Thursday, February 9, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
 
MSU-Meridian adds Bachelor of Accountancy degree
Mississippi State University Meridian has long been a source of excellence in accounting instruction. This fall, the Division of Business there has taken a step further in the opportunities it offers to students. Previously, students in Meridian have earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a concentration in accounting. Beginning this semester, a Bachelor of Accountancy degree will be offered. "Now we're seamless with Starkville," notes Dr. Kevin Ennis, Associate Professor of Accounting. Ennis, who has taught at Meridian since 1995, handles the Tax, Audit and Cost Accounting courses. The Division of Business is housed on MSU-Meridian's Riley campus, in the city's business district.
 
Stopping herbicide drift a priority for industry, researchers
With new herbicide systems such as Roundup Ready Xtend and Enlist Weed Control expected on millions of acres in 2017, managing the threat of herbicide drift is an industry priority. Mississippi State University and University of Nebraska weed scientists conducted drift reduction studies in 2015 and 2016 looking at hooded-boom versus traditional open-boom sprayers with various nozzle tips. Their findings showed that, with all droplet sizes, the use of a hooded sprayer decreased the amount of particle drift. "The resistant weeds are what's driving everything in the weed-control arena," said Dan Reynolds, weed science professor at Mississippi State. "With those herbicides there are lots of challenges in terms of drift and volatility. We approached this with the use of a Redball hooded sprayer. These trials were conducted for two years, some in Mississippi, some in Nebraska."
 
Scholarship honors Mississippi peanut producer Don Self
Ann Curry, a Mississippi State University biochemistry major from Caruthersville, Mo., has been awarded the Mississippi Peanut Growers Association's first Don Self Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship, to be awarded annually by the MPGA, honors the late Hamilton, Miss., producer Don Self, who was serving as National Peanut Board member from Mississippi at the time of his death in October 2014. The presentation was made by National Peanut Board Chairman Ed White at the 2017 MPGA annual meeting at Mississippi State University. "Don Self was an outstanding farmer, and a tireless advocate for peanuts and agriculture, and his contributions to the industry through his service to our state organization and on the National Peanut Board reflect his dedication and commitment to his chosen profession," said Malcolm Broome, MPGA executive director.
 
School board chooses partnership school bond bid
The Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District Board of Trustees approved a bid for a $16 million bond toward the Starkville/Mississippi State University partnership school and other district projects in a special called meeting Wednesday. Following an executive session with bond attorney Jim Young, the board voted 4-0, with Assistant Secretary Lee Brand Jr. absent, to approve the bonds at 2.8 percent interest through Robert W. Baird and Company. The Baird bid is the second lowest the district received after Regions Bank at 2.56 percent interest. However, the Regions bid was submitted in an incorrect format. "State law set certain requirements for bond bids," Young said. "Our notice of sale set some requirements for the bond bids. We appreciate the Regions bid, but it did not conform with the state law or with our notice." Once complete, the new school will house the district's sixth and seventh grade students and serve as a laboratory for the MSU College of Education.
 
New Starkville road projects draw criticism over funding
Starkville aldermen accepted three Ward 6 roads as public thoroughfares and approved "bare minimum" maintenance projects for them Tuesday but not before board members questioned the fairness of how the city will pay for those fixes and alluded to inappropriate, election-year hijinks. Hendrix, Fannie Dale and Roundhouse roads will soon receive grading and graveling, and similar efforts could be approved for Jessie Road and Treasure Lane once all privately owned right-of-way is deeded to the city. Tuesday's action brings a deal previously struck between the city and Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors to fruition. In September, aldermen approved an inter-local agreement for road and drainage maintenance once the thoroughfares were accepted as public streets.
 
Mississippi attorney general files lawsuits in Chris Epps bribery case
Attorney General Jim Hood announced Wednesday his office has filed 11 civil RICO lawsuits against all corporate and individual conspirators connected to the prison bribery scandal involving former Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps. Hood is seeking damages and punitive damages against the following individuals and corporations: Epps; Cecil McCrory; Robert Simmons; Irb Benjamin; Sam Waggoner; Mark Longoria; Teresa Malone; Carl Reddix; Michael Reddix; Andrew Jenkins; Management & Training Corporation; The GEO Group, Inc.; Cornell Companies, Inc.; Wexford Health Sources, Inc.; The Bantry Group Corporation; AdminPros, L.L.C.; CGL Facility Management, LLC; Mississippi Correctional Management, Inc.; Branan Medical Corporation; Drug Testing Corporation; Global Tel*Link Corporation; Health Assurance, LLC; Keefe Commissary Network, LLC; Sentinel Offender Services, L.L.C. and AJA Management & Technical Services, Inc.
 
