Friday, January 13, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
Building furniture makers: Academy to help train, develop industry workforce
With a $12 billion economic impact on the state, the furniture industry includes hundreds of manufacturers and suppliers that employ some 60,000 people directly and indirectly. But there's also a growing need for skilled and trained workers, as the industry continues to recover from the recession. To help foster that growth and meet labor needs, several Northeast Mississippi manufacturers, colleges and economic development groups have created a Furniture Academy that will put more qualified workers in the pipeline. Partners in the Furniture Academy include the Franklin Furniture Institute at Mississippi State University and the Community Development Foundation in Tupelo.
Mississippi Furniture Academy launches certification program
Mississippi State University helped launched the Mississippi Furniture Academy, a new manufacturing skills certification program created as part of a workforce development initiative. In a news conference Thursday held at the Tupelo Furniture Market, MSU President Mark E. Keenum discussed the university's role in the initiative. Other speakers included Governor Phil Bryan, Executive Director Glenn McCullough, Jr. of the Mississippi Development Authority; President Mike Eaton of the Itawamba Community College; and Rusty Berryhill, president of Kevin Charles Furniture. The first program will start in February at the two partner community colleges and its satellite campuses which cover about 90% of the cluster of Mississippi furniture manufacturers, according to Bill Martin, director of the Franklin Furniture Institute at MSU.
New Furniture Academy to provide skilled workers to local manufacturers
State officials and local colleges are working together to bring more skilled workers to local furniture industries and in a special way. On Thursday, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, alongside some of the state's educational leaders introduced the Furniture "Certified" Academy at the Tupelo Furniture Market. This academy is essentially an educational-designed course to help prepare local job hunters with the skills they need to succeed at a quick and high rate.
Mississippi electric rates rise with natural gas prices
Some power company customers in Mississippi will see higher bills in February as two private electric utilities pass along rebounding natural gas costs. The Mississippi Public Service Commission voted Thursday to approve higher fuel costs for both Entergy Mississippi and Mississippi Power Co. Mississippi regulators typically look at fuel cost projections at the beginning of each year, making estimates for the upcoming year and adjusting rates to account for missed estimates from the previous year. Utilities get to pass the cost of fuel to customers, but aren't supposed to make a profit.
State wins 'deal of year' for landing Continental Tire plant
Mississippi has been awarded Business Facilities' 2016 Economic Development Deal of the Year for recruiting Continental Tire's commercial vehicle tire manufacturing plant to Hinds County. Continental Tire announced in February 2016 it will locate in Mississippi, a $1.45 billion investment creating 2,500 jobs over the next decade. In addition, the project is estimated to create 2,740 indirect and more than 1,000 induced jobs over the next decade, bringing an anticipated economic impact of more than $1.3 billion to the Jackson region.
Coast economic recovery lags behind rest of state, official says
The Coast's economy lags behind other regions of the state, which underscores the need for legislators to keep BP settlement money on the Coast, an economic leader said Thursday. "The Gulf Coast has not realized the same economic momentum as other regions -- including the overall state of Mississippi -- since 2010," Gulf Coast Business Council President Ashley Edwards said. Edwards, who spoke Thursday at the University of Southern Mississippi's annual Economic Outlook Forum at the Gulf Park campus, said the Coast's recovery overall has been stunted in a number of categories after 2005's Hurricane Katrina, the Great Recession of 2008 and the 2010 BP oil spill.
Governor Sets $50 Million More in Mississippi Budget Cuts
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant is cutting another $51 million from the $6.4 billion state budget because state revenues are lagging. Republican Bryant announced the cuts Thursday, after slicing $57 million in September to make up for an accounting error. Bryant is also transferring $4 million from the state's financial reserves, for a total budget change of $55 million. Funding for most programs will be cut just under 1.5 percent, pushing cuts for the year above 3 percent.
Gov. Phil Bryant makes another round of cuts
Gov. Phil Bryant announced $50.9 million in cuts to state agencies Thursday – his fourth round of cuts in the past calendar year. The second-term Republican governor announced the latest round of cuts via social media and said they were being made because of sluggish revenue collections, an ongoing problem for state leaders for more than a year. "It is tempting to leave things alone and hope for revenue collections to improve and offset the shortfall we are experiencing now, however, I feel it is important that we take action based on the best possible information available," Bryant wrote in a letter to state Fiscal Officer Laura Jackson instructing her of the cuts.
Gov. Phil Bryant forced to make more budget cuts
Gov. Phil Bryant on Thursday announced another round of emergency mid-year budget cuts to most state agencies, the fourth round of cuts for many agencies in less than two years, with more cuts planned by lawmakers as they set the coming year's budget. Bryant ordered nearly $51 million in cuts Thursday and is dipping into the state rainy day fund for $4.06 million to square the current fiscal year's budget, which ends in June. Bryant in September made cuts averaging 1.6 percent for most state agencies to cover a $57 million accounting error lawmakers made when they set the current fiscal year's budget that began in July. For the previous year, fiscal 2016, he was forced to make two rounds of cuts, dip into the state's "rainy day fund" savings, and call a special session for lawmakers to grant him the authority to pull more from savings than is allowed by statute in a single year.
Gov. Phil Bryant Cuts $51 Million From State Budget
From Child Protection Services to highways and transportation, state agencies heads visited the Capitol this week, to press their case for additional funding. But Governor Phil Bryant announced yesterday he's slicing $51 million from the state's $5.8 billion budget. Lawmakers say tax collections are below projections. Last September, Bryant cut $57 million from the budget to make up for an accounting error. Representative Jay Hughes of Oxford is a Democrat. He points to tax cuts as the culprit. "It's a direct result of cutting taxes over the last five years for our corporate donors and now placing the weight of that on the backs of our school teachers, our mental health workers, our direct care givers, EMS and trauma care, no Highway Trooper School. These are real. These affect people's lives," said Hughes.
Gov. Phil Bryant forced to cut budget again
Gov. Phil Bryant, facing the state's $89 million revenue shortfall through the first six months of the fiscal year, ordered cuts for most state agencies Thursday. The $50.9 million cut, which is the second cut of the current fiscal year, will affect most agencies by about 1.45 percent. Bryant also ordered a transfer of $4.06 million from the Rainy Day Fund to the general fund to help balance the budget as he is required to do by law. Programs exempt from cuts are Mississippi Adequate Education Program, Military department, Veterans' Affairs Board, Highway Patrol, Bureau of Narcotics, State Crime Lab, District Attorneys, Supreme Court Services, IHL student financial aid, and Schools for Blind and Deaf.
State Health Director: No layoffs, but high concern
The state Department of Health does not expect to incur layoffs, amid the latest round of mid-year budget cuts ordered by Gov. Phil Bryant. In a letter to the Department of Finance and Administration, Bryant wrote the cuts to most state agencies would be "equivalent to 1.45 percent" for affected agencies' budgets. Dr. Mary Currier, the state health officer, estimated Thursday that would come out to roughly $918,000 for her agency for the remaining fiscal year. "(While the amount is) nothing to be sneezed at, if you take it evenly across all the programs. I don't think that will be something that's going to affect employment at the Health Department," Currier said. Instead, she said the loss could be absorbed by other means such as delaying software updates.
AG Jim Hood: Boost mental health funding
Attorney General Jim Hood wants the Legislature to put more money into the Department of Mental Health as well as two of the special funds his office oversees. During a press conference Thursday morning, Hood advocated for a variety of topics he would like to see discussed during this year's legislative session, ranging from establishing an Internet use tax to campaign-finance reform to early voting. Mental-health funding has been in sharp focus since the end of the 2016 legislative session, when the Department of Mental Health saw its funding cut by $8.3 million, or 4.4 percent, prompting the agency to eliminate more than 100 beds at Mississippi State Hospital, East Mississippi State Hospital and South Mississippi State Hospital.
EdBuild will reveal school funding report Monday
Republican leaders in Mississippi have been vocal that the state's 20-year-old education funding formula, which has been twice fully funded, yet quarreled over often -- and at one point referenced by House Speaker Philip Gunn as "antiquated, confusing, inefficient, unreliable and unpredictable" -- is due for a makeover. Last year, lawmakers hired a New Jersey-based education consulting group called EdBuild to handle the transformation. Now after three months of anticipation -- heightened in part due to a failed effort by the Legislature to keep the contract for the process secret and only one meeting for public input -- it's time for the reveal. Monday, the public will have its first look at what could become the Mississippi Adequate Education Program Version 2.0.
Mississippi Highway Patrol urges stronger texting law
Mississippi Highway Patrol officials say the state's nearly 2-year-old texting law is too complicated and the penalty so minor that most law enforcement will write tickets instead for careless driving. "We got to put some teeth into this," said Department of Public Safety General Counsel Trae Sims, a former prosecutor. "What we have now are beginner steps." Since the law went into effect July 1, 2015, a total of 148 tickets, 54 in 2015 and 94 in 2016, have been written for texting while driving, Highway Patrol spokesman Capt. Johnny Poulos said. In comparison, last year, more than 1,000 tickets each were written for reckless driving and careless driving, he said. Poulos told the Senate Highway and Transportation Committee, "there needs to be consequences for the law to be effective."
Rep. Toby Barker announces plans to run for Hub City mayor
Rep. Toby Barker of Hattiesburg announced on Thursday his intention to run for mayor in this year's municipal elections. "Hattiesburg is a dynamic place to live strengthened by the diversity, ideas and talent of its people," Barker said in a news release. Barker currently serves as the Republican representative for District 102, which covers central Hattiesburg. The 35-year-old was first elected to the Legislature in 2007 and began his first term in January 2008. A resident of Hattiesburg since 2000, Barker earned a Bachelor of Arts in communications and a Master of Science in economic development from the University of Southern Mississippi. In 2015, he earned his Master of Healthcare Leadership from Brown University.
Trump's infrastructure plan: What we know
Congress and the incoming administration have been dropping hints about one of Donald Trump's biggest campaign promises: revitalizing U.S. roads, bridges and airports. The president-elect vowed to deliver a massive rebuilding package to Congress within his first 100 days in office. Elaine Chao, Trump's nominee to lead the Transportation Department, echoed Trump's calls to repair the nation's crumbling infrastructure in her confirmation hearing this week, telling senators one of her top priorities will be to establish an infrastructure "task force." But Trump has yet to sketch out his plan in any sort of detail. And major infrastructure investments -- which conservatives have traditionally been wary of -- will have to compete for attention with other priorities in the coming months.
Speaker Paul Ryan Calls Trump Lobbying Ban Proposal 'Dangerous'
Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Thursday that a proposal to extend the one-year lobbying ban for retired members of Congress to five years -- part of President-elect Donald Trump's series of ethics reforms -- is "dangerous." The Wisconsin Republican said during a CNN town hall that he agrees with the intent of preventing members of Congress from leaving the institution and immediately going into the private sector just to get rich. However, he noted there are other "unseen circumstances" that come with the lobbying ban. "What if you want to become an advocate for the cancer society? What if you want, after you retired, to help your local hospital system and be on their board to support them and then go get legislation?" Ryan said.
New Pew study finds views of world threats cleave along party lines
American attitudes for or against Israel and Palestinians are divided on the most partisan lines of the last four decades, a new study says. The survey by the Pew Research Center, released Thursday, lists the top global threats, as viewed by the Americans polled, as Islamic State terrorism, cyber attacks, and North Korea's nuclear weapons. The biggest growth in perceived threats to America involved Russia, Pew said. Partisan differences appeared most stark in attitudes on climate change, refugees and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Millennials earn 20% less than Boomers did at same stage of life
Baby Boomers: your millennial children are worse off than you. With a median household income of $40,581, millennials earn 20 percent less than boomers did at the same stage of life, despite being better educated, according to a new analysis of Federal Reserve data by the advocacy group Young Invincibles. The analysis being released Friday gives concrete details about a troubling generational divide that helps to explain much of the anxiety that defined the 2016 election. Millennials have half the net worth of boomers. Their home ownership rate is lower, while their student debt is drastically higher.
Ole Miss professor, students research wait times at polling places
A University of Mississippi political science professor and her students are collaborating with researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dartmouth University and 25 other universities to study wait times at polling places in the 2016 presidential election. Julie Wronski, an assistant professor of political science, had the help of 40 students from her Political Science 251 class to collect data on how long people spent at the polls. The hundreds of pages of information students collected from Lafayette, Yalobusha and Desoto counties will be paired with data collected in urban and rural areas across the country. Researchers want to better document the variability of voter wait times across the country and understand the factors that lead to long lines.
Ole Miss' Classics Department honored for professional equity
The Women's Classical Caucus honored the Department of Classics at the University of Mississippi with its WCC Award in Professional Equity at the Archaeological Institute of America/Society for Classical Studies joint annual meeting last week in Toronto. The award, established in 2014, is given to an institution that has worked to improve equality and diversity in the classics field and has served as a model for other institutions. UM is the third recipient of the award. Morgan Palmer, visiting assistant professor of classics, nominated the department for the award, citing its record of hiring and promoting women, supporting diversity and inclusion among students and faculty, and incorporating feminist and gender-informed teaching in classics studies.
Man shot at one location, dies near Jackson State's back entrance
Jackson police were investigating Friday after a man was found shot to death near a back entrance to Jackson State University. Someone found the man dead before 6 a.m. near University Boulevard and Lynch Street, not far from JSU's baseball field, police said. He had been shot at least once, Cmdr. Tyree Jones said. Police said there was another crime scene on Minerva and Olin streets, which is connected to the shooting. Jones said officers were at the scene collecting shell castings and other evidence. Jones said he believes the man was shot at Minerva and Olin streets and ran away before collapsing at the intersection behind Jackson State.
Tulane closing Madison branch after this year as Belhaven steps in to accomodate students
The Tulane University campus here announced that it will close after the spring semester after nearly seven years. The school has also announced that it has enlisted the help of Belhaven University to facilitate the transition with hopes to establish a presence in Madison. Tulane's Madison campus currently enrolls 108 students in nine undergraduate programs, including applied business studies, social sciences, computing and media arts. Tulane has created a partnership with Belhaven University to ensure current students are served and that Madison is provided a long-term partner in high-quality education. Belhaven University serves 2,500 adult undergraduate and graduate students in Jackson, and 1,200 traditional students at its residential campus. The university has 5,000 students at campuses in Memphis, Houston, Atlanta, Chattanooga and online.
Colleges combine skills to build ambulance drones
Italo Subbarao, DO, MBA, senior associate dean with the William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine, is an emergency physician with a specialty in disaster medicine and emergency response. The former director of the American Medical Association Public Health Readiness Office in Chicago is now using his experience to work with Hinds Community College to develop ambulance drones that can deliver medical tools, medicine and telemedicine to victims and first responders at the scene of natural disasters or mass shootings. On Dec. 6, two new Health Integrated Rescue Operation (HIRO) ambulance drones made their debuts at a successful active shooter simulation at the John Bell Williams Airport that was witnessed by officials with the Department of Homeland Security, the United Nations, federal law enforcement officers and the governor's office. The event was in concert with the nationwide Homeland Security "Stop the Bleed" campaign.
Reginald Sykes returns to deliver keynote speech at Meridian Community College's MLK celebration
"It's great to have Dr. Sykes back in the house." That was one way Meridian Community College President Dr. Scott Elliott introduced the speaker for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration, Dr. Reginald Sykes. The program, presented before the Martin Luther King Jr. Day, was held Thursday in the McCain Theater. Sykes, interim president of Bishop State Community College in Mobile, Ala., previously served as dean of students at MCC for seven years working with Dr. Bill Scaggs (now president emeritus) and Elliott during his MCC tenure. The guest speaker spoke of his Meridian roots, family (especially thanking his mom) and the importance of education. Paraphrasing King, Sykes said all people deserve a good quality of life and the answer to improving that quality is education. "No matter the problem, education is still the answer," he said.
U. of Florida police investigate noose on campus
A noose was placed on the lectern of a University of Florida professor Thursday by a member of student comedy group who meant it as a commentary on his own academic performance, a UF official said. The noose was found on the lectern of Michael Weigold, an advertising professor and associate dean in the College of Journalism and Communications. "A member of Theatre Strike Force has come forward and said he fastened the noose as an expression of how well his semester is going," UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said. She did not have the student's name. The noose's appearance prompted UF President Kent Fuchs to issue a statement noting that while it may have been a prank, the historic symbolism of nooses causes wounds to open, particularly for blacks.
