Friday, June 16, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
 
MSU-Meridian physician assistant program added to meet demand
A physician assistant degree program is coming to Meridian. Mississippi State University-Meridian has received approval from the Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning to plan a Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree program. MSU-Meridian will become the first public institution in the state to offer the new program. "There seems to be a market for that particular opportunity, and none of our eight public universities are providing that program now," said C.D. Smith, president of the Board of Trustees for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning. "We think it is a very good thing. There is a demand." Terry Dale Cruse, administrative director and head of campus at MSU-Meridian, said support from the Riley Foundation in Meridian was crucial.
 
New master's degree program approved for MSU-Meridian
The College Board has approved an MSU-Meridian proposal to plan a Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree program. It would make MSU the first public institution in the state to offer the new program. Housed on MSU-Meridian's Riley Campus in downtown Meridian, the program will prepare clinical practitioners to meet critical needs in rural healthcare. The vote Thursday gave Mississippi State permission to move forward, hiring a director to create a program plan, which includes necessary steps to achieve initial accreditation. Physician assistants serve under the supervision of doctors of medicine or osteopathy, making clinical decisions and providing a broad range of diagnostic, therapeutic, preventative and health maintenance services.
 
Bulldog Bash organizers see future in downtown location
Both Bulldog Bash organizers and downtown merchants are hopeful this year's location -- the intersection of Main and Jackson streets -- allows the Mississippi State University Student Association-sponsored event to grow larger and become a spotlight for the area. Growth and safety issues in the Cotton District led to organizers moving the Sept. 15 event, said organizer Allie Nichols, to a location that will better accommodate a crowd of more than 30,000 people in town when Mississippi State University's football team plays Louisiana State University. Utilizing the T-shaped intersection and area's infrastructure will allow for a larger stage, she said, which will provide for a better flow of people and a larger stage area.
 
Camp participants write play at Mississippi State summer program
Mississippi State University's Summer Scholars On Stage program is at the end of its first week, and middle school and high school students are working together to write an original three-act play to perform at the end of the month. The program is a performing arts camp for teenagers from 8th grade to 12th grade. The campers write, produce and perform an original show in three weeks. The students create a custom set for the show and write original music for the performance. Camp Director Joe Ray Underwood said the program began in 1982 and has evolved over the years. Campers stay at one of the residence halls on campus for three weeks while they work. "We have a very nurturing camp, unlike most theater, which is cutthroat," Underwood said. "There are no stars. Everybody is important and everybody has equally important parts."
 
State's wheat crop forecast is a pleasant surprise
Perhaps a fitting culmination to an erratic weather pattern is that Mississippi's winter wheat yield is expected to rise by double digits. Whether the state would even see a crop at all hinged on a drought that pushed planting to late in 2016. A crop was planted, even though it was smaller than the previous year by about 10 percent. However, an unusually dry early spring may have boosted the crop, said Dr. Brian Williams, agricultural economist for the MSU Extension Service, who added that the harvest began only last week. Consequently, the forecast for this season's crop is 2.7 million bushels, compared with the previous year's 2.4 million, according to the USDA's June 9 report.
 
Governor Phil Bryant to Kick Off FPS International Convention at The Mill
Mississippi Governor Bryant will kick off this year's premier event for forest products professionals hosted by the Forest Products Society, an international association with deep roots in the forest products industry. Speaking at opening session of the 71st International Convention on Monday, June 26th, Governor Bryant will highlight the vitality of the forest products industry in Mississippi and the state's contributions to the industry as a whole. The Convention's program themed "The Future of the Global Forest Products Industry" is organized in part by Mississippi State University's College of Forest Resources, and will include presentations on the newest, highly-advanced production facilities, and the newest research.
 
Mississippi Development Authority buys $30K newspaper ad to boost aviation industry
Mississippi is putting the state's aerospace manufacturing industry on national display ahead of a major global aviation business event with a full-page advertisement in the Wall Street Journal's June 14 national edition that highlights several industry titans doing business in Mississippi. The Mississippi Development Authority thinks the ad buy was a good deal that hopefully will pay dividends in advance of next week's Paris Air Show, which draws thousands of aerospace manufacturers from more than 100 countries. The ad lists international companies that have an in-state presence, including GE Aviation, Lockheed Martin, Rolls-Royce, Stark Aerospace and Airbus Helicopters. The ad also boasted about the Federal Aviation Administration's Unmanned Center of Excellence at Mississippi State University.
 
