JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - A plan that would merge Mississippi's historically black universities, devised by Jackson State president Doctor Ronald Mason, is creating an outrage among alumni and lawmakers.
Mason said he opposed a similar plan, pitched by Governor Haley Barbour in November, that would merge Alcorn State and Mississippi Valley State with Jackson State.
Now documents that he created have surfaced that imply he's not opposed to a merger.
Wednesday, members of the black legislative caucus held a rally at the Capitol in opposition of Mason's plan or any merger.
Lawmakers say they began hearing about Mason's proposal in an email over the weekend. The outline for the merger calls for several core courses to be transferred among the campuses of Alcorn state, Mississippi Valley State and Jackson State.
Mason's plan calls for the three Universities to form one learning institution which would be called Jacobs State, in honor of Jackson State founder H.P. Jacobs.
Mason also changes the individual mascots from all the universities into a phoenix.
During phone interview, Dr. Mason said his merger proposal was leaked, and he only created it as a discussion point. "I never proposed it to anybody, I've never asked anyone to support it. I'm just trying to figure out some answers for the future. I never intended for it to be a public discussion, it's not a proposal because it hasn't been proposed to anybody."
Members of the legislative black caucus say they feel betrayed by Mason who initially was on their side, speaking against a merger.
Doctor Mason told WLBT News by telephone Wednesday that he still does oppose a merger. He says he created this as an alternate plan to put up for discussion only if the universities faced definite closure.
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