Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Merger No Longer a Threat for Mississippi Valley State: Mississippi College Board Says Desegregation Can Be Achieved Other Ways

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Merger No Longer a Threat for Mississippi Valley State: Mississippi College Board Says Desegregation Can Be Achieved Other Ways

Article excerpt

Merger No Longer a Threat For Mississippi Valley State: Mississippi. College Board Says Desegregation Can Be Achieved Other Ways

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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