Bounds presents an update on state
by Paisley Boston
Jun 12, 2014 | 3504 views | 0 0 comments | 31 31 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dr. Hank Bounds, Institutions of Higher Learning commissioner, was the guest speaker during Wednesday’s Rotary Club of Cleveland meeting.

Delta State University President Bill LaForge, who introduced Bounds, said, "Hank is well known in the community and he runs eight universities across the state."

Bounds oversees the state's public four-year university system, which includes four research institutions and four regional institutions.

He began his speech by expressing appreciation for Teach For America.

"Teach for America is really good for the Mississippi Delta. They give a great financial boost to the community and the county. I have worked with the organization for a number of years and it does wonderful work," said Bounds.

TFA members arrived on Sunday to teach in the school districts for the next two years.

Teach For America is a national organization that recruits talented recent college graduates and professionals to move to a part of the country that needs teachers.

After Bounds expressed the importance of TFA members he then proceeded to give a financial break down of Mississippi.

"Forbes consistently ranks Mississippi as one of the worst states to make a living in. Although Mississippi is ranked by Forbes as being one of the worst states to live in, the University of Mississippi is one of the largest employers in the state," he added.

Bounds has implemented several strategies to develop and approve a systemwide textbooks policy aimed at expanding the used book market and reducing the costs to students.

"We are thinking of innovative ways to save the state money such as using old text books. Algebra is a subject that rarely changes; therefore, we have developed a creative strategy to use used textbooks as a market to gain economic deficiency," he added.

Bounds also explained the importance of universities to the state and local municipalities.

"DSU is doing well and we are about to put the issue of declining enrollment to rest. Universities are basically municipalities. It costs money to run them and some of them have larger populations than the towns or cities that they are located in," he added.

Bounds also led the university presidents in efforts to develop three-year business plans to prepare for possible reductions in state appropriations.

He worked with the Efficiencies Task Force, an ad hoc committee of the Board, and university presidents to find efficiencies in operations, such as reducing energy costs, and cost sharing.

"Students who receive a college degree are more likely to be contributors to society, live healthier lives and are less likely to need state assistance," said Bounds.

He also addressed the declining enrollment rate at DSU.

"Enrollment at DSU is shrinking for numerous reasons and one of those reasons is because there is a smaller pool to draw from. It is important that individuals and citizens recognize that deficits involved with DSU directly affect Cleveland," he continued.

Mississippi's public universities enroll more than 80,000 students and award more than 15,000 degrees each year.

"In order to increase enrollment, members of the community must sale the school and make it more appealing for individuals outside of the state. DSU is not just competing on a state level; they are competing on a national level. As commissioner, I have a moral obligation to ensure that students get what they are paying for," said Bounds.

Bounds also said, "Mississippi is making progress. University Medical Center is the first institution to find a functional cure for a child with Human Immunodeficiency Virus."

The situation that he described occurred at the University of Mississippi Medical Center when a team of experts discovered a 'functional cure' in an HIV infected infant.

The infant described underwent remission of HIV infection after receiving antiretroviral therapy within 30 hours of birth.

The HIV experts said that prompt administration of antiviral treatment likely led to this infant’s cure by halting the formation of hard-to-treat viral reservoirs — dormant cells responsible for reigniting the infection in most HIV patients within weeks of stopping therapy.