Miss. universities fail to spend millions from Ayers settlement; funds set to decrease next year
Public record shows Mississippi’s three historically black universities in recent years have failed to spend all the funds awarded to them through the Ayers desegregation settlement. The College Board said its intent is that unused funds will carry over for future expenditures subject to legislative appropriation.
Per the settlement agreement, Ayers funds are set to be reduced in fiscal year 2013, which begins in July 2012. As a result funding for some university programs may require restructuring.
Annual Ayers payments for Jackson State University will fall from $11.5 million to $7.66 million, and Alcorn State University and Mississippi Valley State University will see their $4.3 million in annual payments drop to $2.9 million.
Ayers funds will taper again in fiscal year 2019, and end in 2022.
The Ayers lawsuit, which began in 1975 and accused the State of Mississippi of underfunding its historically black universities, was settled for $503 million. Settlement money has funded various academic degree programs at the universities as well as capital improvements.
ASU was awarded $4.35 million in Ayers funds for fiscal years 2009, 2010 and 2011, but failed to spend $186,015 in 2009 for its Masters of Science in Technology program, citing staff turnover and lack of accreditation as reasons. Issues with the program have since been corrected.
JSU was awarded $11.5 million in fiscal years 2009, 2010, 2011, but failed to spend $202,842 in 2011 due to “the difference between budgeted salaries versus actual employee compensation.”
MVSU, also awarded $4.35 million for the past three fiscal years, failed to spend a total of more than $1 million in fiscal years 2010 and 2011 combined. The university told the College Board the primary use of the funds for academic programs is for the hiring of faculty, and MVSU has tried to fill Ayers faculty positions at salary levels consistent with the rest of the campus. As a result, many candidates for teaching positions declined offers, and MVSU could not afford to raise faculty salaries campus wide to compete, the university said.
Additionally, MVSU said “some equipment was to have been ordered but the cost of the equipment exceeded the budget allowance. In such cases, programs attempted to spend the funds on other items but were not able to do so within the time frame left after attempting to first acquire the equipment.”