Copy-Southern Miss to reduce budget by $8 million, eliminate 20 staff positions

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The University of Southern Mississippi announced Thursday that it must permanently reduce the budget by approximately $8 million and eliminate 20 current staff employee positions.

University President Dr. Rodney Bennett made the announcement in an email sent out to all faculty and staff. Bennett attributed the decision to decreases in state funding, particularly over the past 18 months, and a recent Board Policy adopted by the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees that outlines financial expectations of institutions.

The $8 million reduction in funds will begin in the current fiscal year, and the 20 staff positions will be eliminated on Dec. 31, 2017. In addition, other visiting or temporary employees' positions will be eliminated after their current scheduled end dates.

The IHL policy, Board Policy 713: Institutional Financial Sustainability, requires that Mississippi institutions to address financial reserves, liquidity and coverage of annual debt payments. According to Bennett, the reduction in budget will allow USM to address the recent decrease in state funds, increase the school's financial reserves, begin addressing new requirements of Board Policy 713 and plan ahead for another possible 2 percent reduction in state appropriations for the upcoming fiscal year.

In the email Bennett wrote:

We continue to work hard to increase enrollment, and I am hopeful that state funding to public higher education will be restored. As these things come to fruition, we will be able to invest new resources into strategic areas of growth as determined by the University's Strategic Plan, the Academic Master Plan and current institutional priorities stemming from those bodies of work. Our ability to continue evaluating academic programs as we make strategic investments with limited resources will determine our long-term success, not only with regard to financial stability, but also with regard to meeting the education and research needs of our state.

For a summary of recent appropriation reductions to Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning:

You can view the full Board Policy 713: Institutional Financial Sustainability: