The College Board voted unanimously Wednesday to allow Higher Education Commissioner Hank Bounds to sign contracts and take other actions without board approval to help the 16,000-student school recover.
“Because of the need to move with a real sense of urgency, we don’t need to wait for a board meeting,” Bounds said.
Officials say USM plans to resume classes Thursday, although 87 sections will be in temporary quarters.
The tornado damaged eight or nine buildings at the southern edge of the school's campus.
One of those damaged buildings, a former fire station converted to house the jazz program, will have to be torn down, Bounds says.
Student dorms were undamaged, although some private apartments were hit. The school is offering housing to students whose off-campus quarters are unlivable.
Most of the damage to the school is expected to be covered by a $500 million insurance policy. The policy carries a $100,000 deductible.
The EF-4 tornado with 170 mph winds reached up to three-quarters of a mile wide and remained on the ground for 21 miles from Lamar across Forrest and into Perry counties.