CLEVELAND, Miss. — October 27, 2023 – Delta State University President Dan Ennis appeared yesterday on MidDays with Gerard Gibert on the SuperTalk Mississippi Radio Network to discuss the fiscal situation at DSU. The small university in Cleveland has been under scrutiny as Ennis, who became DSU’s 9th president in June, seeks to guide the institution to financial sustainability.
“What we have is addressable. It’s fixable. But we are going to have to look at our budget differently,” Ennis said. “We have to tighten things up so we can live within our means going forward.”
Gibert and Ennis discussed declining enrollment, which has mirrored population decline in the Mississippi Delta, and the formation of a new committee to help Ennis consider budget adjustments as he seeks to restore the university’s cash reserves, which are dangerously low due to years of deficit spending. Ennis said, “The idea here is to right-size the budget so that every year we end with a surplus.”
Ennis outlined financial targets that must be met for DSU to move back into a positive financial situation, including returning to a position of 90 days cash on hand. He acknowledged that deep, unpopular cuts will be unavoidable, but emphasized that he is optimistic about DSU’s future.
“This is not the end of the story,” he said. “We are spending an equal amount of time rebuilding our enrollment strategies. I’m not setting the budget based on the enrollment right now, I’m setting it based on the cash we have right now. Enrollment can – and should – increase if we are more aggressive in the market.”
Gibert said, “(DSU has) a fantastic history and legacy, undoubtedly. It’s an icon in the state of Mississippi, and we want to see it thrive.” He noted that the university was recently the recipient of a U.S. Department of Education Title III Strengthening Institutions Program grant for over $2 million.
Ennis said, “It’s great to get a win. What I really like about that grant is that it’s highly tied to student success, and that is our brand here. We have a personalized approach. We have faculty who knows students’ names. The grant is for a program where we intervene in a student’s situation when we find out they are having problems. It’s an early warning system with resources to help a student. That’s the kind of thing that a smaller school is nimble enough to do on an individual basis, student by student.”
SuperTalk Mississippi Media covers Mississippi with four statewide radio networks, 12 talk stations, 16 music stations, SuperTalk TV, and over 50 affiliates. For the full interview, click here.
About Delta State University: Delta State University is a four-year public institution whose nearly 2,500 students come from most U.S. states and more than 50 countries. The university offers numerous unique programs, including the Delta Music Institute entertainment industry program, and is the only university in Mississippi to offer undergraduate and graduate aviation programs. Situated in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, which is recognized as the birthplace of American music, Delta State has become the center of music and culture for the state and the region. The university is also the academic center for the blues, offering an online blues studies curriculum that leads to a certificate for advanced study of blues music. In addition, Delta State offers top-notch academic programs in business, arts, sciences, nursing, and education, among other areas.