Monday, August 21, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
College View, 550 Russell projects moving forward
Two new mixed-use projects at differing stages of development near Mississippi State University's campus took steps toward becoming a reality in Starkville Thursday. Developers broke ground on 550 Russell, which features eight luxury condominiums atop 15,000 square feet of commercial space, and announced two anchor restaurants -- Gondolier Italian Restaurant and Pizza and Mugshots Bar and Grill -- will occupy the $6 million project when it opens in May. Additionally, the State College Board approved a pre-development agreement MSU and Memphis-based Realty Trust (EdR) that could potentially add 1,600 bed spaces and commercial space at the site of the former Aiken Village campus housing area.
Mississippi State researcher picked for international program
Mississippi State University's chief research officer will be taking on the role of student this fall. The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program has selected David Shaw, the university's vice president for research and economic development, for its U.S.-France International Education Administrators Program. "Mississippi State has active research partnerships in France, as well as robust faculty and student exchanges with French institutions," Shaw said in a news release, noting also that MSU has research and student exchange program with Morocco -- a former French colony. The country's educational institutions are based on the French model. The Institute of International Education recognized Mississippi State's partnership with Morocco's Université Internationale de Rabat with the 2017 IIE Andrew Heiskell Award for International Partnerships.
Mississippi State, Habitat partner to build ninth Maroon Edition home
Mississippi State University and Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity officials broke ground Aug. 11 on the ninth Maroon Edition home, which will be built this fall by volunteers from Habitat for Humanity and MSU. The groundbreaking ceremony officially kicked off construction of the house on Owens Street, which is being built for Habitat partner family Kareema Gillon and her two young children. MSU President Mark E. Keenum hammered the house's first nail. "A lot of students will come out here and help build this home, giving love to this family and community, but also learning about the importance of service and helping other people," Keenum said. "That's what college is about, not only educating young people, but preparing them for their lives and future so they can serve others."
Mississippi State Makes Money Management Easy for Students, Alums
John Daniels' job is to focus on Mississippi State University students, and provide them with the tools they need to manage their money wisely. His vision goes well beyond the campus. "My goal is to reach the entire student body and go beyond, touching our alumni and students' parents," said Daniels, the first Financial Literacy Coordinator at the university. To do just that, Mississippi State has teamed with Regions Bank and EVERFI to provide free financial education to all MSU students. Regions provides support through expertise and volunteers while EVERFI, a nationally renowned education technology company, provides Transit - Financial Wellness, an online learning program that can be used anywhere with access to internet.
Event and Hospitality program unveiled at MSU-Meridian
Students seeking a Bachelor of Applied Technology degree are discovering a new option this fall -- and beyond -- now that MSU-Meridian has added an Event and Hospitality Services program to its offerings. Richard V. Damms, interim division head of the Division of Arts & Sciences for MSU-Meridian, said the university is cultivating a close relationship with area community colleges in offering the program. "Many of (the colleges) have technical specializations or associate degrees in areas such as culinary arts, hotel and restaurant management and various aspects of the service industries," Damms said. "That is a part of the state economy and the regional economy in which there has been -- and will continue to be -- growth in the next few years." Damms said university officials, in starting the new program, are seeking to provide students who already have technical skills the opportunity to move into management positions within their fields.
Farmland sales stagnant into 2017, rents trending downward
The average sale price for both irrigated and non-irrigated farm land in Mississippi changed little between 2016 and 2017, and rents continued to "modestly decline," according to the Mississippi State University Agricultural Land Values and Credit Conditions Survey. The survey was conducted in May by the MSU Department of Agricultural Economics and MSU Extension. Participants included agricultural lenders, appraisers, farm managers, and agricultural economists. Row crop, pasture, and timberland sales values in the survey are for tracts where the highest and best use has not changed from agriculture, according to Dr. Bryon Parman, assistant Extension professor of agricultural economics, who compiled the report. "The values do not include agricultural land that has been sold with the intent of being developed for a different purpose."
Last two antebellum homes in Starkville for sale; one could be torn down
The last two antebellum homes in Starkville, both of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, are for sale. For more than 150 years, both the Gillespie-Jackson House, located at the intersection of Highway 12 and Louisville Street, and The Cedars on Old West Point Road have stood as awe-striking symbols of Starkville's early history. Last week's listing of The Gillespie-Jackson House -- built in 1850 -- puts the future of that 4,200 square-foot home somewhat in jeopardy. California-based Marcus and Millichap Real Estate listed the property at $2.1 million and is marketing it as hotel or commercial use, agent Wes Tiner told The Dispatch. However, he said the agency would entertain offers for residential use.