House rejects lottery proposal
The House rejected late Wednesday a proposal by Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, aimed at trying to enact a state lottery. The proposal was an amendment that would have prevented legislation establishing fantasy sports regulations from going into effect until a lottery was created. Various efforts are ongoing this session of the Legislature to create a lottery. Gov. Phil Bryant has expressed support, but House Speaker Philip Gunn has remained opposed to the proposal. On a voice vote Wednesday, Gunn ruled that Holland's amendment passed. But primarily lottery supporters stood, anticipating Gunn would rule against them, to demand a roll call vote. On the roll call, the amendment received 40 yes votes and 74 no votes. Those voting for the lottery proposal were primarily Democrats.
 
House lottery attempt killed
A lottery amendment stuffed into a House fantasy sports bill, as well as the original bill, died Wednesday evening. Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn, who strongly opposes a lottery, after several days of deliberation when it was challenged on parliamentary grounds, ruled the fantasy sports bill could be amended to include lottery language. Then, when the lottery amendment was voted on a voice vote, Gunn started to rule that it had succeeded. But Democrats, who supported the lottery measure, were expecting defeat and stood to demand a roll call vote. The amendment was then defeated with 40 for and 74 against. Gunn, before the session started this year, reiterated his opposition to a lottery and said he did not want the House to even vote on the issue.
 
'Sweeps law' patch passes Senate
When lawmakers, attorneys and budget officers put their pens to paper in early summer 2016 to determine how to fix the problematic special fund sweeps law, numerous agency heads already had loudly complained and criticized those very officials. The law, which swept millions in several agencies' special funds into the general fund, created a great deal of confusion among agency chiefs. They worried some services would be interrupted -- concerns which came to fruition in some cases -- and many did not know exactly how much money they had to spend in the new fiscal year. But the group worked to write a single bill that would address dozens of specific problems encountered by several agency heads. The comprehensive, 103-page bill passed the Senate Wednesday morning by a 33-19 vote.
 
Bill: move tidelands from Secretary of State to DMR
A provision deep in a "cleanup bill" to fix issues and release trapped money from last year's special funds sweep by lawmakers would strip state tidelands trust authority from the secretary of state and give it to the Department of Marine Resources. An attempt by Sen. David Blount, D-Jackson, a former longtime employee of the secretary of state's office, to keep the authority with the SOS failed after a lengthy debate in the Senate. Tidelands trust money is collected from leases -- mainly by casinos -- of coastal waterbottoms along the Mississippi Sound. Hosemann's office issued a statement on the DMR tidelands measure, pointing out that the Public Trust Tidelands Fund has provided millions for Coast projects and has been used to buy "a significant part of Cat Island, Deer Island and other acreage for the Coast and its visitors."
 
Bill removing civil service protection hits snag
The effort of the Republican leadership of the Legislature to remove civil service protection for state employees hit a surprising snag Wednesday when House members refused to send the proposal to the Senate. Last week by a 62-57 margin, the House voted to take state employees out from under Personnel Board guidelines that ensures, for instance, they cannot be fired for political reasons. But the bill was held on a motion to reconsider that must be disposed of before the legislation can be transferred to the Senate for consideration. On Wednesday, the members by a 61-59 margin refused to dispose of the motion. The leadership has until Monday to table the motion, or the bill dies.
 
Effort continues to spare civil service protection
A measure to strip civil service protection from state employees remained stalled in the House on Wednesday, with supporters lacking the votes to remove a holding motion and send it on to the Senate. The bill originally passed the House 62-58, but was held on a motion to reconsider. When it came time to try to table the motion to reconsider, that vote failed 59-61. Supporters, however, will have another try. Monday is the deadline for motions on bills to be cleared in order for them to advance to the Senate. State employees have pushed back against the measure,‚Äč lighting up lawmakers' phones and in boxes in opposition.
 
Senate passes its campaign finance reform bill
The Senate unanimously passed its version of campaign finance reform that would restrict politicians using campaign money for personal expenses. "The main question to ask yourself under this is would I do this, or have this expense if I were not running for office or holding office?" said Senate Elections Chairwoman Sally Doty, R-Brookhaven, author of SB2689. The bill passed unanimously Wednesday after a few questions, nearly no debate, and with several lawmakers asking to be added as co-authors of the measure. The House -- after killing campaign finance reform last year -- early in this legislative session passed a similar measure authored by House Speaker Philip Gunn on a vote of 104-12.
 
