Mississippi College Board Seeks More Financial Oversight - Higher Education


Higher Education News and Jobs

Mississippi College Board Seeks More Financial Oversight

Email




by Jeff Amy, Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi’s College Board moved last week to increase oversight of the finances of the state’s eight public universities, voting for annual financial reviews after Jackson State University spent its way into trouble.

The board will have to vote again on the policy before it’s official, but such second votes are typically formalities, especially because Thursday’s vote was unanimous.

“It establishes, more than anything, a process to review the financial affairs of each university every year, with the commissioner, the university’s CFO and president sitting down,” Higher Education Commissioner Glenn Boyce said.

Those conversations already occurred, particularly when a university sought to borrow money. But they didn’t happen on a set schedule. In Jackson State’s case, there were two years of behind-closed-doors talks, but mounting concern by trustees and central office staff over dwindling cash reserves led to a public dressing down of leadership under President Carolyn Meyers in October. She resigned days later.

Boyce said he would look at typical measurements such as how many times a university’s cash flow could pay for its yearly debt payments or how many days it could operate using cash in reserve. But he said that because the system’s institutions vary in size and complexity, he doesn’t intend to impose a uniform set of standards, instead trying to tailor standards for each school.

If Boyce feels that a university is off track, he will be able to order a school to come up with a plan to improve its financial health. Any specific goals would be reported to trustees when they set budgets for each university, typically in June.

  Department of Education, DeVry University Reach Settlement

“The commissioner has the power to say this is what we need to do,” Boyce said.

The policy would also make managing for financial stability part of each university president’s job evaluation and allow trustees to refuse to consider expensive projects sought by a university in financial trouble.

Jackson State is still trying to recover from its problems under interim President Rod Paige, and Boyce said he expected the university would make “significant changes” to save money in the budget year beginning July 1. Those changes could include layoffs.

“Yes, I think it will reach into personnel,” Boyce said.

Though JSU’s case has been very public, it’s not the first university to raise financial alarms at the board. Delta State University encountered financial troubles that caught board attention, although Boyce said that was before he became commissioner in 2015.

With tottering state finances, other universities could also come under pressure. The University of Mississippi Medical Center announced layoffs and pay cuts Thursday to close a $33 million deficit.

“Right now, across the system, everybody is working very, very hard to squeeze out any efficiencies we can,” Boyce said.

RELATED ARTICLES >>
Idaho Initiative Helps Admit 20,000 Students to College BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho State Board of Education has announced that more than 20,000 high school students have been admitted to Idaho’s public colleges and universities. According to the board, this is the third year students with qualifying grad...
Handling of Sexual Violence Examined at Hampton U., William and Mary HAMPTON, Va. — Federal officials are investigating the handling of campus sexual violence at Hampton University and the College of William and Mary. The Daily Press reports that the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is investigatin...
Regents Detail Secret Harreld Meetings During U. of Iowa Search IOWA CITY, Iowa — A majority of University of Iowa governing board members have described under oath how they secretly recruited Bruce Harreld weeks before hiring the businessman as president, circumventing the Iowa Open Meetings Law, court records s...
Report: University of Kansas Women Faculty Still Minority LAWRENCE, Kan. — A recent report says women faculty are still in the minority at the University of Kansas, where they’re also twice as likely to resign from their posts as male colleagues. The Lawrence Journal-World says university economics profe...
Semantic Tags: