“Close your eyes and picture the Delta without Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU) in it,” said MVSU President William B. Bynum, Jr. during his state of the University address. “Homes would be in foreclosure, cars would be repossessed, and the financial livelihood of many individuals and their families would be in serious jeopardy.” “It would also mean that the cycle of poverty in the Delta would become worst, because the opportunity for individuals to educate themselves at this “jewel of the MS Delta” would not exist,” he added.
Bynum’s use of imagery settled into the hearts and minds of MVSU’s faculty and staff as he gave an update of the University’s triumphs and small ‘bumps in the road.’ He said one of the University’s accomplishments that he is most proud of is its ability to produce outstanding, career ready scholars and productive citizens. “Our students have received some outstanding offers in terms of jobs and internships,” continued Bynum. “We have had students placed with Microsoft, Merrill Lynch, Ingalls and Corporate Wal-Mart to name a few.”
He also announced that student athletes at MVSU graduate at a higher rate than the regular student body, and 122 of the University’s student athletes made the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) All-Academic Team.
The group maintained over a 3.0 grade point average while competing in their respective sports. This accomplishment placed MVSU fourth in the SWAC. After the audience applauded the efforts and accomplishments of the University’s students, another round of applause was granted due to the University’s current student enrollment status. “As of now, we are tracking ahead of last year’s 2,309 head count, and out of state enrollment is increasing” continued Bynum. Bynum also announced the return of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program and the University’s new masters programs in convergent media and sports administration. The continued renovation of College Hall I, which will add 140 additional beds, will continue during the Fall semester, and phase one renovations for the original president’s house, Friendship Manor, have been completed. Phase two is scheduled to begin during the upcoming year.
The space will be available for meetings and receptions. Bynum also said the departments of English and Foreign Languages, Mass Communications, University College and Athletics are working with architects to design the interior of the Academic Skills building in which they will be housed in the future. “We will continue with our low cost, high impact projects,” he said. The University received $7.5 million for the renovations of Edna Horton Hall, which will add 275 additional beds, and plans to lobby the legislature for funds to improve the Jacob Aron Student Union is set for this year.
In addition to student success and face-lifts, the Office of Residential Life will launch a module that will allow students to manage their housing options and requests 24/7 online. Bynum is extremely pleased with the two-year success of the Office of University Advancement. “With the help of faculty, staff, students, corporations, foundations and the community, the Office of Advancement has exceeded its goal of $1 million for the second time,” he continued. He is also grateful for the $2.5 million increase in sponsored research, from $6.6 million to $9.1 million during the 2015-16 academic year.
As previously mentioned, the University did face a few ‘bumps in the road’ during the academic year. “We had a slight tuition increase of 3 percent and fee increase of 2 percent,” said Bynum. “We hate to have any increase for our student body, but this was by far the lowest increase of all the IHL institutions.” MVSU also faced budget cuts amounting to approximately $500,000.
Despite these challenges, if we commit to recommitting to our One Goal (Student Success), One Team (University and Community Stakeholders working together), and One Valley (School Pride and Spirituality), we will start to see “The Valley” thrive and not simply survive.