3 HBCUs could be shut down under proposed Mississippi bill

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Three historically Black colleges and universities in Mississippi could permanently close if a proposed Republican-sponsored bill is passed by state lawmakers.

Alcorn State University, Jackson State University, and Mississippi Valley State University would be on the chopping block under Mississippi Senate Bill 2726, which aims to shut down three of the state’s eight public colleges and universities by June 30, 2028, according to WJTV.

Republican State Senator John Polk, who represents Mississippi’s 44th District, wrote the seven-page proposal but the decision to close the universities would fall on the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Education (IHL). Officials would have to decide on which universities to close by June 2025 based on several criteria, including enrollment, federal aid, tuition rates, degree programs, and local economic impact.

Polk, who serves on the Senate’s University and Colleges Committee, claims the state legislature is spending too much money to keep public universities afloat, per The Associated Press. Several higher education experts publicly discussed public U.S. colleges and universities struggling amid declining enrollment and higher operating costs.

Jennifer Riley Collins, a HUD Regional Administrator at Alcorn State, said this bill could jeopardize HBCUs in the state if passed.

“The criteria stated within the bill places Alcorn and other HBCUs at high risk if the bill becomes law. This bill does not need to make it out of the current house,” Collins wrote in a Linkedin post. She stressed that she was speaking on her behalf, not the university’s, and urged alumni to voice their concerns to state legislators.

Some lawmakers signaled they won’t support the bill, while others said they need time to review the bill before considering a vote, AP reports.

Polk didn’t respond to several media outlets’ requests for comment.

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