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Effort to Close Three Mississippi Universities Likely to Fail, Lawmaker Says

An effort to close three Mississippi Universities has drawn a wave of criticism, with many fearing it could force the closure of some of the state’s historically Black universities if it became law. But it faces an imminent deadline and lawmakers say it is unlikely to become law.

Sen. John Polk, R-Hattiesburg, introduced Senate Bill 2726, calling for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning to slate three public state universities for closure. If it became law, IHL would announce the names of those planned for closure by June 30, 2025, with all set to close by June 30, 2028.

Polk says Mississippi has too many universities for the number of students seeking degrees and thus suggests that closing three universities would be fiscally responsible.

“If you took the appropriations of the three lowest universities right now and moved $85 million to the five universities,” Polk told WAPT reporter Ross Adams. “It certainly would enhance the ability for our students to get a good education.”

Senator Polk did not return calls to the Mississippi Free Press by press time.

In response to a Mississippi resident on Facebook, Mississippi Sen. Hillman Frazier, D-Jackson, who serves on the Senate Universities and Colleges Committee, said he was “certain that Senator Polk’s bill will not be called up for a vote.”

“Similar bills have been introduced in the past only to die in a committee,” he wrote. “Senator Polk’s bill does not name any institutions but leaves it to IHL to make a recommendation to the Mississippi Legislature by 2025. Past bills targeted (Mississippi University for Women, Mississippi Valley State University and Delta State). To be clear, the Senate Universities and Colleges Committee has no desire (to) close any institution of higher learning. I discussed this matter with the chair of the committee and we are on the same page.”

Mississippi Sen. Hillman Frazier, D-Jackson, said on March 3, 2024, that he expected S.B. 2726 to die in committee. AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File

The Mississippi Free Press could not reach Sen. Frazier by press time.

The bill would require IHL to consider several factors

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