UGA research: Chronic illness and depression increase likelihood of problem drinking in older adults
Older adults suffering from multiple chronic health conditions and depression are nearly five times as likely to be problem drinkers as older adults with the same conditions and no depression, according to researchers at the University of Georgia. Their study is the first to document the connection between multiple chronic illnesses, depression and alcohol use in seniors. This information could help health care providers identify which older adults are most likely to experience problem drinking and lead to better preventive care for this segment of society. The study, conducted by researchers from the UGA School of Social Work, utilized data from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project, a nationwide survey of older adults that is funded by the National Institutes of Health.
S.C. Commission on Higher Education says it failed to vet $534M in college projects
Over a 14-month span, the S.C. Commission on Higher Education rubber-stamped some $534 million in college building projects without adequate vetting, its leaders have told state lawmakers. And, without more state dollars to hire analysts to help evaluate projects and programs, the commission says it will continue to provide sub-par oversight of South Carolina's 33 public colleges and technical schools. "If your will is to have somebody properly vet, we're not doing the service that ... you expect," commission chairman Tim Hofferth told a panel of House budget writers Tuesday. The commission wants an added $1.85 million to beef up its operations. However, that request encountered push back in a contentious, three-hour hearing with House members. Brian White, chair of the House budget-writing committee, said he "kind of laughed" when he saw the commission's request.
Cyber experts debate security priorities at Texas A&M summit
A range of topics -- including the seriousness of potential cyber threats, who poses the greatest danger and what steps could be taken to put the U.S. in a better position to ward off attacks -- were discussed Thursday as part of a cybersecurity summit at Texas A&M. The inaugural Cybersecurity of Critical Infrastructure Summit covered a variety of viewpoints during the all-day event -- offering up some constants, but also challenging the panelists and speakers to confront their differences. Featuring more than a dozen speakers from government, private industry and academia -- many of whom have a long history with technologies, policies or issues related to cybersecurity -- the interactive sessions sparked both lively debate and a sense of shared uncertainty as to what comes next for the multi-billion-dollar field.
Widest pay gap ever between high school and college grads
Americans with no more than a high school diploma have fallen so far behind college graduates in their economic lives that the earnings gap between college grads and everyone else has reached its widest point on record. The growing disparity has become a source of frustration for millions of Americans worried that they -- and their children -- are losing economic ground. College graduates, on average, earned 56 percent more than high school grads in 2015, according to data compiled by the Economic Policy Institute. That was up from 51 percent in 1999 and is the largest such gap in EPI's figures dating to 1973.
Colleges struggle to provide ongoing treatment as demands for mental health services increases
National and campus awareness campaigns about mental health have led to increasing numbers of students who seek help at college counseling centers, according to a new report released by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health. That increase in demand, however, may be leading counseling centers to redirect their limited funding away from ongoing treatment in order to more rapidly address the needs of a growing number of at-risk students. Over the last six years, counseling centers have provided 28 percent more "rapid-access" service hours per student, the center found, and devoted 7.6 percent fewer hours to routine services like ongoing counseling.
Lawmakers in 2 States Propose Bills to Cut Tenure
Republican lawmakers in at least two states -- Sen. Brad Zaun of Iowa and state Rep. Rick Brattin of Missouri -- proposed bills this month that would eliminate the tenure system at public colleges and universities. Missouri House Bill 266 isn't exclusively about cutting tenure. The bill would also require public colleges to publish estimated costs of degrees, employment opportunities expected for graduates, average salaries of previous graduates, and a summary of the job market, among other things. In Iowa, Mr. Zaun's bill focuses specifically on getting rid of tenure in public universities and community colleges, giving the Iowa Board of Regents more power, and establishing a program to hire more female faculty in "targeted shortage areas."
Legislation in two states seeks to eliminate tenure in public higher education
Lawmakers in two states this week introduced legislation that would eliminate tenure for public college and university professors. A bill in Missouri would end tenure for all new faculty hires starting in 2018 and require more student access to information about the job market for majors. Legislation in Iowa would end tenure even for those who already have it. The bills, along with the recent gutting of tenure in Wisconsin and other events, have some worrying about a trend. "These are serious attempts to undermine universities and the role of universities in society," said Hans-Joerg Tiede, senior program officer for academic freedom, tenure and shared governance at the American Association of University Professors. "If they're not directly coordinated, there's a strong current going through all of them."
