Monday, January 30, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
Diversity gets broader definition at Mississippi State
Conversations about diversity on university campuses typically center on racial and gender issues. But international diversity is becoming a priority. At Mississippi State, international diversity is a challenge, says Karin Lee, director of international recruitment and retention at MSU. "Last year, international students had an economic impact on Mississippi to the tune of $78.1 million dollars with $18.3 million dollars coming to Mississippi State University," she says. These students also introduce a global perspective to state campuses. Lee spoke at the 5th annual diversity conference organized this week by Mississippi State University's President's Commission on the Status of Minorities. There is a financial as well as cultural incentive to bring international students to Mississippi campuses. Because the state continues to reduce funding for higher education, universities need to put more effort into international outreach, said Lee.
Starkville unveils retail study analysis
Thanks to a new study, Starkville city officials now know that several key consumer groups in Starkville have $608 million in purchasing power. Those same groups spend more than a half-billion dollars in retail shopping in Starkville. The report uses data Mississippi State University's National Strategic Planning and Analysis Center (NSPARC) compiled while conducting a retail survey. The analysis used responses from 1,774 completed surveys, which were administered online and by phone. Mayor Parker Wiseman, along with NSPARC representatives, unveiled the report at a public gathering Friday morning in City Hall. NSPARC Executive Director Mimmo Parisi said the study speaks to Starkville's increasing diversification, and the data can be used to help attract different businesses to address the growing number of needs in the community.
Study shows $608M in Starkville retail expenditure
Target and Olive Garden are the two most requested businesses for Starkville , according to a consumer spending survey completed by the National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center at Mississippi State. However, the study went much deeper than business hopes, and reported that Starkville has more than half a billion in retail expenditures, totaling $608 million. The figure was broken down as follows: $80 million from MSU students, $44 million from MSU faculty and staff, $236 million from Starkville residents, $56 million from MSU alumni and season ticket holders and $192 million from Starkville visitors. "Basic market research has a difficult time getting a handle on exactly what the spending patterns are, particularly of those groups -- students, visiting alumni/tourists, etc. -- are in a place like this," Wiseman said. "Since that's a major part of our market, we entrusted Dr. (Mimmo) Parisi (NSPARC director) with NSPARC and his staff nearly two years ago to help us with a project that could further define that."
Air Force ROTC at Mississippi State reaps top honor
Mississippi State University's Air Force ROTC detachment has received the national 2016 Team Excellence Award for AFROTC, topping 145 other units for the honor, the Department of the Air Force's Headquarters Air Force ROTC announced. The national award comes shortly after Detachment 425 earned the Air Force ROTC Team Excellence Award for the Air Force ROTC Southwest Region. The detachment is under the command of Lt. Col. Joseph Cassidy, a professor of aerospace studies in MSU's College of Arts and Sciences. MSU's Air Force ROTC unit was chosen for the award based on a wide variety of achievements, including university service, community service and cadet training performance at a national level field training or "boot camp" event.
Mississippi State grads have that Oscar 'Glo'
Hagan Walker and Kaylie Mitchell are about three-quarters of the way to Hollywood. The pair of entrepreneurs, both recent Mississippi State graduates, have been invited to show off their product, "Glo," -- a lighted cube added to drinks -- at a celebrity gift event before the Academy Awards in Los Angeles on Feb. 25. Their product will be featured in front of more than 100 invited guests, including celebrities, models, actors, singers and entertainment executives. As is often the case with small start-ups, there was no money available for the trip, so Mitchell turned to the crowd-funding company GoFundMe. "This event could prove to be a very pivotal moment for our start-up and launch us onward to success," Mitchell wrote on the GoFundMe account. In the almost two years since Walker and Mitchell began their collaboration, the idea evolved from a classroom assignment to a bona-fide start-up company -- Vibe -- first operating at the MSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach business incubator at the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park.
Dynamic duo of fine cuisine and art pair for Collegiate Recovery Community fundraiser
Two of Mississippi's well-known talents are teaming up to boost awareness and fundraising that helps students in recovery succeed in college. Renowned restaurateur Robert St. John is an artist with food. Wyatt Waters is acclaimed for his watercolors reflecting life in the South. Both will be featured in Arts & Action, a fundraiser for the Mississippi State University Collegiate Recovery Community Sunday, Feb. 12 at Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point. St. John and Waters have collaborated on several best-selling books that blend cuisine and recipes with impressive artwork. The Collegiate Recovery Community (CRC) at MSU provides comprehensive support services to students in recovery from drugs, alcohol and all process additions, say organizers. One of its functions is to raise money to provide scholarships.
More than 160 employers coming for Mississippi State spring Career Days
Mississippi State students and alumni will have opportunities Tuesday and Wednesday to share resumes and shake hands with employer representatives from around the country. Leslie Neal, marketing and events manager for the university's Career Center, said approximately 163 recruiters will be coming for the university's annual spring Career Days. The noon-4 p.m. activities take place at Humphrey Coliseum. As always, the professional gathering is free and open to all academic majors, and preregistration is not required. Tuesday is being designated for all majors, while Wednesday will focus specifically on engineering and technical careers.
International University of Rabat Wins Award for Partnership with Mississippi State
The 2017 IIE Heiskell Awards for Innovation in International Education of the American Institute of International Education was awarded to the International University of Rabat and its American academic partner Mississippi State University. The UIR and MSU were rewarded for their innovation in the field of higher education through their double-degree partnership in the field of automotive engineering, initiated since 2014, said a statement by the University. An independent not-for-profit founded in 1919, the American Institute of International Education is among the world's largest and most experienced international education and training organizations.
Candidates chase open mayoral seats in Oxford, Starkville
Incumbent mayors in north Mississippi's major college towns are stepping aside and leaving wide-open races to replace them. In Starkville, that race has yielded a crowded field. So far, three Democratic candidates have qualified to replace outgoing Mayor Parker Wiseman. But in Oxford only one candidate has appeared to replace the outgoing Mayor George "Pat" Patterson: current first-term Ward 2 Alderman Robyn Tannehill has qualified as a Democrat. In Starkville, the Democratic candidates are Johnny Moore, an attorney; Damion Poe, a human resources recruiter; and Lynn Spruill, a property manager and former chief administrative officer for the city of Starkville. After two terms, Wiseman has said he won't seek re-election in order to spend more time with his family.
Unemployment rate up slightly for December
State and local unemployment rates ticked up last months, but state officials say that's part of an expected seasonal trend. Mississippi's non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 5.7 percent in December, compared to 5.2 percent the month before, according to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security's monthly labor report. Clay, Lowndes and Oktibbeha counties all saw increased unemployment rates in December. County unemployment data is not seasonally adjusted. Clay rose to 7.7 percent from 6.9 percent; Lowndes to 5.9 percent from 5.6 percent; and Oktibbeha to 5.6 percent from 4.6 percent. An MDES official said the non-adjusted rate historically rises again in January, as some colleges don't resume classes until after Jan. 12, when data collection for the month finishes. However, she said it typically falls in February and following months.
Why are Mississippi's small-town newspapers thriving?
Mississippi, a state with 82 counties, has 89 weekly newspapers. There is a common thread among the weeklies. "We want people to know what's going on and how it's going to affect their lives," says Emma Crisler, editor and publisher of the Port Gibson Reveille. "People will come by the paper and ask, 'What's happened this week?' They're still excited about what's coming out in the paper." Scott Boyd, 58, editor and publisher of The Beacon in Macon, says his paper's role in Noxubee County is simple: "We're here to inform and educate the public as much as possible, and to document history as it happens." While the newspaper industry has struggled in recent years, Ray Mosby has never fretted much about The Deer Creek Pilot's well being. Its circulation is 1,450 across Sharkey and Issaquena counties, which have a combined population of approximately 6,400 and rank among the poorest counties in the state.
