Wednesday, July 19, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
Maroon Tuesday in Jackson for Mississippi State
Maroon Friday is a household name for Bulldog fans. Safe to say it was a Maroon Tuesday in Jackson. Mississippi State started by visiting Batson Children's Hospital. Dan Mullen and Bulldog football players got to put a smile on plenty of faces. The nightcap was the 40th annual MSU Summer Extravaganza. Mullen, Ben Howland, Vic Schaefer and Andy Cannizaro were all at the Mississippi Trademart. Players had a chance to meet and greet MSU faithful. Jamal Peters was in attendance, he's primed for a big year in the Bulldog secondary. "My wrist got hurt signing all those autographs. Just seeing the fans, all the hype for the season, I think it's going to be a great season. Just having the fans there, it's an awesome feeling."
How data can change Mississippi's image
Mimmo Parisi, executive director of the National Strategic Planning & Analysis Research Center (NSPARC) at Mississippi State and professor of sociology, writes in The Clarion-Ledger: "here's always another side to a story, and Mississippi's story is no exception. Jumping to the conclusion that everything's "gloom and doom" can become real in its consequences. How can we prevent this? It's data -- specifically, data that reflect all of the facts. Data can help Mississippi tell its own story rather than be subject to the storytelling of others who have little knowledge of our state. ...How data are presented can have a significant impact on the image of the state. If we buy into gloom-and-doom conclusions, how can we ever convince our children to live and work in Mississippi? When telling the full story, we cannot ignore the power of data or the responsibility that goes with it."
Angie McGinnis picked as interim circuit clerk
Former Oktibbeha County Circuit Clerk Angie McGinnis will serve as interim circuit clerk until a new leader for the office is picked in Nov. 7's special election. Supervisors voted 4-1 to appoint McGinnis after other potential contenders -- including former justice court judge candidate Cheikh Taylor and former circuit clerk candidate E. Regina Evans -- asked supervisors not to consider them for the interim job. Only District 3 Supervisor Marvell Howard opposed McGinnis' appointment, saying he would support a motion placing Deputy Criminal Clerk Melody Monts into the interim position. McGinnis became an option for the job after she shared her willingness to return to work and said she would not seek office on a permanent basis.
Abigail Musser shines at state Distinguished Young Women pageant
Abigail Musser never saw herself as a "pageant" person. But when her sister, Shanika, competed in Starkville's Distinguished Young Women competition two years ago, Musser started to warm to the idea of throwing her hat in that ring when her time came. "I really didn't want to do it at first, but then I realized it wasn't a pageant," Musser said. "It's about how smart you are and showing your true talent. Outward looks don't matter." Not only did Musser win the local competition, she earned the Mississippi Distinguished Young Woman crown this weekend in Meridian, securing a $7,000 scholarship. She also will compete in the national DYW event, which will be in Mobile, Alabama, in June 2018. Although the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) is her "dream college," Musser said she is likely to stay loyal to Starkville and follow in her sister's footsteps to Mississippi State University to further her academic career, due to scholarship opportunities.
Ag commissioner speaks to Forrest-Lamar GOP Women
Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Cindy Hyde-Smith was in Oak Grove Tuesday to speak to Forrest-Lamar Republican Women. Among the topics she discussed was the overturning of some Obama-era EPA regulations, which she said will benefit Mississippi farmers. Among the regulations is the Waters of the United States. It would expand federal enforcement authority over small bodies of water, like streams and irrigation ditches. But, last month, the Trump Administration began the process of rolling back that rule. "We need our farmers to be profitable, we need them to produce the things that feed this country. but we also need to remove the burdens that are in front of them that may not be so necessary that we've been able to do," said Hyde-Smith. She also spoke about new U.S. beef sales to China and new trade opportunities with Cuba.
No tax increase from $35 million loan on Mississippi Aquarium, Gulfport says
The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to borrow $35 million for construction of the Mississippi Aquarium, but only after the administration said no tax increase will be needed to pay off the bonds. The city previously touted the fact that the $93 million aquarium would be debt free, but Chief Administrative Officer John Kelly said the city would look at repaying some of the bond debt with aquarium revenue if necessary. The city also expects an increase in sales and gaming taxes to help pay off the debt. Ultimately, the city is asking the state Legislature for $30 million in additional money for the aquarium. Kelly said the city decided to go ahead and borrow money in case the legislative funding does not come through. The funding was not approved during the 2017 session, but the city will ask again in January.
Carey Wright to Congress: Mississippi plan helps students 'go directly into the workforce'
State Superintendent of Education Carey Wright told Congress on Tuesday that the state is ramping up career and technical education offerings and is now requiring the lowest performing schools to meet with MDE personnel to review latest protocols and expectations under the Mississippi Succeeds plan. The Mississippi Succeeds plan is the state's iteration of how it will meet the requirements of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. All states are required to submit such a plan to the federal government. "Our plan builds upon the significant investments we have made in areas of early childhood education, literacy, career and technical education and professional development for all teachers," Wright testified to members of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce. U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., asked Wright for more specifics about what Mississippi is doing in the way of career and technical education opportunities for students.
Gulf Coast leaders push to new passenger train service
A group of Gulf Coast leaders has recommended that Amtrak restore a passenger train route that goes through the Gulf Coast. The Gulf Coast Working Group in a report issued Monday night recommended Congress consider two routes -- a New Orleans to Orlando, Florida daily round trip route and a New Orleans to Mobile, Alabama daily round trip. Louisiana, Mobile and Mississippi would have to come up with the money for the Mobile route. "This encouraging study shows that passenger rail service could be restored along the Coast quickly and at a reasonable cost," said Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, and a supporter of the project. "Completion of this report is an important step in the process, and it brings us closer to delivering the numerous benefits of passenger rail to the entire Gulf Coast region."
NEA director's visit draws attention to economic, emotional impact of the arts
"What if the arts were embraced as a way to imagine new possibilities, reach new heights and to solve old problems?" Jane Chu asked the crowd at the Mississippi Museum of Art. "What would our lives look like if the arts were considered vital to our humanity?" Chu, chairwoman for the National Endowment of the Arts, imagines this utopia would appreciate all kinds of art, and "schools would recognize, at the fundamental level, that there's a strong relationship between art involvement and strong academic achievement, civic engagement and enhanced communication skills." Visits to the museum and the Sewing Every Wednesday sewing and quilting group in Jackson on Monday were Chu's first stops in Mississippi as she assesses the state of the arts in the state and across the nation.
USM online learning programs reach students from all 50 states
Dominique Cooper lives in Grand Terrace, California, but she attends classes every day at the University of Southern Mississippi. As a Southern Miss online student, she soon will be completing her degree in library and information science. "I did an internet search on the top library science schools and USM came up," she said. "I liked the idea that it was a virtual classroom. "I would be seeing my teacher, talking to my teacher. It was interactive -- not just here's a syllabus, turn in your assignments." Cooper is not unusual in the world of Southern Miss online students. Figures show the university's online programs have now reached students in all 50 states. "With most online programs, the majority of students are in the home state," said Tom Hutchinson, director of the Southern Miss Office of Online Learning. "Now, we have at least one student in every single state in the country. It's a big milestone."
Tornado recovery at William Carey University: 'We feel very fortunate'
William Carey President Tommy King tells a story about campus tornado recovery that illustrates the good fortune the university has experienced since the storm hit Forrest and Lamar counties nearly six months ago on Jan. 21. Things have just gone right for Carey since then, despite the nearly $73 million in damage the school suffered. "It's been very good, unbelievably good," he said. "We feel very fortunate. I would use the word blessed." King recalls a recent meeting of university officials who were pondering what to do about needed classroom space for this fall trimester, as repairs were still being made to several buildings on campus. Somebody suggested putting up a temporary building, but it seemed it couldn't be done in time for classes in August. But then a temporary building, all ready to go, was found. It had been ordered, but never paid for. "We believe the Lord guided us to that metal building sitting in a warehouse in Carolina somewhere," King said.
Meridian Community College helps connect students to college
Photo: Meridian Community College Director of Admissions Dr. Angela Payne, left, explains how to complete a college application to Community of Hope students Tiquisha Grace and Terrell Thompson and others during College Prep Day held on the MCC campus. MCC personnel offered suggestions on successful college experiences at the session. Community of Hope is a local program designed to mentor local and high school students. Adrian Cross, MCC recruiter, serves as program director for Community of Hope.
U. of South Carolina employee indicted on public corruption charges
A University of South Carolina employee has been indicted on public corruption charges, S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson said Tuesday. The indictment alleges Blake Langland, a 48-year-old project manager in USC's College of Engineering and Computing, unlawfully diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars of public university money to himself and his private business interests. Langland, a USC employee since 2004, double-dipped into a pot of federal grant dollars, routing $650,000 to himself and his business by billing USC twice for work that he and other state employees completed on the taxpayers' dime, the indictment alleges. Langland faces one count of using his official position or office for financial gain, three counts of receiving anything of value to influence a public employee and one count of accepting rebates or extra compensation.
