Tuesday, August 1, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
MSU Alumni Association announces new national officers
Mississippi State University Alumni Association has selected new leaders of the national board of directors for a two-year term for fiscal years 2017-2019. The incoming national officers include Brad M. Reeves of Jackson as president; Sherri Carr Bevis of Gulfport as vice president; and Jerry L. Toney of Starkville as treasurer. Ronald E. Black of Meridian continues on the board as immediate former national president. Reeves assumes the office following a two-year term as vice president. He has held a national board seat since 2010. Bevis earned a communication degree from MSU in 1986. She currently serves as the Mississippi Secretary of State's office as Assistant Secretary of State for External Marketing. Toney is a 1996 graduate with a degree in real estate, mortgage finance and economics. He is president of Cadence Bank for Mississippi and a senior financial consultant for the bank's wealth services division. Black, a 1980 marketing graduate, is director of human resources for Southern Pipe and Supply Company Inc.
Engineer Research and Development Center camp teaches students cyber security, robotics, more
Twenty-five area youths between the ages of 9 and 18 had the chance to learn the basics of cyber security, robotics the programming during a weeklong camp at that U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center that concluded Friday. The first of its kind camp was a joint venture between Mississippi State University, ERDC, Morning Star SDA and Kids Code Mississippi. Participants had the chance to learn the basics of cyber and internet security, work with Finch robots and practice basic coding to control their robots. The camp was funded by Mississippi State, and ERDC computer scientist Kevin Walker said the university has already expressed interest in having a similar camp next summer.
New Volunteer Starkville director looks to build on success
Throughout her time as a graduate student at Mississippi State University, Daphne Carroll followed a similar, if not identical path, as Jamey Bachman. Both were Public Policy and Administrations students, Carroll said, and she filled the graduate assistant position at the Maroon Volunteer Center that opened after Bachman left. Coincidentally, Carroll is once again building on Bachman's legacy in her role as the new Volunteer Starkville Executive Director. This time, with much bigger shoes to fill, Carroll said, she hopes to build on the legacy that Bachman created. "I've worked with Jamey for years, and I when I saw this position opening, I knew it was my chance," Carroll said. "She did a phenomenal job here and has really set me up for success. I can't wait to expand on what she really created."
Budget expert: Mississippi not alone in revenue woes
As Mississippi continues to miss revenue projections and trim spending for most state agencies, a national budget expert told those at the Southern Legislative Conference here on Sunday that the state is not alone. John Hicks, executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers, dished on state spending trends, tax revenue trends and anticipated help from the federal government under the new administration during an afternoon session at the conference. Hicks' presentation, in short: A majority of states have cut budgets and struggled in meeting revenue projections, just as Mississippi has. "When the national economy is good, people buy more and consumption is up," Hicks said. "When the economy's not so good, we go that way, as well. We're going to be as volatile as the broader economy is."
Confederate symbols protested, discussed as lawmakers meet
The Confederate battle emblem on the Mississippi flag is prompting public protests and private discussions about race relations at a Southern legislative meeting. Lawmakers and staff members from 15 states are in Biloxi, Mississippi, for the Southern Legislative Conference annual meeting, which started Saturday and goes through Wednesday. Participants are discussing energy, public safety and other issues that cut across state lines. But most members of the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus are boycotting the meeting because of the flag, and more than a dozen other people with a group called the Mississippi Rising Coalition protested the banner Saturday outside the meeting's opening reception in Gulfport.
Black, white legislators discuss state flag, race relations
A political split of the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus over a boycott of the Southern Legislative Conference led to a bipartisan conversation on race and the state flag Monday among about two dozen state legislators. The drama started May 1 when black caucus leaders announced they would boycott the annual Southern Legislative Conference, held this week in Biloxi and chaired this year by House Speaker Philip Gunn. The purpose of the boycott, black caucus leaders said, was to bring awareness to the state flag, the last in the nation containing the Confederate battle emblem, which black caucus members have continually tried to change in recent years. But 13 members of the 52-member black caucus -- who jokingly referred to themselves Monday as "Gunn's 13" -- decided to attend the conference.