Sheriff Steve Gladney: New deputy hires will expand shift coverage
The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors' tentative Fiscal Year 2017-18 budget will allow Sheriff Steve Gladney more manpower to cover the county's 459 square miles. The budget, which goes into effect Oct. 1, includes a $167,093.48 request from the sheriff's department for four new deputy positions Gladney requested since the county's population -- the amount of people living in apartment complexes outside of Starkville, specifically -- continues to grow and demands more attention from law enforcement agents. By adding four new patrol positions, Gladney said those four shifts will expand to six deputies each when fully staffed, giving OCSO better response times and coverage capabilities. Expanding the sheriff's department's roster will also allow Gladney to have more boots on the ground during fall football game weekends.
Uber drivers look for success in Golden Triangle
For the past five months, Terrel Curtis has followed the same routine. He gets into his 2011 Chevrolet Impala and heads south from his home in Philadelphia, Mississippi, to Jackson, an 80-mile trip. Friday was different. This time, he headed north, arriving in the Golden Triangle about 2 p.m. "I thought I would see what it's like," said Curtis, 39. On Friday, Uber -- an app-based ride-sharing company -- began service in the Golden Triangle and throughout the state, expanding its service from Jackson and five other cities. For Curtis, an Uber driver, the change of direction was a matter of curiosity. "I wanted to see what kind of demand there is here," he said. "It's a little closer than Jackson, but that doesn't matter if you can't get enough rides to make it worth your while." Friday's launch did not prove to be a good move financially for Curtis. "I got here about an hour-and-a-half ago and I've had just the one ride since I've been here," he said.
Mississippi Book Festival: 'A literary lovers haven'
For Gov. Phil Bryant, learning to love reading was a difficult journey. Growing up in the Delta town of Moorhead, he said, he knew about Mississippi's rich literary tradition and he grew up in a culture of great storytellers. But he was dyslexic, and when it came to sitting down with a book, he said, "It was a struggle." That changed at age 12 when his father gave him a copy of The Complete Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. "At first reading, it was a challenge," Bryant said. But eventually "those pages were grayed and dogeared." Bryant speech kicked off the third-annual Mississippi Book Festival on Saturday, a daylong gathering of more than 220 authors at the Mississippi State Capitol. Bryant introduced keynote speaker, Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden, who is the first woman and first African American to hold the title.
Analysis: State symbols don't have to go on the ballot
Defenders of the Confederate battle emblem on the Mississippi flag have a ready-made argument that was handed to them nearly a generation ago by lawmakers who didn't want to deal with the politically volatile issue of redesigning the banner. It goes like this: The people of Mississippi voted to keep the flag in a statewide election in 2001, and politicians should not undo the will of the people. Supporters say if the state flag is going to be debated, the only legitimate way to do it is with another statewide election. The argument about legitimacy ignores the fundamentals of how government works.
Counties face potential problems because of state budget woes
With the deadline to pass a budget for the upcoming fiscal year less than a month away, some counties are faced with the challenge of plugging financial holes created by state budget woes. And, for Hinds County, that means contemplating a small millage increase. By state law, counties must approve their budgets by Sept. 15 for their upcoming fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. Steve Gray, director of governmental affairs for the Mississippi Association of Supervisors, said counties across the state, especially in rural areas, may also be impacted by the state reducing homestead exemption reimbursement. The bill passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor provides some $3.8 million less for homestead exemption reimbursement. Lauderdale County Supervisors' President Josh Todd said he doesn't expect much of an impact to the county from the state budget woes. He said the only impact would possibly be in the local road and bridge money.
Black political influence in Mississippi has slowed
While other states, with smaller African-American populations, have elected statewide leaders, the glass ceiling in Mississippi has remained not only impervious but unreachable. Mississippi, which has more African-Americans per capita and more black elected officials than any other state in the nation, has not elected a black candidate to a statewide office in the more than 140 years since Reconstruction. That's the dichotomy of black political power today in Mississippi. Fifty-two years after passage of the Voting Rights Act, this is the question: "How is African-American political power perceived today in this Deep South state?" "At a standstill," says Robert Clark, the first African-American elected to the Mississippi Legislature. African-Americans in Mississippi haven't lived up to their political potential, says Leslie B. McLemore, a retired Jackson State University political science professor and former Jackson city councilman.
