IHL Trying To Keep College Professors From Leaving - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

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IHL Trying To Keep College Professors From Leaving

Within the last year, hundreds of faculty and staff have fled from Mississippi's eight public colleges and universities.

Officials with the institutions of higher learning say they can't retain or recruit faculty because of low pay. A four percent salary increase was just one of IHL's budget requests as members met with lawmakers Wednesday.

"We're losing faculty on all the ranks, all the disciplines, and we're losing them to institutions across the country for salary increases in some cases that range up to $40,000 more than what they were making here," IHL Commissioner Thomas Layzell said.

Financial times are tight, but lawmakers say they recognize education as a top priority. Legislators say they will try to offer some type of relief to stop the brain drain from Mississippi's schools.

"We would have to become a partner with the community colleges and the institutions of higher learning on a raise for their faculty in that we would provide maybe 50 percent, and they would provide 50 percent with their self-generated funds," said Senator Jack Gordon, Appropriations Committee Chairman.

In total, the IHL is asking for a $56.6 million budget increase. The request also includes $6.9 million to fund an additional 6,400 financial aid recipients. The board would also like an additional $3.2 million to put toward the state's decade long desegregation case.

"The board presents this budget request for these essential dollars as one needed to serve a growing student population, as one needed to retain our best faculty and staff, as one needed to bring settlement to the long time Ayers case and as one needed to sustain hope for our people," College Board President Bill Crawford said.

IHL officials said they'll also probably raise tuition to help cover their needs. Last year, they implemented a 15 percent tuition increase.

By Iris Keogh

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