Skip to content
IHL approves program additions, bond...

IHL approves program additions, bond requests while receiving Mississippi university enrollment update

By: Jeremy Pittari - October 20, 2023

Davis Wade Stadium at Mississippi State (Photo from Mississippi State facilities website)

Three new education career paths at Jackson State, a new residency hall and Davis Wade Stadium renovations at Mississippi State, and the Ole Miss RISE Center were among the requests approved by IHL this week.

This week, members of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees discussed several requests from universities and heard an update on student enrollment and success rates. 

Jackson State University sent a request to the IHL Board to add three academic programs to its curriculum, which was approved.

Associate Commissioner for Academic Student Affairs Casey Prestwood said the university currently offers the programs, but they are under the educational specialist degree path. 

All three proposed programs will be provided in a traditional in-class format as well as an online format. The programs are educational administration and supervision for K-12, psychometry and counseling. 

Prestwood said the educational specialist degree focusing on educational administration and supervision for K-12 had 13 students complete the program in the past two years, and there are currently 49 students enrolled. 

“Despite limited anticipated growth in demand, there are more than 20,000 openings for elementary, middle and high school principals annually,” Prestwood said. 

Over the last five years, 129 students completed educational specialist degrees in psychometry, or the work to establish and administer tests. She informed the Board that demand for those positions is expected to increase. 

“Demand for psychometrists nationwide is expected to grow 8 to 10 percent from 2021 to 2031, with anticipated growth of 4 to 7 percent in Mississippi,” Prestwood said.

Mississippi State currently offers a master’s concentration in psychometry.

School counseling is also in demand. According to information Prestwood provided to IHL, the need for professionals in that field is anticipated to grow 10 percent from 2021 to 2031 nationally, and 15 percent within that period in Mississippi. 

Universities that offer a similar program include Delta State, Mississippi State, the University of Southern Mississippi, and Mississippi College. 

The IHL Board also approved a request from the University of Mississippi to add a new facility called the RISE Center. Prestwood said RISE stands for Resources for International Success and Expansion. 

The new center at Ole Miss will offer services to small businesses to help them overcome the obstacle of identifying and utilizing central resources. Its aim will be to facilitate growth and expansion. A decline in population has led to a decrease in federal funding so there is a need to find a new operational model. 

“One such model is to establish the RISE Center as a specialized entity focusing exclusively on aiding small businesses that are in the growth phase, thereby allowing the small business development center to differentiate this from their traditional roles in business initiation and initial project financing. The five-year cost to implementation is $4 million and the funding source is FY 22 and 23 congressional projects,” Prestwood said.

The Board also approved a request from Mississippi State University for a bond resolution up to $265 million. Of that total, $140 million will be used to refund series 2013 and 2014 bonds, said John Pearce Jr., Senior Associate Commissioner for Finance. Another $125 million will be used to construct a new residence hall and perform renovations to Davis Wade Stadium. 

Construction of the residence hall is expected to be $96 million, and the remaining $35 million will be used to conduct the stadium renovations. 

“Refunding of $140 million will only proceed if market conditions allow for minimum of 3 percent net present value saving,” Pearce said.

At the end of the presentation, IHL Board Vice President Bruce Martin said “at 4.29 percent, the odds of being able to refund and do all this is really not going to happen right now. But we have to be prepared in case there’s an interest rate change. The rest of the items will be bonded.”

In another matter, the Board heard from Commissioner of Higher Education Alfred Rankins Jr. about the progress being made in the state’s college and university system. He said that according to the 2021-2022 report card, total enrollment declined by 1.3 percent from the previous year to 87,775. 

“New freshmen and transfer students make up about 30 percent of undergraduates in the academic year of 2022, and first time freshmen make up 16.2 percent on average in our system with an average ACT score of 23.7,” Rankins said.

In 2022, a total of 19,861 degrees were earned, equating to an 8.8 percent increase over the past five years. Of that total, 4,715 degrees had a focus in a field in the areas of science, technology, engineering or math. That means there was a 17.5 percent increase in undergraduate STEM degrees within Mississippi’s public university system, he said.  

The number of students who completed 24 hours of coursework in one year also increased, from 76.1 percent to 78.5 percent, over the past five years. 

“Trustees, I want to take this opportunity to commend our IEOs [institutional executive officers] in our universities for their progress that they’ve made in our state attaining our education goals,” Rankin said. 

In other business, the IHL Board:

  • Approved a request from the University of Mississippi Medical Center to enter into a purchase agreement with Abbott Laboratories for the use of the MitraClip delivery system. The system provides an alternative to heart surgery for patients who require mitral valve repair. The term of the agreement is for five years at a cost of $10.1 million.
  • Approved a request from UMMC to amend an agreement with Abiomed to extend the term and update products and pricing for Impella circulatory support catheters and accessories used in high-risk coronary interventions and myocardial infarction cases. The original term was for three years. The request was to extend the contract term for an additional two years at an amended cost of $7.1 million.
  • Approved a request from UMMC to amend a purchase agreement with RNA Medical for the purchase of FlowTreiver and ClotTriever devices, which are used to treat blood clots in patients. The request was to extend the term for an additional two years. The cost of the amended five-year agreement will be $4 million.
  • Approved a request from UMMC to amend an equipment and disposable products agreement with Phillips Image Guided Therapy Corporation to extend the term and add a third IntraSight Mobile series 5 intravascular imaging system. The system will be used to assess the location and severity of diseases and lesions in the arteries. The amended agreement will be for three years at a total cost of $1.6 million.

The next meeting of the IHL Board of Trustees will be November 16th in Jackson.

About the Author(s)
author profile image

Jeremy Pittari

Jeremy Pittari is a lifelong resident of the Gulf Coast. Born and raised in Slidell, La., he moved to South Mississippi in the early 90s. Jeremy earned an associate in arts from Pearl River Community College and went on to attend the University of Southern Mississippi, where he earned a bachelor's of arts in journalism. A week after Hurricane Katrina, he started an internship as a reporter with the community newspaper in Pearl River County. After graduation, he accepted a full-time position at that news outlet where he covered the recovery process post Katrina in Pearl River and Hancock Counties. For nearly 17 years he wrote about local government, education, law enforcement, crime, business and a variety of other topics. Email Jeremy: