JSU Students & Alumni React to University Restructuring

JACKSON, Miss. – Trying to bounce back for Jackson State University is coming at the expense of several changes in academics and administration.

Some now fear that this plan to get the university out of the red could change the identity of the school.

“We know where this degree has taken us and it is our duty to come back and advocate to make sure they have the same opportunities we were granted, and we do not understand how Jackson State is doing the process and justifying it,” former Miss. JSU, Courtney Rutledge explained.

A plan detailing several measures to downsize university departments, programs and offices is being put in motion at Jackson State.

This as the university recovers from an 89% drop in cash reserves and a recent shift in leadership.

“We’re going forward as if nothing’s going to change and that’s our hope, all of us alumni, current students, incoming students that our department stays and that we can flourish on this campus,” JSU student, Avery Evans said.

Evans is a rising junior studying Speech Communication. Under JSU’s proposed budget reduction and recovery plan his major along with Theater will merge into English and Modern Foreign Languages and the Department of Art.

“Visual Arts and Theater Arts are two different things,” Evans said. “I mean I could understand if it were going to like a whole arts, Fine Arts thing as a whole, I mean the reduction just doesn’t make sense logically.”

“Our department is the only one whose merge or dissolving does not make scholastic sense,” Rutledge said. “There’s no region one, region two or Carnegie funded high yielding institution in America that would propose that and allow that to happen and decrease the scholars value.”

We contacted the state College Board about the plan, we were referred to section 503 of the board policy manual which states, “As part of its broad constitutional authority to govern the universities, the board shall exercise its authority to modify programs offered by the universities generally or at various units of the universities.”

“The students have not been addressed…by the university,” Rutledge said. “The students have not been addressed they sent back Deans, Chairs and Faculty members to be the bearers of their bad news with no information–that’s a problem.”

Student participation in ‘shared governance’ at JSU is being called into question.

JSU did not tell us how students were notified and what recommendations they were able to make in this plan.

The College Board is set to meet Thursday, June 15 to discuss JSU’s budget reduction and recovery plan.