Starkville Main Street earns statewide honor for Night Market
The Starkville Main Street Association took an award home from the Mississippi Main Street Association Banquet held in Jackson Thursday for its Night Market events. The award was in the category of creative new event for municipalities of over 5,000. MMSA President Allison Beasley said this is the Mississippi Main Street Association's most important event of the year. "It gives us an opportunity to meet with and celebrate the local directors and investors throughout the state that are doing the hard work of making our downtown districts more competitive, successful and sustainable," Beasley said. The Night Market offered vendors, food and beverage tastings, artisans, pop-up shops and live music in Fire Station Park on the night of Sept. 2, 2016.
 
Columbus-Lowndes CVB hires Thomas Berkery as sports tourism director
Sports tourism is already strong in Columbus, Thomas Berkery said. If he has his way, it's about to become much stronger. Berkery began working as the Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau's sports tourism director about two weeks ago. Berkery said there are opportunities to use the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway to draw more events and visitors to the city. He said he will also work to draw more people who come to the region for athletic events at Mississippi State University -- which he said is CVB's biggest sports tourism asset -- to Columbus. Berkery, 34, is from Sarasota, Florida. He attended Mississippi State University, where he played baseball from 2002-06. After finishing at MSU, he played three years with the Texas Rangers.
 
Former 1st District Circuit Judge Barry W. Ford appointed to mayoral challenge
Former 1st District Circuit Judge Barry W. Ford will oversee Starkville attorney Johnny Moore's legal challenge of May's mayoral runoff election. Ford, who served the district for about 10 years and as Pontotoc's municipal judge for about 12 years, is one of almost 40 retired judges with senior status recognized by the Mississippi Supreme Court. Those with the designation are appointed to cases in which local judges recuse or are unable to hear. A date for the expected hearing has not yet been set. Moore is contesting his six-vote loss to Mayor-elect Lynn Spruill on the grounds of numerous election irregularities, including issues with accepted and rejected ballots.
 
Mississippi manufacturing leads downturn in state economy
Mississippi's economy slipped again in April primarily because manufacturing workers' average workweek fell below 40 hours for the first time in six years. The "manufacturing employment intensity index" is one of three indices that declined in April, sending the Leading Index of Economic Indicators downward, according to a monthly report issued by the Institutions of Higher Learning's University Research Center. Mary Willoughby, chief of labor market information for the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, said in an email that the manufacturing "wage estimates are based on employer responses from a probability based survey."
 
Rising sea levels pose business challenges for the Mississippi Gulf Coast
Sea levels around the world are rising at greater rates that were initially predicted. What does that mean for coastal areas like the Gulf Coast? Rising sea levels make the Gulf Coast more vulnerable to storm surge associated with hurricanes, said Dr. Torbjorn Tornqvist, chairman of the Tulane University Department of Earth and Environmental Science, who has published research on sea level rise and abrupt climate change. "Even if the hurricane climate wouldn't change, the impact of hurricanes will become increasingly severe because higher sea levels have made the region more vulnerable." Tornqvist said negative impacts from sea level rise are already occurring; this is not just something expected to happen in some point in the distant future.
 
State officials restructure debt to make needed savings
Treasurer Lynn Fitch credits work of the three-member Mississippi Bond Commission with saving the state $32 million during the upcoming, cash-strapped fiscal year. Both Fitch and Gov. Phil Bryant announced the savings via social media. In a tweet Thursday afternoon, the Republican governor said, "In New York, we just restructured state bonds to save taxpayers $30 million. We will continue to prudently manage taxpayer dollars." The third member of the Bond Commission, Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood, did not go on the New York trip. A news release from the treasurer said savings of $34 million in total, but $32 million for the upcoming fiscal year, was accomplished by refunding and restructuring nearly $450 million in outstanding state bonds.
 
Mississippi working group hunts for big data ideas
Mississippi is delving deeper into the use of data for policy solutions thanks to the recent formation of the Mississippi Data Management Working Group. The nine-member group of government executives is tasked with the review of Mississippi state government's databases and data accessibility. The group "shall research and report on issues related to the quality, utility and accessibility of data maintained" by the state, according to the bill, and will have authority to "establish any policies and procedures it determines are necessary and proper for the completion of its responsibilities." The bill that created the group, which takes effect on July 1, requires the body to present a public report by Dec. 1, 2018.
 
