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Lambuth Creditors Want Lawyer; Students Start at UM Campus

Students start to school this week at the University of Memphis Lambuth campus. The collapse of Lambuth University, a private, four-year school in Jackson — and its transition to public — hands has been well-documented by the Jackson Sun, which reports today that the piper is calling:

A group of unsecured creditors is seeking legal representation from Milan attorney Stephen L. Hughes in Lambuth University’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection case. …

According to court documents filed Aug. 3, Lambuth has more than $9 million in total debt.

Officials estimated 150 to 250 students had signed up for classes as of Aug. 10. The private school’s final spring semester started with around 400 students.

The hometown paper’s editorial board has put a positive spin on the transition to the University of Memphis, predicting it “will be a game changer” in terms of local economic development.

The city of Jackson, Madison County, West Tennessee Healthcare, and the Jackson Energy Authority agreed this summer to purchase the campus for $7.9 million, then turn the campus over to the state Board of Regents.

The state budget included $11 million over three years to “to help subsidize the University of Memphis’ operating expenses while developing the Lambuth campus,” the AP reported. If this Tennessean report is a clue, the bill is likely to grow:

The University of Memphis faces $3.5 million in “near-term” costs for safety repairs and access for the disabled, and $15 million in longer-term maintenance at the Lambuth University campus, a state report issued Thursday concludes.

That money is above and beyond funding already pledged by the state and other sources.

Education News NewsTracker

Haslam Asks For $5 Million For State Takeover of Lambuth

The state is moving closer to taking over Lambuth University, a troubled private college in Jackson whose finances have been in turmoil and recently announced it would close in June.

The Jackson Sun reports that Gov. Bill Haslam has asked the legislature to set aside $5 million to enable the University of Memphis to take over the Methodist school, which even the star power of Bill Cosby was unable to save.

Haslam’s request, presented to the Senate Finance Committee, is contingent on Jackson and Madison County officials and other community leaders raising $15 million to $19 million. The locally raised money would be used to pay off Lambuth’s debt — which is about $10 million — and to pay for campus repairs and maintenance needs.

Inside Higher Ed has one of the best Cliffs Notes versions of the school’s meltdown, from its failure to meet payroll, the loss of its accreditation, and various proposals which didn’t pan out to partner with for-profit groups.

The Jackson Sun has posted a timeline tracking the school’s history.

NewsTracker Tax and Budget

Proposal for Jackson-Madison County Library Takeover On Hold

A proposal for the city of Jackson to take over the Jackson-Madison County Library — it’s jointly funded by the city and county now — is on hold for now, with the City Council voting Tuesday to set up a study committee. The library’s financial problems center on four years of missed retirement payments. More here from the Jackson Sun.