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Lawmakers kill bill looking to merge Mississippi University for Women and Mississippi State

The Mississippi Senate killed a bill on Wednesday that would have merged the Mississippi University for Women and Mississippi State University.

The legislation came as a surprise to school officials on both sides after a last-minute amendment was made last week to Senate Bill 2715 to transfer operations and assets of MUW in Columbus under the purview of Mississippi State. Originally, the bill was intended to move the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science – a magnet high school located on the campus of MUW – to the main campus of Mississippi State in nearby Starkville.

Upon presenting the bill on the floor, Senate Education Chairman Dennis DeBar, R-Leakesville, asked lawmakers to amend the legislation from a full takeover to one that would create a study committee on the feasibility of MUW and MSMS. He cited declining enrollment as a reason to look closer at the schools’ survival rates.

“I can tell you why we’re looking at this issue,” DeBar said. “We have declining enrollment. The W has lost 500 students over the last 10 years. We’re at about 1,800 undergraduate students (and) 2,200 overall. There is declining enrollment at MSMS. They’re down to about 240 students.”

While the amendment passed, lawmakers still chose to nix the idea when it came to the floor for a vote. In a narrow majority, 27 senators voted against the measure in comparison to 25 for it.

The “efficiency and effectiveness” of MUW could still be studied through a different task force that was approved by the Senate on Tuesday to look closer at all eight of the state’s public universities. Now that MUW has avoided a merger, the coeducational university will turn its attention back to changing its name in hopes of drawing more male students.

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