Department of Mental Health, Public Service Commission finalize layoffs
Two state agencies will lay off employees before the new fiscal year beginning July 1 to offset budget shortfalls, officials announced Thursday. The Mississippi State Personnel Board approved reduction-in-force plans for the Department of Mental Health and Public Service Commission. Both state entities cited budget shortfalls as the reasoning for the removal of programs and layoffs of employees. The Department of Mental Health finalized the first step in a plan to lay off 650 positions by June 2018. At the MSPB board meeting Thursday morning, the board approved the agency's plan to cut 129 positions at three hospitals and health centers. The layoffs are necessary because of a $14.4 million budget cut going into the upcoming fiscal year.
 
Cleveland woman files court complaint over failed Mississippi bar exam
A Cleveland woman is trying to overturn the Mississippi Board of Bar Admissions ruling that she failed her July 2015 bar exam. Zundria Crawford filed a complaint in Hinds County Chancery Court seeking permission to file a lawsuit against the board and others alleging her bar exam was misgraded. State law and rules require approval from a court to file such a lawsuit against a state entity. On Thursday, Crawford was in court arguing she has the right to file a lawsuit over what she says was failure of the Board of Bar Admissions to properly grade her exam based on model answers. But Assistant Attorney General Harold Pizzetta argued Crawford cannot sue the board because it has judicial immunity.
 
Sen. Roger Wicker leads charge to grow America's naval fleet
Increasing the U.S. Navy fleet would no doubt be a huge economic boon to Jackson County, home of Ingalls Shipbuilding. That's one reason Senator Roger Wicker has been steadily making the case for a 355-ship Navy. Currently, the there are 275 ships in the battle fleet. Thursday, Wicker delivered the second in a series of scheduled remarks explaining why the current naval fleet is too small to meet current and emerging challenges. "We have ignored the great naval competition taking place elsewhere and the fact that it is accelerating," Sen. Wicker said. "China is building a modern navy capable of projecting global power. China is modernizing every type of ship and submarine in its fleet." Wicker said China commissioned 18 ships last year, and in April launched its first domestically-built carrier.
 
Dems ask themselves: Has their rhetoric gone too far?
The year was 2009 and Nancy Pelosi had an emotional message to deliver to Republicans: The GOP's increasingly extreme rhetoric was bound to incite violence. Republican leader Paul Ryan might be ready to give the same warning now to her. The shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise and four other men shook the capital to its foundations this week, prompting bipartisan calls for lawmakers to re-embrace civility and bridge their ideological differences. But even amid the moment of political Kumbaya, a pointed criticism emerged from Republicans. Suddenly, it's Democrats -- paired with a political base that hates the new president -- who are on the defensive about their rhetoric. And even for a party that believes deeply in opposing Trump, the shootings are spurring reflection about how its leaders talk about the president -- and whether they need to be more careful with their words.
 
Shooting Brings Rare Comity to the Capital, but Will It Last?
The lawmakers trotted from their dugouts at Nationals Park, together in a near-summer air that never quite felt swampy, united in a certainty that the game must go on, just not exactly as it had before. A day earlier, on another ball field some seven miles southwest, a gunman had opened fire on members of the Republican congressional baseball team, striking four people -- including Steve Scalise, the majority whip of the House of Representatives --- who were there for a practice. And on Thursday, the capital's various institutional forces -- senators and lobbyists, staff members with a job to do and residents with an evening to spare -- joined, for a moment, in a bipartisan rebuttal: Play ball. "What's the half-life?" asked Senator Roger Wicker, Republican of Mississippi, appraising how long the comity might last. "I don't know. I don't know." The skepticism is near-universal.
 
Amazon to buy Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion
Amazon said Friday it has agreed to buy Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion, a stunning move to boost its growing grocery business. The Seattle-based online retail giant will pay $42 per share in an all-cash deal. That's 27% higher than Whole Foods' Thursday closing stock price of $33.06. The deal requires approval by Whole Foods' shareholders and regulators. The companies expect the deal to be completed in the second half of 2017. Amazon has dabbled in brick-and-mortar operations, experimenting with a bookstore that opened in New York last month and plans to open "no-checkout" convenience stores. But the Whole Foods acquisition represents a dramatic departure from its early business model founded on online retailing and related technology.
 
America's new tobacco crisis: The rich stopped smoking, the poor didn't
After decades of lawsuits, public campaigns and painful struggles, Americans have finally done what once seemed impossible: Most of the country has quit smoking, saving millions of lives and leading to massive reductions in cancer. That is, unless those Americans are poor, uneducated or live in a rural area. Hidden among the steady declines in recent years is the stark reality that cigarettes are becoming a habit of the poor. The national smoking rate has fallen to historic lows, with just 15 percent of adults still smoking. But the socioeconomic gap has never been bigger. Among the nation's less-educated people -- those with a high-school-equivalency diploma -- the smoking rate remains more than 40 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
 
Ole Miss signs $22 million deal for Baptist Memorial property
The University of Mississippi has signed a deal to take over the Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi building this fall. On Thursday, the Institutes of Higher Learning Board approved the $22 million purchase of the 15-acre South Lamar Boulevard location that Baptist North Mississippi will vacate when it moves to its new facility in November. The price for the 428,000-square building, adjacent parking garage and property was negotiated by Baptist and Ole Miss. The university is just starting the process of deciding how to use the Baptist building. The focus will be on support functions that don't need to be directly available to students on campus and outward facing programs where the Baptist building would be easier for the public to access.
 
Rose McLarney named Ole Miss Summer Poet in Residence
Rose McLarney, an acclaimed writer and professor whose work is deeply rooted in the South, is the University of Mississippi's 10th Summer Poet in Residence. McLarney will be on campus through July 15 teaching undergraduate classes and working with emerging writers in the Department of English's Master of Fine Arts program. She also will give a reading at Off Square Books at 5:30 p.m. June 29. A book signing at 5 p.m. will precede the free event. McLarney's two poetry collections came out in a two-year period, and she is working on her third and fourth manuscripts. She said she looks forward to working with students here and soaking up the rich culture of the LOU community.
 
U. of Southern Mississippi reorganization plan enters final stage
President Rodney Bennett has the final draft of a plan to reorganize colleges and schools at the University of Southern Mississippi, the university's Communications Office has confirmed. This comes after a request for proposals was put out last fall, resulting in 44 submissions and involving more than 100 faculty participants, according to Steven Moser, provost and senior vice president of academic affairs. Moser is overseeing the reorganization process. The aim was for faculty and administrators to suggest ways to combine schools, colleges or research clusters to maximize financial and academic resources and highlight the strengths of the university, according to the initial request for proposals. The latest draft of the plan is available online to Southern Miss faculty and staff, but not to people outside the university. The Hattiesburg American has requested to see a copy of the plan, but so far has not been given access to the draft.
 
Jackson State to Cut Budget and Borrow Money to Aid Finances
Jackson State University will cut its next budget by nearly 8 percent and borrow $6 million as it tries to cut expenses and rebuild financial reserves. The moves at Mississippi's largest historically black university went forward Thursday as College Board trustees approved budgets for all eight public universities for the upcoming year. The system's overall budget will fall by $30 million, or less than 1 percent, to $4.5 billion, largely because state appropriations have fallen. The borrowing will repay Jackson State for money it spent on construction, equipment and software in recent years. A bank will loan the money to Jackson State for 10 years, charging 3.1 percent interest. Enhancing the school's financial breathing room, Jackson State will only pay interest for the first four years. Paige and interim Chief Financial Officer Marvel Turner said the $6 million will bolster reserves heading into next year, but said some money could pay bills at the end of the current budget.
 
Jackson State's academic overhaul becomes effective July 1
Significant restructuring of academic departments at Jackson State University, which many students, faculty and alumni vehemently oppose, was approved unanimously Thursday by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning. In addition to program consolidations proposed last month by interim President Rod Paige and his administration, the IHL trustees voted to suspend the Master of Arts in Teaching English degree for lack of productivity. Merging departments, cutting 42 jobs and an earlier reduction of 65 vacant positions should result in $6 million in savings for the university, which faces a major financial crisis. The trustees also approved a restructuring at Mississippi University for Women to eliminate the need to fill the vacant position of dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences and move the departments within that college to others as a response.
 