State leaders say they have not forgotten MAEP rewrite effort
Efforts to rewrite the landmark Mississippi Adequate Education school funding formula might no longer be at the forefront, but those efforts are not forgotten, according to two key elected officials. Both House Speaker Philip Gunn and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said there will be renewed efforts to rewrite the funding formula in the coming months. "We're still hoping we can move to a student-based formula," said Reeves, who said more work will be put into the effort as the start of the 2018 legislative session in January approaches. "The rewrite of the education formula is a conversation we are still having with other leaders and is not something we want to rush," said Meg Annison, a spokeswoman for Gunn. "As the speaker has reiterated, we want to get a new formula right."
Medicaid managed care program remains controversial
Controversy has swirled around the state's efforts to control cost in its Medicaid program through a managed program almost since its inception. In 2013, about 22 percent of the state's Medicaid recipients were enrolled in a managed care program where an insurance provider receives a set fee to provide medical services regardless of how costly those services are. Now, according to the Division of Medicaid, officials say approximately 70 percent of the around 709,000 enrolled in the Medicaid are in a managed care program. Erin Barham, a spokeswoman for the Division of Medicaid, said, "The goals (of managed care) are to improve access to care, the quality of care, and health-care outcomes and therefore, reduce the overall cost of the program through cost avoidance."
Obamacare repeal, replace discussions likely to resurface
Despite the dramatic defeat of Obamacare repeal efforts last month, it's likely to remain on the agenda when Congress returns to Washington D.C. after Labor Day. "I, for one, don't think it's done yet," said American Health Lawyers Association president Eric Zimmerman, who was among national and state experts who spoke earlier this week at a nonpartisan health care reform forum in Tupelo. The stakes are high, and chaos and uncertainty don't serve Mississippians or health care providers, said Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney. "People who would be really hurt are in the rural areas of the state," Chaney said, where there's already issues around accessing health care.
U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker speaks in Southaven
U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, told a Southaven audience Thursday that joint military exercises between Japan, the U.S., South Korea and other Allies are still scheduled despite a veiled threat from North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un. The North Korean leader has said previously he would hold off on his plans to target the U.S. military protectorate of Guam if Allied Forces would cancel their joint exercise. "We are absolutely not going to cancel our joint exercises," Wicker told members of the Rotary Club of Southaven. Wicker is the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and chairs the Subcommittee on Seapower. Kim Jong-Un had intimated he would launch ballistic missiles at or near Guam, causing a "ring of fire" around the island. "Kim Jong-Un is unstable and thoroughly evil and dangerous," Wicker said. "But I don't think he is suicidal. If he ever attacked any aspect of the U.S., it would be the last day of his life. He is a cruel, repressive, uncivilized despot, the likes of which would make (Josef) Stalin blush."
Trump to Address Afghanistan Strategy Monday Night
President Donald Trump will address U.S. military forces Monday evening about his new plan for the country's nearly 16-year-old war in Afghanistan. As a candidate and president, Trump often has maligned the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations for spending trillions too much in military operations overseas since the 9/11 attacks. Trump will make the announcement on Afghanistan and the greater region at 9 p.m. (EDT) on Monday evening at Fort Myer, which is located a few miles from the White House in Arlington, Va. Trump has been leaning toward keeping around 4,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, according to reports.
In Monument Debate, Calls for an Overdue Reckoning on Race and Southern Identity
For more than 150 years, the exaltation and defense of Confederate memory have been maintained with remarkable persistence in everything from town square monuments and state flags to seminal expressions of American culture like the films "The Birth of a Nation" and "Gone With the Wind." In recent decades, the most visible defense has been mounted by white Southerners who argue that the statues and flags represent "heritage, not hate," an assertion that many blacks, liberals and historians have viewed skeptically. But after the violent demonstrations last weekend in Charlottesville, which left a 32-year-old woman dead, the complex intersection of race, culture and Southern identity has reached a stunning level of national visibility. This is at a time when the most prominent champions of the Confederate legacy have been far-right groups whose aims lie explicitly in white supremacism and who express little interest in battle tactics, military uniforms or the trappings of a bygone Southern culture.