Mississippi Senate OKs 2 divorce grounds: separation and domestic violence
A couple of new grounds for divorce that caused a ruckus in the Mississippi Senate last year quietly passed this year. If the House concurs, separation and domestic violence will be added to the list of 12 grounds for divorce in the state. "If you remember last year, we discuss this bill at length," said Sen. Sean Tindell, R-Gulfport, who presented the bill. "We met with Sen. (Angela) Turner and other people who had some concerns and limited it to the point where it's two people trying to get a divorce, they've been separated for two years and there are no children under the age 18 still living at home." That bill passed 44-8 with Sens. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, Michael Watson, R-Pascagoula, Gary Jackson, R-French Camp, Chad McMahan, R-Guntown, Mike Seymour, R-Vancleave, Dennis DeBar Jr., R-Leakesville, and Angela Burks Hill, R-Picayune, voting no.
 
Mississippi considers firing squad as method of execution
Mississippi lawmakers are advancing a proposal to add firing squad, electrocution and gas chamber as execution methods in case a court blocks the use of lethal injection drugs. House Bill 638 is a response to lawsuits filed by "liberal, left-wing radicals," said House Judiciary B Committee Chairman Andy Gipson, a Republican. The bill passed the House amid opposition Wednesday, and it moves to the Senate for more debate. Lethal injection is Mississippi's only execution method. The state faces lawsuits claiming the drugs it plans to use would violate constitutional prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment.
 
House raises mandatory school age to 18
The House of Representatives approved a bill changing the compulsory school attendance age from 17 to 18 years old, but stopped short of making kindergarten mandatory. Rep. Jeffrey Guice, R-Ocean Springs, presented House Bill 567 on the floor. Students who have completed the required coursework or obtained a G.E.D. before they turn 17 are exempt from this bill. Rep. Sonya Williams-Barnes, D-Gulfport, attempted to amend the bill to also make kindergarten mandatory. "If we're putting more requirements on our students in 3rd grade for the 3rd grade reading gate, let's ensure that they get an early start," Williams-Barnes said. Her amendment failed.
 
Bill halts hiring relatives of superintendents, principals
A bill removing a provision in the law allowing school districts to hire relatives of the district's superintendents and principals passed the Senate on Wednesday. State law defines a relative as a spouse, child, sibling or parent. The bill would, however, put in place a process for spouses of superintendents to be hired. Senate Bill 2413 says that at the time a new superintendent is hired, his or her spouse may be employed "if and only if the spouse possesses all qualifications required for holding that position at the time the spouse is hired." Once a spouse is hired, the school board must choose a principal to recommend or not recommend the husband or wife for employment. Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory, unsuccessfully attempted to kill the bill by making a motion to recommit it.
 
U.S. States See Favorable Conditions for Gas Tax Hikes
U.S. states where gasoline taxes have not risen in decades are now discussing an increase and conditions might be ripe for the proposed hikes to win approval in state legislatures, tax experts said this week. Low gas prices, a desperate need for revenue to fix crumbling roads, and a post-election period that gives politicians the space to tackle controversial issues have breathed life into efforts to raise the taxes, said Carl Davis, research director at the non-partisan Washington D.C.-based Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. In all, 21 state legislatures will consider bills aimed at increasing gas taxes this year, Davis said. Alaska, Oklahoma, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee -- all of which voted for U.S. President Donald Trump in November -- are debating gas tax increases in their state legislatures right now.
 
Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour lobbying for casinos in Georgia
Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is joining the wave of casino lobbyists in Georgia to push a referendum that could legalize gambling in that state, according to a blog post by AJC.com. As casino operators in Mississippi worry about the possible hit to business that would follow legalization of casinos in Georgia, the blog says Barbour completed paperwork in November to represent Wynn Resorts, a Nevada-based casino company whose owner, Steve Wynn, built the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi. Barbour is among of a half-dozen lobbyists working for Wynn, according to the report. About two dozen of the 40 lobbyists at the Atlanta capitol are working for MGM Resorts International, parent company of the Beau Rivage, which already announced it wants to build a $2 billion casino in downtown Atlanta.
 
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange to replace Jeff Sessions in U.S. Senate
Gov. Robert Bentley today announced he has selected state Attorney General Luther Strange to replace Jeff Sessions in the United States Senate. Sessions on Wednesday was confirmed as the next U.S. Attorney General by a 52-47 vote and was sworn in by President Donald Trump. Strange, one of Bentley's six finalists for the job, emerged as a likely favorite on Wednesday. "This is truly a remarkable time in our state's history," Bentley said in a press release this morning. Bentley and Strange will hold a news conference at 9 a.m. today in Montgomery.
 
Trump's Cybersecurity Chief Could Be a 'Voice of Reason'
Last month, the Atlantic Council think tank held a dinner to send off Tom Bossert, one of its fellows. President-elect Donald Trump had tapped Bossert to be his homeland security advisor, effectively putting him in charge of the administration's cybersecurity efforts. At one point in the evening, Atlantic Council cybersecurity policy expert Josh Corman grimly pointed out that America would likely experience a "high consequence" hacker attack on Bossert's watch -- a breach that disrupts critical infrastructure, like the power grid or hospital systems. Rather than deny the point, Bossert responded with questions of his own: What should be the reaction to that sort of attack? And just as importantly, what would an overreaction look like? Corman was impressed. "He understands the tensions and tradeoffs between security and not stifling innovation, not attacking civil liberties," says Corman. "His questions showed someone who understands the complexities."
 
The Next American Farm Bust Is Upon Us
The Farm Belt is hurtling toward a milestone: Soon there will be fewer than two million farms in America for the first time since pioneers moved westward after the Louisiana Purchase. Across the heartland, a multiyear slump in prices for corn, wheat and other farm commodities brought on by a glut of grain world-wide is pushing many farmers further into debt. Some are shutting down, raising concerns that the next few years could bring the biggest wave of farm closures since the 1980s. The U.S. share of the global grain market is less than half what it was in the 1970s. American farmers' incomes will drop 9% in 2017, the Agriculture Department estimates, extending the steepest slide since the Great Depression into a fourth year. "You keep pinching and pinching and pretty soon there's nothing left to pinch," said Craig Scott, a fifth-generation farmer.
 
Chicken farmers say processors treat them like servants
Former chicken farmers in five states have filed a federal lawsuit accusing a handful of giant poultry processing companies that dominate the industry of treating farmers who raise the chickens like indentured servants and colluding to fix prices paid to them. The farmers located in Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas allege that the contract grower system created by Tyson Foods, Pilgrim's Pride, Perdue Farms, Koch Foods, and Sanderson Farms pushed them deep into debt to build and maintain chicken barns to meet company demands. The farmers are Haff Poultry in Oklahoma; Craig Watts, North Carolina; Johnny Upchurch, Alabama; Johnathan Walters, Mississippi and Brad Carr of Texas. The National Chicken Council, an industry trade group representing the companies, said with any contracting situation there will always be a disgruntled minority.
 
Governor appoints Supreme Court Justice Ann Lamar to state college board
Gov. Phil Bryant has appointed former state Supreme Court Justice Ann Lamar to the state college board to replace Karen Cummings, who died in January. Lamar served as a Supreme Court justice from 2007 to 2016, the third woman to serve on the high court at the time of her appointment. "Justice Lamar admirably served the people of Mississippi on the Supreme Court with honor and integrity," Bryant said in a statement. Her appointment will go before the state Senate for confirmation. Lamar earned her law degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law, after attending Northwest Mississippi Junior College and earning a Bachelor of Science degree in education from Delta State University.
 
Gov. Phil Bryant names former justice Ann Lamar to College Board
Gov. Phil Bryant is naming recently retired Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Ann Lamar of Senatobia to the College Board. The 64-year-old Lamar replaces Karen Cummins, a trustee who died from cancer in January, representing the northern third of the state. She would serve the remainder of Cummins' term, through 2021. Lamar is the mother of Republican state Rep. Trey Lamar of Senatobia.
 
At Columbus Rotary, Ole Miss chancellor touts progress amid budget concerns
University of Mississippi Chancellor Jeff Vitter told Columbus Rotarians on Tuesday that nothing is more vital to the state's future than higher education. Vitter, who has served as chancellor for a little longer than a year, said the university is improving on several fronts, from growing enrollment to record-high ACT scores and grade-point averages for incoming students. However, Vitter said the University of Mississippi -- and all universities in the state -- must grapple with the reality of tightening state budgets. "We're being cut to the bone, frankly," Vitter said during a presentation at Lion Hills Center. "It's something easy to lose. It's hard to build once you lose that. I heartily believe that there is nothing more important to the future of our state than higher education because it is what creates opportunities and it is what attracts businesses and starts new businesses in our state."
 
