Monday, May 6, 2019

Millsaps Minors?

Millsaps President Dr. Rob Pearigen sent the following email to faculty and students announcing cuts in several programs.

Dear Members of the Millsaps Community,

It is my privilege to serve as President of Millsaps College and to work with students, faculty, and staff who are committed to the College’s mission and who embrace its guiding motto, Ad Excellentiam—“toward excellence.” Since 1890, this institution has brought together students and scholars with a shared dedication to learning, leadership, and service.

The Challenge

In 2019, that dedication remains as strong as ever, despite an increasingly challenging climate in higher education, particularly for small, private liberal arts institutions like Millsaps. We find ourselves today combatting not only major societal questions about the value and values of higher education but also more particular, enrollment-related challenges from more heavily resourced public universities that provide a very different, less personalized, and less expensive experience for students.  (KF: Heavily resourced? Is this a new corporate buzzward or a use of bad English?)

Like many colleges and universities, addressing current challenges and preparing for the future of higher education requires us to create a new forward-looking vision for Millsaps. As an important step in that process, we have taken a hard and honest look at our enrollment and financial trends over the past decade. We cannot responsibly budget for faculty, staff, and programs that are built for an enrollment that is twenty percent larger than our current enrollment of 850 students. We must right-size and reduce costs to levels that can be sustained even as we reinforce our core educational mission and experience.

We must also aggressively explore new curricular, extra-curricular, and community-focused opportunities to support current and future students and generate additional sources of revenue. At the same time, we know that our changes cannot be only about balancing budgets and aligning revenue and expenses. Our new version of Millsaps must first and foremost deliver an enhanced educational experience for our students. I am confident that with thoughtful and bold action, we can meet our current challenges in ways that are both mission-driven and market-smart, and we can ensure that our historic legacy will thrive into the future with a new version of Millsaps College.

The Process for Addressing the Challenge

Since the spring of 2018, the senior leadership team of the College has reduced operating costs and staff levels by cutting our annual operating budget, and we are currently working to identify and implement further efficiencies and improvements in our business enterprise—always with a view toward the fundamental importance of the student experience.  

During the current year, the Academic Council has devoted an extraordinary amount of time and thought to completing a comprehensive review of our academic programs with a goal of aligning structure and staffing to meet current and future student demand. They have delved deeply into information compiled from the Faculty Assessment Committee, Multi-Year Review and Assessment Reports (MYRAs) going back to the 2014-15 academic year, faculty feedback, and enrollment and financial data from a contribution margin tool. (KF: Talk about an exhausting sentence to read.  Anyone want to diagram it?) All this information and data informed their work and their ultimate recommendations to the Provost and me related to possible changes and reductions in the academic program. It must be noted that the Academic Council’s recommendations applied only to academic programs, not to personnel nor to particular faculty lines within academic departments.

Utilizing the Academic Council’s recommendations, and with strict adherence to the terms and conditions of the Faculty Handbook, the Provost and I agreed upon a plan related to both academic programs and personnel, and we recommended our plan to the Board of Trustees during its spring meeting, April 24-26.

Changes in the Academic Program

The Board of Trustees approved the reduction and reallocation of resources in six programs that are described below and that will take effect following the 2019-20 academic year. These reductions, together with voluntary retirements and resignations, as well as planned departures and non-renewal of term appointments, impact staffing across all three divisions of the College.  

Students currently pursuing degrees and coursework in the affected programs will be supported with mechanisms to help them graduate successfully and pursue their career goals.  We will also provide support and resources for faculty members impacted by these changes.

The elementary education major and teacher licensure program will no longer be offered. One tenured position will remain within the department to teach education studies and psychology courses, support our current licensure candidates, and advise future students with regard to licensure opportunities after graduation from Millsaps. Specifically, we are investigating potential partnerships with other institutions for accelerated education graduate programs and alternate pathways to teacher licensure.

