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Mississippi University For Women Could Merge With Mississippi State Under Surprise Bill

Mississippi University for Women could merge with Mississippi State University under a rewritten bill lawmakers advanced late Tuesday to the surprise of officials at both universities.

The Senate Education Committee approved Senate Bill 2715, sending it to the Mississippi Senate floor. The legislation would create “The W at Mississippi State University,” which would operate on MUW’s current campus in Columbus, Miss.

MUW: Effort ‘Was Unexpected’

Mississippi University for Women officials said lawmakers blindsided them with the bill yesterday.

“We became aware of the last-minute amendment made to Senate Bill 2715 yesterday. The proposed action to merge and rename the university ‘The W at Mississippi State University’ was unexpected, but we are fully committed to ensuring our university’s health and sustainability and its 140-year legacy in the state of Mississippi,” MUW President Nora Miller said in a statement to the Mississippi Free Press this morning.

Mississippi University for Women President Nora Miller said an effort to merge her institution into Mississippi State University “was unexpected” in a statement on March 6, 2024. Photo courtesy Mississippi University for Women

Senate Education Chairman Dennis DeBar, R-Leakesville, authored the original bill, which he introduced on Feb. 19. He offered the amended version as a committee substitute during the Senate Education Committee’s March 5 meeting.

The original bill would have only relocated the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science—a residential public high school for academically talented students—from the MUW campus to MSU’s campus in Starkville. But it would not have merged MUW with MSU.

Officials from the City of Columbus, Lowndes County and MUW previously said they opposed the original idea of moving MSMS to Starkville during a press conference on Feb. 28. That same day, MUW released a statement listing the mutually beneficial relationship between the two schools.

“The W’s relationship with MSMS goes all the way back to 1983 when the director of the MUW Center for Gifted and Talented and the faculty in that Center wrote the proposal for the creation of MSMS,” Miller said in the statement. “We are proud to house MSMS on our campus, and we look forward to

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