HATTIESBURG, Miss. — The University of Southern Mississippi says it must permanently cut its budget by about $8 million and eliminate 20 staff positions.

WDAM-TV reports university President Dr. Rodney Bennett made the announcement Thursday in an email sent to all faculty and staff.

Bennett said the move is a result of decreases in state funding, particularly over the past 18 months, and a recent board policy adopted by the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees that outlines financial expectations of institutions. He said the reduction will allow the university to increase the school’s financial reserves and plan ahead for another possible 2 percent cut in the upcoming fiscal year.

The latest cut will begin in the current fiscal year, and the 20 staff positions will be eliminated on Dec. 31. In addition, other visiting or temporary employees’ positions will be eliminated after their current scheduled end dates.

In July, the university laid off three employees and eliminated 33 vacant jobs because of state budget cuts.

USM received about $8 million less from the state for the budget year that began July 1 than it did for the previous year. The university’s spokesman, Jim Coll, said options to cut costs were limited.

Gov. Phil Bryant made reductions to many state agencies and education entities for fiscal year 2018 after tax collections fell short of expectations and state leaders looked to rein in spending.


Information from: WDAM-TV, http://www.wdam.com