The future of MUW: Students, faculty, alumni voice concerns

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – A bill proposing transfer control of MUW to Mississippi State University moved quickly through two Senate committees on March 5.

Senate Bill 2715 is on the Senate calendar. That means state senators could vote on the bill as early as March 7.

Beginning July 1, 2025, the Mississippi University for Women would be required to transfer all assets to the control and ownership of Mississippi State University.

The Mississippi University for Women would be known as “The W at Mississippi State University.”

Beginning in July of this year, the Institutions of Higher Learning or IHL would develop a plan that would begin transferring ownership and control of the W to the MSU.

This section also includes a plan for the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science, currently located on the campus of the W.

If it passes, 27-15 would have long-reaching implications for hundreds of faculty and staff and over 2,000 students.

As you can probably guess there are strong feelings among current and former students.

“It’s not a good way to legislate,” said Hob Bryan, Mississippi State Senate for District 7. “Two committees meet on deadline day without pubic debate or discussion. They suddenly want to close one of our institutions of higher learning. That’s not a good way to legislate.”

This legislation could affect hundreds of faculty and staff at Mississippi University for Women.  Students are in class and life is continuing as usual, but there’s an uneasy feeling in the air about everything happening in the capital.

Student Government Association President Samuel Garrie says it will affect The W’s unique campus culture.

“Losing that tradition if we fall under the MSU umbrella really affects our school and our culture here cause we have so many students involved in social clubs,” Garrie. “So, what happens to those? If we fall under that umbrella are they gone, what is the next step?”

Senior Laura MacLellan is a third-generation MUW student, and affordability is an important factor in the college for her.

“I have six brothers and sisters, so college, I basically had to be on my own to afford it,” MacLellan said. “If the W is consumed by Mississippi State, I assume that tuition prices would spike, and I simply would not be able to afford it.”

Sophomore Emma Caroline Brown says she is concerned about losing the historical significance of the campus.

“We have such a rich history in furthering Women’s education,” Brown said. “I think we have a lot of creativity in this town. I think it’s important we help it grow. I think it’s important we nurture that creativity here and go on to big things.”

MUW Alumna Stephanie Gale believes the change would be a loss for the city of Columbus as a whole.

“It brings so much as far as arts and culture. it really expands the opportunity for our community,” Gale said. “I’m afraid that all of those will just fade away. We don’t need that to happen. Not as the ‘W’ not as Columbus.”

Former state senator and MUW Alum Sally Doty says the W has its own unique touch and she has seen this happen before when she attended in 1986.

Doty says she has not seen any evidence that this would save money.

“I do not think this bill should move forward, ” Doty said. “But, I do think we should look at MUW, see what we can do to strengthen it. Look at the math and science schools, I believe they have some funding requests. I think there are plenty of opportunities to enhance this quality education and this quality institution that we already have in Columbus. I think the W needs to stand as a free-standing institution, and that is the best path forward for the W.”

MSU President Doctor Mark Keenum released a statement today saying Mississippi State did not propose or initiate this bill.

Keenum said the university was informed Tuesday morning, and that the MSU leadership team has questions and concerns.

Keenum said MSU has the utmost respect for the W’s unique legacy.

He also said he hopes that the leadership of the Mississippi Legislature will consult with the IHL Board of Trustees.

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