U. of Missouri in a 'very critical period,' Mun Choi says
The latest round of bad press about the University of Missouri has system President Mun Choi worried. A July 9 New York Times report that the administration blames fallout from the November 2015 protests for a 35 percent drop in new freshman enrollment touched off a new round of stories nationally about the university's problems. A July 10 article in the Washington Post about a "culture war" targeting universities used a photo of the Concerned Student 1950 protests. The university remains in the spotlight and must get its image corrected and market itself properly to regain its footing and start rebuilding the lost enrollment, Choi said Tuesday. That means being more inclusive, more welcoming and having all university functions, from campus to extension, working together, he said. "If we don't do that, we are going to have another New York Times article, another Washington Post article, and we won't recover," Choi said. "This is a very critical period."
Grants for grad students: International education program axed in House appropriations bill
As a doctoral student at University of California, San Diego, studying the history of modern China, Maggie Greene in 2010 received a Fulbright-Hays grant to spend a year in Shanghai in pursuit of her degree. Now an assistant professor at Montana State University, Greene said the time she spent in China was key to her career as a historian. "I had time to develop long-term relationships that have been super helpful in getting access to sources, getting access to archives I would have a hard time getting by myself," Greene said. But the education funding bill currently under consideration by the House appropriations committee leaves out any funding for the Fulbright-Hays program -- a financial blow to up-and-coming scholars looking to develop subject expertise in an international area. The size of the program is modest at $7 million, but it provided grant funding to 97 fellows in fiscal year 2016 for doctoral dissertation research abroad. Fulbright-Hays also supports short-term seminars and group projects abroad.
Heard About the Facilities Arms Race? One Professor Says You Should Be Skeptical
Kevin R. McClure has read a lot of news articles about a facilities "arms race" in higher education that is frequently blamed for driving up colleges' tuition prices and making them more selective. In fact, he has started a list of such articles and recently wrote a 1,900-word blog post questioning the assumption that such a thing exists and how to measure it. One problem with that assumption is that there isn't really any clear definition of what we mean by "amenities." And there's little data confirming that such a competition is really taking place on campuses, or the extent to which the phenomenon may be making college more expensive, says Mr. McClure, an assistant professor of higher education at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
Number of colleges and universities drops sharply amid economic turmoil
It has become trendy to predict that higher education is on the verge of a major collapse, what with enrollments falling as loan debt and rising tuition cause students and families to ask harder questions about the value of a college credential. The most extreme predictions envision hundreds and even thousands of colleges and universities closing over a decade or so. But more even-keeled analysts also have foreseen increases in the number of failing institutions: Moody's Investors Service in 2015, for instance, said closures and mergers of small institutions would triple and double, respectively, in the coming years. New federal data suggest the increasing financial pressures may be starting to take a toll on institutions.
What will future hold for still-popular governor?
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Bobby Harrison writes: "Gov. Phil Bryant has often said in speeches in recent years that he has run his last campaign. But if Bryant changes his mind, a recent poll by Morning Consult indicates that the Rankin County Republican would be in good stead with the voters if he opts to seek another elected office after his second gubernatorial term expires in January of 2020. ...more than likely, after his term as governor has ended, the still relatively young Bryant (he is currently 62) most likely will enjoy retirement and perhaps teach history or political science classes at Mississippi College as he did part-time as lieutenant governor. Most any college would appreciate getting the perspective of a former governor -- especially one who enjoys the popularity that the polls say Phil Bryant maintains."

Mississippi State's Nick Fitzgerald tries to follow sophomore success
Nick Fitzgerald was not a name many outside Mississippi State knew entering last season. But after starting all 13 games for the Bulldogs in 2016 and leading the Southeastern Conference with 3,978 yards, Fitzgerald returns as one of the league's top quarterbacks. The rising junior proved his running prowess last year with eight 100-yard games and 16 touchdowns on the ground. That part of his game came as no surprise to head coach Dan Mullen, who signed the lightly recruited prospect with only a year of experience at quarterback operating a wishbone offense in high school. "I knew the skills that Nick had," Mullen said. "Since the day he's got on campus, he was our most athletic quarterback. We knew he had the athleticism. We knew he was a great runner." Fitzgerald won SEC Co-Offensive Player of the Week twice last year following his performances against Texas A&M and Ole Miss and was named the most valuable player of the St. Petersburg Bowl.
