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College to Ask Miss. Lawmakers for Endowed Faculty Posts

College to Ask Miss. Lawmakers for Endowed Faculty Posts 


      Higher education officials hope to get about $3 million to match privately raised money for endowed faculty positions at the state’s eight universities.

      Higher education commissioner Tom Meredith said the program would be similar to those in about two dozen states. He said the proposal calls for the state to give $1 for every $1 pledged to a respective university to create endowed positions.

      “The programs in other states — the talent this allows them to bring in usually reaps benefits far greater than the investment,” Meredith said.

      A university needs about $100,000 to establish an endowed faculty position. It would need $500,000 for an endowed professorship.

      “It’s a great investment,” Meredith said.

      House Universities and Colleges Committee Chairman Charles Young,

D-Meridian, said the proposal would be considered but hurricane damage on campuses may make it hard to fund.

      “Anything we can do that can meaningfully move them forward I think we need to be in the business of doing it,” Young said of higher education.

      Meredith said the program would be a no-go this year without state funding.

While there are 48 endowed positions in Mississippi’s eight universities combined, other states have created hundreds of such positions.

      Louisiana officials started a matching program in 1986 with fewer than 100 positions. Now, there are almost 1,700, according to a 2004 report by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, an international association.

      Jackson State University President Ronald Mason, who worked at Tulane University before coming to JSU, said the program in Louisiana proved wildly successful.

      “We’re going to take every advantage of it when it comes on line,” Mason said.

Meredith said the $3 million would cover the first year of the program. It would start out small, he said, but he wants it to become permanent.

      Most other states’ programs include endowed chairs as well as faculty, but he said there simply isn’t enough money for that right now.

      The proposal calls for each university to get a single crack at the $3 million pool before a second position could be funded. That’s to prevent larger universities, which have an easier time raising private funds, from taking all the money before the smaller schools get a chance to use it.

      Meredith said, however, that if there is still money left come spring 2007, the pot of money would be open to any of the schools that could raise the matching funds.

      Criteria for exactly how the universities would have to use the money have yet to be worked out. Meredith said there will be rules limiting it to certain areas at each school.

Associated Press

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