Tuesday, April 25, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
MSU-Meridian celebrates Phil Hardin Foundation Library
Local leaders joined MSU-Meridian officials Monday to dedicate the second Phil Hardin Foundation Library at the newly renovated Rosenbaum Building on the Riley Campus in downtown Meridian. The first library was dedicated on the College Park Campus in December 2013. A $1.25 million dollar gift by the Meridian-based foundation in 2011 made possible both facilities, including the downtown campus library that officially opened in January of 2016. MSU Provost and Executive Vice President Judith L. "Judy" Bonner called the facility a significant educational asset for the kinesiology and business students located at the Riley campus. "A library is so important to what faculty and students do in higher education," Bonner said. Dean of MSU Libraries Frances Coleman also applauded the campus addition.
MSU-Meridian's Riley campus library dedicated
The library at Mississippi Sate University's Riley campus in downtown Meridian was dedicated Monday. The library is located in the newly renovated Rosenbaum building. The renovations were made possible by a $1.25 million grant Phil Hardin Foundation. "There's a new energy and a new state of excitement at Mississippi State here on this campus and it's so much an integral part of the downtown revitalization as well as the expansion of educational opportunity in Meridian and Lauderdale County," Phil Hardin Foundation executive director Lloyd Gray says. Leaders say the library will benefit students in the downtown Meridian campus. "This is significant because it provides a resource for our business students and health science students who are downtown in Meridian to get the information that they need for their research on this campus without having to go out to our college park campus," MSU-Meridian head of campus Terry Dale Cruse says.
MSU-Meridian dedicates Phil Hardin Library at Riley Campus
It's where students study, write a paper, or grab a quick bite to eat. "The Phil Hardin Foundation has been so generous to provide the funding to allow the MSU-Meridian Riley Campus to have this wonderful library," said Judy Bonner, the MSU provost and executive vice president. Yesterday, MSU-Meridian dedicated the second Phil Hardin Foundation Library, located in the newly renovated Rosenbaum Building downtown. The facility is a significant educational asset for the kinesiology students and the business students located at the Riley Campus. "We see the Riley Campus and those programs and other programs growing, bringing more students to downtown Meridian," said Bonner.
Drone Research Base to come to Mississippi
Researchers at Mississippi State University are working to coordinate plans to begin drone training. The drones will be used to gather better on site views for first responders and other homeland security agencies. These situations may vary from wildfire and flood coverage to land or water search and rescue missions. Dallas Brooks is the director of Raspet Flight Research Laboratory at MSU. He says the images the drones capture can help gather more efficient information. "So the ability to get that big picture view and then zoom into the fine details that ordinarily you could only get by having a lot of people on the ground that UAS system will allow you to replace in some cases dozens of people on the ground with high fidelity imagery that gives you exact report on how and where things are going." Brooks says Mississippi has many potential training facilities, and that made it a good choice for Homeland Security.
Mississippi State honors Diversity Award winners
Photo: Mississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum (left) congratulates 2017 MSU Diversity Award winners, from left, Roy Jafari, a doctoral student in industrial and systems engineering; Deborah Jackson, assistant professor in the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Foundations; Bailey McDaniel, a senior sociology student; and Scott Willard, associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Starkville records first dip in sales taxes for FY 17
Starkville recorded a 3.18 percent decline in sales tax receipts in February compared to last year's mark, which represents the first downward trend for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. While the city reported an $18,985.33 drop between February 2016 and the same month this year, its 2-percent food and beverage tax receipts surged 22.83 percent -- about $38,000 -- in the same time frame. Heath Barret, the Greater Starkville Development Partnership's interim chief executive officer, said it's likely Mississippi State University athletic events, including the women's basketball team's historic run, brought people into Starkville and its restaurants, as few nonsporting tourism events were held that month. Barret said February's UnWINE Downtown event had more participants than usual, but spring's biggest tourism draws -- the Cotton District Arts Festival and Super Bulldog Weekend -- were, at the time, still two months away.
GSDP's Jennifer Prather named interim director of tourism
A familiar face at the Greater Starkville Development Partnership (GSDP) will be assuming a new role. Jennifer Prather -- who has been with the GSDP since 2013 -- has been tapped for the role of interim director of tourism. Prather originally joined the GSDP as special events and projects coordinator, before assuming the role of Starkville Community Market manager. The position was left vacant when former GSDP CEO Jennifer Gregory resigned in October. Gregory also served as vice president for tourism and director of Main Street Starkville. When Gregory resigned, the job for all intents and purposes was left vacant, requiring some reshuffling of staff. Director of Membership Development Heath Barret was named interim CEO, and now Prather will fill the remaining roles once occupied by Gregory. "I look forward to the future of the partnership under the director of a new CEO and opportunity that lie for myself in the organization," Prather said.
Chase Neal withdraws from Starkville's Ward 5 race
Ward 5's municipal election will now be decided in the May 2 Democratic Primary after Republican candidate Chase Neal withdrew from the race. Neal, 34, did not give a specific reason for his departure but said "things are in motion that will not permit me to give my full attention to the Ward 5 race." "I did enjoy campaigning and getting to know the people of Starkville and Starkville's issues more intimately," he said. Neal is the first candidate to pull out of Starkville's municipal election cycle this year. Ward 5 is guaranteed to have new representation beginning July 1 as incumbent Alderman Scott Maynard declined to seek re-election. Democratic and Republican primaries will be held May 2, and the General Election is scheduled for June 6.
What Cadence Bank IPO could mean for Golden Triangle
After completing its initial public offering two weeks ago, Cadence Bank is looking ahead with a positive vision for the company. Cadence Bank CEO and Chairman Paul B. Murphy Jr. -- a graduate of Mississippi State University -- says that by going back onto the New York Stock Exchange the company will be made stronger and the banking experience that customers expect will still be the service they receive. Cadence Bank's Mississippi President Jerry Toney says Cadence Bank is one of the largest employers in the area and it plans to stay that way. With this IPO, Toney says the company can further advance and build on its customer relationships on the local level. "We give a lot back to the community as well and we're still and have been for many, many years the largest private supporter of economic development in the entire Golden Triangle," Toney said.
Tesla adds supercharging station at Tupelo mall
Electric vehicle maker Tesla is doubling its number of supercharging locations this year, and one will soon open at The Mall at Barnes Crossing. The station is behind a fenced-in area in the northeast corner of Sears' parking lot. Mall officials aren't sure when the Tupelo station will open, and Tesla officials haven't responded to requests for more information. The company said it is doubling its charging network by expanding existing locations and adding locations. In Mississippi, Tesla now has supercharger stations in Pearl and Meridian, with plans to build stations in Brookhaven, Grenada and Hattiesburg. The Graduate hotel in Oxford is the only destination charging location in Northeast Mississippi so far.
Patrick Johnson: Fourth-Generation Tunica Farmer
Patrick Johnson and his father, Pat, have traditionally planted a lot of cotton on their farm in Tunica County. Even while cotton acreage in the state decreased sharply in recent years due to low prices, the Johnsons did not sell their cotton equipment. That puts them in good shape to participate in a cotton comeback this year. "Because we kept our equipment, it won't be that difficult for us to increase our acreage," says the younger Johnson, who serves on the Delta Council and is the current chairman of the National Cotton Council Environmental Task Force. With severe droughts in some other areas of the country and the world, no one takes water for granted any more. "Making sure we have water available in the future has become a high priority for farmers in the Delta," Johnson says. "That is a big area where you are also seeing technology implemented in our irrigation practices to conserve water. The Cooperative Extension Service is doing a lot of research on how to be more efficient with irrigation polypipe, and we are now using computerized hole selection in the irrigation pipes."
Hub City visitors spend $274 million in FY 2016
Hattiesburg City Council received some good news last week upon receiving the annual audits from the Hattiesburg Convention and Tourism Commissions: In fiscal year 2016, visitors spent $274 million in the local economy. Rick Taylor, executive director of the commissions, said that number is an increase of 2.1 percent over the previous fiscal year. That spending, in turn, led to a 5 percent increase in tourism-based employment in Hattiesburg, with the Hub City now boasting more than 4,200 jobs in that field. "Tourism is critical to Hattiesburg," Taylor told council members at a recent meeting. "Both of these audits are unqualified, clean bill of health. We are using this money to promote tourism, or to operate facilities."
AG: Agencies can operate with no budgets
The disagreement that resulted in three agencies not being funded during the 2017 legislative session pales in comparison to what occurred in 2009 when no agency was funded during the regular session. And while almost everyone agrees that the three agencies will be funded before the new fiscal year begins July 1, such was not the case in 2009. The concern was great enough to prompt then-Rep. Cecil Brown, D-Jackson, a key member of the Appropriations Committee, to request an official opinion from Attorney General Jim Hood of what would occur if there was no budget agreement before the new fiscal year began. The opinion of the office of Attorney General, which does not carry the weight of law, but protects public officials from lawsuits if they follow the opinion, said some agencies would continue to carry out their functions with no budgets.
Contract with company connected to Chris Epps bribery case questioned
While Attorney General Jim Hood is suing a company he calls a conspirator in the Chris Epps prison contract bribery scandal, the Mississippi Department of Corrections and Information Technology Services Department have recommended the state award a new multi-year, $4.8 million contract to the company. Some officials, including Gov. Phil Bryant, are questioning this plan, and final approval of the contract with California-based Sentinel Offender Services LLC was tabled by the ITS board last week. The contract is to provide monitoring equipment and services to track offenders on probation and parole. "Gov. Bryant has serious concerns about companies bidding on state contracts that are still dealing with legal matters involving Christopher Epps," Bryant spokesman Clay Chandler said Monday. "The governor would be in favor of those companies not pursuing state business until every outstanding investigation and any related litigation has concluded."
Could GOP lose its House supermajority?
With two Republican House members running for municipal posts next month and another Republican seat vacant, some wonder if GOP success in local races might cost the party the House supermajority it gained just last year. The loss of one GOP seat for any reason would mean a loss of that supermajority. The three-fifths supermajority, which House Republicans enjoy for the first time since Reconstruction, means that Republicans can pass revenue or tax bills without needing Democratic votes. In the House, a three-fifths vote (74 of the 122 seats) is necessary to pass those bills. Presuming the two Republican House candidates for municipal seats win their races, Mississippi Today took a closer look at the potentially vacant House seats.
Confederate Memorial Day draws small but passionate protest in Gulfport
A bit of irony was in the air at the Harrison County courthouse on Monday. Mississippi Rising Coalition, a group of activists who have long been after the Board of Supervisors to take down the state flag because it has a Confederate emblem in its canton, was there to protest the courthouse being closed for Confederate Memorial Day. And, neither the American flag nor the Mississippi flag were flying. Lea Campbell, president of the group, said they were protesting the flag and the holiday and Gov. Phil Bryant proclaiming April as Confederate Heritage Month. "We are out here to protest a pattern that is being displayed by our state leadership to perpetuate and reinforce a neo-Confederate agenda that denies equal respect, dignity and opportunity to all Mississippians," she told 15 or so protesters.
New Orleans tearing down its Confederate monuments, but South has plenty of others
New Orleans on Monday became the latest of a growing number of Deep South cities to purge its public space of Civil War-era memorials that some say are historically significant and others dismiss as offensive relics of white supremacy. After drilling into the top of the Battle of Liberty Place obelisk --- a marble monument that celebrates the 1874 uprising of a white supremacist militia against Louisiana's Reconstruction state government -- workers in bulletproof vests and masks slowly took the structure apart. Debate over the future of Confederate memorials and symbols has become particularly intense across the Southeast after the June 2015 massacre of nine black parishioners in a Charleston, S.C., church by a young white supremacist, Dylann Roof. More than 700 Confederate monuments and statues are scattered on public property across the nation, with nearly 300 of those in the Southeastern states of Virginia, Georgia and North Carolina.
Biloxi mayor says state flag must come down from all city buildings
Much to the surprise of Biloxi's mayor, all city buildings have not been flying the U.S. flag exclusively. He ordered the state flag and the city flag removed from all city facilities. Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich learned of the inconsistencies Saturday at an NAACP and League of Women Voters forum for political candidates. The question of the Confederate flag on city buildings came up. That's when he learned his decision to fly only the U.S. flag had not been carried out at all city facilities, city spokesman Vincent Creel said Monday. About 5.7 million people a year visit the city. "We don't want to give them any reason to not come to Biloxi," Creel said. "We want to avoid any controversy with this state flag. It's the right thing to do -- period."
Senate Confirms Trump's Agriculture Secretary
The U.S. Senate on Monday confirmed former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue as secretary of agriculture, leaving all but one of President Donald Trump's Cabinet positions filled. Lawmakers voted 87 to 11 in favor of Perdue, who takes office as the agricultural community grapples with the key issues of trade and immigration. The nomination earlier passed the Senate Agriculture Committee with only one vote in opposition, although some Midwestern senators raised concerns that Perdue was not from a major agricultural production state. Perdue, who holds a doctorate in veterinary medicine and was raised on a dairy farm, is the first agriculture secretary from a southern state since Mike Espy of Mississippi, who served from January 1993 to December 1994.
Science takes a back seat in Trump's first 100 days
When a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami struck Japan on March 11, 2011, the White House suddenly found itself confronting a nuclear crisis halfway across the globe. Radiation was wafting from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and President Barack Obama needed to make immediate decisions: Should he evacuate U.S. military bases near Fukushima? Should he also call for the evacuation of 90,000 Americans living in Tokyo -- surely sparking panic in a region of 37 million people? Answers to these questions fell largely to Obama's science adviser, John P. Holdren, a physicist. As Jeffrey Bader, a former senior director at the National Security Council, said in 2012, "Holdren's rapid and careful work had averted a potential slide toward unnecessary and damaging decisions." Three months into his presidency, Donald Trump has yet to appoint a science adviser. The Office of Science and Technology Policy, which grew to 135 employees under Obama, is at just one-fourth that level. Science advocates are pushing back.
GOP senators push for inquiry of research funding disclosures
A group of Senate Republicans today are asking the Government Accountability Office to investigate whether recipients of federal research grants and other funding are following rules to disclose when their projects are paid for with federal dollars. The lawmakers are concerned about compliance with the so-called Stevens Amendment -- a longstanding requirement that recipients of federal money disclose their work is funded by the government when describing it in public statements. Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said in a letter seeking the GAO inquiry that "many recipients of federal funds are not complying with this longstanding taxpayer transparency law."
Alabama state auditor 'baffled' on what to do with governor's beach house
State Auditor Jim Zeigler, wrapping up his work to account for all state-owned items at the state's gubernatorial offices and properties, heads to coastal Alabama on Tuesday, where a recently refurbished beach mansion sits dark. The mansion -- a gubernatorial retreat on the Fort Morgan peninsula built during the George Wallace era -- was renovated last year by Gov. Robert Bentley's administration at a cost of $1.8 million. The funding came from BP oil spill compensation. Zeigler said he's "baffled" on what recommendation to make to new Gov. Kay Ivey's about the mansion's future. Zeigler has long criticized Bentley's move to apply BP dollars to the mansion job. The audits are being conducted in the aftermath of Bentley's April 10 resignation.
Lesbian Methodist Bishop Faces Challenge to Her Election
Karen Oliveto clutched a friend's hand, closed her eyes and wept when she learned last year she had been elected a bishop of the United Methodist Church. Oliveto, who is married to another woman, had become the denomination's first openly gay bishop. Within minutes, a formal complaint was filed challenging her election as contrary to the church ban on clergy who are "self-avowed practicing homosexuals" -- a petition that the highest Methodist judicial authorities agreed to consider. On Tuesday, the court will take up the closely watched case, the latest flashpoint over LGBT rights in a denomination splintering over the Bible and homosexuality. Rev. Rob Renfroe, who leads a caucus that has lobbied to uphold current teaching, said he was more focused on the outcome of the commission's work than the Oliveto hearing, although he said her election has made it harder to persuade conservative congregations to stay with the denomination while the commission conducts its review. Two large Mississippi congregations recently voted to move toward a split from the church.
Columbus mayoral forum to be held at MUW
Columbus mayoral candidates will again square off for a forum Tuesday evening. MUW College Democrats and the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity will host the event at 6 p.m. in Parkinson Auditorium. Students from both sponsor organizations will moderate the planned 90-minute affair, according to MUW's Phi Beta Sigma faculty adviser Dwight Doughty. Incumbent Robert Smith, a Democrat, and Democratic challenger Selvain McQueen previously confirmed they would attend, Doughty said. However, McQueen told The Dispatch this morning he may bow out of the debate because he is dealing with a family member's illness. Smith said he will be there regardless. "I look forward to participating," he told The Dispatch.
MUW Music Department to present evening of jazz, tangos and milongas
The Mississippi University for Women Music Department presents "An Evening of Jazz, Tangos and Milongas," a concert featuring the MUW Jazz Ensemble, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 25 in the Connie Sills Kossen Auditorium in Poindexter Hall. Under the direction of Assistant Professor of Music Dr. Valentin M. Bogdan, the group will perform a mix of jazz standards, jazz fusion, Ethnic Jazz and Argentinean Tangos. The MUW Jazz Ensemble is a select group of student musicians who perform often on the MUW campus and around the Columbus community. The event is free and open to the public.
Cost of Ole Miss traffic circle jumps from $800,000 to $2.5M
The projected cost of a new traffic circle on the University of Mississippi's Oxford campus has ballooned from $800,000 to $2.5 million. College Board trustees on Thursday approved plans for Ole Miss to begin the work, designed to ease congestion at the intersection of Hathorn Road, Hill Drive and Chucky Mullins Drive. University officials, in documents submitted to trustees, say they considered canceling the project, originally planned in 2010 using $500,000 in federal money. The circle was postponed to keep open the intersection during construction of a parking garage and basketball arena. New state guidelines raised costs in the meantime. Ole Miss will bridge the gap with $2 million of internal cash.
Ole Miss community joins science marchers nationwide
"What do we want? Evidenced-based conclusions. How do we want it? After peer review." Unlikely protesters wave signs, chant and march through the streets of downtown Oxford on Saturday. These protesters are of all ages and nationalities. And their signs have numbers and formulas on them. Oxford organizer Marco Cavaglia insists that the march was a non-partisan event. "This is a great opportunity to let people know about science and celebrate science and what scientists do and how science improves our lives." Oxford was one of 600 cities where marchers took to the streets in a public display of solidarity. Organizer Marco Cavaglia, who is a physics professor at the University of Mississippi, disagrees with the argument that scientists should avoid politics and stick to the lab.
Itawamba Community College nearing selection of next president
Following current president Mike Eaton's retirement announcement earlier this year, Itawamba Community College officials have been at work searching for the college's next leader. The search is being conducted by a five-member search committee, and ICC vice president of development and planning Wayne Sullivan said a new president should be named by May 2. Sullivan said the search committee has narrowed the candidates down to three individuals after receiving 18 applications total, and the full board of trustees will interview the candidates May 1. The full board of trustees is made up of 30 members. "I think the committee has done a very thorough search and evaluation of the candidates, and I think we have three excellent candidates," Sullivan said.
Auburn aviation program benefits from loan of new Cessna Skyhawk
Auburn University aviation students love flying---especially on a school day field trip to Textron Aviation headquarters in Wichita, Kansas, where they were presented with a new Cessna Skyhawk aircraft. Seventeen students along with Auburn University Aviation Center personnel recently boarded an American Eagle jet, operated by Envoy Air, at the Auburn University Regional Airport and made the 1 hour 45-minute flight to Kansas. After a tour of Textron Aviation's manufacturing facility, junior Hampton McDonald and recent graduate Ashley Tucker took the controls of the Auburn-logoed Skyhawk and piloted it six hours back to Auburn. "I am really happy to fly this plane back to Auburn," said McDonald of Atlanta, a professional flight management major and a flight instructor with the Auburn University Aviation Center.
U. of South Carolina announces guest speaker for May graduation
The secretary-general of the United Nations will speak at one of the University of South Carolina's graduation ceremonies next month. USC announced Monday that Antonio Guterres will deliver the keynote speech at the 3 p.m. ceremony on May 6. "We are honored that the U.N. secretary-general has decided to visit Columbia and speak to our graduates," USC president Harris Pastides said in a statement. "This is a rare opportunity for students to hear from a consummate diplomat, civil servant and human rights advocate who is immersed on a daily basis in the most critical issues facing our world today." Monday's announcement came as a surprise. USC said last fall it would no longer have guest speakers at graduation ceremonies.
Slaves built U. of South Carolina's earliest buildings, new plaques will acknowledge
New plaques recognizing the role of slaves in the University of South Carolina's beginnings are coming soon to the school's historic Horseshoe. USC's trustees Friday approved the text for two new markers, 17 months after a group of mostly black students marched on campus demanding the state's flagship university make a stronger effort to promote diversity. USC president Harris Pastides said the effort to erect the black and gold plaques started before the students demanded the historic markers in November 2015. Trustees Friday quickly approved the project without discussion. "This is an issue of our historic and material culture," Pastides said. "The Horseshoe, of course, is hallowed ground. And it's led to an awareness that there are things about the history of the Horseshoe and the university that we haven't really expressed yet."
UGA ranks high in research licensing income
The University of Georgia is one of the country's top universities in turning its scientists' inventions and discoveries into cash, according to data from the Association of University Technology Managers. Over the three fiscal years from 2013 to 2015, UGA banked an average of $7.1 million annually in licensing income, according to statistics that UGA Innovation Gateway Director Derek Eberhart prepared for the board of directors of the UGA Research Foundation, which met in Athens last week. UGA's income ranked in the top 20 among U.S. public universities, and was third among UGA's "comparator peer" universities -- schools considered similar to UGA and used as benchmarks.
U. of Tennessee workers, students protest outsourcing
More than 100 campus workers, students and faculty members gathered at the University of Tennessee on Monday afternoon to protest Gov. Bill Haslam's plan to outsource facilities maintenance work at public colleges and universities. "We're concerned this is going to lead to a reduction in quality and that it's going to affect employees' jobs and also local businesses that have contracts with universities," said Diana Moyer, president of United Campus Workers, Tennessee's public higher education union. "It's a huge plan that just hasn't been thought out well enough." The protest, part of a larger #TNisNOTforSale campaign against outsourcing, comes just days before the state is anticipated to finalize details of a contract with Chicago-based JLL, the company that already manages about 10 percent of public facilities in Tennessee.
Innovation Center Puts U. of Arkansas And J.B. Hunt on Same Road
The chance to work for J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. of Lowell is nothing new for a lot of graduates of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. Now, UA students will have the chance to work with J.B. Hunt. The Fortune 500 transportation and logistics company recently gave $2.75 million to start a partnership with the UA's engineering and business colleges. The J.B. Hunt Innovation Center of Excellence will be led by a committee made up of representatives of the two colleges and J.B. Hunt executives. "This is probably the coolest thing to happen to me," said Chase Rainwater, an associate professor of industrial engineering named as the co-director of the center.
Higher Education Bubble Vexing for Arkansas Institutions
Runaway inflation in the health care sector is obvious to every American family, but when a kid heads to college, this fact hits home: The consumer cost of higher education has inflated even faster over the past quarter-century. It's an intractable problem nationwide, and the headwinds in Arkansas are even stronger. Taxpayers are picking up a smaller portion of the tab, leaving more students to borrow more and take longer to graduate (if they do). Meanwhile, the massive education infrastructure is being supported by a college-going population that has dipped slightly ahead of a looming tumble in the number of high school graduates. "Demographic trends for higher ed are in all the wrong directions," Michael Moore, chief academic and operating officer of eVersity, the University of Arkansas System's new all-online institution, said last week. Complicating the calculus further is competition for the best students, who expect generous merit scholarships even though their parents are often the most able to pay, shifting the cost to poorer students.
LSU Health research shows fish oil helps damaged brain, retina cells
A team of researchers at LSU Health have found that a component of fish oil helps damaged brain and retina cells survive. Nicolas Bazan, Boyd Professor and Director of the Neuroscience Center of Excellence at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, has shown for the first time that NDP1, a signaling molecule made from DHA, can trigger the production of a protective protein against toxic free radicals and injury in the brain and retina. The research was conducted in an experimental model of ischemic stroke and human retinal pigment epithelial cells. The study was published in Advance Publication Online in Nature Research's Cell Death and Differentiation.
Vanderbilt students develop smart police vest that calls for backup
Vanderbilt University engineering students have developed a smart ballistics vest that knows when an officer is in trouble and can automatically call for backup. The vest monitors the wearer's heartbeat, breathing and knows when either are too fast or too slow. It calls for backup when it senses an officer has been shot and notifies dispatch when the officer has fallen on the ground. It even knows when the officer is bleeding by detecting the sugar in human blood as it trickles over one of the sensors. The invention was featured along with 70 other projects meant to address real life design challenges at Design Day Monday at Vanderbilt University. While hundreds milled around the Student Life Center ballroom, the smart vest was a clear favorite.
Texas A&M students serve custodial staff at luncheon to show appreciation
For nearly 20 years, Roslyn Adams has served the students, faculty and staff of Texas A&M University as a member of the custodial team, but Monday -- even if for just a few hours -- she and her peers got to take a break and enjoy each other's company in the Bethancourt Ballroom of the Memorial Student Center. More than 500 members of the university's custodial staff, employed by custodial, grounds and maintenance service provider SSC, were honored during the annual Custodian Banquet, which featured a catered lunch, raffle, music and a photo booth. Adams said the student-organized event is a meaningful gesture from those she and her co-workers serve on a daily basis. "It just shows that somebody around here appreciates us for what we do," Adams said. "These students don't have to do this, but they went out of their way to do it, so it really means a lot."
Texas A&M AgriLife researchers decode DNA of fuel-producing alga
A genome of a biofuel-producing alga has been sequenced by scientists after almost seven years of study by Texas A&M's AgriLife researchers, officials said Sunday. Tim Devarenne, a biochemist with AgriLife Research and principal investigator in College Station, said that other genetic facts emerged from their work that ultimately could help his team and others studying this green microalga -- known as Botryococcus braunii -- further research toward producing algae and plants as a renewable fuel source. Sequencing DNA means determining the order of the four chemical building blocks, also known as "bases," that make up the DNA molecule. Work done by Devarenne and his team, which was reported Sunday in Genome Announcements, notes previous studies showing that hydrocarbons from B. braunii have long been associated with petroleum deposits, indicating that over geologic time the alga has coincided with and contributed to the formation of petroleum deposits.
Under Fire, National Academies Toughen Conflict-of-Interest Policies
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are toughening their financial conflict-of-interest policies after publishing reports that some critics have said are tainted by undisclosed corporate influences. The 154-year-old scientific academy, chartered by Congress during the Lincoln administration, has long enjoyed a reputation as a top-quality producer of in-depth, impartial academic analyses on a range of national policy questions. But that reputation has been challenged by complaints about two reports -- one on medical pain relief and another on genetically modified organisms -- whose authors' ties to industry were not made clear.
College libraries ditch books so students can collaborate
The remodeled undergraduate library at the University of California, Berkeley, is modern and sleek. Its top two floors have low-slung couches, a nap pod, and meeting spaces with glass walls made to be written on and colorful furniture meant to be moved. The library has even dropped its rules against food and drinks on those floors. That's because they no longer contain any books, which could be damaged or stained. California's oldest university has removed 135,000 books from Moffitt Library to create more space for students to study, recharge and collaborate on group projects. Libraries are 4,000 years old, but the digital revolution is changing their use on college campuses. From coast to coast, college libraries are removing rows of steel shelving, stashing the books they held in other campus locations and discarding duplicates to make way for open study spaces. Their budgets are shifting away from print to digital materials.
Education Department Announces Moves to Ease Burden of Fafsa Tool's Absence
ducation Secretary Betsy DeVos on Monday said the department would relieve some of the burden on students and families affected by the suspension of the Internal Revenue Service's Data Retrieval Tool, which makes it easier to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, the Fafsa. The changes, announced in a "Dear Colleague" letter, will affect the verification requirements for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 Fafsa cycles. Instead of using the tool or requiring a tax transcript, "institutions may now consider a signed paper copy of the 2015 IRS tax return" as acceptable documentation, the new guidance says. Institutions will no longer be required to collect documentation obtained from the IRS or other tax authorities to verify that an applicant, an applicant's spouse, or an applicant's parents did not file a 2015 tax return, the letter continues, but they are expected to provide the verification that was previously required.
Community Colleges Rarely Graduate the Veterans They Recruit
Many colleges and universities that eagerly recruit military veterans and the $10.2 billion a year in GI Bill benefits that come with them offer nowhere near as much support, and their student-veterans rarely get degrees, according to data obtained from the Departments of Defense, Education, and Veterans Affairs. At nearly a third of the 20 two-year schools that enrolled at least 100 veterans receiving GI Bill benefits and who are eligible for degrees, none of them got one. These aren't for-profit colleges and universities, some of which Democrats in Congress say treat veterans and service members like "dollar signs in uniform," targeting them for the billions of dollars in education benefits they bring. They're public community colleges at which student-veterans' educations are subsidized not once, but twice, by taxpayers: through support of the colleges directly and with those billions in GI Bill money.
Vocational education surges but continues to struggle with image, gender imbalance
Career and vocational education is en vogue, as Republicans who dominate Washington and most state capitols have been touting job training over the bachelor's degree. But community college leaders say vocational training is sorely in need of an image makeover. "It is considered a second choice, second-class," said Patricia Hsieh, president of San Diego Miramar College. "We really need to change how people see vocational and technical education." Hsieh was speaking in New Orleans on Monday during the annual meeting of the American Association of Community Colleges. She and other speakers described the stigma career programs still face compared to academic paths that lead to transfer and a bachelor's degree. Parents and students tend to prefer that more traditional pathway and are skeptical about the work force value of vocational credentials, said community college leaders. And that skepticism often extends to many people in higher education.
Nation's Report Card Finds Mixed Grades For U.S. Students In Visual Arts, Music
For only the third time ever, the government released today a national report card examining the knowledge, understanding and abilities of U.S. eighth-graders in visual arts and music. And in many ways, the numbers aren't great, with little progress shown in most categories since the last time the assessment was given in 2008. One bright spot: The achievement gap between Hispanic students and their white peers has narrowed. But Hispanics and African-Americans still lag far behind white and Asian eighth-graders. The findings come from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, which regularly reports on U.S. student achievement, including math, reading and science. But only three times -- in 1997, 2008 and now from 2016 -- has it looked at music and visual arts.
Chris McDaniel plans to ride emotional wave to U.S. Senate
Longtime Mississippi journalist Charlie Mitchell writes: "Why would the name of a state senator from Ellisville be on a professionally created survey seeking voters' views on national issues? The answer is obvious. The opinion survey is a pre-campaign ad. Chris McDaniel intends to be a U.S. senator. There's nothing particularly new about this for those who follow political maneuvering. McDaniel is a dyed-in-the-wool super conservative. The banner on the email features the Confederate battle flag draped across Mississippi. ... He has figured out that the pathway to power is to create and then ride an emotional wave. A record of solid service or effective service or problem-solving doesn't appeal to voters as much as it may have in the past. Whether anyone likes it or not or thinks it's positive or negative, today's voters vote with their hearts more than on candidates' actual records. Vitriol reigns."
New Federal Election Commission fundraising numbers are out
Alan Lange writes at YallPolitics.com: "FEC recently released the Q1 fundraising numbers, and it's always instructive as we head into mid term elections to see how everyone is doing. Fresh off his tenure at the NRSC, Senator Roger Wicker had a pretty impressive fundraising campaign netting $465K in contributions in Q1. I think that number will go up substantially as we get closer to 2018. What you can read into the numbers is that he's taking 2018 very seriously. ...In the 3rd District, Gregg Harper is now sitting on a campaign war chest in a safe Republican district."

No. 7 Mississippi State faces Ole Miss Tuesday at Trustmark Park for Governor's Cup
Coming off a fifth-straight Southeastern Conference series victory, Mississippi State (28-14) will take on in-state rival Ole Miss for a non-conference midweek matchup on Tuesday at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Miss. With the Governor's Cup going to the winner of the midweek matchup, the Bulldogs and Rebels (25-15) will square off at 6:30 p.m. CT on SEC Network in the home of the Mississippi Braves, the Double-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves. MSU is now receiving top 10 rankings from multiple publications (7th in Collegiate Baseball and 8th in Baseball America) after a 3-1 showing last week and an 8-2 record over their last 10. In the rest of the top 25 polls, State is ranked no lower than 13 (10th in D1 Baseball, 11th in Perfect Game, 13th in USA Today Coaches and NCBWA). Earlier this season, State swept Ole Miss in Oxford during their three-game SEC series.
Bulldogs chase sweep of Rebels tonight
The Governor's Cup may not affect Ole Miss or No. 10 Mississippi State in the SEC standings but there is still plenty to play for in tonight's game at Trustmark Park. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. on the SEC Network. The Diamond Dogs are trying to sweep their in-state rival for the first time since 1997 while the Rebels attempt to reclaim the Governor's Cup after losing last year's game 2-0 at the home of the Mississippi Braves. "It's just going to be an awesome night of college baseball for the state of Mississippi," said MSU coach Andy Cannizaro. "There will probably be 10,000 people there and the crowd might be split 50/50 between Hail State and Hotty Toddy." MSU took a tightly contested series in Oxford earlier this season -- 4-3, 5-3 and 2-1 -- to now lead the overall series 249-206-5.
No. 13 Mississippi State eyes another win vs. Ole Miss
Mississippi State has an opportunity Tuesday night to accomplish a feat that the Bulldogs haven't pulled off in 20 years -- and it's not something Ole Miss wants to see happen. The last time MSU swept Ole Miss in the series and won the neutral site meeting was in 1997, when the Bulldogs swept the Rebels in Oxford after winning the Mayor's Trophy in Jackson at Smith-Wills Stadium. After sweeping Ole Miss earlier this month, No. 13 Mississippi State will face the Rebels at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Trustmark Park in Pearl. The rivalry game comes at the homestretch of the season. With four weekends left in the regular season, Mississippi State (28-14, 13-5 SEC) is in first place in the SEC West while Ole Miss (25-15, 9-9) is sitting in sixth.
Mississippi State Moves Forward with Dudy Noble Field Renovation
A plan to significantly overhaul Dudy Noble Field has moved forward, as Mississippi State University now has the authority to issue bonds for the project. First unveiled in 2014, the proposal calls for Mississippi State to execute a major renovation to Dudy Noble Field-Polk DeMent Stadium. The school has spent the last few years pulling working out some of the details for the proposal, and a recent vote by the board of trustees enables plans for a portion of the funding to move forward. Last Thursday's vote gave the university the authority to issue bonds for the project. Mississippi State now has the permission needed to borrow as much as $30 million for the project, with the remaining costs to be covered by private contributions.
Alexis Silkwood leads Mississippi State to third straight series win
You could not have asked for a better night for Mississippi State senior Alexis Silkwood.In front of her home crowd, Silkwood led the Mississippi State Bulldogs (34-15, 8-10 SEC) to a 4-3 victory against the 24th-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks (28-18, 6-15 SEC), sealing a third-straight SEC series win for the Maroon and White. Moments before she sealed her 13th win of the year, Silkwood was selected in the fifth round (24th pick) by the Akron Racers in the 2017 NPF Draft, making her the 13th Bulldog to reach the pros. On the night, MSU's senior ace went 7.0 innings (50th-career complete game), tossing a pair of strikeouts to lead the Dogs to their third-straight SEC series win, a feat they have not accomplished since 2014. That year, State took series from No. 3 Alabama, No. 4 Tennessee and Arkansas in consecutive weekends.
