No Plans For Usm to Return to Gautier

Monday, August 1, 2011
The University of Southern Mississippi does not have any immediate plans to return to the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community's Gautier campus.

"Right now, we're out," said President Martha Saunders.

And that has some Jackson County leaders wishing they could turn back the clock on last year's brouhaha that saw state leaders strongly discourage the University of South Alabama from attempting to set up shop there.

"As far I'm concerned we were misled," said Jackson County District Five Supervisor John McKay.

McKay backed Southern Miss last year when school officials complained about an agreement that would allow South Alabama free building space at the MGCCC campus for one year, because he believed that Southern Miss officials would eventually come back.

That is still a possibility. Saunders said that her talk last week with new MGCCC President Mary Graham has put on the discussion table the return of a pilot program at Gautier.

"It's certainly doable by the next academic year," said Saunders, but added: "I don't want to give promises that I don't keep."

Prior to last week, Graham said that she had not been in any specific discussions with any universities about occupying the Gautier space, but added that she was interested in "creative ways" to accommodate four-year institutions at all of MGCCC campuses.

"As a new president (since July 1), I do not believe that it is beneficial to discuss what might have been in regard to the university offerings in Jackson County," Graham said.

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