Army contract means more work at Olin/Winchester plant in Oxford
A nearly $91 million extension to an Army contract means more work at the Olin/Winchester centerfire ammunition plant in Oxford. A Pentagon list of military contracts signed Friday includes a $90.8 million modification to a contract for 5.56mm, 7l.62mm and .50-caliber ammunition cartridges. Olin dedicated its $100 million, 500,000-square-foot centerfire manufacturing plant in Oxford in 2011. Olin opened its rimfire and military packing operations in Lafayette County in 2005. The company employs some 1,400 people at its facilities.
Casino planned for Leake County
The Choctaw Tribal Council passed a resolution allowing for a casino to be built in Leake County. The 16 member Choctaw Tribal Council, which represents all Choctaw communities, voted to approve the measure 9 to 7, WAPT reported. The new Red Water Casino will provide 200 jobs and will have a 35,800 square foot gaming facility with 500 slot machines, 10 tables and dining. The casino is expected to take about a year to complete.
Smaller States Rejoice as Amazon Finally Collects Sales Tax
Many online shoppers in the United States have for years had to pay state sales taxes whenever they buy goods from Amazon. But the Seattle giant has dragged its feet on collecting sales taxes in small and sparsely populated states where it doesn't have a physical presence. That's quickly changing this year. And state governments looking to balance their beleaguered budgets are rejoicing as they brace for a boost of tax revenue from Amazon sales. Customers in at least 10 states will begin paying sales taxes on Amazon purchases for the first time this winter. Tax collection begins Wednesday in half those states: Mississippi, Missouri, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont.
Bills would repeal all agency rules every 5 years
The Mississippi Legislature could be ramping up its deregulation efforts as illustrated by bills to repeal all state agency rules every five years. That, or, as some political observers speculate, such bills, both in the House and Senate, might be designed to bolster the power of the next governor, a position for which Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves is expected to vie. Senate Appropriations Chairman Buck Clarke, R-Hollandale, authored one of the bills with the idea of applying repealers, like the ones state lawmakers use in many bills, to all administrative rules and regulations. That is, thousands of pages of rules would expire five years after each rule's initial adoption. Agency heads like Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney said the measure could bring unintended consequences.
Bill calls for appointed Mississippi Department of Transportation head
One Golden Triangle representative is hoping to do away with the Mississippi Department of Transportations' elected commissioners. The 535-page House Bill 877, filed by District 37 Rep. Gary Chism (R-Columbus), seeks to abolish the three-member Mississippi Transportation Commission and replace it with one appointed commissioner of transportation. MDOT currently has three elected commissioners, each representing either the northern, central or southern portion of the state. The commission approves department policy and appoints MDOT's executive director, who oversees the department's operations. Chism, in an interview with The Dispatch, said he thinks that model is outdated.
EdBuild plan would reduce school funding by $96M
The recommendations made by New Jersey-based EdBuild to rewrite the state's school funding formula would provide $96 million less to local districts than a fully funded Mississippi Adequate Education Program, based on an in-depth analysis by the Associated Press. Both Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who presides over the Senate, and House Speaker Philip Gunn say any speculation about what a rewrite of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program would look like is pointless and premature. Reeves and Gunn hired the non-profit EdBuild for $100,000 in October to make recommendations on rewriting the Adequate Education Program, which they described as an outdated and ineffective funding formula. Gunn and Reeves now say not to read too much into the recommendations.
State, federal Medicaid debates closely watched
The people who take care of Medicaid recipients are watching both state and federal lawmakers closely. In the short term, Mississippi legislators have to handle a nearly $90 million deficit in the state's funding. Any cuts trigger decreases in federal matching funds and cuts to providers. For the longer term, they are watching debates at the federal level, where shifting Medicaid funding to federal block grants could significantly reshape the money available. In Mississippi, Medicaid touches one in four people, including poor children, the disabled and grandparents in nursing homes. It takes $5.88 billion to cover more than 779,000 Mississippians.