Archie Manning says he supports changing Mississippi's state flag
At the Southern Legislative Conference in Biloxi Monday, College Football Hall of Famer and former New Orleans Saint Archie Manning stated publicly that he is a proponent of changing the Mississippi state flag. Nathan Fairley, with the Mississippi Rising Coalition, was the one to bring up the topic during a Q&A session at the end of Manning's speech. "I heard before that he's a proponent of change for the Mississippi Flag, and I asked him about it in front of legislators from 15 different states," Fairley said. "Mississippi Rising believes it's important to be on the record, to say why we oppose flag, and meet with representatives to get the point across." Legislators say Mississippi Speaker of the House Philip Gunn called for a closed, roundtable discussion on race relations at Monday's conference. According to those in attendance, an idea for a new state flag was brought up.
DeSoto legislators fare well on report card
DeSoto County legislators fared well on the new report card from a right-leaning political advocacy group that graded lawmakers on their positions toward tax, spending, regulatory and education legislation. The Mississippi Chapter of Americans for Prosperity issued its 2017 Economic Freedom Scorecard last week, grading House and Senate members statewide A through F based on how they voted on a variety of bills targeted by the group. DeSoto's House delegation made up a third of the 18 "Champions of Freedom" on that chamber's side of the report card. The organization gave the Champion designation to those supporting the Americans for Prosperity position 90 percent or more of the time in their voting. Russ Latino, director of the Americans for Prosperity Mississippi chapter, said the organization plans to promote the scorecard to inform voters statewide on how their legislators voted.
Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., has strong fundraising effort for re-election bid
U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, a Tupelo Republican, will be well funded if he is challenged in his 2018 re-election bid. Wicker, who is seeking his second full-term in the Senate, has $3.1 million in cash on hand through June 30, according to his campaign finance report filed recently with the Federal Election Commission. For the current reporting period, Jan. 1-June 30, Wicker raised $1 million from various sources, ranging from national political action committees and professional groups, from fellow Mississippians and from Lee County residents. Wicker has the $3.1 million cash on hand when the funds raised during the current period are combined with funds left over from his past elections. State Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, said last month he is considering a run against Wicker in 2018 or for the open seat of lieutenant governor in the 2019 state elections. But McDaniel did not file a campaign finance report with the FEC for the current reporting period.
Wicker continues book donation program for Mississippi libraries
United States Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi invites librarians from Mississippi's 235 public libraries to submit requests for book donations from his personal library and the Library of Congress Surplus Books Program. Wicker made the call for requests Monday. More than 800 books were donated through the program in 2016. Books are available to educational institutions, nonprofit tax-exempt organizations or state and local public agencies. The collection includes paper and hardback books, audio and video recordings and maps. These items cover subjects such as the humanities, history, social sciences, education and science.
Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., co-sponsors legislation to fix Medicare
Senator Thad Cochran, R-Miss., is co-sponsoring a Fair Medicare Hospital Payments Act. The bill is said to correct a flawed Medicare formula. Cochran said the current Medicare reimbursement rates penalize hospitals in rural and low-wage areas. The legislation will ensure that rural Mississippi hospitals are fairly reimbursed for services they provide to seniors. "Many rural hospitals in Mississippi experience financial hardships that are made worse by an unfair reimbursement formula that favors urban, high-wage areas," said Cochran. "This legislation would address this disadvantage and help rural hospitals remain open to serve rural Mississippians."
GOP leaders say it's time for Senate to move on from health care
Senate Republican leaders signaled Monday that they intend to move on from health care to other legislative priorities, even as President Trump continued to pressure lawmakers to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The discord comes amid uncertainty in the insurance industry and on Capitol Hill about what will come next after last week's dramatic collapse of the GOP's effort to scrap the seven-year-old landmark law. Trump on Monday threatened to end subsidies to insurers and also took aim at coverage for members of ­Congress. But the White House insistence appears to have done little to convince congressional GOP leaders to keep trying.
Younger voters eclipse Baby Boomers for first time
Millennials and members of Generation X accounted for a larger number of votes in the 2016 elections than did Baby Boomers and older generations, marking a generational shift that is likely to influence the way both Democrats and Republicans approach a changing electorate. A new report by Richard Fry, a labor economist at the Pew Research Center, found that those under the age of 51 -- Generation X and Millennials -- accounted for just shy of 70 million votes in 2016. Baby Boomers and members of the Silent and Greatest Generations accounted for just under 68 million votes. Baby Boomers still account for the single greatest share of the electorate. The 48.1 million votes boomers cast in 2016 represented about 35 percent of the electorate. But the inevitable aging process is conspiring against older generations.
Scaramucci out as White House communications director after 10 days
Anthony Scaramucci is no longer White House communications director, a position to which he was appointed to a little more than a week ago. "Anthony Scaramucci will be leaving his role as White House Communications Director," read White House statement released Monday afternoon. "Mr. Scaramucci felt it was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team. We wish him all the best." Scaramucci's brief time as part of the Trump administration was tumultuous even though he had not officially started in the communications director position to which he was appointed to on July 21. Last week, Scaramucci gave a vulgar interview to the New Yorker that involved him making derogatory comments about several senior officials in the White House and threatening to fire the entire communications team.
White House commission recommends president declare national emergency over opioid epidemic
Declaring that the "nation is in crisis," the White House commission on opioid addiction has recommended that President Trump declare a national emergency over the epidemic that each day kills dozens of Americans. "Your declaration would empower your Cabinet to take bold steps and would force Congress to focus on funding and empowering the executive branch even further to deal with this loss of life," the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis wrote in its interim report released Monday. "It would also awaken every American to this simple fact: If this scourge has not found you or your family yet, without bold action by everyone, it soon will." The commission, led by Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, was created in March and charged with studying ways to combat and treat drug abuse, addiction and the opioid crisis. Citing data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the commission said the epidemic claims an average of 142 lives a day.
Former state Supreme Court Justice Chuck McRae in ICU in Mexico
Former state Supreme Court Justice Chuck McRae is in the intensive care unit at a Cozumel, Mexico, hospital after a scuba diving incident. McRae's daughter, attorney Rebecca McRae Langston, is in Mexico with her father. "I'm not sure what happened," Langston said in a message. "He's been diving for decades, depths over 100 feet and night dives included. They claim he went down 20 feet and panicked. I don't know if it was something more serious. He aspirated a lot of salt water." Late Monday, Langston said her father was awake and the ventilator had been taken out. She said an MRI didn't show brain damage and her father recognized her.
U. of Alabama astronomers prepare for eclipse in Tuscaloosa
Tuscaloosa will experience a partial solar eclipse when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth in August, and astronomers at the University of Alabama are preparing to help people view the astral phenomenon safely. Dean Townsley, an associate professor in UA's Department of Physics and Astronomy, said the eclipse is expected to be visible in all 48 of the continental United States on Aug. 21. Most astronomers on campus plan to head to points north on that day, settling somewhere inside the 70-mile swath where the sun will be obscured entirely and viewers on the ground can experience a total solar eclipse. Townsley, though, will be on the Quad in front of Gallalee Hall equipped with a number of tools for safely observing the event. "I run simulations and work with stellar physics, so I'm more about calculations than observations," Townsley said. "That may make me a little less sky-oriented than others in the department, so I'll still be here."
Health Science Sector moves Auburn University research forward
When Auburn University nursing and pharmacy students head back to school in a few weeks, they'll be in class in brand-new buildings for each of their respective programs. Both buildings, located at the corner of Lem Morrison and Donahue drives, are the first two buildings in the university's new Health Science Sector. The Pharmaceutical Research Building officially opened May 15, and the School of Nursing facility is scheduled to open Aug. 21. While Gov. Kay Ivey was in town last week, she toured each of the new facilities, getting a sneak peak at the new technology and active-learning methods soon to be at students' fingertips.
