Monday, December 7, 2009

The Urban University: Merge JSU and Hinds CC

Like many of you, I've been pondering the trial balloons that Governor Barbour floated when he submitted his proposals for the State's FY 2011 budget. While a lot of folks consider these proposals DOA, maybe we shouldn't move so fast. This is an opportunity for some "outside-the-box" thinking about how to reorganize state government to provide better services to our people.

In my view, being a liberal is not synonymous with "let everyone with a government job keep it, and pay them more each year." That's far from the point. Rather, liberals believe that government should play a major role in bettering the common welfare (which is why each of the governments of Massachusetts, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Virginia is referred to as "the Commonwealth" instead of "the State"). If Government is NOT effectively improving the "commonwealth," it should be changed, and let the chips fall where they may.

So here is one of my suggestions for making Mississippi government more sensible: merge JSU and Hinds Community College into "The University of Mississippi at Jackson." Jackson State University defines itself as:

The vision of Jackson State University is to be a model urban learning community for highly motivated students from diverse backgrounds, where original research and experiential learning are integrated into rigorous and internationally prominent teaching, research and service learning programs.

Hinds Community College has six campuses ringing the City of Jackson: over 12,000 students are educated there. Many of the courses that one would take in the first two years at a four-year institution like JSU are offered there.

Jackson State's strategic planning includes an emphasis on increasing "third year" admissions -- something that would come naturally to students who were progressing from the "outer ring" (the Hinds campuses) where first and second year classes were held, to the "inner ring" (the current 250 acre main campus of JSU) where they would complete their baccalaureate education (if they so chose).

It would then be natural for the medical, dental, and nursing schools now affiliated with UM to be operated under the aegis of the new UM-J.

In one broad stroke, we would eliminate duplication of resources, desegregate college education, and create a powerhouse academic institution in the Capital City.

Just a thought. And one small example of how Governor Barbour's proposals can be used as a springboard for a real discussion of how to bring our 19th Century State Government structure into the 21st Century.

1 comment:

Anderson said...

Hinds grew up as the white alternative to JSU, which is why it's so large in the first place, so merging the two would probably be a severe blow to Hinds. Maybe it could be called Hinds State, but I doubt that would help.