A new report indicates that some of Mississippi's eight publicly funded colleges and universities are failing when it comes to the number of students graduating.
"Southern Exposure: A Look at Mississippi's Public Colleges and Universities" was published earlier this month by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni with the assistance of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy. Jon Pritchett of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy says one shocking fact revealed by the study is that the average four-year graduation rate at the state's institutions of higher learning (IHLs) is only 23%. Some schools have a dismal 14% graduation rate in a four-year period.
As the report states, the graduation rates for several IHLs "are unacceptably low."
"It's a problem nationally and certainly it's a problem here in Mississippi," Pritchett acknowledges. "It's so bad that the four-year degree rates are no longer part of the analysis because so few people are graduating within four years. Now we're going to look at six-year graduation rates."
Another finding gleaned from the report that concerns Pritchett is that none of the schools requires history, civics, or economics courses as part of their "general education requirements" for graduation.
"This deficit," declares the report, "diminishes graduates' ability to participate effectively in our democratic republic."
Pritchett adds his own assessment: "[It's hard to fathom] how someone could be able to be a participant in civics and in their government and their community when they graduate after four years on a college campus without ever taking one history class or one government class or one economics class …."
According to Pritchett, the audit was conducted because every taxpayer in Mississippi deserves to know whether each school is putting the state money they receive to its best use.
The eight IHLs audited were: Alcorn State University, Delta State University, Jackson State University, Mississippi State University, Mississippi University for Women, Mississippi Valley State University, University of Mississippi, and University of Southern Mississippi.