutton calls an "oasis in the cotton patch

providing hope where despair dominated."

And now that Mississippi's College Board

announced recently that it is no longer

recommending the consolidation of traditionally

white Delta State University and Mississippi Valley

State University, Sutton is relieved. "The Board's

announcement was critically important to

MVSU," said Sutton.

Federal Judge Neal M. Biggers Jr., in his

March, 1955 ruling in the college desegregation

case United States vs. Fordice, had ordered that a

Committee study how best to desegregate higher

education.

A three-member committee, handpicked by the

College Board, concluded in a long-awaited report

that there are better ways to desegregate higher

education in the Mississippi Delta than

consolidating Delta State University and MVSU.

"Closing MVSU, which currently

plays a critical role as an access

institution for economically and

educationally disadvantaged students

from the Delta, is likely to have a

negative impact on minority students'

access to and success in higher

education," said Robert Kronley, one of

the report's three authors and a

consultant with the Atlanta-based

Southern Education Foundation.

William A. Butts, special assistant to

the Commissioner of Higher Education

and Dr. Walter A. Washington, former

president of Mississippi's Alcorn State

University, also compiled the report,

"Transformation Through

Collaboration: Desegregating Higher

Education in the Mississippi Delta."

The College Board is also expected

to consider 10 recommendations

outlined in the report for enhancing

MVSU with such things as new academic

programs, funds for other-race

scholarships, upgraded facilities, and

faculty exchanges.

"The cloud of closure or merger has

been a source of negative publicity since

the board's 1992 announcement," says

Sutton, about the initial call to close or

merge Mississippi Valley.

In 1992, the U.S. Supreme Court

ordered Mississippi to remove all

vestiges of its dual system. One solution

was a controversial proposal

by the College Board calling for closure or

merger of some Black universities with

traditionally white ones. …

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