Coast students could have another choice of where to attend college next year.
Tulane University in New Orleans has its eyes on the Gulf Coast. It wants to open a branch in either Biloxi or Gulfport. Tulane wants to offer associate and bachelor degree programs in Liberal Arts, Information Technology, Media Arts and Business.
State College Board member Roy Klumb says he's excited about that possibility. Klumb thinks the people on the Gulf Coast should look at this as a positive opportunity for the area, because Tulane is a prominent university with a national reputation, that wants to come over here and offer classes.
Klumb voted against plans to convert the USM campus in Long Beach into a four-year university. The reasons are lack of funding and duplication of courses. Klumb says he supports Tulane's plans to expand here, because Tulane is a private institution that won't compete for public money.
Klumb says Tulane's plans will put USM in a competitive light. He says maybe leaders in Long Beach and Hattiesburg will look at what Tulane is doing and return to the college board with a more realistic proposal of meeting the educational needs here. He says right now, the state just doesn't have the resources.
Officials with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and USM say they're also optimistic about the educational opportunities that Tulane will bring to the Gulf Coast. They say instead of competition, they expect cooperation among the colleges.
Dr. Rick Christmas is Vice President of Instructional Affairs for MGCCC. He says the junior colleges have a great partnership with William Carey College, which is a private four-year institution. He is sure the junior colleges will try to work with Tulane, just as they've worked with USM.
Dr. Jim Williams is Vice President of USM Gulf Coast. He says of the three programs that Tulane is proposing to offer, probably one is somewhat close to what USM offers. He adds that since Tulane is a private institution, and USM is a public university, he doesn't see that as a major problem.
The Mississippi Commission on School Accreditation will determine whether to allow Tulane to offer degree programs on the Coast. That decision could come in early 2002.
As for USM's plans to expand on the coast. The Junior College Board has sued the State College Board, to block the Gulf Park Campus expansion. The State Supreme court is scheduled to hear arguments in the case on Monday.