Unlikely Backer for Black College Merger

January 28, 2010

In public, advocates for black colleges have been fairly unanimous in speaking out against a plan by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour to merge his state's three public historically black universities into one institution. But The Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported Wednesday that the president of Jackson State University -- who has criticized the governor's ideas -- has drawn up detailed plans for a merger and has been discussing them with some lawmakers. Ronald Mason Jr., the president, told the newspaper that his plans were not intended for public review. Mason's proposal, like the governor's, would merge Alcorn State University and Mississippi Valley State University into Jackson State. On Wednesday at Jackson State, students met to discuss Mason's now public view, and were sharply critical of it. When he addressed the group by phone from Washington, he was booed several times, the Clarion-Ledger reported and some students said that they felt betrayed. But Mason argued that the interests of the students would be better met by a stronger unified institution than by three institutions without enough money.

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