Budget issues are hitting all of Mississippi's universities hard, and it's impacting the Meridian campus of Mississippi State University.
The Institutions of Higher Learning board earlier this year approved a retirement incentive program at Mississippi State, as a way to save money.
Several longtime MSU Meridian employees have opted to take part in the program.
According to Dr. Dennis Mitchell, associate dean of the Arts and Sciences division at the Meridian campus, the incentive was one of the cost cutting measures the university has taken.
"The purpose of the incentive program is to save the university money," said Mitchell.
Eight faculty members of the Meridian campus decided to take the incentive and retire. One of those eight is Dr. George Thomas. He dedicated 34 years to the university.
"Why now? It's time," said Thomas. "We need some new, young blood. I've done my duty and the university offered me an incentive for me to retire this year. So, all of that together."
The incentive program was offered to all faculty members of the university with very specific qualifications. If a faculty member decided to retire, they received 50 percent of their annual salary.
One qualification required staff to be an active member of the Public Employees Retirement System. Staff also had to have at least 25 years of creditable service by June 30, 2010, or be at least 60 years old and have at least four years of creditable service.
Since Thomas qualified, he took the incentive, but said he knows there is one thing he will miss.
"The students, no doubt about that. Students are a lot of fun," Thomas said. "I have good students and that's what you miss, the classroom contact."
The future of those eight positions is still unknown.
"Some people might not be replaced. Some people who are replaced will be by those who make less," Mitchell said.
Mitchell says whether or not the positions are refilled, the campus will serve students successfully.
Dr. Paul Allen
D.G. "Doc" Braswell
Dr. Janet St. Lawrence
Dr. George Thomas