While we will no longer offer a music major, efforts will be directed toward a performance-focused music minor and/or concentration, to continuing Millsaps’ legacy in choral music, and to developing additional instrumental ensembles. We remain committed to providing robust and rewarding musical experiences for our students.

One member of the History Department faculty will transition into an administrative position that will support College-wide initiatives in engaged and experiential learning. Remaining staffing will be sufficient to maintain the history major and meet the College’s curricular needs.

We will offer a minor in religious studies, rather than a major, and the department will be reduced by one tenure-line position. The study of religion will remain as an important curricular component, preparing our students for a world increasingly defined by religious identity and in need of leaders and individuals with a respect for – and knowledge of – multiple religions and the ability to navigate among them. The Chaplaincy and the Center for Ministry will enrich the curriculum, along with their efforts to reinforce our Wesleyan tradition and church relations.

The Geosciences Department will lose one tenure-line position. We will maintain our majors in geophysics, geosciences, and environmental science.

The Writing Program will be re-absorbed by the English Department, resulting in a reduction of one combined faculty/administrative line. Writing has been and will continue to be a core strength of the Millsaps education, embedded in the Compass Curriculum and all academic disciplines with proficiencies demanded by our writing portfolio and comprehensive examinations.

Moving Forward

With all of this in mind, it is vitally important to look ahead with a spirit of innovation and pursue the full potential of a new version of Millsaps College. That new version must and will be mission-centered and aligned with the qualities that make Millsaps distinctive; it must and will come with an assurance of financial strength for the institution; and it must and will ensure a dynamic and promising path for our undergraduate students that takes them from high school to college and college to career, and an equally promising path for our graduate students pursuing their careers.  (KF: Must and will, must and will, more buzzwords)

We have made great strides in our current strategic plan, Across the Street and Around the Globe: Partnerships and Influence at Millsaps College, but there is more to be done to build out that plan and to pivot strategically toward new opportunities in our curricular, extra-curricular, and community experiences. Important work is already underway that is reshaping the College for future success, including the recent partnerships signed with the University of Mississippi Pharmacy School and the nursing program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and further collaboration with the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Over fifty members of the faculty and staff are currently engaged in working groups examining new ways of thinking and acting related to student recruitment, career preparation, revenue generation, community engagement, and more. Our faculty leadership is continuing to explore new ways of organizing and delivering our curricular offerings that will continue to highlight the best of humanities, arts, sciences, and business education, but with an increased focus on how the educational experience leads to meaningful lives and careers after college. Our Board of Trustees is helping to lead an effort to capitalize on the northeast corner of our campus (located at the busiest intersection in the state) in a way that will generate revenue, enhance our mission, attract and support students, and connect with the Mississippi medical corridor. (KF: You mean you lost revenue after you kicked out the gas station and bulldozed the structures? Amazing how cutting off a revenue stream tends to cut revenue.  Darn. Almost had a Yogi-ism there.)  A group of Trustees, faculty and staff is also looking closely at our international programs and facilities, particularly in Yucatan, with an expectation of greater utilization and profitability. And, all of this is being done against the backdrop of major renovation and new construction on the west side of campus that will transform our physical presence and spark renewal in programs related to the humanities, the arts, and the religious life on campus. We believe these capital projects and the initiatives noted above will also significantly enhance our all-important efforts to recruit and support students.

We are extraordinarily fortunate that our future is reinforced by the generosity of alumni and friends of the College. The funds for the building projects mentioned above have been provided by private donations, and the Millsaps Annual Fund has more than doubled since 2010, with alumni participation increasing significantly.  

Our work underway will help set the stage for a new and comprehensive strategic planning process in the 2019-20 academic year. As before, a broad representation of the Millsaps family, including students, will be involved in this strategic planning process.
I am grateful for the opportunity to lead this amazing institution. As we enter a new and dynamic chapter in the life of Millsaps College, I ask for your support in providing the best possible educational experience for our students and in living into our mission of the “innovative shaping of the social, economic, and cultural progress of our region.”

Ad Excellentiam!

Rob Pearigen
President and Professor of Political Science

3 May 2019

Kingfish note: The cutbacks shouldn't come as a surprise.  The Big 3 have honors departments that compete for students once considered prime Millsaps recruits.  The small college no longer has the only Phi Beta Kappa chapter in Mississippi.   The cost of tuition is what it is.  Millsaps simply doesn't have the prestige it once enjoyed.


Anon-E-Mouse said...

Perhaps dropping tuition would increase enrollment?

Anonymous said...

Place needs to dedicate itself to technology and medicine....partner with UMC....needs a shorter pipeline for students to get acquainted with all facets of medicine...administration to bed pans....think people

Anonymous said...

Good they did not drop the class in political graffiti, but no longer have a major in religious studies.

Anonymous said...

i thought it was, according to alumni, the “ Harvard of the South..”

Anonymous said...

Belhaven was in the same boat several years ago. You have to generate revenue outside of the traditional students at the small private schools. Belhaven has done that with their very robust adult learning programs and a strong office of advancement.Now Belhaven is growing by leaps and bounds and is in a very strong position mostly thanks to the visionary leadership of Dr. Parrot. Millsaps is way behind the times, and their lack of innovation has cost them. I drove by there the other day, the buildings look in disrepair and with only 850 students you can't support the school. Maybe now will be a turning point for them, but I really don't see that happening.

Anonymous said...

Lots of colleges and universities have been living off of their reputations for decades without a care for future financial downturns. Administrative bloat reigns....just like in K-12. Plenty of duplication and waste in do-nothing positions. They're all top-heavy.

Anonymous said...

Three major business professors have all retired at the end of this school year.

Anonymous said...

That is the most academic piece of writing I've seen in some time. Brevity is the soul of wit and all.

Macy Hanson said...

Honors Colleges within the state universities is the wave of the future. They are basically liberal arts schools within the larger state university.

The Dean of the "Honors College" I went to spent 30 years at Swarthmore and he ran the Honors College like it was an elite liberal arts school. I am probably the least successful of my classmates. Most went on to top law schools, medical schools, business schools, etc. Or are now professors.

That is my two cents. Deal with it, Millsaps. Your model has been copies for a fraction of the cost. And it benefits the states because these Honors programs keep bright students from leaving the state.

Anonymous said...

They drank the kool-aid, went far to the left and paid the price. Offended way too many conservative alums who took their dinero elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Who wants to go to college in a war zone in a city that does not function.

Anonymous said...

2:29 - Look at what Birmingham Southern did in Alabama. They recently cut their tuition in half. They also lowered the scholarships, so its a wash, but they are able to attract a few more students that they dont lose due to sticker shock.

2:37 - The political graffiti WAS the department of religious studies!!!

3:03 - I would bet you that the leaders at Millsaps laughed when Belhaven started their adult studies and online programs.

Millsaps was once a fine institution, but like KF said - the honors programs at the state schools attract the type of student Millsaps built their reputation on. Post-Katrina, Millsaps has had a problem recruiting NOLA, as Tulane has lowered its admission standards.

Today, Millsaps is barely more than a place where parents that can afford it pay for their kids to play college sports. I bet 500 of the 800 students at Millsaps are athletes.

Anonymous said...

Millsaps' real problem is that its upper-middle-class niche in the prestige market is drying up. Consumers are savvier and schools are having to compete harder. Fewer parents are willing to pay a premium unless they're getting a real name brand degree.

The market is settling into a three tiered system: (1) Real elites (Harvard down to maybe Vandy), (2) Large public schools (the UM's and MSU's), and (3) Local/regional schools with vocational or professional specializations, usually within larger statewide systems (UT-Chattanooga types down to jucos), mainly in growing cities and regions.

Millsaps is a semi-luxury good --an overpriced base model Lexus-- that nobody wants in a world of Ferraris, Camrys, and bus passes.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Millsaps should offer a major in International Aviation and Airport Management. Our JMAA Board of Directors could be adjunct faculty and teach the art of Boondoggles and flimflam.

Anonymous said...

As a father of a current high school senior, I have visited schools across the country. I am amazed at how some schools, like Millsaps, are still in business. The economic model of higher education is broken. There will be many "closures" and "down sizing" over the next several years. "Need based" scholarships prevails over "merit based" scholarships. There is very little discussion about jobs or career training. Instead, all they want to talk about is travel abroad, Starbucks, diversity, and the like.

I don't know what a Southern Studies major can do other than teach.

We spend way too much on "college."

Anonymous said...

3:59 said . . .

"Who wants to go to college in a war zone in a city that does not function."


Concise and to the point without a lot of self serving flowery language.

Kingfish said . . .

" (KF: Heavily resourced? Is this a new corporate buzzward or a use of bad English?)"

My exact same first thought.

Anonymous said...

The first cut they should make is Bob McElvaine. The “distinguished “ Elizabeth Chisolm Professor of Arts & Letters. He regularly embarrasses himself and the college on national TV and The Huffington Post. Bob suffers from a serious case of Trump Derangement Syndrome.

Anonymous said...

Good call on killing the education/teacher programs. Who needs a $200,000 elementary education degree?

Frustrated In A Booth At The Mayflower.. said...

What about Theater, Hotel Management, The Impact of Diversity on Southron Culture, Post-Modern Dance, Evaluating Antiques, Pre-Culinary Linguistics and Coordinating Bow ties With Dinner Jackets? Where the hell will these children learn any culture?

Graduates by the dozens will be forced to work for C-Spire, The City of Madison and Waffle House. Sadly, The Clarion Ledger will not hire any of them.

This is going to be more of a shock than the advent of reconstruction.

Anonymous said...

College is a scam for many students. If, that is a big if, the student finishes school they leave with a degree that is of little or no value and large student debt.

If you don't know what you want to do for a career or your career does not require a college degree then consider learning a trade or going straight to work.

Anonymous said...

This letter is just crap. What is wrong with higher education is this: Educators and administrators can no longer say things in a straightforward, honest matter. Does education teach a person to recognize crap and deal with it, or does education teach a person to accept rolling in it but call it by some positive, happy name?

Anonymous said...

^^^^7:24 ... and be a lot happier..

Anonymous said...

For a college with so many supposedly smart people, you’d think they’d have know better than to try to operate on a budget based on enrollment of 1100, rather than the actual 850, as they have for the past few years. I guess they ran out of reserves for on campus organizations to confiscate. As Maggie Thatcher said, socialism is great until you run out of other folks’ money to spend.

Anonymous said...

How DOES this McElvaine character manage to survive? Does he have photographs, tenure or is he simply THAT valuable? Please tell me it's not the latter.

Anonymous said...

Tough times in academia. Mississippi College closed the Madison and Flowood campuses. Tulane closed Madison. Jackson State closed Madison. No one has been successful in Madison.

Virgina College closed in Northeast Jackson. ITT closed. What other campuses does Jackson State operate - even with huge amounts of money missing (Shad where are you?)

Anonymous said...

@8:14 Best post in weeks.

Anonymous said...

2:01. MC closed the two remote campuses due to booming online programs. No need for remote brick and mortar campuses outside of Clinton.

But times are tough in academia. With less high school graduates over the next decade (combination of lower HS graduation rates and less 18-21 year old students), expect to see downsizing even in state universities (especially with Mississippi’s overbuilt community college system (not the trade aspect, but college transfer programs)).

That being said, it’s apparent that Millsaps should have done this ten years ago. We will see if it works or read an announcement in 3 years that it’s closing.

Slingshot said...

Fast forward fourteen years to a time and place where half-billion dollar athletic stadiums stand idle and campuses seem as deserted on Wednesday afternoon as they did on Sunday morning sixty years ago.

We're so occupied with placing graffiti on the tunnel walls, we never do seem to hear the train coming.

Anonymous said...

Apparently not!

Anonymous said...

Harvard of the south-lmfao

Anonymous said...

Can I buy a clue? The topic of an upcoming post. The CL got bupkis again!

Anonymous said...

4;03PM: "Post-Katrina, Millsaps has had a problem recruiting NOLA, as Tulane has lowered its admission standards." Millsaps and Tulane are not even closely comparable. Tulane's freshman class is over 2x Millsaps' entire student body. Millsaps really needs to adapt.

From earlier this week->The newest class of Tulanians includes just over 1,800 students. With more than 41,000 applications (6% more applications than last year), that equals an acceptance rate of 13%, the most selective class in university history.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. I think just about everyone saw this coming... except Millsaps.

Even in academic fields, one has to have a niche... or, might I say "trade" to differentiate from the competition. You know... that ole supply and demand and stuff.

The old school Liberal Arts Colleges are dying and the trade schools are in demand. Yet, these educated ignorant types still want us to pay for the whole hog instead of the bacon. I give them 20 years tops before they become UMMC-Millsaps Campus.

Anonymous said...

201. Nail right on the head! That’s spot on!

dorms, classrooms (even some new ones!), rec center, gym, vacant land (bulldoze the athletic fields). it’s perfect for med students!

Anonymous said...

Millsaps is a business. Maybe not a well run one, but a business.

For example, they opted to get rid of their Computer Science department years ago because the CS professors demanded higher salaries than their peers in other departments. Thus, the "margin" on CS grads was lower so they opted to focus on their higher margin students.

Unfortunately for Millsaps, no one from outside the state wants to come to Jackson, MS for "higher education". The majority of students in the state lack the imagination to do anything other than go let the dawgs out or slurp hoppy toddy's or whatever their parents did, so they are trying to pull from the small pool that remains. Savvy parents and students want to maximize their ROI which steers them away from over-priced and under paid degree prog rams like liberal arts, english, religious studies at a school with no religion, etc.

Anonymous said...

Perfect Mississippi-speak: too liberal, too hoity-toity, screw education, go somewhere else blah blah blah blah blah...

Anonymous said...

2:51 - Why do you suggest we need a safe place for 'med students'?

Anonymous said...

From Johnny Carson attending the school, first Phi Beta Kappa chapter in Mississippi, Top 10 Party School According to Playboy in the '90s, football team run by Mike DuBose late last decade, to this.

Who cares if they get rid of some majors that aren't popular besides some snowflakes?

The issue is how the school is being run and the vibe on campus.

What went wrong

Late last decade Millsaps professors ran off President Lucas who was good at her job. They were upset about her making a change to their retirement. Mind you this happened around 2008 when the stock market went to crap, so it's not like Millsaps was alone.

Times were good at the time. The football team was winning and a player won the Conerly. The baseball team was winning. The students were drunk and happy ie doing the work hard, play hard thing, and the professors simply taught.

Problem #1.

The AD Tim Wise decided he would be the one person on campus who cared about alcohol consumption for the most part. He would run off students drinking from sporting events. Which lead to perspective parent/guardians visiting the school and thinking it was a suitcase school. Understandably they thought who in their right mind would shell out $$$ to send their kid to a suitcase school.

Meanwhile, the admissions office started having some of the ugliest girls on campus start giving tour guides in their pajamas...

Fast forward enrollment started going down. The school decided to hire some "enrollment specialist" aka people that were a waste of money, because they didn't seem to listen to the fact for a span of about ten years just about every student-athlete couldn't stand the AD, Tim Wise. Again, Wise being the guy that was running off students from athletic events which made the school look like a lame suitcase school.

Fast forward more, some of the wacky professors who get to spend their whole working life on a campus without any thugs/crazy rednecks, etc. start spreading their crazy, stupid ideas via the media and social media.

McElvaine went on Fox News saying Trump was buddy buddy with Russia without any evidence ie a guy whose job is to have students write papers went on the news to make an argument without a single source. Disregard the whole fact it would probably be good to be friends with another nuclear power, not enemies.

Next came Bowley aka the guy who took pictures with coeds that weren't getting any attention from the boys in front of walls that had private parts and tacky political statements painted on them. If a 12th grade teacher did that with some 18 year old girls on a whiteboard he would probably still be fired, banned from ever teaching in the state again, and put on a predator list. Not Bowley though. Bowley even signed a petition to fire another professor afterward for something that wasn't bad.

Other problems

The Millsaps President doesn't smile around town.

Despite some great/cool admissions counselors, Millsaps has had too many weirdos or people that didn't go to the school as admissions counselors.

Millsaps sends admissions counselors wherever instead of focusing on affluent schools/areas in the southeast.

Millsaps has cracked down on partying. If you're scared of being sued for a college kid getting alcohol poisoning you shouldn't work at most colleges.

Tuition is way too high. Parents see the sticker price in the Princeton Review and flip the page. Like most people they don't realize that most students families don't pay that amount, and that the school is sketch about how they decide who pays how much.

Too many Millsaps professors spend no time around normal society.

Millsaps can be fixed easily. They just won't reach out and hire the average alumni to help fix it.

It still has plenty of potentil

Yes, Belhaven is improving. The only things the schools have in common though are their location and enrollment.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Maybe Millsaps should offer a major in International Aviation and Airport Management. Our JMAA Board of Directors could be adjunct faculty and teach the art of Boondoggles and flimflam. >> . . . YESSSSSSSS !! !! as it is flim-flammmery . . whiney marxist-crats !! !!

Anonymous said...

April 18, 2019 - "Millsaps Spends Millions in Campus Improvements," by the Northside Sun. $17 million for the Christian Center for a 400-seat chapel, and $5 million for visual arts studio to include 8 studios and faculty offices.

Anonymous said...

10:55. Millsaps Football Beer Garden. Puts a big ole hole in one of your arguments...

The 'story behind the story'--a culture change. Go into any building on campus and read a sign. Half of them have 'gender preferred pronouns' after names (like him, his, her, hers, they, them...) Talk to students. Obama was flat out conservative to most of them...

Over the last 15 years, the place has become what it is today: a snowflake sanctuary. Students that used to come here for academics just aren't impressed with the obvious unhinged liberalism of the place. Glad to not be dealing with it...

Anonymous said...

4:54 "...religious studies at a school with no religion..."

True, and funny!

Anonymous said...

Another question is why they'd hire Bowley, who is Jewish,to teach religion at a supposedly Christian school?

Anonymous said...

Different ADs 7:48, damage was already done.

Bowley is apparently both atheist and Jewish.

Anonymous said...

3:24 Bowley is a convert to Judaism he knows plenty about being a Christian

Anonymous said...

I agree with the Tim Wise comments, he was always a problem. The school newspaper even ran an article on how bad he was:

Also not enough attention is being paid to Dean Katz who was there long before Pearigen and oversaw all the failures that other commenters have pointed out

Larry Thomas said...

Just shows that Millsaps is going in the wrong direction

Anonymous said...

"Too many Millsaps professors spend no time around normal society."

That post almost made me fall out of my chair. The typical Millsaps professor actually views himself as the epitome of normalcy. Imagine that.

M. Birch said...

Millsaps administration was always too hard on its staff - constantly criticizing staff on how they interacted with students. Always rushing to judgment

Anonymous said...

The "Harvard of the South" may be appropriately named. When I attended there, I was part of the 1% (or less) that did not drink, smoke, or do drugs. The fraternities were abysmal. Some professors were blatantly espousing certain political opinions whereas if you did not write a paper according to their beliefs, they might certainly penalize you. Other major occurrences there during my stint in the 90s which made me shameful to say I graduated there. However, they offered the most scholarship money at the time. How the mighty have fallen. Proud to say that I kept my Christian moral ideals intact.

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In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

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If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

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