Monday, May 15, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Mississippi State names winners of Zacharias Distinguished Staff Awards
Mississippi State University honored 12 university employees Friday as part of the Donald W. Zacharias Distinguished Staff Awards. The awards are named after Donald W. Zacharias, who served as the university's 15th president from 1985 to 1997. It was during the Zacharias administration that the awards were first conceived. Award nominees must be classified as a professional or support staff employee working at least half-time with a minimum of three years of service at MSU. MSU President Mark Keenum presented each honoree with a plaque and check for $1,000. Tommie Zacharias, the widow of Donald Zacharias, was also in attendance to personally congratulate each winner.
 
Rick Travis named dean of Mississippi State's College of Arts and Sciences
A longtime Mississippi State faculty member and administrator is the new dean for the university's largest academic unit. Rick Travis is being named dean of the College of Arts and Sciences after serving as interim in the position for the past year. MSU Provost and Executive Vice President Judy Bonner said Travis's record of service and leadership have positioned him well to move the college forward. "We have appreciated Dr. Travis's leadership during the interim period and have every confidence that he will continue his exemplary service to our university as our new dean," Bonner said. His appointment is pending formal approval by the Board of Trustees, Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning.
 
Mississippi State civil engineering students to compete in Concrete Canoe National Championship
Taking a ride in a concrete canoe. It sounds like a colorful euphemism for a mafia hit, but for Mississippi State students Diana Linder and Kristen Sauceda, it's a reward for a year's work. Linder and Sauceda are among a group of 15 MSU civil engineering students who will travel to Golden, Colorado, next month for the Concrete Canoe National Championship. The American Society of Civil Engineers sponsors the competition. For 30 years, undergraduate civil engineering students from throughout North America have vied to craft the best canoe possible with the least likely of all materials. "That's the whole idea," said Sauceda, a senor from New Madrid, Missouri, "to build a canoe from something you would never use, normally. That's where the engineering comes in." Mississippi State earned its spot in the national championship, where it will compete against 17 other teams, by winning its regional competition in March in Memphis. MSU is making its fourth ever trip to the finals.
 
Mississippi State researchers study 'crazy ants'
Researchers at Mississippi State University are pushing forward on a study of the Nylanderia fulva -- or as it's also known: the tawny crazy ant. The species of ant can be found in the southern United States -- including the Mississippi counties of Hancock, Jackson and Harrison. MSU Extension professor Blake Layton has been working to develop guidelines geared toward helping homeowners deal with areas infested by these aptly-named creatures. When infesting an specific location, millions of ants can be seen and prevent new populations from forming. "When I go visit homeowners, I'll ask them if they've had an electrical short," Layton said. "They don't just say they've had one; they start naming the last half dozen they've experienced. That's the real problem with these things."
 
Mississippi State researchers ask: Could robots be better at listening to abused children?
Would a child open up to a robot interviewer about being abused? That's the question University of Mississippi computer scientists Cindy Bethel and Zachary Henkel have been exploring. Children's accounts are often vital in cases of abuse, but even trained police interviewers can find it difficult to remain neutral when talking to kids. Therefore, robots just might be the key to reducing bias in child abuse cases. "It's common for children who've experienced maltreatment and abuse to talk to their toys or pets, but they find it very difficult to talk to adults," Cindy says. "I wasn't sure if children talking to robots would work or not but I thought it would be worth investigating." The robot also has a variety of sensors and logging abilities which can provide very valuable data.
 
Popular Templeton Genealogy Fair set for June 3 at Mississippi State
For persons interested in genealogy and family history research, Mississippi State's annual free event especially for them is less than a month away. The fourth annual E.O. Templeton Jr. History and Genealogy Fair takes place 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. June 3 at the university's Mitchell Memorial Library. Due to space limitations, advance registration is recommended at http://library.msstate.edu/genealogy. While there is no attendance fee, participants may choose to purchase an $8 boxed lunch with cash or check on the premises since online payment is not available. Door prizes will be given away throughout the day. Tours of the Charles H. Templeton Sr. Music Museum and John Grisham Room will be available, and the Special Collections Department also will be open for research.
 
Columnist, Mississippi State spokesman Sid Salter diagnosed with lymphoma
Syndicated columnist and Mississippi State University Chief Communications Officer Sid Salter has been diagnosed with lymphoma and will take an indefinite leave from his column work while he gets treatment. Sid's wife Leilani Salter said he started chemotherapy treatments over the weekend at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo. "Those of you who know my husband know he is a fighter," she said. "He is in good spirits and joking with the medical staff. Our friends and family are embracing us. We ask your prayers as we begin this journey." Salter is instrumental in the university's day-to-day communications operations and has served in a number of prestigious positions during his time at MSU. A member of the Mississippi Press Association's Hall of Fame, Salter was MSU's Alumnus Of The Year in 2004 and was previously named by the Washington Post as "one of the nation's best state political reporters." Salter's syndicated political columns have been in publication since 1983 and appear regularly in the Starkville Daily News.
 
Sid Salter diagnosed with lymphoma, taking indefinite leave from column
Sid Salter, a longtime syndicated columnist in Mississippi and the Chief Communications Officer and Director of the Office of Public Affairs at Mississippi State University, has been diagnosed with lymphoma and is undergoing chemotherapy. Salter plans to take an indefinite leave from writing the column. Salter's son-in-law, Nathan Gregory, asked for prayers on Twitter. "Yesterday we learned my father-in-law has lymphoma. I ask for prayers for him, my wife Kate, and my mother-in-law Leilani. Thank you." At Mississippi State, Salter leads a team of marketing and communications professionals in producing print, broadcast, and new media content designed to advance MSU's reputation as a nationally prominent research university. Salter is also the university's spokesman and the administrator of both the University Television Center and campus radio station WMSV-FM. Former Ole Miss Chancellor Dan Jones was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2014 and underwent treatment. He now works at the University Medical Center in Jackson.
 
Bicyclist killed in Sunday crash
A Starkville man is dead after he was struck by a vehicle while he biked along Highway 25 Sunday. Oktibbeha County Coroner Michael Hunt confirmed Jay Burrell, 54, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash near Pinelake Church. Few details of the accident are known as Starkville Police Department had not yet responded to a media inquiry as of press time, but Hunt said the accident was reported about 7:10 p.m. after Burrell was struck by a SUV while biking in or near Highway 25's right southbound lane. Burrell was the director of information technology infrastructure at Mississippi State University's Information Technology Services division. MSU Chief Communications Officer Sid Salter said the university was "shocked and saddened" to learn of the accident and its employees' "thoughts and prayers are with (Burrell's) family, friends and colleagues." "He was a force of nature behind the scenes at the university and a fantastic man," Salter said.
 
Starkville mayor to be determined Tuesday
Following a tight primary, mayoral hopefuls Johnny Moore and Lynn Spruill will face-off in a runoff on Tuesday. Spruill, 64, owns a property management firm, emphasizes her leadership experience in municipal government and touts a vision of strengthening the city's economic vitality. Moore, 56, is a real estate attorney who wants to cultivate a more business friendly image in Starkville and loosen up regulations in order to attract new businesses. With no other candidates in the race, the primary winner will cruise unopposed into City Hall. Spruill's message emphasizes a need for Starkville to retain more Mississippi State University graduates and also wants to create stronger cooperative bonds between the city, the university and Oktibbeha County. Moore has highlighted business-friendliness in his campaign. A key component of this would be an effort to streamline the development review process, according to the candidate.
 
After tie, Starkville's Ward 1 sees runoff
Following protracted uncertainty during which the Ward 1 Republican primary's outcome changed three times, finally ending as a tie, voters get the final say on Tuesday. Two-term incumbent alderman Ben Carver, 36, faces challenger James Camp, 29, in Tuesday's runoff race in Starkville. The runoff winner competes against Democratic candidate Christine Williams, 44, in the June 6 general election. The road to this week's runoff has been bumpy. Getting voters back to the polls for a runoff is challenging enough. But Camp and Carver face an additional hurdle: there's a Democratic primary runoff the same day, a runoff that will decide Starkville's next mayor.
 
Soybeans: Mississippi planting early, US could set record
A warm winter and spring have let Mississippi farmers plant soybeans early, and they expect to exceed last year's planting. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 69 percent of the crop had been planted by the end of April. That compares to an average of 38 percent by that date over the past five years. Mississippi State University Extension Service soybean specialist Trent Irby says that's phenomenal. He says mid-to-late April plantings get the best yields, because the beans can benefit from summer rains and avoid late-season stresses that include heat and low rainfall.
 
Cheryl Prewitt's 37-year-old gown heads to state pageant
Cheryl Prewitt Salem is borrowing something from the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum for a special occasion. The former Miss America will wear a lavender gown long showcased at the museum when she emcees the 2017 Miss Mississippi pageant in June. Prewitt Salem, an Ackerman native, wore that same gown in 1981 when she passed down her Miss America crown. "I would like to take those who are as old as I am down memory lane a bit," said Prewitt Salem, now 60 and living in California. "But I promise I will return it back to the heritage museum as safely and quickly as possible." Prewitt, a Mississippi State University alumna who also won Miss Starkville and Miss Mississippi honors in 1979, became the third ever representative of the Magnolia State to capture the Miss America crown, winning it in 1980.
 
Mississippi leads effort to prevent ag, copper thefts
For a non-profit school that caters to hearing impaired children, losing $100,000 could close doors. In January of 2008, Magnolia Speech School in Jackson held a benefit to raise $100,000 after thieves pulled apart the school's air conditioning units looking for copper wiring. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann got steamed when he heard the news because he has family members who had gone through some of the programs at the school. Hosemann found that one problem was that scrap metal dealers were often unknowingly taking in stolen copper and aluminum by offering cash to the people that brought it in. On farms in the Mississippi Delta, the problem was even more pronounced. Tractors, ATVs, trailers -- they were all being sneaked off farms and chopped up for their materials or in some cases sold whole.
 
Mississippi drivers demanding more specialty car tags
Expensive license plates, like heat and humidity, are just a fact of life in Mississippi. Complaining about them is a unifying feature of the state's culture. License plates can cost hundreds of dollars annually for city, county and school taxes. The newer the vehicle and the higher the local taxes, the harder a driver's wallet is hit. Still, tens of thousands of people willingly shell out a few extra bucks a year for a specialty car tag to express something about their personalities or their priorities. Drivers can show off logos for public and private universities in the state, and for a few schools from other places. They can support wildlife or NASCAR or even the New Orleans Saints. They can proclaim their love of the blues or Elvis Presley, or their support for bicycling, kickboxing or youth soccer. The state has a long list of specialty tags that grows longer each legislative session as new groups request permission for a state-sanctioned design.
 
Lottery members say task is to gather facts
Only one House member on the committee Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, formed to study the lottery, voted during the 2017 legislative session in favor of an amendment trying to enact the lottery. In addition, when announcing members of the committee earlier this month, Gunn said, "The purpose of the study group is to gather information to show that the lottery is not the windfall that all its supporters claim it will be." Such comments and committee appointments, perhaps are what prompted Gov. Phil Bryant to say, "It is sort of an anti-lottery committee. You all get together and tell us why a lottery won't work, and I'm the speaker and I want you to do that. I appreciate the speaker's position on this and we're continuing to look at the numbers." But members of the committee say their charge from the speaker is not to make a recommendation on the lottery, but to gather information and compile a report.
 
Rep. Becky Currie: We have a big problem
Rep. Becky Currie spent the weeks after the legislative session ended looking around the state for "pots of money to see if there was extra money in them" to fund infrastructure improvements throughout the state. Currie, R-Brookhaven, is on a special committee taxed with finding funding solutions to fulfill the Mississippi Department of Transportation's request for the $300 million it said it needs over its $1 billion budget. The committee created a "Top 10" of sorts, which House Speaker Philip Gunn whittled down to a seven-point plan. He shared that with Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Gov. Phil Bryant. "So far we have not heard back," she said. "We have a big problem fixing to happen." Bryant will be calling a special session for June 5 to get approvals on the budgets for the attorney general's office and MDOT.
 
Gov. Phil Bryant blasts slow progress on mental health reform
Gov. Phil Bryant criticized the Department of Mental Health on Friday, suggesting the agency's priorities are outdated and calling on the department to shift funding from institutions towards community-based care. Bryant's remarks echo a U.S. Justice Department lawsuit filed in September 2016 demanding the Department of Mental Health transition many of its resources from institutions to home care. Bryant said the Department of Mental Health has not acted quickly enough to address these concerns. "I am absolutely stunned that the Department of Mental Health continues to support their institutions. In the 1990s they built several of these across the state because that was the standard of care," Bryant said. "But they're reinforcing old continuums of mental health care. We're being sued by the federal government. We should be putting more (resources) into community based care."
 
Municipal candidates race to Tuesday's runoff finish
Former state representative and Clarksdale mayoral candidate Chuck Espy stood in front the Coahoma Community College band and dance team Thursday as they made a special performance for his get-out-the-vote rally. For a video camera, Espy held up four fingers and mouthed "Ward 4," a majority African-American community where the event was held -- a place Espy claims Clarksdale Mayor Bill Luckett has neglected the past three years. "I know I treat everyone in this town fairly regardless of race," said Luckett, who leads the majority black (80 percent) town and said he's been unfairly painted as a racist throughout the election season. Luckett isn't the only incumbent in a Mississippi city who faces a runoff. In the metro area, there are runoffs in Jackson, Canton and Pearl.
 
DeSoto County computers facing ransomware threat
In our internet-driven society, computer users continue to be hit by hackers who enjoy causing havoc, and in some cases, being able to extract money, from people who don't take necessary protections for their systems and the important files they generate. The latest threat is called "ransomware," which as of Friday has reached 99 countries, including DeSoto County and Mid-South clients of Southaven-based DeSoto Technology Group, said DTG technician Austin Avery. "We've had a few customers who have been hit with ransomware," Avery said. "In this area it is prevalent and internationally it is a known issue."
 
Rep. Bennie Thompson Speaks on 'Trumpcare,' Reasons for Comey Firing
The American Health Care Act is a bad bill for Mississippians, U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said at a town hall at Cardozo Middle School in Jackson Thursday night. Thompson, the state's only Democrat in Congress, said AHCA would affect the majority of people in the state who rely on Medicare, Medicaid and other health benefits. Thompson focused on the bill's proposed changes that could increase the cost of premiums for seniors, as well as use of a pre-existing condition to deny health coverage. Thompson said the ACHA would significantly affect Mississippi, which relies heavily on federal funding. "Medicaid benefits will be cut significantly," Thompson told reporters Thursday night. "We're optimistic that the Senate will take a more deliberative approach to it, and one that won't adversely impact the number of Mississippians we're talking about," Thompson said. During his remarks at the town hall, Thompson encouraged those attending to reach out to U.S. Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker about the potential health-care legislation.
 
Cochran, Wicker Want Obama-era Hold Lifted on Program to Combat Illegal Shrimp Import Activities
U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) are part of a bipartisan group of Senators asking the Trump administration to jumpstart a program to track illegal activities associated with shrimp imported into the United States. The Mississippi Senators recently signed a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross asking the administration to lift a stay imposed by the Obama administration that excluded shrimp from being in the Seafood Import Monitoring Program. The program was created to help track unlawful activities related to shrimp and seafood imports. The letter asserts the program is needed to counter "the scale and scope of fraud and other illegal activities in the shrimp import supply chain." Commercial shrimp harvesting and processing production in Mississippi totaled more than 40 million pounds in 2015 and is valued at $111.5 million. The industry in Mississippi had an estimated $122.5 million direct and indirect economic impact on the state in 2015.
 
Trump's expected choice for USDA science job lacks hard-science background
The Trump administration is planning to nominate Sam Clovis -- the Department of Agriculture's senior White House adviser -- as head of USDA's Research, Education and Economics division, according to individuals briefed on the decision. The move would mark a break with recent Republican and Democratic administrations alike, which have previously reserved the high-level position for scientists with expertise in agricultural research. Clovis --- a former economics professor and talk radio host in Iowa who served as one of the Trump campaign's first policy advisers -- has bachelor's degrees in political science and government, a master's in business administration and a doctoral degree in public administration, according to his LinkedIn page. In other public biographies he's emphasized his 25-year stint in the Air Force and expertise in national security and foreign policy.
 
Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue touts Trump's role in USDA's mission
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Thursday sold the USDA reorganization as a clear message that the Trump administration is committed to farmers and rural Americans, adding that the plan aligns with the president's vision for a more efficient and effective government. During his announcement of the shakeup in Cincinnati, Perdue touted President Donald Trump's role in creating a more trade-focused and business-friendly department. The changes, the secretary said, will help create jobs and boost farmers' bottom lines. While there was general consensus among farm groups and lawmakers that the newly created undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs position is a step in the right direction, the shakeup in USDA's rural development mission triggered sharp criticism from Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and the National Rural Housing Coalition.
 
Republicans and Democrats agree: If Trump has tapes, he'll need to turn them over to Congress
In the six days since President Trump abruptly fired FBI director James B. Comey, concern from both parties has mounted about the selection of a replacement and the president's suggestion that he may have secretly taped conversations with the ousted director. Key Republican and Democratic lawmakers on Sunday called for Trump to turn over any recorded conversations, based on a tantalizing tweet the president sent last week that said, "James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!" "If there are any tapes of this conversation, they need to be turned over," Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) told NBC's "Meet the Press," underscoring a strong bipartisan reaction to the suggestion of White House tapes. After a week of turmoil, none of Trump's top aides appeared on the major Sunday morning news shows to defend and explain the president's decision.
 
Meacham, Lack: Trump is in his element dealing with news media
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jon Meacham and NBC News chairman Andy Lack said Friday that President Donald Trump's long experience with TV and New York tabloids was used deftly by him to curry favor with voters in "real America" who were not covered closely by the news media. "He doesn't hate the media, and he doesn't hate the news world at all, fake news notwithstanding," said Lack. "He actually loves it. He can't get enough of it. He is just a creature of TV." Said Meacham: "He knows our (news media) DNA. He knows the press by and large is like second graders at a soccer game ...everyone chases the ball and nobody stays in position." Their comments came in an hour-long conversation at the University of Mississippi presented by Mississippi Today and sponsored by the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics and the Meek School of Journalism and New Media.
 
Modes to protect university research for tech transfer have shifted dramatically
The field of technology transfer from higher education to business and commercial developments once focused strongly on obtaining patents for products developed by university research. Today, there are many commercialization projects that may benefit more from other types of protection, said Chase Kasper, assistant vice president for research, technology transfer and corporate relations, University of Southern Mississippi. Kasper has been involved in the field of tech transfer since 2003, spending 10 years at Mississippi State University before coming to USM about five years ago. In that time he has seen a remarkable shift in the models used to protect research developments. "It is exciting to see the innovations coming out of higher education in the State of Mississippi," he said.
 
Thousands celebrate Ole Miss spring graduation
Ole Miss students took the next step in life on Saturday. Thousands gathered to watch about 5,000 students received their diplomas in Oxford. Pulitzer Prize-winning author and presidential historian Jon Meacham served as the keynote speaker. He urged graduates to remain engaged and improve themselves as well as their communities. "I hope they live lives of great consequence," Meacham said. "It's a critical time in the history of America and of the world. It's a critical time in our democracy, and the values of an education like Ole Miss are the values we need in the life of the Republic."
 
William Carey's Tommy King: 10 years of 'vision, heart, intellect'
When Tommy King took over as president of William Carey University in February 2007, he didn't have a grace period. As acting president since September 2006, after predecessor Larry Kennedy died of Lou Gehrig's disease, King had been wrestling with a problem of monumental proportions. "Hurricane Katrina had destroyed our Gulf Coast campus, and we were operating in about 40 portable units and our night classes were meeting in a local church," King recalled. "My first major task was to locate property for a new campus. "We needed to get back on track or lose our enrollment." King looked back on that time recently as he marked his 10-year anniversary as Carey's president. During the past decade, he has surmounted several challenges, while increasing enrollment and the university's endowment. People who know him say he has done an exemplary job leading Carey into a new period of growth and development.
 
Meridian Community College graduate on Friday, employee on Monday
Precision Manufacturing and Machining graduate Hunter Smith was one of 556 graduates from Meridian Community College on Friday. Come Monday, the 22-year-old Meridianite will be working full time as a computer numerical control (CNC) programmer with GMJ Aerospace Machine Works in Wilmer, Ala. But he's not the only one from his Precision Machining class set to advance to the workplace or university. There are five others. "All of our 2016-17 graduates are placed before graduation and many will start work on May 15," said Brian Warren, MCC chairman of the Industrial Division and coordinator and instructor of the Precision Manufacturing and Machining Technology Program. "We only have one graduate that will not be going to work. He has been accepted into the University of Mississippi and will pursue his degree in mechanical engineering starting Fall 2017 before entering industry. I still consider this a success since it is directly related to our industry and that was his stated goal when he started the program two years ago. We are once again at 100 percent placement and could have easily placed a dozen more," Warren said.
 
Auburn pays $29,000 to end lawsuit over white nationalist
Auburn University's failed, one-day fight to prevent a white nationalist from speaking on campus will cost nearly $30,000 in legal fees under an agreement approved by a federal judge. School officials said they agreed to pay $29,000 in legal fees "to avoid more costly litigation costs" stemming from the university's attempt to block Richard Spencer from speaking in a campus auditorium last month. A judge approved ending the suit on Friday, court records show. The money will go to an attorney for Cameron Padgett, the Georgia man who filed suit to reverse the school's decision barring Spencer from speaking at Auburn.
 
LSU awards record number of degrees amid what governor called 'difficult circumstances'
Gov. John Bel Edwards pretty much kept to the traditional platitudes in speaking early Friday at the LSU commencement. "Y'all have done an excellent job under difficult circumstances, more difficult than they should have been," Edwards said, noting the August rains that flooded part of the LSU campus and the homes of many students. LSU's 292nd commencement exercises awarded 4,163 degrees on Friday. "Please take advantage of this opportunity," he said. "Find ways, great and small, to make our world a better place." Edwards also suggested that the graduating students end the day hugging their Moms even though Mother's Day is Sunday. "This is her day too," he said. But the Democratic governor also worked in a few swipes at the Republican-dominated Legislature, without mentioning it by name.
 
Apollo 17 astronaut honored at U. of Tennessee graduation ceremony
Former senator and Apollo 17 astronaut Dr. Harrison Schmitt spoke to over 1,100 graduates from the University of Tennessee College of Arts and Sciences on Saturday as part of the commencement ceremony for the college's class of 2017. Schmitt, who was one of the last astronauts to set foot on the moon, addressed the assembly of graduates, family members and friends at Thompson-Boling Arena and was presented with an honorary doctoral degree from the university by Chancellor Beverly Davenport. Schmitt encouraged the graduates to be prepared for the multitude of opportunities that their futures would hold. "You never quite know what's going to happen, and the important thing is to be ready for almost anything," he said. "Get as much education as you can and as much wisdom as you can as life goes on."
 
U. of South Carolina President Harris Pastides to receive Ellis Island medal
Nearly 70 years after his parents left an idyllic Mediterranean island for a one-bedroom basement apartment in cold, rainy New York City, Harris Pastides is making his first trip to the spot where they arrived in America. Though Andreas and Anastasia Pastides died years ago, the University of South Carolina's president hopes somehow his parents will be watching Saturday when he receives the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, given to outstanding children of immigrants. "They're the ones who sacrificed, not me," an emotional Pastides told The State newspaper in an interview this week. "When I get this medal, I'm not really going to be much thinking about me. I'm going to be thinking about them." Pastides' path to the award -- which also has gone to six U.S. presidents as well as to Hillary Clinton, Frank Sinatra, Muhammad Ali and Rosa Parks -- began six years before his birth.
 
Faculty and Students Assail Texas A&M President's Criticism of Professor
Faculty members, students, and others at Texas A&M University at College Station are pushing back against its president's criticism of what a philosophy professor said were his remarks taken out of context by a conservative critic. Several graduate students have started an online petition in which they denounce a statement by the president, Michael K. Young, as "incredibly irresponsible." By Friday morning, roughly 300 people had signed the petition in support of Tommy Curry, an associate professor of philosophy. "As members of the Texas A&M community, Aggies, and former students, particularly those of us who identify as Aggies of color, we are deeply alarmed and saddened by President Young's decision to not support Dr. Curry in the face of these attacks," the petition reads. "President Young's response has not only exacerbated the situation but has legitimized dangerous and harmful rhetoric against a black professor at Texas A&M University."
 
Texas A&M professor defends remarks, questions Young's response
A Texas A&M professor admonished this week for remarks made in 2012 regarding race said his words have been taken out of context and mischaracterized by the university's president. Tommy Curry, a tenured professor in the philosophy department, was thrust into the spotlight earlier this week when a story published online by The American Conservative accused Curry of discussing when it's "appropriate to kill whites." A&M President Michael K. Young issued a statement online late Wednesday that doesn't identify Curry, but refers to the professor's 2012 interview as featuring "disturbing comments about race and violence that stand in stark contrast to Aggie core values -- most notable those of respect, excellence, leadership and integrity -- values that we hold true toward all humanity." What's not explained in the conservative magazine's article -- which drew comments calling for Curry to be fired -- is that he never outlined when it would be OK to kill anyone.
 
More than 1,800 Aggies cross stage during rare Kyle Field graduation ceremony
More than 1,800 engineering students received their diplomas Saturday morning at Kyle Field in the first ceremony of its kind in recent memory at Texas A&M. The Kyle Field venue offered a unique experience. Graduates "whooped" when a Wellborn Road train passed the stadium, and hundreds of family and friends of graduates gathered in the Hall of Champions and Legacy Club to escape the rising temperatures and watch the three-hour ceremony from dozens of wide-screen televisions. Overall, more than 10,000 Aggies received their diplomas this week. Filled with joy and celebration for most -- and relief for some -- the ceremony also featured more solemn moments, including university officials honoring the late Ross Travis Lightfoot, who was killed in a February car accident in Bryan. He would have received a bachelor's degree in computer engineering.
 
Columbia begins to see impact of declining enrollment at U. of Missouri
Cut-rate student housing and a job fair for displaced University of Missouri employees are among the first signs of how budget cuts and declining enrollment will impact Columbia. Landlords eager to lease bedrooms before the semester ended last week were offering gift cards of up to $1,000 or rent reductions worth the same or more to lure renters. They are getting squeezed from two directions -- the number of upperclassmen allowed to live off campus will drop by about 1,400 and new buildings a few steps from campus will add almost 700 units to the market. This fall, the university is expecting its smallest incoming freshman class in almost 20 years. Overall enrollment will decline, perhaps as much as 6 percent, as 5,484 students depart following graduation and this year's small freshman class advances. Since World War II, growth at MU has meant growth for Columbia.
 
U. of Missouri graduates told to keep curiosity alive
In his remarks to the Honors Convocation on Saturday morning, University of Missouri System President Mun Choi turned to rapper Eminem for inspiration. Over their academic careers, he said, the students in Mizzou Arena had been helped by sacrifices by their family, lessons learned from friends and professors who challenged them, inspired them and gave them confidence. "So from time to time, they would say, look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment, would you capture it, or just let it slip," Choi said, quoting the opening lines of "Lose Yourself." Opportunities and setbacks will be a part of life, he said. "You will overcome the setbacks by relying on your education," Choi concluded.
 
U. of Missouri recognizes 5,500 graduates during commencement weekend
Students in graduation caps and gowns walked toward Mizzou Arena early Saturday with purpose and determination. They were hustling to line up for recognition at the Missouri Honors Convocation, which began at 8:30 a.m. The honors distinction at the University of Missouri is accorded to students who maintain a 3.5 grade point average or higher. For an honors certificate, they must take 20 hours of honors credit, but qualification for Latin honors depends exclusively on a cumulative grade point. The Honors Convocation was the first of several commencement ceremonies on Saturday, the second day of graduation activities at MU. This year, MU will award 6,088 degrees, including 4,450 bachelor's degrees, 967 master's degrees, 338 doctorates, 99 law degrees, 112 veterinary medicine degrees, 100 medicine degrees and 22 education specialist degrees. Some students will receive more than one degree.
 
At Liberty University commencement, Trump Aligns with 'Outsider' Evangelicals
Returning to Liberty University for the first time since his election, President Trump gave a commencement address here Saturday that entwined ideas of religious freedom with the anti-establishment fervor that propelled him into office. "In America," he said, "we don't worship government; we worship God." For President Trump and Jerry L. Falwell Jr., Liberty's president and an early supporter of Mr. Trump's presidential campaign, the event solidified a political partnership and a burgeoning friendship that has been built on a mutual distaste for political correctness and convention. That common ethos has at times positioned both men in opposition to much of higher education, where careful language and cultural sensitivity are deeply embedded and highly valued.
 
Private colleges and universities increase tuition discounting again in 2016-17
Tuition discounting at private colleges and universities is up again. Tuition revenue is straining to keep up. And enrollment is weak. Those are the top takeaways from the 2016 Tuition Discounting Study from the National Association of College and University Business Officers. The latest version of the annual study, which was released today, provides a look at how much colleges and universities are awarding students in scholarships and grants -- and how much they are effectively undercutting their own tuition and fee sticker prices. It also offers a glimpse at how such tuition discounts affect other key measures of college and university financial health. The latest findings show no break from long-established trends of rising tuition discounting.
 
Pitching Rural, Low-Income Students on Private Colleges
Small, quiet Linfield College -- set in bucolic Oregon wine country, about an hour outside Portland -- is not for every student. On a rainy Monday morning here in April, an introductory environmental-studies class has just one attendee. Only two other students are on the roster, and, as the professor points out, one is at a track meet. The main campus of the private, nonprofit liberal arts college is on 185 mostly green acres and has only 1,700 students, most of whom live in the residential halls. It's a stark contrast to the better-known large public universities where commuting is common, and lecture halls often hold several hundred students. Yet Linfield is the kind of postsecondary institution that Oregon's version of GEAR UP, a federally funded college-access program, is now trying to get more rural, low-income, and first-generation college-going students to see as an option.
 
Critics: proposed legislation on 1st Amendment rights at Wisconsin public universities goes too far
Numerous states are considering legislation designed to ensure free speech on college campuses, following violent protests over speakers at the University of California, Berkeley, and Middlebury College. Some of the bills would, controversially, mandate punishing students who disrupt campus speakers and require institutions to keep mum on political issues -- and perhaps nowhere has the debate been as contentious as in Wisconsin. Republican lawmakers who support a bill there say it would ensure all views may be heard across public universities. Those opposed question the proposal's scope and see it as one more legislative incursion into academic life. That's following last session's gutting of legal protections for tenure in Wisconsin. Under the bill, "protests and demonstrations that interfere with the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity shall not be permitted and shall be subject to sanction." Namely, students who have twice been found responsible "for interfering with the expressive rights of others" would face a one-semester suspension at minimum, up to possible expulsion.
 
Exploring online options for K-12
Angela Farmer, an assistant professor of educational leadership at Mississippi State University, writes: "In the complex world of K-12 education in the United States, one assertion is certain, much like the famous Bob Dylan song, 'The Times They Are a-Changin'' has never been more true. Leading the change, evidenced daily, is the expanding development and utilization of online educational options for students and families. Just a simple search for online K-12 education options, immediately leads to a plethora of options for the consumer. ...With all the opportunities now available, it is paramount that parents constantly evaluate their child's curricular roadmap and do their research into online options, to discover the best-fit educational package to suit their, individual child."
 
Advice for Jackson's new mayor (and not bad advice for all mayors)
Mississippi newspaper publisher and columnist Wyatt Emmerich writes: "So now Jackson will have yet another mayor. Let's pray he's a good one. Incumbent Mayor Tony Yarber only received five percent of the vote. Ouch. Apparently unfilled potholes, cronyism and sexual harassment lawsuits don't sit well with Jackson voters. Like Yarber, our likely new mayor, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, will come to office with practically zero experience in running a city. That does not bode well. What Lumumba does have is an amazingly impressive political victory, beating nine candidates without even a runoff. Wow! Lumumba is quite charismatic. He is a talented speaker and seems to be a natural politician. Listening to his post-election victory speech, Lumumba seemed to say something really significant without saying much of anything specific and offending no one. ...That being said, a great political victory among the Jackson electorate does not guarantee success."
 
Are state leaders ready for big cuts in federal funds?
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: "Topnotch finance experts assess risks and plan for downturns as diligently as they evaluate and promote upside opportunities. Mississippi's economy has become more reliant than ever on federal funds. Should President Donald Trump and conservative leaders succeed in their plans to slash federal spending, the risks to our state economy would be substantial, if we aren't ready. So, do our state leaders have topnotch experts assessing risks facing state finances? If so, what do their forecasts show should federal dollars decline dramatically? And what are our leaders' plans should the cuts come true?"
 
Access to information hasn't made us less angry
Longtime Mississippi journalist Charlie Mitchell writes: "Don't trust the media? Most people (according to media reports) don't. And that's fine because we all live in a new day. Anyone with internet access can go on endless fact-finding missions all by themselves. News is bountiful. ...In 2017, given the volume of information just a click away, some might be so bold (me) as to think journalists should be thanked for wading in and trying to pull out relevant facts, even if their bias shows. That's not going to happen, given that we have been declared "enemies of the American people." Here's the nut, though. Like no time in history, people have direct access to facts. Yes, there's a lot of nonsense in cyberspace, but in the history of humanity no generation has ever had anywhere near the level of actual truths available instantaneously. It would seem that if we all have the same information, it would be more likely that we could find common ground -- spend time on solutions."


SPORTS
 
Mississippi State to host Dudy Noble Field Celebration Series vs. LSU
As Mississippi State baseball approaches the end of the regular season, the Bulldogs will host the Dudy Noble Field Celebration Series when MSU takes on LSU in a three-game set May 18-20 in Starkville. The Thursday-Saturday series will celebrate the history of Dudy Noble Field and Bulldog Baseball in advance of construction beginning on the school's new stadium following the conclusion of the 2017 season. Game times are 6 p.m. Thursday, 6:30 p.m. Friday and 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Over the course of the weekend, MSU will honor its seniors on the field, highlight the greatest fans in college baseball and welcome Diamond Dawg greats from all generations. A host of events and activities are planned throughout the course of the Dudy Noble Field Celebration Series.
 
First inning home run sinks Mississippi State in rubber match
No. 6 Mississippi State could not recover from a two-run homer in the first inning by Georgia on Sunday afternoon. For a second straight day, the Bulldogs were held to one run as MSU dropped a 4-1 decision to Georgia in the final game of a three-game Southeastern Conference series at Foley Field. After winning the series opener 9-3 Friday, MSU was beaten 4-1 in back-to-back games. The Maroon and White failed to win their seventh conference series of the season. Entering the final weekend of conference play, MSU remains in second place in the Western Division at 33-19 overall and 17-10 in league play. Georgia improved to 22-30 and 9-18.
 
Georgia clinches series against No. 6 Mississippi State
Sunday might have been his birthday, but it was business as usual for Chase Adkins. The Georgia starter went six scoreless in a 4-1 Bulldog win, marking the second straight series win for the Bulldogs (22-30, 9-18 SEC). It was the second straight day Georgia's starting pitcher had a birthday, prompting head coach Scott Stricklin to quip that "we gotta change some birth certificates the rest of the year." Adkins revealed that he had been sick for most of the past week, so much so that Stricklin gave him an extra day of rest -- he was supposed to pitch on Saturday. He threw a bullpen session on Wednesday and felt worse after it, Stricklin said. "He was just pushing through," Stricklin said.
 
5 thoughts on Mississippi State baseball: Can Bulldogs still host a regional?
or Mississippi State, losing two of three games to Georgia, which entered the series in last place in the SEC East, over the weekend was poorly-timed. The Bulldogs were in first place in the SEC West after winning the opener on Friday and were in prime position to win the conference and host a regional. Now, after its starting pitching faltered and its offense was held to two runs over the last two games, Mississippi State will end its regular season with a four-game homestand. The Bulldogs (33-19, 17-10 SEC) play Troy (30-21) in a non-conference game at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday before ending the season with a three-game series against first-place LSU (35-17, 18-9) starting on Friday. Here are five things to know as Mississippi State heads into its final week before the postseason.
 
Five finalists selected for Ferriss Trophy
It was not a surprise to see Mississippi State's Brent Rooker on the list of finalists for the Ferriss Trophy announced on Monday. The junior first baseman leads the Southeastern Conference in home runs, batting average, RBIs, doubles, slugging percentage, on-base percentage and total bases. Joining Rooker as a finalist is Taylor Braley, Matt Walner and Dylan Burdeaux of Southern Miss along with Delta State's Zach Shannon. MSU outfielder Jake Mangum claimed the Ferriss Trophy as a freshman last year.
 
Five C Spire Ferriss Trophy finalists announced
Mississippi sports columnist Rick Cleveland writes: "Three Southern Miss standouts, Mississippi State's Brent Rooker and Delta State's Zach Shannon are the five finalists for the C Spire Ferriss Trophy, chosen by Major League baseball scouts and college coaches. The Ferriss Trophy will be presented at a luncheon Monday, May 22, at 11:30 a.m. at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. Former Ole Miss and Major League standout Donnie Kessinger, a Mississippi Sports Hall of Famer, will be the featured speaker. ...Rooker, a junior from Germantown, Tenn., is among national leaders in nearly all offensive categories. He is hitting .409 with 25 doubles, 3 triples and 20 home runs while knocking in 68 runs. His slugging percentage is a remarkable .898."
 
Dak Prescott bobblehead figure almost as popular as the QB himself
It's a rite of passage for any big time play maker in the NFL --- and now, Dallas Cowboys rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot have been forever immortalized. The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum on Friday unveiled bobblehead figures of the Cowboys duo. The bobbleheads are limited editions and are available online for $40. The figures are limited to 2017 pieces. So popular is the former Mississippi State passer that Phil Sklar, Co-Found and CEO of the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum contacted the Sun Herald to say that "Dak Prescott is extremely well loved in Mississippi, as the first batch of his Mississippi State bobbleheads sold out in near record time this morning." Sklar said as a result, additional bobbleheads will be produced and will be ready "just in time for football season. "Although orders have come in from across the country, the vast majority have been from Mississippi."
 
Dak Prescott Mississippi State bobblehead sells out
A limited edition bobblehead featuring Dallas Cowboys' standout Dak Prescott was unveiled and sold out in near record time according to the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum. On Friday morning the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum unveiled limited edition bobbleheads featuring two of the NFL's biggest young stars---Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. The bobbleheads feature Prescott and Elliott in their college uniforms. The initial production run was for 144 of the 2,017 bobbleheads, and the Hall of Fame and Museum is now taking preorders for the remaining bobbleheads. Before leading the Dallas Cowboys to a dramatic turnaround in 2016 during their rookie campaigns, Prescott was a stand-out at Mississippi State and Elliott helped lead Ohio State to a National Championship.
 
Mississippi State softball will play BYU in NCAA tournament
Last August, Mississippi State softball coach Vann Stuedeman was encouraged because her senior class wanted to leave a legacy. The legacy was fulfilled Sunday night as MSU returned to NCAA tournament regional play with a berth in the Salt Lake City Regional. No. 3 seed MSU (36-20) will face No. 2 seed BYU (44-11) at 5 p.m. Thursday at Dumke Family Softball Stadium on the University of Utah campus. The other matchup will feature No. 1 seed and No. 11 national seed Utah (33-14) against No. 4 seed Fordham (45-15) at 7:30 p.m. The Salt Lake City Regional winner will face the winner of the Seattle Regional. "Our legacy is cemented now," MSU senior pitcher Alexis Silkwood said. "After the disappointment of last season, we wanted to play in a regional. It was our job as the senior class to get this program back where it belongs. That means playing in the postseason. The disappointment hurt last year. We won't ever let go of that. This is a much better feeling. We feel like we have done our part with a legacy."
 
Mississippi State's NCAA Softball Tournament destination revealed
After missing the NCAA Tournament and winning only three conference games last year, Mississippi State softball coach Vann Stuedeman spoke in February about how that experience would set up a comeback this season. While all of that made for good preseason coach speak, there was plenty of truth there, too. Mississippi State returned six position starters along with senior starting pitcher Alexis Silkwood. The hope, from Stuedeman's perspective, was that the Bulldogs would learn from playing its tough schedule and turn things around in 2017. Things did improve this season. The Bulldogs are 36-20 overall and finished 10-14 in the SEC, which had 10 teams ranked in the latest top 25 poll with MSU missing out by seven votes. And on Sunday, it was announced MSU returned to the NCAA Softball Tournament, along with the rest of the SEC.
 
Ole Miss, Mississippi State punch tickets to NCAA Softball Regionals
SEC Tournament champion Ole Miss and Mississippi State both earned trips to the NCAA Softball Regional. Ole Miss earned a No. 12 national seed and will host an NCAA Regional. The Rebels will play Southern Illinois at 8:30 p.m. Friday night. MSU will play BYU in the Salt Lake City Regional at 5 p.m. Thursday night in Salt Lake City, Utah. If the Bulldogs win, they will face the Utah-Fordham winner. Utah is the 11th national seed. Other SEC teams chosen to host regionals were seventh-seeded Auburn, No. 8 seed Tennessee, No. 9 seed Texas A&M, No. 13 seed LSU, No. 14 seed Kentucky and No. 16 Alabama. Thirteen SEC teams earned NCAA Tournament bids, the most ever from one conference.
 
Peng Pichaikool enjoys first season with Mississippi State golf team
Peng Pichaikool was given no welcoming period to collegiate golf. The average student that enters universities in the fall can compete in limited fall tournaments, doing so knowing the championship season isn't until the spring. Pichaikool came to Mississippi State in January. He didn't need a grace period. Pichaikool's first semester as a Bulldog started with a tied-for-third finish in the Mobile Sports Authority Intercollegiate. It will end with his appearance in the NCAA Tournament, the only Buildog to be invited as an individual. Pichaikool was placed in the Baton Rouge regional and will begin play at LSU's University Club Monday. "He hits the ball so long and so straight, he can overpower any golf course," said former MSU coach Clay Homan, who announced his retirement after the Southeastern Conference Championships.
 
Coach Doc Sadler's contract not extended at Southern Miss
Doc Sadler has three years remaining on his current contract, which expires March 31, 2020. That marks a change for Sadler since he became the Southern Miss men's basketball coach in 2014. His original four-year deal included an automatic extension clause. The length of the contract would automatically roll over at the end of each season, per the provision, unless the university provided Sadler written notice on or before the fifth day following the last game of the year. Sadler, who makes $350,000 a year, recently told the Hattiesburg American he was notified in March that his contract would not be extended. "Bottom line, we could sit here and make excuses all day long," he said. "(For instance), we're still up against the (penalties from the NCAA investigation), but this is a business about winning and losing and nothing else. It's just a business."
 
LSU dialed up the aggressiveness at plate to 'make something happen' in sweep of Auburn
LSU did not put up gaudy offensive numbers during its sweep of Auburn, but it made its chances count with aggressiveness and unselfishness. The home Tigers hit just .261 in their three-game series against Auburn, and hit below .235 in two of the contests. They went just 8-for-31 with runners in scoring position (.258) and 5-for-29 with two outs (.172). Still, LSU averaged six runs per contest. The key number in the series was LSU's ability to advance runners once they got on base. LSU went 29-for-54 in advancement opportunities -- meaning when its hitters came to the plate with a runner on base in front of them, they moved him up at least one base nearly 54 percent of the time.
 
7-game losing streak drops Auburn baseball onto NCAA Tournament bubble
At this time two weeks ago, we were talking up the Auburn baseball team as a potential surprise national seed. Fresh off sweeping a Saturday doubleheader in Starkville, Miss., to take two out of three from Mississippi State, the Tigers were tied for first place in the SEC West and not too far removed from having the best record in the conference. At 32-14, coach Butch Thompson's team had risen to a top-five ranking. Two weeks later, though, there seems almost zero chance Auburn could host a Regional, let alone the Super Regional the national seeds will. After seven straight losses, the Tigers are seventh in the SEC standings. They don't even look to be a sure lock to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015.
 
No. 5 Gators sweep Alabama, set up league-deciding homestand
No. 5 Florida continued to roll Sunday after a 10-5 win over Alabama to finish off a third consecutive weekend sweep in Southeastern Conference play. The Gators (38-14, 19-8 SEC) have won 10 league games in a row and 18 of the last 21 overall to take over first place in the league standings. Florida returns home to finish out the regular season with a huge three-game series against No. 9 Kentucky at McKethan Stadium. The Gators hold a one-game lead over the Wildcats in the SEC East division standings.The series opens Thursday with a 7 p.m. start on ESPN. Game two on Friday is at 7 p.m. on SEC Network and the finale will be Saturday at 1 p.m.
 
Aggie baseball team drops road series to Ole Miss
David Parkinson pitched six solid innings to lead the Ole Miss baseball team to a series-clinching 6-3 Southeastern Conference victory over 19th-ranked Texas A&M on Sunday at Swayze Field. Ole Miss (31-21, 13-14), nursing a 3-1 lead since the fourth, scored three runs in the eighth inning as Tate Blackman hit a solo home run and Colby Bortles added a two-run homer, his 10th of the season. A&M (35-17, 14-12), losing its second straight series after winning the opener, scored runs in the ninth on a home run by freshman Jorge Gutierrez, his fourth of the season, and a single by senior Nick Choruby. "It's a very disappointing finish to the weekend," A&M coach Rob Childress said. "In the end we weren't good enough in any area of the game to deserve to win. When you start the game by loading the bases and giving away two runs, it's a tough hill to climb."
 
Sweep of Tennessee keeps Kentucky baseball in SEC title hunt
After dropping two of three games to visiting Georgia last weekend, the University of Kentucky baseball team faced an uphill battle in the race for the Southeastern Conference regular-season championship. Trailing both Mississippi State and Florida in the standings, UK likely needed a sweep of Tennessee over the weekend to maintain a shot at the title. Mission accomplished. The Cats struck for four first-inning runs and belted out 15 hits, knocking off Tennessee 7-2 at Cliff Hagan Stadium on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep of the Volunteers. Kentucky now trails first-place Florida by one game heading into the final week of the regular season. The Cats host Northern Kentucky on Tuesday night before traveling to Gainesville for a three-game series against the Gators beginning Friday. UK could capture its second SEC regular-season championship in school history (2006).
 
Lee Corso confirms ESPN's College GameDay headed to Atlanta for Alabama-Florida State
ESPN's College GameDay is kicking off the 2017 season in Atlanta's new Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the Alabama-Florida State season-opener for both teams. ESPN analyst and personality Lee Corso confirmed the location Friday during an interview with The Opening Kickoff on WNSP-FM 105.5 in Mobile, Alabama. "We're going to Alabama-Florida State," he said. "It's going to be that one because it is two excellent football teams. We're going to be starting the season going to a tremendous football game." The Labor Day weekend game, set for Sept. 2, may just be a top-five showdown in Atlanta's new stadium. The location of the game appeared to be somewhat in doubt last month when delays in construction were announced.



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