Jackson State President Ronald Mason is officially on board the campaign to merge Alcorn State and Mississippi Valley State with the university he leads. His only major request is that the Mississippi Legislature give the merged institution’s administration a one-time appropriation of $10M to help with the transition.
The Godfather of Soul, James Brown, sang about this type of deal when he once said: “Sold me out for chicken change.”
Mason calls for the new merged institution to be named Jacob State University in honor of H.P. Jacobs, JSU’s founder. The campuses of the state’s public HBCUs would become three constituent colleges, each with a specific focus. “Jackson College” would be the exploratory learning site. “Mississippi Valley College” would concentrate on service-learning. “Alcorn College” would be a center for remedial education.
According to Mason’s plan, Jacob State would have 13,000 undergraduates, 2,000 graduate students, and would become the nation’s top producer of black teachers and pre-professionals.
Mason failed to explain how Jacob State would accomplish those goals with a much smaller overall budget than the collective amount that currently goes to the three individual universities. Gov. Haley Barbour, who originally proposed the merger, estimated that it would save $35M over several years.
The whole concept of the merger is designed to give less money to Mississippi’s HBCUs. The merger isn’t being proposed to build up the HBCUs into a stronger state.
Numerous black legislators and HBCU supporters in Mississippi have rightly denounced the ridiculous Jacob State scam and should continue to do so. They should also call for Mason to be replaced with someone who actually gives a damn about treating HBCUs fairly.