Mississippi trustees reject rule on university foundations
College Board trustees are rejecting an effort to impose further rules on university foundations. The board voted Thursday against the proposal, which had been sought by trustee Alan Perry of Jackson. Perry's proposal would have required separately incorporated university foundations to notify the board whenever they acquired land or built something intended for a university's use. Trustees would have been required to approve any purchase that cost a foundation more than 20 percent of its yearly income. The proposal was a reaction to a $3 million land purchase by Jackson State University's foundation for a dormitory project. Trustees didn't know about the purchase and later quashed the project.
Mississippi universities seek bonds after 2017 brought none
Mississippi's eight public universities thought they had a deal with lawmakers for predictable bond funding each year. But the Legislature didn't do any general borrowing earlier this year. Now, as the universities make their yearly bond request, they're emphasizing the importance of a yearly money infusion to campus operations. Higher Education Commissioner Glenn Boyce called on trustees, university presidents and their supporters to press lawmakers to avoid this year's outcome as the College Board on Thursday voted to forward university requests for 2018 bond money to the Legislature. Not only did lawmakers not borrow, they cut maintenance money from regular appropriations as part of broader budget cuts. "We absolutely are going to need everybody's advocacy and support to make sure this doesn't happen again," Boyce said.
Shots fired near Mississippi University for Women prompt lockdown
A 16-year-old juvenile is in custody after he allegedly fired shots near the Lowndes County Juvenile Detention Center on Sunday night, prompting a lockdown at the Mississippi University for Women. According to Columbus Assistant Police Chief Fred Shelton, in the 1700 block of 4th Ave. South, which is a block away from the detention center, a juvenile fired five shots into the air. Witnesses said there were four juveniles involved, but the one who was taken into custody is the one identified by witnesses as the shooter, authorities said. There was no confrontation, and it's unclear what the motive was. The juvenile detention center is not far from the campus. Maridith Walker Geuder, a spokeswoman for the university, said the lockdown began about 6:39 p.m. "We determined as a precaution to go ahead and lock campus down," she said.
Anika Perkins named interim executive director of university relations at MUW
A veteran communications professional is being named interim executive director of University Relations at Mississippi University for Women. Anika Mitchell Perkins, currently associate director, will assume the position Oct. 1 following the Sept. 30 retirement of Maridith Geuder. An 18-year veteran of public affairs at the university, Perkins is a 1993 journalism and mass communication graduate of The W and will receive her master's degree in December from Kent State University. Prior to joining The W, Perkins worked for five years at The Commercial Dispatch, first as a reporter before being promoted to news editor. "Anika has a deep knowledge of the university, the community and the state," said President Jim Borsig. "She is respected by colleagues and the media for her professionalism and has been a key player in advancing the university's brand awareness. We are looking forward to the contributions she will make in her new role."
Ole Miss Student Union reopening delayed
As University of Mississippi students return to campus for the fall semester, the reopening of the expanded Ole Miss Student Union has been unexpectedly delayed. The facility will be operational later than its originally scheduled reopening on Monday, UM administrators said. "The project team is working diligently to ensure the opening of this building maintains the standard of excellence that our university family expects and deserves," said Chad Hunter, associate university architect. "I am disappointed about the delay in opening the Student Union," said Brandi Hephner LaBanc, vice chancellor for student affairs. "It was a hard decision, but the correct one."
USM student charged with sexual battery
A University of Southern Mississippi student is facing a felony charge after an incident on campus Friday. Eric M. Camp, 18, is charged with one count of sexual battery. According to the University Police Department, Camp is from Gulfport. Authorities said a Southern Miss student reported the incident to a McCarty Hall resident assistant, who informed UPD around 4 p.m. Friday. Camp is being held at the Forrest County Regional Jail. He is scheduled to make an initial court appearance early next week, and will also be subject to student disciplinary action under the USM Student Code of Conduct. Students are reminded that in addition to UPD, the Title IX office can be of assistance with incidents of sexual misconduct or assault.
This Week in Higher Education: IHL Establishes Committee to Search for a New MVSU President
At a meeting on Aug. 17 in Jackson, the Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning announced that it is establishing a Board Search Committee to find a new president for Mississippi Valley State University. Dr. Jerryl Briggs is currently serving as interim president of the university until the board names a permanent president. The position has been vacant since former MVSU president Dr. William Bynum became president of Jackson State University in May 2017. IHL Board President C.D. Smith appointed trustee Shane Hooper of Tupelo as the new committee's chair. All of the board's trustees will serve as members of the Board Search Committee.
