MADISON — The state College Board has approved 42 courses for Jackson State University’s planned campus in Madison.
Board officials say that’s only the beginning of the classes that JSU will offer in Jackson’s northern suburb. The list included nine business courses, four education courses and six gerontology courses.
“I don’t know if that’s the complete program offering that needs to go there,” Higher Education Commissioner Hank Bounds said. “I think it’s the right start.”
Bounds said he expected JSU would soon begin offering colleges at the Holmes Community College campus in Ridgeland, as well as on the campuses of Hinds Community College. He says such courses will help the university reach students who can’t attend school at the central Jackson campus.
“We have a lot of adult learners that attend community college in this state that are place-bound,” Bounds said.
JSU’s plans to open a campus in Madison have been disputed by Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler, who says JSU will improperly compete with a branch of private Tulane University.
However, in its justification to the board, JSU wrote there’s plenty of room for more expansion in Madison and noted that some Tulane courses offered there aren’t accepted for degrees on Tulane’s main campus in New Orleans.
The documents presented to the College Board stated that the branch would “make learning more accessible and affordable to more Mississippians. It will not lead to an inappropriate or unnecessary duplication of programs.”
Bounds said that when only 20 percent of Mississippians have a college degree, “it’s a hard argument to make” that colleges shouldn’t try to enroll more students.
JSU also noted that its tuition was cheaper than either Tulane’s Madison campus or nearby Tougaloo College.
“The citizens who live in the Madison area are already supporting our State institutions through paying taxes, and they should have a convenient opportunity to fully enjoy the education that those institutions provide,” board documents said.
JSU also said that the Madison location could help it diversify its student body. JSU’s enrollment was 91 percent black in fall 2012. As part of a settlement over discrimination in higher education, the state’s three historically black universities have a goal of reaching 10 percent non-black enrollment.
Richard Marksbury, Tulane’s dean of continuing studies, told The Clarion-Ledger that Tulane’s issue is with the College Board, not JSU’s move to the city.
“It’s always been about the process,” he said. “I don’t know how IHL (Institutions of Higher Learning) decides whether there is duplication of services. They operate the way they operate.”
Madison officials are reviewing the College Board’s action.
“We’re analyzing what they did, and we will meet with our outside counsel next week to determine what the city will do next,” said John Hedglin, Madison’s city attorney.
The university won College Board approval in January for a 10-year, $1.5 million lease for 8,600 square feet of office space in Madison for a branch to open this summer.