JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) — Jackson State University, Interim President Rod Paige has announced a plan that includes a hiring freeze and eliminating some positions to balance the school’s budget.
“We did everything possible to avoid implementing a reduction in force. However, due to an additional $4 million in cuts to our state appropriation in FY2017 – and $1.8 million in additional cuts projected – it became inescapable,” Paige said.
Forty-two filled positions have been recommended for elimination. Paige said the affected employees would receive a 30-day notice. Paige is proposing to eliminate one dean even department chairs and one program coordinator by restructuring academic and administrative units. These reductions will save the school about $2 million, he said.
Paige said the earlier elimination of 65 vacant positions, including faculty and staff who retired or resigned, equate to more than $4 million in savings.
“I know these are tough changes, but they will leave the university in a much stronger position financially and will increase the efficiency of the institution,” said Paige.
JSU officials said the university received input from the campus community to make recommendations that are included in the Budget Reduction and Recovery Plan.
“I have been impressed with the willingness of so many members of the JSU family to sacrifice personal and unit interests for the welfare of the institution. Everyone is committed to our students and their success,” Paige said.
JSU’s cash reserves went from $37 million in fiscal year 2012 to $4.2 million in fiscal year 2016. School officials said increased debt payments and an increase in scholarships given, among other things contributed to the shortfall. They also said the university incurred operating losses between 2013 and 2017 averaging approximately $12 million per year. Significant cost cutting measures implemented in the last half of fiscal year 2017 will help minimize this trend, however, it will take several years to reverse the impact, Paige said.
“Because the overall objective is to streamline operations so the university can function as efficiently as possible, all units and administrative divisions will have to manage with fewer resources for the next few years,” Paige said. “How long these constraints will remain in place is dependent on the time necessary to rebuild the cash reserves to a level appropriate for a university of our size and mission. These measures will not diminish in any way the quality of education our students receive.”
JSU released information about this plan the same day that the Institutions of Higher Learning named Dr. William Bynum as the school’s president. Paige has been serving as the interim since last year after Carolyn Meyers stepped down from the position.