Mississippi Black Universities in a Bind

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Alcorn State University will have a new MBA building by this fall, but it won't have money to furnish it or hire faculty to teach there.

Mississippi Valley State University must find $800,000 to $1 million to pay the salaries of at least 10 faculty and staff, and Jackson State University has no money to hire five School of Engineering professors.

The universities are in a bind because they haven't gotten $137.5 million for academic programs and buildings as part of an Ayers university desegregation case settlement.

The money was scheduled to be paid out between fiscal 2002 and fiscal 2005, which began July 1. The funds are part of $503 million that is supposed to be released over a 17-year period to improve the historically black universities.

Jake Ayers Sr. filed the case in 1975, saying the state neglected Alcorn, Valley and Jackson State, but the universities can't get most of the money because the case is being appealed again to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the state will not pay out anything until appeals are exhausted.