Rural areas would feel transportation cuts most
Rural areas of the state are the ones most likely to suffer if the Legislature cuts state transportation funding. That's the conclusion offered this week by Mississippi Department of Transportation's Executive Director Melinda McGrath when asked at a Senate Appropriation subcommittee about the impact of a possible $50 million cut to the agency's budget. "The cut would be felt by the rural counties," McGrath said. The reason, McGrath said, is that much of the state's transportation budget is composed of federal funds that can only be used on projects that meet federal guidelines. Projects on rural roads rarely meet those standards, making such projects dependent on on funding from the state fuel tax, she said.
Sen. Gray Tollison, R-Oxford, opposes plan to dissolve Mississippi Arts Commission
State Senator Gray Tollison (R-Oxford) is on the side of the Mississippi Arts Commission and funding for the arts in Mississippi, including Oxford and Lafayette County in particular. Tollison told The EAGLE he is opposed to "any legislation that relegates MAC to a government agency that serves an important but different role for our state. MAC needs to remain as an independent board." Tollison was speaking in reference to a bill that emerged in the Mississippi Senate this week that proposed disbanding the Mississippi Arts Commission and making it a part of the Mississippi Development Authority. Many local arts supporters are concerned that such a move would hurt local funding for many cultural institutions, including the Oxford Film Festival, Double Decker Arts Festival, Thacker Mountain Radio and the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council.
Sen. Sally Doty, R-Brookhaven, studying bill that would give governor more power
Senate Bill 2567, which was passed this past week by the Senate Appropriations Committee, would allow Gov. Phil Bryant to appoint the directors of the departments of health, mental health and rehabilitation services. The bill now awaits debate before the Senate, and Sen. Sally Doty, R-Brookhaven, is doing her homework. "I'm still gathering information on this bill," said Sen. Sally Doty, R-Brookhaven. "While several state agencies already have executive directors that are appointed by the governor, others work through boards with members appointed in various ways. A cabinet-style administration like this bill proposes is certainly a big step." Doty doesn't expect Senate Bill 2567 to come up for another week or so. "I'll be talking with various groups until then to get more information and make my decision," she said.
Bill would let judges sentence offenders to work programs
Mississippi lawmakers are considering legislation that would allow judges to sentence nonviolent offenders to a work detail. House Bill 916 would give a county or circuit judge the ability to sentence an offender to a Joint County-State Work Program if the district attorney and sheriff in the jurisdiction agree. Currently, such offenders have the option to work. Tuesday is the deadline for committees to pass bills, but the fate of the bill is uncertain. "I think it is a good bill," said House Corrections Chairman Bill Kinkade, R-Byhalia, following a committee meeting Friday. Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Marshall Fisher, however, has reservations.
Mississippi congressmen on key committees
Gulf Coast lawmakers are serving on key committees this Congress that could have a major impact on regional issues, including energy, infrastructure and sex trafficking. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Mississippi, again chairs the powerful Appropriations Committee. Rep. Garret Graves, R-Louisiana, serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Martha Roby, R-Alabama, takes a new seat on the House Judiciary Committee. With Republican President Donald Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress, Gulf Coast lawmakers believe they have a better chance to push through their agenda. Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, who recently led the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has been named a part of the GOP leadership team.
Mississippi Masala: How Vish Bhatt, A Native Of India, Became A Southern Cooking Star
Oxford, Miss., is a town steeped in Southern identity. "In many ways this is an archetypal Southern town," says John T. Edge, director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, which is based in Oxford. "There's a courthouse square at the center, there are beautiful homes with rolling lawns framing it." And there's the University of Mississippi, known as Ole Miss, a campus once rocked by deadly riots over racial integration. To some, Oxford might seem an unlikely place for a native of India to achieve star status as a chef. But Vishwesh Bhatt -- or Vish, as everyone calls him -- isn't exactly cooking Indian food. He's the chef at Snackbar, an upscale restaurant that serves Southern and French food with a twist. He uses traditional Southern ingredients, like catfish, grits or mac and cheese --- but he prepares them using flavors and techniques of his native India.