College Board names interim president for Mississippi Valley State
The state College Board named Jerryl Briggs as the interim president of Mississippi Valley State University on Thursday. Briggs is the executive vice president and chief operating officer for the roughly 2,500 student university located in the Delta town of Itta Bena. His appointment comes in the wake of outgoing President William Bynum being named last month as the new chief executive officer for Jackson State University. A news release announcing the installment credited Briggs with improving the university's retention rate and boosting enrollment. Mississippi Valley saw a 200 percent increase in dual enrollment students last fall. Overall, the university's enrollment has increased by 11.4 percent within the last three years.
 
Belhaven University launches Madison campus for Fall 2017
Officials with Belhaven University announced Thursday the opening of a new campus to be located in Madison. Classes will begin at the site, located at 401 Baptist Drive, starting with the fall 2017 semester. The announcement of Belhaven's expansion follows the closing of Tulane University's Madison satellite campus back in January and the cancellation of fall courses at Jackson State University's auxiliary site, also located in the metro Jackson suburb. The release provided no details of how long campus leaders have pondered the expansion, but there have been indicators of Belhaven's targeted enrollment of former Tulane students. When Tulane shuttered, Belhaven offered matching tuition for students participating in the former's School of Continuing Studies with President Roger Parrott stating at the time that Belhaven was committed to a "smooth transition."
 
Tuition Spike and Budget Cuts at East Mississippi Community College
Community colleges across the state are raising tuition costs for the upcoming school year. East Mississippi Community College's 13% increase will raise tuition from $1,200 to $1,500 a semester. The school chose not to raise costs last year, but had to this year to make up for state budget cuts. EMCC President Dr. Tom Huebner says even with the hike, the school will still have to make other sacrifices in order to not take away from students. "We made the decision that we would not fill some of the positions that had been empty because of retirement or transition. In addition, we've had to make a number of very difficult personnel decisions, but at the end of the day, we're doing so in the hopes that we can not diminish the student experience."
 
LSU AgCenter picks Nevada-based vendor for medical marijuana program
Louisiana is one step closer to having a medical marijuana operation Thursday after LSU's AgCenter selected a Nevada-based cannabis vendor to produce products for qualifying patients. The LSU AgCenter plans to enlist GB Sciences, Inc., under a license to produce marijuana at a production facility, according to an LSU AgCenter news release. No tax dollars will be spent on the operation, which is estimated to cost $10 million. The university is now awaiting approval by the LSU Board of Supervisors before the AgCenter can carry on contract negotiations with GB Sciences, the university stated. The AgCenter recommended "private sources" be used to finance the program, and LSU stated in February the contractor would fund the operation.
 
Human resources changes in the works at U. of Tennessee
The University of Tennessee on Thursday announced the retirement of Linda Hendricks Harig, who holds the dual roles of vice president of human resources for the UT system and vice chancellor for human resources at the Knoxville campus. Harig has served as vice president of human resources since 2008 and since January 2010 as vice chancellor for human resources. In 2012 she also took on statewide responsibilities for equity and diversity, according to a news release from the UT system. Her retirement, which will take effect at the end of 2017, also ushers in a planned restructuring of human resources at UT. The campus and system level jobs will be separated moving forward, and there will be more of a system focus on strategic and policy matters while the Knoxville campus position will focus more on operations, the release said.
 
UGA study examines economic impact of downtown Athens
The business core of downtown Athens provides direct employment to more than 2,000 people, produces nearly $300 million annually in goods and services, and generates more than $10 million in tax and license revenue for the local government, according to the executive summary of a study done for the Athens Downtown Development Authority. The $25,000 study by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia, based on 2015 data, was commissioned by the ADDA earlier this year for use as an economic development tool. "How many times have you heard 'downtown Athens is a very vibrant and active place?'" David Lynn, the ADDA's director of planning and outreach, asked the ADDA board at a recent meeting. "But what does that mean to somebody looking to locate a business here?"
 
UGA investigates student group's 'guillotine' tweet
University of Georgia police are investigating an apparently joking tweet by a UGA student group calling sarcastically for Republican members of Congress to be guillotined. UGA announced its investigation of the month-old tweet Wednesday after it was widely reported on conservative media and social media sites. UGA authorities also used Twitter to make the announcement. The tweet by the UGA Young Democratic Socialists commented on an angry May 4 Facebook post by a college professor saying Republicans in the U.S. House will have "blood on their hand" after voting to repeal the federal Affordable Care Act popularly known as Obamacare and replace it with the American Healthcare Act, a Republican alternative. They "should be lined up and shot" the professor wrote. He later apologized for the inflammatory language.
 