Lifelong education advocate speaking at Auburn's summer graduation
Education advocate Beth Thorne Stukes, who has helped raise more than $1 billion for Auburn University as part of Because This is Auburn - A Campaign for Auburn University, will be the guest speaker at AU's summer graduation ceremonies Saturday in Auburn Arena. Stukes' most recent role as co-chair for the fundraising campaign caps a life of service to education. Approximately 1,160 new graduates will receive degrees. Stukes served as a teacher in the Walker County school system. Following her retirement, she continued to be an advocate for education and established herself as a pillar in her local community and beyond. She is a member of the executive committee of Auburn's Women's Philanthropy Board in the College of Human Sciences, chair of the Walker Area Community Foundation, vice chair of the Samford University Board of Trustees and a director of Drummond Company.
Pomp, circumstances, BBQ: Speaker invites LSU grads to post-commencement feast in Tiger Stadium
Did your college commencement speaker host a free barbecue in the school's football stadium after the event? Nope? Neither did ours. But if Baton Rouge celebrity chef Jay Ducote were speaking, you just might find yourself chowing down on brisket and burgers in your cap and gown. LSU announced recently that Ducote, who skyrocketed to fame when he finished in second place on the reality competition show "Food Network Star" in 2015, will deliver LSU's summer commencement address. On Monday, the LSU twitter account sent out a video message from Ducote inviting all graduates to meet him in Tiger Stadium afterwards for barbecue.
Vanderbilt University has happiest students, according to national ranking
Vanderbilt University's students are the happiest in the country, according to a new ranking released by The Princeton Review. Vanderbilt Provost Susan Wente said the ranking reflected Vanderbilt's "proactive approach to helping (students) navigate the balance" between academics, a social life and other personal interests. She cited a series of new campus developments as contributing to student morale. The new Center for Student Wellbeing, for instance, offers everything from yoga and time-management coaching to services for students with addictions. A university task force on mental health and wellness that includes student voices will release recommendations for further improvements this fall. The Princeton Review also gave Vanderbilt high marks in its great financial aid category -- where the university was ranked No.2.
Facilities driver crashes into access gate at Texas A&M
Texas A&M police are investigating what prompted the driver of a university truck to crash into an access gate and bollard on campus Monday morning. Lt. Bobby Richardson, spokesman for the department, said the driver was taken to a hospital after the crash around 8:15 a.m. He was released by the early afternoon. Richardson said the driver was traveling west on Ross Street near the Chemistry Building and had a flatbed trailer attached to the university-owned truck. Richardson said as of Monday afternoon, officers were still investigating the cause of the crash. A spokesperson for third-party facilities services provider SSC at Texas A&M said the company is unable to provide additional information about the incident until the investigation is complete.
Report shows U. of Missouri Extension makes nearly $1B statewide economic impact
University of Missouri Extension generated an estimated near-$1 billion economic impact in fiscal year 2016, according to a new report. TEConomy Partners LLC found that MU Extension's "initiative areas," including grazing workshops and taxpayer education counseling, generated $945 million for Missouri's statewide economy from an initial $86 million investment. The goal of the MU Extension program, according to its website, is to make practical education available with an office in every Missouri county -- the programs offered range from agricultural techniques to disease prevention. Marshall Stewart, vice chancellor for extension and engagement at MU, said this outreach is part of MU's mission. "We take knowledge and innovation created on the campus to the communities of the state. This is done in areas including, but not limited to, agriculture, business development, entrepreneurship, health, nutrition, education, STEM and youth development," he said in a phone interview.
In Charlottesville, UVa Grapples With Its History and the Alt-Right
Charlottesville, Va., established a commission last year to deal with questions about its history on racial issues, and how that past is memorialized in its public spaces. One of the panel's recommendations, which was endorsed by a 3-to-2 vote of the City Council, called for the removal of a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee, the Confederate leader. Many critics saw that monument, which was installed in a city park during the Jim Crow era, as marking the space for white people only. The planned removal of the statue is now tied up in court. Meanwhile, Charlottesville has become a battleground: As the University of Virginia and its home city hold difficult discussions about how to come to terms with their histories, extremist groups see opportunity. People associated with the so-called alt-right, a loose movement known for promoting white supremacist, anti-immigrant, and misogynistic views, plan to "March on Charlottesville" on August 12.
Wait for selection of HBCU initiative leader drags on
The White House today marked a milestone in leadership on historically black colleges and universities, although probably not the kind President Trump had in mind when he promised in February that support of those institutions would be an "absolute priority." A new administration hasn't made it to August without having named a leader of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities since that office was launched under President Carter. But Trump has not named a leader for the office. The initiative is a modestly staffed administrative unit in the Department of Education -- and the administration has been slow to fill politically appointed positions throughout the federal government. But this position was the focus of a heavily touted executive order on HBCUs that Trump signed in February after hosting leaders of historically black colleges in the Oval Office. And naming an executive director for the initiative and making progress on moving it into the White House -- the only concrete promise in that executive order -- would have been a start toward his promise to outdo previous administrations.
Campus Political Fights Come Home for the Summer
College in the summer: Dorms and quads are quiet, and it seems that the whole community is catching its breath. No marches, sit-ins, shout-downs, protesters giving professors whiplash. No arguments over free speech, Black Lives Matter, Israeli boycotts, abortion, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, President Trump. But the fighting hasn't stopped. It has just come home for the summer. College students driven to the left (and occasionally to the right) by campus culture wars are now engaging in the same debates with their longtime housemates --- also known as their parents. Students come home thinking that their parents are hopelessly stuck in some distant era like the 1990s; parents wonder what thousands of tuition dollars actually paid for.
James Autry ought to be known better in his Mississippi
Longtime Mississippi journalist Charlie Mitchell writes: "Almost-native son James Autry ought to be known better in Mississippi. He's 'almost-native' because while he grew up in Benton County, he was actually born in Memphis. I suppose that means Tennessee can claim him, too. What makes his life's story unusual is he has blended his gentle nature into success at the highest level of big business. That's not supposed to happen, is it? We just don't expect to find sensitive and self-effacing personalities in Fortune 500 corporate boardrooms, and certainly not seated in the chairman's chair. But that's the Autry story. Business mogul and poet, and in retirement for several years, management consultant."

Mississippi State defensive lineman Braxton Hoyett dedicating season to his father
Braxton Hoyett's father Nicholas was always asking for Mississippi State apparel. Nicholas wasn't looking for anything special from his son, just the kind of clothes you wear -- a maroon practice T-shirt, perhaps -- because they're comfortable and because they make you proud your son is an SEC defensive lineman. Hoyett said he never got the chance to give Nicholas much. It's not that Hoyett didn't want to share his MSU clothes with his father; it was just one of those things Hoyett put off. Until June 22. Two days before Nicholas died inside UAB Hospital after a battle with cirrhosis of the liver. He was 38 years old. Hoyett told his mother and Nicholas' doctor not to move the jersey. No one did until the funeral, when it was placed inside the casket with Nicholas. "It was something to let him know I was there," Hoyett said, "and that I would always be by his side regardless of what happens."
MSU Notebook: Gabe Myles looks ahead to senior season
Last season was supposed to be a breakout year for Gabe Myles. After being a role player as a freshman and sophomore, the Mississippi State receiver finally earned a starting job but things did not go according to plan. Myles had already been replaced as a starter by Week 5 and his production was limited to eight catches for 63 yards and no touchdowns. There were nine games in which he was held without a catch including the entire month of October. But the former Starkville High School quarterback has moved on from his disappointing 2016 and is determined to finish out his college career on a high note. "Gabe is a guy who has worked hard and realizes that desperate feeling of 'I have to finish my career the right way,' " said MSU coach Dan Mullen.
Archie Manning talks Freeze, Luke, NCAA investigation
For the past four years, Ole Miss has been involved in controversy due to the NCAA investigation into the Rebels football program. The resignation of head coach Hugh Freeze added to the cloud that continues to hang over Oxford. Archie Manning played a key role in the hiring of Freeze, and he was a guest speaker at the 71st annual meeting of the Southern Legislative Conference in Biloxi on Monday. Manning said he's sorry for what has happened at Ole Miss and said Freeze is a friend of his and he will continue to be his friend. He also said Gulfport native Matt Luke will do a good job in leading the Rebels football team on an interim basis.

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