As Haley Barbour tries to consolidate the state’s eight universities into five, he’s headed down a dead-end road.
For starters, a governor or Legislature tampering with the eight established institutions of high learning – three of them traditionally black and five predominantly white – is tantamount to touching the third rail of Mississippi politics. How are you going to eliminate any of them when you can’t even change the name of one to remove the word “women” that is no longer applicable?
Of course, it was ridiculous back in 1974 for Gov. Bill Waller in one fell swoop to wipe out “college” as part of the name of six institutions and begin calling all of them universities. To prudes such as I, a university is made up of colleges capable of awarding a degree in a particular field. I remember going around with Waller that day in 1974 to proclaim the university label. Unquestionably, it was a huge morale boost. So perhaps it was worth it.