Ole Miss fraternity initiates Oxford's Ed Meek 59 years after pledge
A story of friendship and brotherhood that began at Ole Miss almost six decades ago comes full circle Sunday when Oxford's Ed Meek is initiated into a fraternity on campus. The 76-year-old Meek is being initiated into Sigma Nu, a fraternity he briefly pledged as a freshman at Ole Miss in 1958, with encouragement of the late legislator George Payne Cossar, before dropping out weeks later due to cost. But decades of lasting friendships and a sort of unofficial membership will now be formalized with Meek becoming a part of Sigma Nu's Epsilon Xi chapter at Ole Miss, which includes alumni Trent Lott, Roger Wicker, Eddie and Johnny Maloney, and Archie and Eli Manning. Meek is being initiated with the Ole Miss Sigma Nu 2016-2017 student class that just completed pledging -- even though he pledged 59 years ago.
200 years of statehood: Ole Miss puts history on display for bicentennial
Every year is a birthday year, but this one is special. The state of Mississippi will turn 200 years old on Dec. 10. As 2017 progresses, bicentennial events will happen throughout the state, which was the 20th to join the United States of America. The J.D. Williams Library at the University of Mississippi kicked off its observance on Jan. 9 with the opening of a year-long exhibit, "Mississippi: 200 Years of Statehood." "It's overwhelming to think about 200 years of history," said Jennifer Ford, head of special collections and professor at Ole Miss. "We focused on themes, bringing out as many subjects as possible."
Vitter's flagship vision sets Ole Miss on new course
During his first year in office, University of Mississippi Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter accomplished something no other leader of a university in the state has: appointing a vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement. "For many years, we have been in the process to add (such a role). Chancellor Vitter brought it to the forefront to make it happen," says Dr. Donald Cole, assistant provost at the university. "Diversity is a multifaceted component -- academics, race, profession, sexual orientation, etc. It is in these areas where you bring different ideas and perspectives that make us a more imaginative and innovative community," says Vitter.
Incident report shows rape allegation at SAE party at USM
University of Southern Mississippi police officials investigated an allegation of sexual battery, issued a citation for providing alcohol to a person under 21 and issued a Community Alcohol Violation for serving a drink called "Jungle Juice" after the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity held a homecoming party Oct. 29. The university has taken disciplinary action against the approximately 30-member fraternity in connection with the party, barring it from hosting social events and placing it on disciplinary probation through spring semester 2018. There are also ongoing investigations and the possibility of more sanctions, the details of which university legal personnel said cannot be divulged under federal law. So far, no criminal charges have resulted from the campus police investigation.
Hotel at Auburn University begins construction on new porte cochere
Construction is underway on improvements to the entrance of the Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center on College Street, including a new porte cochere. The structure will be primarily glass, allowing natural light to reach under the canopy and throughout the lobby. There will be space for four cars under the porte cochere, creating covered space for guests to arrive and unload protected from the elements, said Hans van der Reijden, managing director of the hotel. Fans and heaters will help regulate temperatures under the structure, and a valet service, which has previously been available during events, will be available for guests. The service, along with the canopy, are all responses to customer feedback given in surveys.
As Arkansas Scholarship Lottery's Luster Fades, Numbers Signal Challenges
The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery is, of course, a numbers game. Digits appear on scratch-off cards and the balls used in Powerball drawings; they light up on cash registers of retailers selling tickets and dance in the eyes of players hoping to hit it big. But in the years since the first tickets were sold in 2009, the lottery has lost much of its glossy newness, leaving hard numbers to do the talking. The lottery unquestionably provides big money for its beneficiaries -- hundreds of millions to college scholarship recipients, prize winners, marketers and vendors. But proceeds from the games, devised to provide scholarships for Arkansas high school graduates to attend Arkansas colleges, slumped for three straight years before an uptick last year. And fiscal 2016 operating revenue -- $456.3 million as opposed to the peak of nearly $474 million in 2012 -- was aided by a frenzy over the largest Powerball jackpot ever, a $1.6 billion prize a year ago.
