The economic crunch hasn't just snarled up media careers, financial institutions, and the future of the American automobile industry. It has put in jeopardy academic institutions as well. Responding on Friday to a rumor that Lambuth University of Jackson, Tennessee, was planning to close its doors, Alicia Miller, an information officer for the school, said, in effect, that reports of Lambuth's death had been greatly exaggerated but confirmed that some changes would be made to deal with growing financial pressures.
"We're still in the business of educating students, and we'll proceed with the spring term as usual," said Miller, who went further and indicated that some currently vacant administrative positions at the university, which is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, would be filled. But she suggested that the school's new interim president, Dr. Jerry Israel, who took up his position only last week, had some major restructuring in mind.
The Jackson Sun, in a lengthy article published last Sunday, quoted Israel as saying he was "focused on budget, personnel, recruitment and retention, creating a senior management team and taking recommendations from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools."
The newspaper reported that the United Methodist Church Memphis Conference held an emergency meeting Saturday to deal with the university's economic woes and announced a fundraising drive to help Lambuth meet an $800,000 shortfall. Board of trustees chairwoman Mary Cay Koen told the Sun , "the university has never had a spending problem, but a historic revenue issue" and that "the $800,000 will help the university make it to the end of the semester and into the next."
There were 815 students enrolled at Lambuth during the fall semester, including many from Memphis.