UM campus community battles uncommonly large flu outbreak
Flu season is at its peak, and Ole Miss has seen more cases than usual this year. Living in close quarters, participating in social activities, and attending class makes college students more prone to influenza. Day-to-day interaction makes it impossible to avoid exposure to the disease. Just last week, the student pharmacy filled over 200 prescriptions for Tamiflu, which is the medication used to limit the severity of flu symptoms. Tamiflu can also shorten the duration of each case by up to a day, according to the Ole Miss Student Health Center's lead physician Dr. Travis Yates. "We started peaking out with influenza this past week," Dr. Yates said. "We probably saw more than 125 cases of influenza last week alone."
 
Ole Miss professor to receive Mississippi Humanities Council honor
A University of Mississippi anthropology and Southern studies professor is among five people being honored this month by the Mississippi Humanities Council. Jodi Skipper will receive the Humanities Scholar Award on Friday during the council's 2017 Public Humanities Awards program in Jackson. The agency recognizes outstanding contributions by Mississippians to the study and understanding of the humanities. "I was selected to receive this award in recognition of my involvement with the 'Behind the Big House' program, a slave dwelling interpretation program started by Jenifer Eggleston and Chelius Carter in Holly Springs," she said. "I have been privileged enough to help with their project, which interprets the lives of enslaved persons through the homes in which they once lived."
 
Southern Miss to Offer Course Involving National Security Issues
University of Southern Mississippi students will have an opportunity to study issues and create solutions facing the country's national security as part of a Hacking for Defense (H4D) course being offered for the first time during the Summer 2017 semester. The new course is administered through the College of Interdisciplinary Studies for undergraduate and graduate students. "We are excited about the launch of this course as it reflects another example of how the University of Southern Mississippi is placing more emphasis on fostering a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship," said Chase Kasper, Assistant Vice President for Research, Technology Transfer, and Corporate Relations. "We are committed to providing opportunities for transformative engagement for our students to help create solutions for stakeholders' real-world problems."
 
William Carey University to welcome students back to campus Feb. 19
Students at William Carey University displaced by the Jan. 21 tornado will be returning to campus next weekend. Sunday, Feb. 19 will be move-in day for more than 700 students who will be taking Spring Trimester classes that will begin on Monday, Feb. 20. The university has seven dorms that will be available for students. Five campus buildings are being demolished because of storm damage, including Tatum Court, which is the school's historic administration building. "All of the residential students will be getting an email about a particular time and a particular schedule for them to be able to move into their dorm room," said Scott Hummel, executive vice president and provost of William Carey University. "Almost every student that had a place will be able to move back on campus and we're thrilled with that."
 
East Mississippi Community College student alters educational path
East Mississippi Community College student Wakeena Spain, 23, was finding it difficult to juggle the demands of motherhood and college after the birth of her daughter, Justice Taylor, five months ago. Spain, who is seven classes short of obtaining her associate's degree in Administrative Office Technology at EMCC, decided to delay completion of the program to pursue another educational path. Spain entered the MI-BEST program at EMCC and will soon complete all of the requirements needed for her to apply for work at a local manufacturing plant. "I decided I would like to go ahead and find a job and then I can come back later and complete my degree," Spain said.
 
Modern and contemporary art expert to speak on U. of Alabama campus
An expert on modern and contemporary art will speak at two events on the University of Alabama campus. Wassan Al-Khudhairi, curator at the Birmingham Museum of Art, will speak at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Birmingham Room of the Bryant Conference Center, 240 Paul W. Bryant Drive. Al-Khudhairi specializes in modern and contemporary art from the Arab world and she will discuss curating contemporary art. At 1:30 p.m. Friday, she will speak in 203 Garland Hall in Woods Quad. The title of her lecture will be "Exploring The Ecology of the Art World." Al-Khudhairi earned a master of arts degree in Islamic art and archaeology from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.
 
Auburn University police lieutenant charged with possession of child porn will face grand jury
The case of a former Auburn University police lieutenant charged with possession of child pornography will go to a grand jury after a preliminary hearing. Dennis Rae Ledbetter, 46, was arrested and charged with three felony warrants on Dec. 2 and charged with possession of child pornography. Auburn Police Division Detective Kevin Freeze testified Wednesday at a preliminary hearing in Lee County District Court that the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency discovered someone downloaded 868 image files containing child pornography. The images were downloaded from an IP address on Auburn University's campus on Nov. 30 over a peer-to-peer file sharing program. Auburn police were able to match the IP address with Ledbetter's user name and office computer, Freeze said.
 
Alleged bad behavior prompts 6th LSU fraternity, Kappa Sigma, to expel members
After learning that LSU was looking into policy violations, the national office of Kappa Sigma purged members from the campus chapter in what it calls a "membership review." LSU wouldn't specify the allegations or explain what policies were violated. But five other fraternities on campus have been disciplined -- including dozens of the members being expelled from the social organizations -- over the past few years because of allegations of bad behavior. "LSU was made aware of allegations of violations of university policy last fall, and immediately began to work through our formal process. The national organization of Kappa Sigma also undertook its own investigation. Any actions to date were taken voluntarily by the national organization," LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard said Wednesday in an emailed statement.
 
Outgoing U. of Tennessee Chancellor Jimmy Cheek celebrates tenure
University of Tennessee Chancellor Jimmy Cheek celebrated his eight-year tenure as chancellor Wednesday surrounded by students, faculty and staff, many of whom stood in a line stretching the length of the Tennessee Terrace at Neyland Stadium waiting to shake his hand and wish him the best. Cheek, 70, has served as the university's seventh chancellor and announced in June that he would step down to transition to a faculty position teaching higher education leadership. Incoming Chancellor Beverly Davenport, currently interim president of the University of Cincinnati, will take over Feb. 15. Cheek's tenure saw over $1 billion in campus infrastructure investments, growth in university fundraising and progress toward a goal of becoming a Top 25 research institution. However, it was not without its challenges.
 
Construction projects on the agenda for Texas A&M System regents meeting
The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents will meet today for a regularly scheduled meeting, where it is expected to consider updates to the RELLIS Campus, a new, five-year capital plan and approval for several new academic programs. Among the items on the agenda for the regents will include construction projects to upgrade the HVAC system in Rudder Hall, as well as the next phase of the "Re-Imagining the Libraries" project on the Texas A&M campus in College Station. If approved, the two projects are estimated to cost a combined total of nearly $13.5 million, according to Texas A&M documents. Among the new academic programs the regents will consider include a master's of engineering in technical management degree, a bachelor of science in materials science and engineering degree and a master of science in entrepreneurial leadership degree at the flagship campus.
 
Texas A&M tuition increase up for approval at Thursday Board of Regents meeting
The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents will consider an increase in tuition costs for undergraduate out of state students at Texas A&M University during its regular meeting Thursday. If approved, the proposed increase could double the additional costs paid by out of state students from $200 to $400 per semester credit hour, on top of the regular tuition paid by in-state students. University officials estimate the proposed increase would affect roughly 350 students and would bring in around $2.1 million in additional revenue.
 
Responding to interest, U. of Missouri Korean studies institute aims to educate, research
The University of Missouri and five universities in South Korea have forged a strong connection through an exchange program that's been going on for 20 years. The program sends between 60 and 70 Korean students annually. That program was one of the catalysts for the newly created Institute for Korean Studies at MU, which will focus on educating the community and creating research opportunities in the field. Starting about a year ago, assistant professor of political science Sheena Chestnut Greitens and assistant professor of history Harrison Kim worked for its creation. After developing the proposal, Greitens and Kim contacted relevant faculty members. "We realized that we had a great group of research faculty in the social sciences who work on both sides of the Korean peninsula, North and South," Greitens said.
 
Even Before the Travel Ban, Signs of Weakening Interest From Students Abroad
New data suggest the flow of foreign students was already ebbing even before the Trump administration imposed a travel ban on citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries, sparking concern that anti-global attitudes could depress international recruitment. A new report from the Council of Graduate Schools shows that the number of students from overseas enrolling in American graduate programs in the fall of 2016 grew by 5 percent, the same rate as in the previous year. Applications from abroad, however, increased by an anemic 1 percent. Trend lines from the two largest sending countries are particularly troubling: First-time enrollments from China flatlined, while those from India tumbled 7 percent, following several years of double-digit growth. Together, the two countries account for half of all international students.
 
International graduate student applications grow, but at slower pace
More international students continue to apply to and enroll in U.S. graduate institutions, though not at the rapid pace seen in recent years, according to a report released Thursday by the Council of Graduate Schools. Application and enrollment rates did increase, but the rates of growth have slowed from last year -- down to 1 percent (from 3 percent in 2015) for applications and remaining constant at 5 percent for enrollment. Although the 5 percent enrollment growth rate is the same as 2015, both are down from the two previous cycles, which saw rates of growth of 10 percent in 2013 and 8 percent in 2014. Compared to last year, enrollment from the Middle East and North Africa dropped by 11 percent -- 13 percent from Saudi Arabia by itself -- and from Brazil by 9 percent.
 
Lottery at what cost?
Jackson-based consultant and columnist Brian Perry writes: "The lottery conjures dreams of vanishing financial troubles through a winning ticket. According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, about 70 percent of big lottery winners end up bankrupt within a few years of claiming their prize. Some policy makers want the State of Mississippi to buy a ticket. ...Some Mississippians oppose lotteries or gambling on religious grounds. I don't dismiss those beliefs, but when it comes to public policy, that ship has sailed (or rather docked) with the advent of casinos. What casinos provide -- that a lottery does not -- are ancillary economic benefits. Casinos bring with them hotels and resorts, restaurants and golf courses, thousands of employees spending money as an economic multiplier. From a public policy position, would a lottery cannibalize casinos? The hospitality industry has thousands of jobs outside the gambling sphere which are dependent upon casino profitability. If profitability decreases, would that diminish an entire economic sector?"
 
Revenue shortfall forcing differing thinking from Mississippi leaders
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Bobby Harrison writes: "During the last fiscal year, which ended June 30, the state collected less revenue than it did the previous year for only the fourth time since 1970 and for the first time when the nation was not in the midst of a recession. This fiscal year revenue does not look much better. Revenue is not meeting projections and there is still a chance that revenue will fall below the levels collected the last fiscal year. Is it any surprise the governor has changed his mind on the lottery and the internet sales tax considering he has been forced to cut budgets four times within a 12-month period and dip into the rainy day fund twice? The total of the four cuts, spanning one calendar year and over two fiscal years, is more than $170 million. Plus, the governor has transferred more than $100 million from the rainy day fund to prevent the need for additional cuts."


SPORTS
 
Mississippi State women looking for 12th straight win
Mississippi State is searching for its 12th-straight win at Humphrey Coliseum as the fourth-ranked Bulldogs host Vanderbilt at 8 p.m. today on SEC Network. MSU (23-1, 9-1 SEC) has won four of the last five meetings with the Commodores, including a pair of wins last season. The Bulldogs won 66-61 during the regular season in Nashville and 63-46 in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament. The Commodores come into tonight's game struggling at just 1-9 in SEC play and 11-12 overall. Their lone conference win came at home against Alabama 87-80 on Jan. 26 but have dropped two games since to Florida, 93-73, and Kentucky, 71-63.
 
Mississippi State women positioned for late-season push
Consider the lesson learned. For the last two seasons, Vic Schaefer had to listen to all of the pundits talk about the strength of his team's non-conference schedule. The Mississippi State women's basketball coach didn't care for much of the talk. He made his case to dispute the fact the Bulldogs had played weak non-conference schedules with too many games against opponents in the lower regions of Division I. As much as Schaefer tried to prove his case, the NCAA tournament selection committee didn't see it his way. A lot of things will shake out for MSU with six regular-season games and the Southeastern Conference tournament remaining, but it is likely Schaefer and the Bulldogs will get a chance to stay at home as a top-four seed when the seedings for the NCAA tournament are released March 13.
 
Mississippi State's Victoria Vivians named to Naismith Top 30
Mississippi State's Victoria Vivians was named to the Naismith Top 30, which is a watch list for the Woman's College Basketball Player of the Year. It is the fourth such watch list the junior guard has been selected to along with the Wade, Ann Myers-Drysdale and Wooden awards. Vivians has scored in double figures for 18 straight games and ranks eighth in the SEC averaging 16.8 points per game. The Carthage native has scored 1,525 career points, which is seventh on the Bulldogs' all-time chart.
 
Mississippi State's Jake Mangum feels he is better hitter than last season
Jake Mangum already has been the best hitter in college baseball's best conference. Last season, Mangum hit .408 as a freshman to help the Mississippi State win the Southeastern Conference regular-season title en route to a 44-win campaign. Mangum's next plateau hasn't been determined, but he thinks he can reach it. "I'm a much better hitter than I was last year," he said. Those are big words for a .408 hitter. After earning SEC Freshman of the Year honors last year, Mangum has earned preseason first-team All-America honors from the National Collegiate Baseball Writers' Association, Perfect Game, Baseball America, and most recently, D1baseball.com. Despite all of the attention, Mangum hasn't noticed.
 
Southern Miss, Mississippi State announce home-and-home series
The Southern Miss and Mississippi State baseball programs announced a home-and-home series for the 2018 and 2019 seasons on Wednesday. MSU is set to visit USM on Feb. 16-18, 2018, marking the Bulldogs' first trip to Hattiesburg since the 2010 campaign. Southern Miss will travel to Starkville on Feb. 22-24, 2019. It will be USM's first visit to MSU since 2009. "I think it's outstanding for our fan base, our state," USM coach Scott Berry said Wednesday. The Golden Eagles open the 2017 campaign on Feb. 17 with a three-game series against Northeastern. MSU opens the season on Feb. 17 against Texas Tech in Starkville.
 