U. of Florida under investigation in Title IX complaint
The U.S. Department of Education is investigating whether the University of Florida mishandled a sexual violence report. The investigation is led by the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights, which enforces anti-discrimination laws that include Title IX. "University of Florida is committed to Title IX compliance, including clear standards of student conduct and a fair student conduct process for all students involved," UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said in an emailed statement. "We are fully cooperating with OCR in its investigation."
Plans for LSU campus redesign mark Middleton Library for demolition
The 59-year-old Middleton Library that sits in the middle of The Quad at LSU would be demolished under plans presented Friday to the LSU Board of Supervisors. The board got a sneak peek at the comprehensive plan to redesign the Baton Rouge campus over the next few decades. Among the high points is the removal of the modern-styled building that was opened in September 1958 in the middle of the Italianate buildings that were constructed in the 1920s. About 2 million square feet would be replaced with the removal of several building on campus and the construction of others. Lockett Hall, which was built in the 1970s and is home for many math classes, is another slated to be torn down if the Board approves the final Master Plan, which will be presented, along with a timeline and budget over the summer. "Removal of Middleton and Lockett, that's spectacular," Board member J. Stephen Perry said. "This is like a dream."
U. of South Carolina to erect statue of its first African-American professor
Richard T. Greener was little remembered in Columbia for almost 150 years. Then, in 2012, Greener's law degree and law license were found in a Chicago house that was being demolished. And Greener and the University of South Carolina were reunited. Monday, USC will celebrate Greener, its first African-American professor. And, next fall, Greener, who taught classics, math and constitutional history at USC from 1873-77, will become the first historical figure to be immortalized with a statue on USC's downtown Columbia campus. USC is hosting a free celebration of Greener's life at 4 p.m. Monday at the Hollings Special Collections Library, hoping to raise money for the statue and an endowment that would pay for future public lectures and programs that "reflect Greener's pioneering spirit and contributions."
Texas A&M study: Consumer's perception of self influences costs
Looking at a world full of celebrity-promoted healthy cookbooks and Instagram feeds flooded with pictures of food, a group of Texas A&M economists set out to see how much of going to the grocery store is about nutritional need and how much is about social status. "We can see that there are many areas in which people consume products because of the prestige these products bring," said Marco Palma, who wrote the study with colleagues David Anderson and Meghan Ness from Texas A&M's department of agricultural economics. "So we are trying to determine whether this phenomenon is something that might explain, at least in part, the rise of eating healthy." The study, published in the Applied Economics journal, looks at the ways in which people get a sense of prestige from buying goods and how that affects how much they are willing to pay for specialty food products.
Higher education leaders denounce Trump's travel ban
Many higher education leaders issued statements over the weekend in response to the Trump administration's executive order to ban immigrants and nonimmigrant visitors from seven countries, which are majority Muslim, from entering the United States. They criticized the ban for the disruption it caused to students and scholars and for confusion around the order and its implementation and, in many cases, expressed moral outrage. The speed and volume of the response by the large number of colleges and academic groups -- some without a tradition of quickly weighing in on political developments -- was highly unusual.
What You Need to Know About Colleges and the Immigration Ban
President Trump's executive order Friday that bars all refugees from entering the United States, as well as citizens from seven majority-Muslim countries, prompted colleges to frantically start trying to determine what it meant for them. The order touches many different parts of academe. Students, professors, and researchers traveling internationally found themselves in limbo. Of the more than 15,000 international students who are directly affected by the order, roughly 12,000 are from Iran. Even if academics weren't personally affected by the order, their work might be. Ph.D. programs seeking to recruit students from the seven countries will be stymied by the order if it continues.
Students and scholars are stranded after Trump bars travel for nationals from 7 countries
An executive order signed by President Trump late Friday afternoon immediately barring immigrants and nonimmigrant visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. has had immediate effects on scholars and students. More than 17,000 students in the U.S. come from the seven countries affected by the immediate 90-day entry ban: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The American Civil Liberties Union reported late Saturday that a federal judge had granted its request to temporarily block the deportations of individuals from the seven countries who found themselves trapped in airports nationwide after the ban went into effect. The entry ban, however, remains in place.