Cameron Dantzler dazzles during Mississippi State spring game
Cameron Dantzler missed most of his redshirt freshman season after fracturing his ankle in Week 2 and underwent surgery that kept him off the practice field until December. That's why Dantzler had more than a few jitters as he stepped onto Davis Wade Stadium this past April for Mississippi State's annual spring game. The boundary corner had only intercepted one pass all spring but quickly stole the show with an 81-yard pick six off Nick Fitzgerald in the first quarter for the game's first score. The 6-foot-2, 174-pounder finished the day with three tackles, one for loss and a pair of picks. "I was kind of nervous because it was my first game coming off the injury," Dantzler said. "But I just did what the coaches told me to do and had a good game."
10 most important Bulldogs: No. 7, Elgton Jenkins
Mississippi State is starting practice in late July, but there is still time between then and now with the completion of SEC Media Days only adding to the thirst and anticipation for this season. Looking ahead to Mississippi State's start of practice for this fall, The Clarion-Ledger counts down the 20 most important Bulldogs in 2016. For the next 10 days, we count down the players who matter the most to the success of Mississippi State football in 2017. This is not a straight talent evaluation -- each player's role matters: No. 7, Elgton Jenkins.
Mississippi State baseball working through change of venue for summer camps
Dudy Noble Field isn't much of a field at the moment. Where grass used to be lies a large field of dirt with construction equipment on it, all lying in front of the almost completely destructed bleachers that surrounded the field. The work happening now is purposefully planned given the field's rare use in between season's end and the ensuing fall practice schedule. The only thing left without a home is the youth camps. Mississippi State's youth camp has continued on this week at the Starkville Sportsplex. All parties involved are pleased with the turnout for a camp that came together under a drastically condensed schedule. Mike Brown, MSU assistant coach and coordinator of camps, said the program was unsure if it was going to hold the camp as recently as May and early June. That's when the news they were anticipating -- Dudy Noble being of no use around this time of year -- became official.
Last Chance U.: East Mississippi Community College football returns to Netflix airwaves Friday
When Netflix unveiled the "Last Chance U" series chronicling the East Mississippi Community College football program last summer, many were not sure what to expect. Former Starkville High standout Preston Baker played at EMCC in 2013 and 2014 and watched the entire series with breathless anticipation. "It was a lot of fun," Baker said. "There were some positives and some negatives. Overall, it was a fair representation of the program. It showed a lot of the good things that make the program successful." The six-hour documentary looked back at the 2015 football season for the Lions. It was a season which ended prematurely when a regular season-ending brawl against Mississippi Delta Community College led to the Lions being banned from postseason play.
Southern Miss self-reported 8 NCAA violations in 2016-17
Southern Miss self-reported eight NCAA violations during the 2016-17 academic year, according to information obtained by the Hattiesburg American via an open records request. Three of the violations were committed by the football program. On Sept. 19, 2016, a walk-on student-athlete participated in practice beyond the 45-day permissible period prior to being certified as a final qualifier. The same day, another walk-on player who had not yet had his "final amateurism certified" also participated in practice outside the permissible window. In each case, the student-athletes were withheld from practice until final certification was completed. n Jan. 25, a football graduate assistant coach participated alongside the team for an hour during a voluntary workout. As a result, the number of "countable athletically related activities" was reduced by two hours the following week.
Sideline management: Coaches going on field could prove costly
College football players aren't the only ones who will be reporting for fall camp soon. SEC officials have their own gathering to get ready for the season next week in Birmingham. A point of emphasis for officials in the conference and nationwide is to keep coaches from going too far -- literally -- when arguing a call. "We have talked to every coach about it," said Steve Shaw, the SEC's coordinator of officials. "If a coach comes out onto the field of play, so in the green grass, and protests an officiating decision, it's an automatic unsportsmanlike conduct foul." Going onto the field of play to make a case will draw a penalty now instead of a warning under NCAA rules.
Texas' new coach wants to renew rivalry with Texas A&M
There is no reading between the lines needed. New Texas head football coach Tom Herman said he wants to renew the annual rivalry game between the Longhorns and Texas A&M. "I don't know why we can't play A&M as our marquee nonconference opponent," Herman said Tuesday at the Big 12 Conference football media days, adding that he believes in playing a traditional rival when scheduling nonconference games. For several decades, A&M and Texas played on Thanksgiving week, a tradition that ended in 2012 when the Aggies began playing in the Southeastern Conference. Since 2012, Texas has continued a semblance of the Thanksgiving tradition by playing either TCU or Texas Tech that week. "Can we try and generate and fabricate some new rivalries? Sure, but [A&M and Oklahoma] are going to be the two main rivals of the University of Texas, because they are in recruiting, they are in academia and they are in a lot of things," Herman said.

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