Worse than we knew: U. of Florida reports check fraud totaled $351K
Investigators believe a former University of Florida employee stole $351,000 from the university by creating 1,155 fraudulent checks over four years, the university said Thursday. Tiffany Nichole Robinson, who worked at UF's Transportation and Parking Services department, was arrested in March. At the time UF police said she had issued 25 fraudulent checks from April 21, 2016 to March 6, 2017. But about seven people were arrested Thursday related to the case, UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said. More information is expected soon on the identities of those suspects. Sikes said an investigation found Robinson had issued 1,155 fraudulent checks for parking decal and citation refunds that totaled $351,422 over four years.
 
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam turns focus to college graduation rates
Gov. Bill Haslam established himself as a nationwide higher education leader with the creation of two groundbreaking programs providing free community college to nearly all Tennesseans. But now, as the Republican governor nears the end of his time in office, he says he'll turn his focus to keeping those students in college long enough to graduate. "We're going to finish those things we've started," Haslam said in a recent interview with the USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee. "We've made big strides in access, obviously," he said. "But success, or completion, we still have a ways to go." "That's a reality of the work that we do," said Flora Tydings, chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents, which oversees the state's network of community and technical colleges. "There's just no doubt about it: Our students have challenges, and so we have to help them overcome that."
 
Texas A&M Transportation Institute celebrates construction of new headquarters
The new headquarters for the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, set for construction on the Texas A&M University System's developing RELLIS Campus, will mark the first time since its early days nearly all of the agency's employees and programs will be brought together under one roof. Officials from the A&M System gathered on the RELLIS Campus on Thursday for a celebration of the $70 million project's construction just one week before the agency will recognize its 67th anniversary. TTI Director Greg Winfree said the new headquarters is expected to be a "tip of the hat" to the agency's highly regarded reputation, as well as an investment in its growing stature in the transportation research field.
 
Lawmakers protest stricter student housing enforcement at U. of Missouri campuses
Three Democratic lawmakers called on the University of Missouri to reconsider plans for stricter enforcement of rules requiring first-time students to live on campus, citing a February rape at UMKC as a reason to relax rules for students who feel unsafe. Reps. Courtney Curtis, D-Ferguson, Brandon Ellington, D-Kansas City, and Clem Smith, D-Velda Village Hills, sent a letter to President Mun Choi asking him to take steps to protect students living in dorms. "Students need to feel safe on campus and the UM System has not yet provided a comprehensive plan on how to create a safe environment for these students," Curtis said in a news release.
 
U. of Missouri announces new initiative to increase adoption of research animals
A new initiative from the University of Missouri to increase the number of research animals being adopted touched off a war of words between the group chosen to help and another suing the university for records of dogs and cats used in laboratories. On Thursday, MU issued a news release that it will work with Homes for Animal Heroes, a program developed by the National Animal Interest Alliance to encourage adoptions of research animals. The alliance is an animal welfare group that supports responsible animal research, President Patti Strand said. The university is being sued by Animal Rescue Media Education over a request for documents relating to 179 dogs and cats used in research. The UM System records office demanded $82,222.23 to locate and copy the records for the organization's Beagle Freedom Project.
 
AAUP discussion centers on benefits of embracing students as both 'learners and teachers'
The case for student evaluations of teaching is obvious: students are (hopefully) at each class session, with a front-row seat to the good, the bad and the ugly of instruction. They may also have clear goals about what they want from a course. Yet the validity of formal, end-of-semester teaching evaluations by students is politically fraught and empirically challenged: advocates say well-designed evaluations work, while opponents say most questionnaires reveal more about student biases than teaching. There are concerns, too, about how students' evaluations should inform high-stakes personnel decisions about faculty members, such as tenure and promotion. What if there was a different way, entirely focused on improving instruction, with ancillary benefits to student evaluators?


SPORTS
 
Summer league assignments for State
Mississippi State's season may have just ended in the early morning hours Monday but the Bulldogs are already making their way across the continent to play summer ball. A total of 20 MSU players will spread out over nine leagues 13 teams to hone their skills over the next two months. Luke Alexander, Trysten Barlow, Jake Mangum and Hunter Stovall are all headed to the prestigious Cape Cod League. Barlow, Mangum and Stovall will remain teammates with the Hyannis Harbor Hawks while Alexander will play for the Cotuit Kettleers.
 