Rod Paige at Jackson State to make tough cuts
The Clarion-Ledger's Sam R. Hall writes: "During his recent editorial board meeting, Rod Paige pretty clearly illustrated the depth of the financial morass in which Jackson State University finds itself. Of course, the fact the 83-year-old former U.S. secretary of education was lured to the position of interim university president was a strong indicator some difficult decisions lie ahead. The College Board was not looking for a babysitter until a new president could be hired. They were looking for someone who could come in, clean up an incredible mess and leave the next president with something of a road map for the future. Certainly the future president of JSU will be thankful if Paige were successful. But as Paige sat in our board room deliberately and thoughtfully answering each question, he rarely veered from one theme."
Legislators should take hard look at university admissions
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: "USM cut out-of-state tuition by 40 percent 'to reverse a 2,000-student enrollment dip by pricing a USM education below some public universities in nearby states,' reported the Clarion-Ledger. IHL data shows the average percentage of out-of-state students attending Mississippi public universities is 30 percent. The averages for each university are ASU 24 percent, DSU 17 percent, JSU 23 percent, MSU 34 percent, MUW 15 percent, MVSU 23 percent, UM 41 percent, USM 21 percent."
Is Amazon delivering Christmas in January?
The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender writes: "Amazon's announcement last week that it would begin collecting and remitting a 7 percent tax on its Mississippi online sales was viewed by many at the Capitol as a windfall, or even godsend, for the anemic state budget. Christmas in January. ...Regardless of further DOR action or legislation, the state will soon see another substantial stream of revenue, and state leaders can say they did not -- technically -- raise taxes or create a new one. The state use tax --- technically owed by the buyer, not the seller -- has been on the books for decades, and many say online sellers should have been collecting it long before. And the state has taxed gambling ever since it legalized it."
Amazon sales tax negotiation was a victory for taxpayers, small business
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "The political tea leaves were rather easy to read on the topic of last week's blockbuster announcement that Amazon was the first major online retailer to volunteer to begin collecting Mississippi's 7 percent sales tax -- technically a 'use tax' -- on Feb. 1. The issue had been gaining steam for years. But the intersection of falling political dominoes in surrounding states and the realization that Mississippi could no longer forego millions in state revenue due the state that brought the issue to a head. Nationally, Amazon led online sellers in realizing that their choice was to negotiate a settlement and voluntarily remit sales taxes before states change their laws to compel them to pay."

Fourth-ranked Bulldogs return to win column against Aggies
The Mississippi State women's basketball team might have found someone to take a little bit of the scoring load off the shoulders of Victoria Vivians. Three days after MSU coach Vic Schaefer said the Bulldogs might need other players to share more of the scoring burden with Vivians, Roshunda Johnson responded with an effort that said she is ready. The Oklahoma State transfer scored seven of her nine points in a span of 2 minutes, 58 seconds in the fourth quarter to help push No. 4 MSU to a 71-61 victory against Texas A&M before a crowd of 7,780 at Humphrey Coliseum.
No. 4 Mississippi State defeats Texas A&M
Mississippi State star Victoria Vivians -- inexplicably -- was wide open in the corner during the second quarter, caught a pass and drained a 3-pointer. Texas A&M coach Gary Blair frowned, took off his coat and tossed it toward the bench in disgust. His Aggies were giving the Bulldogs a tough game in front of a hostile crowd, but mistakes like that meant there would be no road upset. Vivians scored 18 points, Teaira McCowan and Morgan William both added 10 and No. 4 Mississippi State survived a hard-fought game to beat Texas A&M 71-61 on Sunday. "That was two really good teams and I knew it was going to be like that," Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said.
No. 5 Mississippi State uses big second period to beat Texas A&M
Texas A&M coach Gary Blair looked to his bench with a facial expression that suggested he just took a sip of the world's most bitter beer after Victoria Vivians made a wide-open 3-pointer in the second period. In frustration, the 71-year-old then removed his navy blue suit jacket. "Take this," he told an Aggies staffer. That's the kind of reaction No. 5 Mississippi State typically prompts from its opponents once it gets on a roll with crisp offensive sets, ball movement and aggressive defense. Such was the case in the second period of MSU's 71-61 win against Texas A&M at Humphrey Coliseum on Sunday.
