“Southern Miss” Cuts 36 Positions
The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) has announced that it will be eliminating three dozen jobs as it receives reduced funding from the state.
The university, also known as “Southern Miss,” has received $7.96 million less in state funding during fiscal-year 2017, compared to the same period in fiscal-year 2016. The budget cuts have forced the university’s management team to cut 36 jobs.
As part of the job cuts, three employees are being laid off and an additional 33 currently-vacant positions are being eliminated altogether. An additional employee, who was originally laid off, has been rehired after the university received one-time funding.
The 33 vacant positions being eliminated include 17 faculty positions and 16 staff positions.
According to USM’s Director of Communications, Jim Coll, the university had very limited options to consider as it struggled to cut its costs. Employee compensation and benefits make up the biggest share of the university’s expenses. Given the budget shortfall, the university was left with no choice but to eliminate jobs, as it did not have enough funds to pay for salaries.
In a written statement, Jim Coll said, “USM has minimized an increased financial burden placed on students and their families by exploring all avenues for reducing expenditures that do not compromise academic quality.”
He further explained the university’s decision to cut jobs, saying, “The most significant effects of the mid-year reductions were directly related to employment, as the primary component of universities’ cost structure is personnel.”
In addition to funding cuts from the state government, the university has seen a dip in revenue from tuition fees. This is because student enrollments have been in decline. Coll says that the university is “cautiously optimistic” that enrollments will increase for this year’s fall semester.
“The number of applications received, the number of students accepted for admission and the number of students attending orientation all point to an increase in the number of new students,” said Coll.
The latest job cuts are not the first ones that the university has seen in recent years. During the 2015–2016 fiscal year, USM cut nine staff jobs in order to balance its budget following funding cuts.
“Budget cut forces USM to eliminate 37 positions, including 17 vacant faculty spots,” Hattiesburg American, July 5, 2017.