Local UVA graduates respond to Charlottesville tragedy
By now, just about everyone has heard of scenic Charlottesville, in the bucolic rolling hills of central Virginia. Charlottesville is a diverse, politically progressive, health-conscious city whose inhabitants tend to be well-educated and forward-thinking. It is home to the prestigious University of Virginia, founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson. In 2014 it was named America's happiest city by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Shawn Brevard graduated from UVA in 1979, long before Charlottesville became a household word. A longtime Tupelo resident who has served on the Tupelo City School Board and currently serves on the Link Centre board, Brevard said her heart goes out to Charlottesville. "I feel such horror, such sadness. I love UVA and I love Virginia. It's a wonderful place, and what happened was not a reflection on Charlottesville. It could have happened anywhere. It could happen in our front door," she said. Brevard said she sees the events in Charlottesville as a symptom of a larger, culture-wide problem.
Northwest Mississippi Community College to name facility for Gary Lee Spears
Northwest Mississippi Community College's Board of Trustees has officially named the college's newest building project in honor of Northwest President, Dr. Gary Lee Spears, in recognition of his years of service to the college, his faithful dedication to its students and staff, and his outstanding contribution to higher education in Mississippi. The Gary Lee Spears Center for Nursing and Health Sciences, which encompasses both the current building for the Division of Nursing and the near-complete adjacent facility, was approved by the full board after a unanimous decision by the Special Recognition Committee, the board sub-committee responsible for making recommendations involving the naming of college facilities. A state Bureau of Buildings project, the facility is slated for completion this fall and should officially open for classes in the spring of 2018.
Dark cloud on horizon for Louisiana colleges through budget cuts
Wearing loose-fitting purple and gold clothing for a steamy morning of schlepping his daughter's belongings into her dorm, proud father Steven Procopio settled down Wednesday to jambalaya at an LSU Honors College picnic. LSU President F. King Alexander stepped up to speak to parents and freshmen who make up the largest incoming class for the university's school for high-achieving students. He talked about "heading in a new direction" --- raises were given, new professors were hired for the classes that start Monday. Nine years of budget cuts meant fewer faculty, untended buildings, higher tuitions and all the other "efficiencies" that came from underfunding higher education. That changed in June when Louisiana lawmakers reversed course and did not touch the state's contribution to run 14 public universities and 15 community colleges. That's this year. Next year state government already is aware it'll have at least $1 billion less because a penny of the state's sales tax, which was added to bridge a previous shortfall, is set to expire on June 30, 2018.
Louisiana colleges ready to claw back to where they were after years of underfunding
For the first time in nine years, Louisiana lawmakers tapped the brakes in June and left higher education's finances alone as they were approving the state budget. As students arrive Monday to begin classes, university staff and many professors are receiving their first pay raises in nearly a decade. And the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, which offers free tuition for students who meet certain academic benchmarks, is fully funded after a year of partial aid. But leaders are still trying to sort out what repairs are most urgent after the most precipitous budget cuts to any state's public higher education system forced myriad changes -- some good, some not so good -- to the way colleges and universities operate in Louisiana. "We just went through nine years of 16 budget reductions," LSU President F. King Alexander said. But Alexander is optimistic a corner has been turned. He hired 133 new professors, and some of those coming were trained at Harvard University, the University of Paris and other highly rated academic institutions.
Arkansas campuses prepare for gun law to take effect
Don't pack that sidearm just yet. A new state law in Arkansas that allows enhanced carry in previously forbidden places like bars, churches and college campuses takes effect Sept. 1. But there's a catch: The same law calls for concealed carry permit holders to have enhanced training before taking weapons onto those properties. And that training has yet to be created. It'll likely be 2018 before any gun-toters can carry on those grounds, college and university leaders said, because Sept. 1 starts the clock -- the countdown of 120 days that the Arkansas State Police has to design the enhanced training program. As the fall semester begins, the schools are reminding students, faculty and staff that weapons are still prohibited from dormitories or residence halls and can only be stored in locked, unattended vehicles in a public college or university parking lot.
