CLEVELAND, Miss., OCTOBER 17, 2023 — With Delta State University facing enrollment and budget challenges, President Dr. Dan Ennis convened a series of meetings to address faculty, staff, students and regional stakeholders.
At a campus forum, Ennis stated, “There are good things Delta State can and will do to increase our appeal to students. But at a certain point, it must be acknowledged that the institution’s DNA, it’s very ethos, was built around giving educational opportunities to the people from the Delta. And there are just less people in the Delta. The goal is to get Delta State to the point where we have a sustainable future.”
Ennis emphasized his determination to increase revenue by aggressively seeking greater state and federal allocations, by finding new revenue streams through licensing and partnerships, and by doubling the recently announced Centennial Capital Campaign from $50 million to $100 million.
“We have programs that matter to our federal legislators and our state legislators,” he said. “And we have a story we can tell.”
Ennis met in September with the Board of Trustees of Mississippi’s Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) and apprised them of the current financial situation at DSU. During that meeting, he told trustees that he likely won’t be able to reduce the university’s previous budget of $51 million to a $40 million budget based on actual revenues.
Following the IHL meeting, Ennis scheduled a town hall meeting with DSU faculty and staff on September 28 and said, “I thought it fair and appropriate to give you the same information that I gave to IHL.” He outlined the severity of the budget challenges that the university faces, and assured the faculty and staff that he sees a path forward, but that it is going to be unpleasant.
He said, “I’m sorry to give you this news, but I think it’s important that everybody know our financial position right now.”
While members of the faculty and staff were hoping for better news, several people shared their appreciation for Ennis’ transparency in sharing the raw details with the campus. Faculty Senate President Dr. Christopher T. Jurgenson said, “Dr. Ennis didn’t pull any punches when describing the challenges DSU is facing. However, I’m glad he’s tackling these issues head on and has begun a plan to ‘right the ship’ in order to move this university towards growth and sustainability. We need ‘all hands on deck,’ and part of my job is to encourage the faculty to do their best to make positive change at DSU a reality.”
Ennis then distributed an email to faculty and staff on October 2, 2023, outlining the immediate measures that would begin addressing DSU’s finances, including the creation of an Ad Hoc Committee on Budget Sustainability to advise the university administration. Composed of constituents from across campus, the committee is tasked with identifying strategies to reduce the university’s budget by another $5.5 million (in addition to the $4.4 million cut which took place earlier this year), and to identify sources of funds to support DSU’s growing programs appropriately, while adjusting to the university’s enrollment and financial realities. The committee convened for its first meeting today and will continue to operate during the next 9-12 months, advising the president and cabinet on ways the university can meet the fiscal challenges while protecting the student experience.
Ennis also met with local community leaders today to apprise them of Delta State’s fiscal situation. “Delta State has an economic impact of $175 million on the Delta region, and so the fiscal challenges we are facing will likely impact the community as well as the university,” Ennis noted. “Times will be tough — but the core mission of Delta State will be protected. Our focus on personal attention, faculty and staff who care about the whole student, graduates who are sought after because of Delta State’s reputation in the classroom, a campus filled with excitement and activity, and a university that is committed to this community and region – these essentials won’t change.”
Ennis concluded his comments by stating, “Delta State and the Delta region depend on one another, and I ask for your support and patience as we make tough decisions. However, I promise to do everything I can to guide DSU, along with this community, to a sustainable future.”