Once headed to PT school, Mississippi State's Cody Brown will sign with Yankees instead
Had Wednesday night's call not taken place, Cody Brown was prepared to register for his final classes and prep to become a physical therapist. While P.T. school may still be in Brown's future, it will have to wait -- he still has ball to play after all. Brown tweeted Wednesday that although he was passed over in the 2017 MLB Draft he had been handed a baseball lifeline; the now former Mississippi State Bulldog leaves Friday to sign a contract with the New York Yankees. "It was definitely tough. Every guy who plays in college is waiting to hear their name called. I was just sitting by the phone and watching the draft online. I was just on the couch wondering if my name would ever be called. I was trying not to get my hopes up too much but still holding out hope that an organization would like my talents enough to draft me," Brown told the Sun Herald on Thursday.
 
Jackson State may 'suspend' golf programs for two years
Jackson State golf appears to be in trouble. Interim President Rod Paige said Thursday the university tentatively planned to suspend both the men's and women's programs for two years. Paige spoke during an executive session at a meeting of the IHL Board in Jackson when he confirmed to a reporter the University's plans. Jackson State athletic director Wheeler Brown said he is still in the process of trying to save the programs, but admitted that budget cuts might necessitate the move. "It is not set in stone, it's proposed," he said. "We're trying to weigh our options, but with the financial situation going on at the university, it wouldn't be prudent to think the department of athletics would get through it unscathed." While not as celebrated as the traditional revenue sports, both programs are among the most consistently competitive on campus.
 
Steve Scalise will be an honorary LSU coach for College World Series, Paul Mainieri says
Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise will be the focus of a symbolic gesture by the LSU baseball team at the College World Series. LSU coach Paul Mainieri said after the team arrived here Thursday that Scalise would be considered an honorary coach for the Tigers at the eight-team national championship tournament. "He really is in our thoughts and prayers," Mainieri said after his arrival at the team hotel. "We're hoping that he's going to have a full recovery and a speedy recovery but my understanding is he's having to deal with some real issues here." Scalise was one of six people shot by a gunman at a Congressional baseball team practice. He has undergone multiple surgeries since being shot in the hip.
 
Hal Mumme says he turned in LSU's 'paranoid Ed' Orgeron to NCAA over camp
Michigan's Jim Harbaugh and Hal Mumme have at least one thing in common. Neither can seem to be a part of a satellite camp in the state of Louisiana. Mumme, the coach at Belhaven University, had two different football camps scheduled in Louisiana. Both, within 48 hours of the start of the camps, were canceled when contracts were pulled. The former Kentucky coach blames LSU and coach Ed Orgeron in attempt to block out-of-state programs from recruiting in the Tigers' backyard. "Every coach we talked to wanted to have us, but they weren't saying it openly because they are afraid of LSU," Mumme said. "They all wanted us to come. ... I've turned them into the NCAA. The NCAA needs to go down there and look at that. I don't see how a public figure at an SEC school can basically extort people into not using their facilities for the public good."
 
Louisville's Rick Pitino outraged after NCAA adds penalties
The NCAA didn't feel Louisville went far enough with its self-imposed sanctions after a sex scandal investigation, so the governing body Thursday handed down a few more. An outraged Rick Pitino feels the NCAA went too far. After completing its investigation of Katina Powell's allegations that she and other escorts where hired to have sex parties and strip for Louisville recruits and players, antics the NCAA described as "repugnant," it benched the Cardinals men's basketball coach for five games and imposed several other penalties. Louisville said it is appealing the NCAA's decision, and even that wasn't enough for Pitino. He fired a few salvos at the NCAA after reviewing the report.
 
Louisville basketball coach suspended for five games for prostitution scandal in program
The University of Louisville's head basketball coach has been suspended for the first five Atlantic Coast Conference games of the season, a piece of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's punishment stemming from a prostitution scandal that has roiled the institution for two years. Though some legal experts and others versed in NCAA infractions say the penalties announced Thursday amount to little more than a wrist slap for Head Coach Rick Pitino and the university, Louisville officials vehemently disagreed with the association's Committee on Infractions ruling and intend to appeal it entirely. Some in academe had hoped that the NCAA would hand down harsher consequences, which might have signaled the panel's willingness to hold head coaches more accountable for their programs.



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