Mississippi State Auditor Proposes Redistributing University Funding to Combat Brain Drain


The State Auditor of Mississippi, Shad White, has advanced a proposal aimed at depressing funding for certain degrees of public universities, following observation that graduates of such programs often face difficulty in landing employment within the state. Degree programs such as anthropology, African American studies, and women and gender studies have notably been producing graduates who grapple with less lucrative paychecks and who often seek opportunities beyond Mississippi after leaving college.

The proposal released on Wednesday brings into wieldy focus a pointed attempt to alleviate Mississippi’s labor deficit and intellectual capital exodus. The plan thus advocates that decision-making around funding allocation for degree programs ought to be made with a thorough bearing on the state’s workforce requirements.

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An unsettling revelation from the report reveals some severe disparities in graduate employment statistics – degree programs like Women’s Studies, African American/Black Studies, and German Language and Literature recorded such miniscule placement figures in Mississippi jobs that a meaningful median salary could not be construed from the data. Yet, public funds continue to support these courses at a comparable level to more vocation-oriented programs such as Electrical Engineering or Registered Nursing.

These findings underline the urgent necessity for graduating more students from economically valuable degree programs, and ensuring their retention within the state. Such a strategy would contribute millions of additional dollars to Mississippi’s economy.

The data used by the auditor for the analysis were drawn from state schools and the Mississippi Department of Employment Security. The report highlights that graduates from healthcare-related or education-oriented degree fields were consistently demonstrating a higher likelihood of both securing jobs and earning better remuneration within Mississippi, in contrast with their counterparts from general fields.

Through a succession of posts on a prominent social media platform, White reiterated this finding by affirming that poorly chosen academic paths are detrimental to the economy, as they result in a crop of graduates who lack in demanded skills. He went on to assert that it is unfair to burden taxpayers with funding for less practical courses or frivolous electives.

The report concludes with a pragmatic call to action for Mississippi state leaders – considering a reallocation of funding to public colleges and universities to directly combat Mississippi’s intellectual exodus, or ‘brain drain’. A suggested strategy involves the creation of a study committee featuring workforce experts, tasked to identify the most and least needed programs and designing a university funding structure with these identified needs in mind.

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Melinda Cochrane is a poet, teacher and fiction author. She is also the editor and publisher of The Inspired Heart, a collection of international writers. Melinda also runs a publishing company, Melinda Cochrane International books for aspiring writers, based out Montreal, Quebec. Her publication credits include: The art of poetic inquiry, (Backalong Books), a novella, Desperate Freedom, (Brian Wrixon Books Canada), and 2 collections of poetry; The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat, (Backalong Books), and She’s an Island Poet, Desperate Freedom was on the bestseller's list for one week, and The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat is one of hope and encouragement for all those living in the social welfare system. She’s been published in online magazines such as, (regular writer for) ‘Life as a Human’, and Shannon Grissom’s magazine.