Todd Grantham plans to reestablish Mississippi State's defense
At 50-years-old and with more than 25 years of coaching experience, Todd Grantham joined Dan Mullen's staff as Mississippi State's new defensive coordinator last month because he wanted the challenge of re-establishing a defense in the SEC. There is no denying he has that opportunity in Starkville -- the Bulldogs last season allowed 31.8 points per game, which ranked 13th in the SEC. "There is not really a magic wand for what we got to get done," Grantham said. Grantham didn't come across Wednesday during his introductory press conference as a guy looking for such shortcuts, anyway. Instead, he relayed how he expects MSU's defense to play and why, in his opinion, it should work. Grantham wants MSU's defense to be known as "fast, physical and aggressive." It was a talking point he stressed often during his 30-minute press conference. So how does that happen?
 
Mississippi State's new defensive coordinator ready to get started
Todd Grantham is eager to get his defense on the field for the first time when Mississippi State begins spring practice on March 2. Grantham takes over as coordinator of a defense that struggled mightily at times and finished 110th nationally in total defense last season. "This program has won, and it wasn't too long ago that they were No. 1 in the country," Grantham said. "They have had a history of having good defensive players here. If you look throughout the past few years at the amount of NFL draftable guys that they've had, they've had good players here. We want to reestablish that and get back to that." Grantham's family moved to Starkville on Wednesday, and he said he plans to stick around at least long enough for his son Corbin, a sophomore, to graduate from high school.
 
Mississippi State football announces hiring of Brett Elliott, D.J. Looney
Mississippi State head football coach Dan Mullen announced the hiring of two new members to the Bulldog coaching staff on Wednesday. Brett Elliott, former MSU offensive quality control specialist and offensive coordinator at Texas State and James Madison, has been named quarterbacks coach. D.J. Looney, former Bulldog offensive lineman and graduate assistant at Georgia and MSU, has been tabbed tight ends coach. "We are thrilled to bring Brett and D.J. back to Starkville," Mullen said. "They understand the winning tradition that has been established here and will be significant assets to our offense both on the field and in recruiting."
 
Mississippi State's Justin Johnson suddenly entering junior season
It doesn't seem that long ago that Justin Johnson was signing his national letter of intent to play at Mississippi State. The former three-star prospect out of Hoover (Ala.) High School was part of the Bulldogs' 2015 signing class but will enter this spring as a junior. "It really feels like I just got here," Johnson said. But Johnson has already had to assume the leadership responsibility that usually comes with being an upperclassman. This past season, the 6-foot-3, 239-pounder was MSU's most experienced tight end as a true sophomore, having played in 11 games as a true freshman. "It's different, but I can't look at it any different because you don't want to scare anybody experience-wise," Johnson said. "It's best not to even think about it."
 
Baylor not alone in shielding athletes accused of misconduct from punishment
In 2009, a Pennsylvania State University football player was accused of sexual assault. The player was told to report to the university's Office of Student Conduct for an interview. As he sat down with student conduct officials, according to a report released last year by the US. Department of Education, the player had one question: "Does football know I'm here?" The question was not unusual, according to the department's report. While overshadowed by the scandal involving Jerry Sandusky, the former assistant football coach who was convicted in 2012 of 45 counts of child abuse, Penn State's football program for years sought to shield football players from the university's student conduct office. The scenario mirrors some of the incidents detailed in a court document -- filed last week by three of members of Baylor University's Board of Regents -- that describes how Baylor's former head football coach allegedly covered up sexual assaults and other misconduct by his players. Similar complaints were included in a lawsuit filed against the University of Tennessee at Knoxville last year.
 
Big 12 to Hold Back Millions in Conference Revenue From Baylor
The Big 12 said on Wednesday that it would withhold millions of dollars in conference revenue from Baylor until an outside review determined that the athletic department was complying with Title IX guidelines and other regulations in the wake of a sexual-assault scandal that has rocked the university. The actions against Baylor were the first by the Big 12 since the university was hit by a wave of complaints that it mishandled or tried to cover up assault allegations, many of them involving football players. The Big 12 paid out $30.4 million to each conference member last year. Baylor is not being fined, the conference said in a statement; 25 percent of Baylor's annual conference payout is merely being placed in escrow pending a third-party verification of reforms at Baylor.



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