We hope the IHL listened to the Alcorn State University stakeholders

Published 2:08 pm Monday, February 12, 2024

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The future of Alcorn State University hinges on several factors, not the least will be the next president and his or her vision and commitment.

Finding the right person to step up and revive Alcorn State is no easy feat.

Members of the Institutions of Higher Learning got insight into the challenges and hopes of the Alcorn family – faculty, alumni and current students – during a series of listening sessions held on campus earlier this week.

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For their part, it seems the Alcorn stakeholders were candid and honest. They talked about the frustrations of having seven presidents over the past 10 years; about declining enrollment; and the economic development challenges facing rural Southwest Mississippi and Jefferson County.

Whether those appeals will be heard and acted upon remains to be seen.

Located in Lorman, Alcorn State is the nation’s oldest public historical Black land grant institution. For generations, it has inspired loyalty and drawn support from its alumni and faculty, who have prided themselves on the legacy of Alcorn in the classroom, on the field and in life.

But in recent years, that pursuit of excellence has withered. State funding has declined; facilities have aged without upkeep and replacement; leadership and direction have changed with each new president, temporary or permanent; and enrollment has declined, from more than 3,200 full-time students in 2010 to only about 2,470 in 2022.

And that doesn’t bode well for the university’s future.

Alcorn desperately needs a visionary and committed president who will commit to a multi-year plan to address shortfalls and make needed improvements at the university. And Alcorn needs the support of the IHL – which is responsible for both hiring and firing of university leaders – in finding that person. Anything less than commitment to a strong leader – and commitment to giving that leader time to be successful – is unfair to the university.

We hope the members of the IHL listened to the pleas of the Alcorn stakeholders. And, more important, we hope the IHL will make good decisions in directing both hiring and funding for Alcorn moving forward.