LORMAN, Miss. (WJTV) – An outgoing Mississippi lawmaker called on state leadership to address a decades-long funding deficit at Alcorn State University (ASU) totaling more than $257 million. 

The deficit Representative Alyce Clarke (D-Miss.) references stems from the Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Survey (IPEDS). The calculations cover 1987 to 2020.

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack sent letters to 16 governors informing them that their land-grant HBCUs were underpaid more than $12 billion in total. This is in comparison to their non-HBCU land-grant peers.

Included in the letter was Governor Tate Reeves (R-Miss.). The joint letter, specifically sent to Reeves, cited inadequate funding given to ASU compared to Mississippi State University (MSU). 

“The longstanding and ongoing underinvestment in Alcorn State University disadvantages the students, faculty, and community that the institution serves. Furthermore, it may contribute to a lack of economic activity that would ultimately benefit Mississippi,” the joint letter signed by both secretaries stated.

For Clarke, an ASU alumna, this matter is personal. 

“MSU is not to blame for receiving the funding it has received over the years to grow and prosper. However, it is unfair to Alcorn State students when their institution did not receive the same equity in funding. When Alcorn State is short-changed, the State of Mississippi is short-changed,” Clarke said. 

In 1985, Clarke became the first African-American woman elected to the Mississippi State Legislature. According to her office, she is also the longest-serving woman elected to hold public office in state history.