Tennessee rolls out 'red zone' programming to prevent sex assault as students return
When students at the University of Tennessee return to classes next week, they'll already have gotten a fresh reminder about the risk of sexual assault and how to stay safe on campus. The "red zone" is the name some colleges and universities have given to the time when students are statistically more likely to experience sexual assault, typically running from the start of classes through Thanksgiving break. "Students arrive on campus thinking sexual assaults are most likely committed by strangers or someone jumping out of a bush," said Laura Bryant, director of the Center for Health Education and Wellness at UT. "It's really important that we get out accurate facts about this time." About 75 to 80 percent of sexual assaults are committed by an acquaintance or a non-stranger, such as a classmate or friend, according to Bryant. Last fall there were nine sexual assaults reported on the UT campus during the red zone.
Luxury student apartments, new dorms raise bar in U. of Tennessee student housing
On a recent sunny afternoon, Amber Phillips and Brianna Sowden were relaxing in lounge chairs as water lapped at their feet from the beach-access saltwater pool at The Retreat at Knoxville. Not far away, mock mimosas and peach mango Bellinis were being served inside The Retreat's two-story clubhouse, which also includes free tanning, a fitness center and a movie theater. The description sounds like a five-star hotel but it's actually housing for college students. The Retreat at Knoxville is among a growing number of off-campus student apartment buildings in Knoxville marketing themselves as luxury student living to meet the rising demand and expectations of today's college students. Meanwhile, the number of students who can be housed at UT has not changed for more than 45 years, although recent investments have been made to improve what housing capacity UT does have.
Firm to study risks of fraternities, sororities at U. of Missouri
A Florida-based consulting firm is visiting the University of Missouri campus this week to study how to reduce the number of dangerous incidents occurring in fraternity and sorority houses. Dyad Strategies LLC will be paid $22,000 to do a risk assessment of Greek organizations and review MU's relationship with fraternities and sororities. The report, due Sept. 30, will rank the risks associated with Greek membership as well as make policy recommendations. "The consultant will help the university get a sense of national best practices related to Greek Life and review current policies and procedures in place," MU spokeswoman Liz McCune wrote in an email. "Specifically, the consultants will review policies and procedures related to alcohol and drugs; housing; trainings and workshops; hazing; and recruitment and retention."
U. of Missouri director of astronomy Angela Speck consumed by eclipse
Angela Speck, the University of Missouri's director of astronomy, is StardustSpeck on Twitter and when she's not cheering for the public to look up at 1:12 p.m. Monday to see the total solar eclipse, she studies the stuff that poets prize. "My work is on determining what dust forms, trying to understand why that sort of dust forms and then what is the knock-on effect once you've got that sort of dust," Speck said. Unfortunately, she said, she's neglected that research. "I really haven't done any of my own research for quite some time," Speck said. "It will be a relief to get back to it." For more than three years, Speck's time has been consumed by the eclipse. She is a co-chair of the American Astronomical Society's Solar Eclipse Task Force. In November 2015, she predicted Columbia should prepare for 400,000 visitors. The estimates have fallen but she still expects the city to double in population or more on Monday.
Evangelical students returning Liberty University diplomas to protest Trump
Former students at Liberty University are preparing to return their diplomas in a group protest of university president Jerry Falwell Jr.'s support for President Trump's agenda. In a group letter first reported by NPR, a small group of alumni is criticizing Falwell for supporting the president in the wake of Trump's remarks blaming "many sides" for violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend. The letter slams Falwell for defending Trump's comments, specifically for his saying there were "very fine people" protesting on both sides. "This is incompatible with Liberty University's stated values, and incompatible with a Christian witness," the letter says. One former student government president told NPR that Falwell was "complicit" in Trump's support for "Nazis and white supremacists."
Duke removes statue of Robert E. Lee from university chapel
Duke University on Saturday announced that it had removed a statue of Robert E. Lee from the entrance to the university chapel. And Bowdoin College said that it would take down a plaque honoring Jefferson Davis and college alumni who fought for the Confederacy. "I took this course of action to protect Duke Chapel, to ensure the vital safety of students and community members who worship there, and above all to express the deep and abiding values of our university," said a statement issued Saturday morning by Vincent E. Price, Duke's president. "The removal also presents an opportunity for us to learn and heal. The statue will be preserved so that students can study Duke's complex past and take part in a more inclusive future." Also on Saturday, Bowdoin College announced that it was taking down a plaque honoring Jefferson Davis and 19 Bowdoin alumni who fought for the Confederacy.