Mississippi State Notebook: Second quarter lifts Bulldogs past Aggies
There's something about the second quarter that brings out the best in the Mississippi State women's basketball team. No. 4 MSU needed a bounce-back second 10 minutes after Texas A&M took a 20-15 lead. The Aggies set the tone by shooting 7 of 11 in the first quarter, while the Bulldogs were 6 of 17 from the field. But the script flipped in the second quarter, as MSU was 9 of 17 from the field and Texas A&M was 3 of 11. As a result, MSU outscored Texas A&M 26-9 in the quarter. The margin proved to be the difference in MSU's 71-61 victory before a crowd of 7,780 at Humphrey Coliseum. "The second quarter was big," MSU coach Vic Schaefer said. It was kind of like the Texas game back in November. We had something very similar."
Texas A&M coach Gary Blair proud of Mississippi State growth
It's safe to call Gary Blair an icon. Being a member of six Hall of Fames, including the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, would suffice to secure someone an integral spot in the history of the sport. But aside from the 25 20-win seasons, the 10 Sweet 16 appearances, and seven championships, including a NCAA national title in 2011 as head coach at Texas A&M, Blair has been one of the best ambassadors for women's basketball ever since he entered the college ranks as an assistant coach at Louisiana Tech in 1980. In that time, Blair has helped build programs at Stephen F. Austin, Arkansas, and Texas A&M, so he knows the grass roots work it takes to get women's basketball noticed. Blair sees the work Vic Schaefer, his former assistant and associate head coach at Arkansas and Texas A&M, has put in at Mississippi State and he couldn't be more proud. He also is excited for the sport to see a crowd of 7,780 come out Sunday to see No. 4 MSU defeat Texas A&M 71-61 at Humphrey Coliseum.
State's depth knocks out Texas A&M
Sports columnist Rick Cleveland writes for Mississippi Today: "After fourth-ranked Mississippi State defeated Texas A & M 71-61 here Sunday afternoon, coaches and players lined up for the customary handshakes and high-fives. It took State head coach Vic Schaefer far longer to make it through the line than normal. Handshakes and high-fives were replaced with what appeared heartfelt hugs instead. The conversations obviously went far deeper than, 'Good game.' 'They are still family,' Schaefer would say later. ...It was a big day for State, coming off a heart-breaking first loss to South Carolina Tuesday night. It was a big day for Vic Schaefer. And Gary Blair, truth be known, probably took some pride in seeing first-hand what Schaefer has created at State."
U. of Missouri hires attorney for academic fraud investigation
The University of Missouri hired lawyer Mike Glazier to lead an investigation into former tutor Yolanda Kumar's allegations of academic fraud. Glazier is a managing member of the Overland Park-based law firm Bond, Schoeneck & King. Glazier specializes in NCAA infractions, eligibility and compliance matters and worked seven years as an NCAA attorney. Glazier has represented over 100 intercollegiate athletic programs, according to his biography on the firm's website. Missouri and the NCAA are conducting a joint investigation into allegations made by Yolanda Kuma, a former tutor at the university. She has said she took online classes or tests, or helped with tests for 15 student athletes, all of which violates NCAA rules
Trump's Immigration Order Could Have a Big Impact on Sports
President Trump's ban on visitors from seven predominantly Muslim nations could have a wide impact on international sports, including jeopardizing a warm relationship between the United States and Iran in wrestling competitions and threatening the chances of Los Angeles hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics and of the United States securing soccer's 2026 World Cup. On Saturday, sports officials struggled to understand the implications of Mr. Trump's executive order, including the question of whether athletes from the targeted nations could enter the United States to compete, especially in the initial 90-day period of the ban. While Olympic boycotts have resulted from tense political differences between nations, opposing countries have also long found common ground on playing fields, on the track and in sports arenas.

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