Road Dawgs Tour kicks off in Biloxi on Wednesday
Mississippi State fans who can't make it up to Starkville regularly are in luck. The Bulldogs are bringing the Maroon and White to South Mississippi. The annual Road Dawgs Tour will hit Biloxi on Wednesday to kick off this year's swing through the fan base's hotbeds. This year's event will be hosted at the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum in Biloxi. A social and buffet will open at 6 p.m., with the night's programming beginning at 7 p.m. Fresh off of a run to the NCAA Tournament championship game, MSU women's basketball coach Vic Schaefer will headline this year's tour. He'll be joined by football coach Dan Mullen, men's basketball coach Ben Howland and athletic director John Cohen. The Coast has been good to Mississippi State athletics.
Mississippi State standout, NFL Draft hopeful Richie Brown 'ready to play football'
Richie Brown can recall back in sixth grade telling his youth pastor he thought the NFL might be his future. He had been thought of himself more as a baseball player, but around that time he started to separate himself from his peers on the gridiron. This weekend, the former Long Beach High tackle machine and Mississippi State standout could see his dream come true. The NFL Draft begins Thursday with the first round at 7 p.m. Rounds 2 and 3 will begin at 6 p.m. Friday, while Rounds 4-7 are set for an 11 a.m. start Saturday. The entire draft will be televised on ESPN and the NFL Network. "I'd say I'm actually getting less nervous and less anxious as it gets closer," Brown told the Sun Herald during a phone interview Monday.
Mississippi State to spend $2M on new stadium sound system
Mississippi State University wants to replace the sound system at its football stadium. The state College Board on Thursday approved a plan to hire an architect to design the estimated $2 million upgrade for Davis Wade Stadium. In documents submitted to trustees, the university says the current sound system causes a delay in people at one end of the stadium being able to hear, as well as an echo. The delay means sound isn't synchronized with pictures on the stadium's video board. Cooke Douglas Farr Lemons Architects will evaluate whether any of the current equipment can be reused.
Q&A with SEC commissioner Greg Sankey: NCAA recruiting rules changes, football staff sizes, more
Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey held an hour-long question-and-answer segment at the Associated Press Sports Editors region meeting on UAB's campus in Birmingham on Monday afternoon. Sankey spoke at length about the NCAA's recently approved rules package regarding recruiting, the league's serious misconduct policy, football staff sizes and men's basketball, among other topics. Below are highlights and excerpts from Sankey's interview on Monday afternoon.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey: June visits, scholarship caps 'unhealthy'
Greg Sankey considers June recruiting visits and hard caps on scholarships "unhealthy" for college football. The SEC commissioner provided his thoughts on the sweeping recruiting package the NCAA's Division I council recently approved when he spoke Monday at the Associated Press Sports Editor's Southeast Region meeting on the campus of UAB. If the package is approved by the Board of Governors on Wednesday, recruits would be allowed to make official visits April through June. Right now, recruits can take official visits only beginning in September of their senior year. This would allow them to begin their junior year Although Sankey is not against earlier official visits, he believes the time period allowed should provide an accurate representation of student life.
SEC commish Greg Sankey says he's recused from Ole Miss NCAA case
Greg Sankey's role as Southeastern Conference commissioner is the reason why he is recused from the NCAA Committee on Infractions as it relates to the case against Ole Miss. "I'm fully recused from anything involving any member university," Sankey said Monday during a question-and-answer panel during the Associated Press Sports Editors' Southeast Region meeting. Sankey is the chairman of the committee of infractions. He said he's previously recused himself in cases involving SEC teams. The NCAA enforcement staff was allowed to offer immunity to athletes at other schools as part of the Ole Miss investigation, which led to allegations of violations. Sankey said he did not have an opinion he would offer on that, which is handled on a case-by-case basis and only with the granting of the Committee on Infractions.
SEC expected to further examine league policy banning alcohol sales
Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey is expecting the league to review its policy prohibiting alcohol sales in the general seating areas of sporting venues. That means LSU's long-talked-about plans for a beer garden in Tiger Stadium could come to fruition. Sankey said he believes there are "imperfections" with the current policy, and he's had ongoing discussions with LSU athletic director Joe Alleva about the issue, he said during an hour-long meeting with reporters Monday. "Joe and I have talked about our conference policy, and he's been great in the conversation about it, adhering to the policy," Sankey said in a panel discussion at the Associated Press Sports Editors Southeast Region meeting at UAB. LSU is planning an outdoor drinking area at Tiger Stadium, Alleva said during a pregame radio interview in September. Those plans are ongoing, a school spokesman told The Baton Rouge Business Report last month.
U. of Memphis to break ground on football's indoor practice facility Thursday
The University of Memphis announced Monday afternoon that it will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for its new indoor football practice facility Thursday morning at 11 a.m. The groundbreaking date, which was first reported by The Commercial Appeal last month, comes more than five years after the university began raising money for such a facility, most recently as part of its "Time to Shine" capital campaign. Memphis announced in August 2015 that it was raising $40 million for the construction of new facilities for football and basketball. Construction of the basketball facility began last year, while the football facility has been delayed. In addition to the construction of an indoor practice field, the Billy J. Murphy Athletic Complex will be renovated to include coaches' offices and a new dining area, among other amenities.

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