Clemson University to pay Tucker Hipps' family $250,000 as part of lawsuit settlement
Clemson University will pay the family of Tucker Hipps $250,000 and Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity must educate others about what happened to him, according to court documents and the terms of settlements made public Thursday that end the civil lawsuits filed after his death. While all the terms of Clemson University's part of the settlement are outlined in court documents, some terms of the settlement the family reached with the fraternity and three of its student members are confidential, including discussions about money, according to records. The student defendants named in the suit are fraternity leaders Sam Carney, Thomas Carter King and Campbell Starr. Carney is the son of Delaware Gov. John Carney. Hipps, a 19-year-old Clemson University sophomore and fraternity pledge, was found dead on Lake Hartwell near the S.C. 93 bridge on Sept. 22, 2014, hours after going on a run with about 30 members of the fraternity.
Positive discourse key in education discussions
Angela Farmer, an assistant professor of educational leadership at Mississippi State, writes: "Amid the billions of individuals on earth, there are certainly a variety of opinions, approaches and interpretations as to what defines an ideal education. The facets range from the large school, public education proponents to the small school, private education advocates and on to the homeschool, site-specific supporters. What perhaps, does not get enough voice, however, is the fact that in the United States, citizens have options. The passion with which each group and even subgroup elects to educate its children lends further validation to the fact that one size does not fit all."
Historian on 'Confederate Kentucky': Time to remove the statues
Anne Marshall, a Lexington, Kentucky, native and an associate professor of history at Mississippi State, writes in the Lexington Herald Leader: "Late Saturday, prompted by events in Virginia, Mayor Jim Gray announced he would expedite the removal of two Confederate monuments from the lawn of the former Fayette County Courthouse. The likenesses of John Hunt Morgan and John C. Breckenridge have been public targets since the deadly shooting in Charleston, S.C., in 2015 underscored the connection between Confederate symbolism and racial violence. But violence in Charlottesville added a new sense of immediacy. As one who has studied the history of Confederate monuments in Kentucky, I was, as recently as a couple of years ago, advocating against this very thing. I was then committed to what historians and others call 'contextualism.' Contextualism aims, through historical explanation, to displace the original intent of the statues, which was to honor the Confederate Lost Cause. ...My views changed, however, after seeing the failure of such a strategy in Louisville."
Do governor's appointees not give a squat about his standards?
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: "Did you read Geoff Pender's terrific column 'Take some aspirin before searching Transparency Mississippi website' in the Clarion-Ledger? If transparency in government spending matters to you, this is a must read. Pender pointed to non-transparent disclosures on the transparency site by the Mississippi Division of Medicaid, then said, 'Apparently, they don't feel like telling the public squat about their travel. So they don't.' Then Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant was a champion for passage of the 2008 law creating, noted Pender. Now Bryant is Governor, but agencies under him are callously subverting transparency in government spending. Not good."
Medicaid, DFA issue dueling press releases over travel
The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender writes: "Please pass the Advil. My Sunday column on the not-so-transparent Mississippi government transparency website apparently prompted the state Division of Medicaid to send out a 5 p.m. Friday--- going on a week later --- press release titled, 'Clarification: Mississippi Division of Medicaid transparent with information.' This appeared to prompt the state Department of Finance and Administration to send out a press release a short while later, explaining that Medicaid has not, in fact, been so transparent with information. The gist of the Medicaid release (in full, below) is that Medicaid is very transparent, particularly with travel spending records, and apparently DFA, which oversees the site, apparently drops the ball in making them available to the public."

After Tebow and Dak, who's next for QB guru Dan Mullen?
There was Dan Mullen, his maroon Mississippi State jacket drenched in Egg Bowl victory sweat and an unlit cigar in his right hand. He stood in the underbelly of Ole Miss' Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, arrogance radiating after last year's 55-20 beatdown of bitter rival Ole Miss in Oxford. Near the end of an almost 20-minute postgame news conference, his pride exploded when a reporter asked whom the Bulldogs had to beat to get rising star quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, who had just embarrassed Ole Miss' defense for 367 total yards and five touchdowns, with 258 of those yards and two scores coming on the ground. "U-T Chatta-nooga," Mullen said emphatically before placing the cigar in his mouth and nodding. That was classic Mullen, rubbing extra dirt in the Rebels' wounds by letting them know he wrecked his rival with a quarterback who wouldn't have sniffed the FBS ranks if not for him. You can call Mullen a guru or QB whisperer, but really, the success has come from getting to work.
