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Officials Seek To Stop JSU from Opening in Madison

MADISON Miss. — The city of Madison and Tulane University officials want the state College Board to rescind what they’re calling the “premature” approval of Jackson State University’s plans to open a Madison campus this summer.

Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler said the city wants to make sure that Jackson State will not be competing for students with Tulane, which opened a Madison branch in 2010.

On Jan. 17, the College Board approved a 10-year, $1.5 million lease for 8,600 square feet in an office building in Madison for Jackson State to hold classes. JSU President Carolyn Meyers said Monday that the university’s move to open a branch in Madison is designed to make its classes more convenient for nontraditional students who live and work in the area.

Hawkins-Butler said she was surprised to hear about the lease. The mayor said she thought Jackson State was only looking at the space.

“We were very pleasant, enjoyed their company and our discussion, but it was a done deal when we visited, but they did not share that with me,” Hawkins-Butler said.

The mayor’s other concern was for the competition the JSU campus could create with Tulane’s Madison location.

Meyers said she didn’t realize that was a problem after her discussion with Hawkins-Butler.

“It was mentioned, but I told her, or I pointed out to her and she agreed that the educational needs of the state of Mississippi are so great that we both can thrive,” Meyers said. “We thought we had dotted our I’s and crossed the T’s and that’s why we had been trying to meet with her for quite a while and we had no concerns that she had any concerns.”

In a letter to the College, Madison and Tulane officials said state law requires the board to consider ongoing programs of private colleges before authorizing off-campus programs for state universities, the letter said. The statute requires that the board avoid “inefficient and needless duplication.”

“The process and the law have both been disregarded in this case,” the letter said.

JSU Provost James Renick said that the university does not need further permission from the College Board beyond the lease because “all the programs are already offered” on the Jackson campus.

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