By Dr. Glenn Boyce, commissioner of Higher Education
In 2015, Mississippi Public Universities’ contribution to Mississippi employment was 59,258, or approximately 3.74 percent, jobs in Mississippi. The university system contributed $3.78 billion, or approximately 3.5 percent, to total personal income in Mississippi.
On the Mississippi Business Journal’s Book of Lists 2017, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, with 9,000 employees, is listed as #3, behind Huntington Ingalls Industries and Keesler Air Force Base, with 11,000 employees each. Other universities on the list include:
- #9 Mississippi State University: 4,740 employees, including extension service employees serving the citizens in every county of the state
- #11 University of Mississippi: 4,200 employees
- #27 The University of Southern Mississippi: 2,212 employees
In addition to the professors who support the university’s core mission of teaching and learning, many other employees are essential for student success. For example, Delta State University has placed an emphasis on improved retention and has invested in human resources to support these efforts.
This investment has paid off. Between the fall of 2015 and the fall of 2016, Delta State experienced significant increases in retention rates for first-time, full-time, degree-seeking freshmen—5.2 percent; first time, full-time, degree-seeking transfer students—7.8 percent; and, all full-time, degree-seeking undergraduate students—3.7 percent. Simply put, this means more students stayed in school and on the path to graduation—and on the path to being more productive, employable citizens of our state.
Similar efforts on all campuses have resulted in an 80 percent one-year retention rate for entering full-time freshmen, based on the Fall 2014 cohort.
Universities also employ scientists who conduct research that solves problems and helps Mississippians lead better, healthier lives. This past year, the university system received $420.7 million in research funding from federal, state and private/corporate sources, supporting 2,407 projects.
Our campuses are like small cities, requiring the support staff to run them. This includes the campus police force, the crews that maintain the buildings and grounds, the staff that run the physical plant and he employees who manage the residence halls.
Universities also support indirect jobs, including those supported by the renovation and construction projects on campus and those working in transportation that connects the campus and the community. Universities outsource some functions, such as food service and bookstores, supporting additional indirect jobs.
Additional jobs are supported through student spending on off-campus housing, in restaurants and other entertainment venues, in local retailers, including grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, clothing stores and book stores.
Mississippi Public Universities serve more than 95,000 students during the academic year. This requires a lot of hands on deck to meet their needs both inside and outside the classroom, which, in turn, supports the Mississippi economy.
The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.