Wealthy Graduate Students Pursue More High-Paying Degrees
More Americans are pursuing graduate degrees, but students from wealthier backgrounds are most likely to earn the degrees that pay the most, a new report published by the Urban Institute shows. "I think that the idea that people from low-income backgrounds are so unlikely ever to get to medical school or law school is definitely a problem," said Sandy Baum, a scholar on the economics of higher education and a co-writer of the report. Between 1993 and 2008 the overall number of bachelor's degree holders who enrolled in a graduate program within four years of completing their undergraduate studies ticked up from 34 percent to 39 percent. Despite making up just 14 percent of the current higher-education population, graduate students represented 40 percent of the $1.3 trillion dollars-worth of student-loan debt in 2014.
Thurgood Marshall College Fund defends accepting Koch money
Is billionaire libertarian investor Charles Koch using money with strings attached to co-opt the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, a supporter of historically black colleges and universities? Or are the two parties strange bedfellows united by a surprisingly common purpose? Those questions were debated Thursday after the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, a national group supporting public and private HBCUs, announced a $25.6 million gift from the Charles Koch Foundation and Koch Industries. The fund is using the money, which will be disbursed over five years, to launch a new Center for Advancing Opportunity that will focus on education, criminal justice, entrepreneurship and other issues affecting what it calls fragile communities. The center will create think tanks on HBCU campuses, establish scholarships, set up graduate fellowships and make grants to faculty members.

Teaira McCowan Leads No. 4 Mississippi State Over Florida 82-49
Teaira McCowan has had some dominant performances during her two years in college. They were almost always against nonconference opponents that were already totally overmatched. Now the 6-foot-7 sophomore is starting to overwhelm opponents in the Southeastern Conference. McCowan scored a career-high 25 points, Victoria Vivians added 21 and No. 4 Mississippi State cruised to an 82-49 victory over Florida on Thursday night. The Bulldogs (18-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) tied a school record for most wins without a loss to start a season, matching their previous mark set during the 2014-15 season. The Bulldogs host rival Mississippi on Monday.
Teaira McCowan leads No. 4 Mississippi State past Florida; Bulldogs now 18-0
Vic Schaefer repeated his postgame ritual by circling specific numbers on the box score. Thursday night he thought he found an error in Teaira McCowan's shooting percentage. "I can't think of the one she missed," Schaefer said. "The last one? That would be the one I said don't shoot." The Gators' only answer was to collapse four defenders on the 6-foot-7 center. The unsustainable strategy allowed McCowan to score a career-high on 12 consecutive made shots in No. 4 Mississippi State's 82-49 win in Humphrey Coliseum.
Mississippi State's Dan Mullen talks Todd Grantham hire, coaching vacancies
Video: Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen was the keynote speaker at the Daily Journal Fall Sports Banquet in Tupelo on Thursday. Mullen took a few minutes to talk about his latest hire of Todd Grantham as defensive coordinator and what his plans are for the two remaining vacancies on his staff.
Vetting process ongoing in Southern Miss AD search
The search for Southern Miss' next athletic director has not yet reached the interview stage. The process is, however, "progressing as expected to this point," according to university spokesman Jim Coll. University president Rodney Bennett told the Hattiesburg American last month he expected to have someone in place toward the end of January. Eastman and Beaudine, the national search firm Bennett hired to help identify potential candidates after Bill McGillis announced his resignation on Dec. 19, 2016, is still working through the vetting process, Coll said. "The search has attracted a broad and strong applicant pool, as the position is proving to be a desirable opportunity," he added. The next step in the search will be the interview process. Coll said Bennett is in the midst of forming a committee to further assist with the vetting of candidates.
Southern Miss: Search to find new AD on schedule
The search to find a new athletic director at Southern Miss is running on schedule, according to an update released by the university on Thursday. USM president Rodney Bennett originally said in December that he hoped to have a new athletic director in place by the end of January. "My understanding is that the search is progressing as expected to this point," USM spokesman Jim Coll said in a statement. USM is in search of a replacement for Bill McGillis, who is stepping down to take over as the University of San Diego athletic director on Jan. 23. Eastman and Beaudine, a search firm, is currently helping Bennett identify candidates for the position. The firm is also vetting candidates who have applied for the position.

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