Mississippi State faces new quarterback question
The biggest question facing Mississippi State entering last year was which of the four quarterbacks would replace Dak Prescott. Nick Fitzgerald emerged from that pack to start all 13 games for the Bulldogs and led the Southeastern Conference in total yardage, causing the other three candidates to transfer. Fitzgerald returns as the undisputed starter this fall and MSU is working to get true freshman Keytaon Thompson ready to be his backup. "With our depth chart, it's pretty cut and dry who is No. 1 and No. 2 there," said MSU quarterbacks coach Brett Elliott. "You'd like a little more competition there. Those two have got to be self-motivated because we all know Fitz is going to be the starter and Keytaon is No. 2."
As Mississippi State nears the season opener, this is how the depth chart looks
With the 2017 season now less than two weeks away from kickoff, Mississippi State beat writer Will Sammon breaks down who he thinks ends up at starting at every position and their chances of success.
Mississippi State's Traver Jung wears No. 3 to honor great-grandmother
In between seasons at Holmes Community College, Traver Jung went home to Greenville to be with Virginia Jung, his great-grandmother and the woman who raised him. On that day -- March 7, 2014 -- she was lying on the couch and asked Traver to grab the newspaper for her. As he walked back to the house, he heard the dog barking. His brother, Xavies, opened the door. Virginia Jung was laying on the couch, "lily white." She was dead. "She died with a smile on her face," Traver said. Given how Virginia always encouraged Traver's pursuit of football, he decided to change his jersey number to 3 or 7, referencing her death date of March 7. No. 3 was available for his 2014 season at Holmes CC and he's stuck with it at Mississippi State. He thinks it's the least he can do for the woman that raised him -- the same woman that raised his mother, Stephanie. Traver wore the number last season when he tied for the team lead with five pass breakups. He also had 25 tackles, three for a loss, two-and-a-half sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.
MSU Notebook: Dan Mullen has confidence in kickers
Kicker has been a sore spot at Mississippi State for the past few years. Coach Dan Mullen has been relying on walk-ons to fill the role, which has produced mixed results. Mullen again has three walk-ons -- Jordan Lawless, Jace Christman and Dan Mills -- competing for the starting job along with Tucker Day, who was signed as a punter. "The competition is going pretty well," Mullen said Thursday. "We'll have to see. If I have to give an edge probably Tucker Day has the edge today. But it's pretty close, kind of changes daily." Mullen estimated that the kicking competition could continue through pregame warm-ups of the Bulldogs' season-opener against Charleston Southern on Sept. 2.
Mississippi State AD John Cohen: Construction on schedule at Dudy Noble
The demolition at Dudy Noble Field/Polk-DeMent Stadium is complete. The next phase will feature the construction of additions to Mississippi State's historic baseball venue. MSU Director of Athletics John Cohen told The Dispatch on Wednesday that crews have begun working on new portions of the stadium that are scheduled to be completed in time for the 2018 season. More construction is scheduled for between the 2018 and 2019 seasons. "They've gotten a lot of the early concrete work done," Cohen said. "The first major part of it was demolition, and they got all that done. Now they're doing a lot of concrete work, especially on the right-field side."
Mississippi State women will play nine non-conference games at the Hump
The Mississippi State women's basketball team will play nine games at Humphrey Coliseum and another game at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson as part of its 2017-18 non-conference schedule. The 15-game, pre-Southeastern Conference slate includes nine teams that earned postseason berths last season. Four of those teams advanced to the NCAA tournament, including an Oregon squad that will visit Starkville on Dec. 13. The Ducks advanced to the Elite Eight. "I know how challenging it is," MSU sixth-year head coach Vic Schaefer said of the pre-conference slate. "We have tried to make our schedule more demanding each year. All of the road games we had last year were imperative for helping us get ready for the Southeastern Conference. This year we added quite a bit more from a strength-of-schedule standpoint, and even though we are playing them at home, we have some very difficult games."
Dak Prescott to Young People: Believe in Yourself Through It All
Dak Prescott chooses not to worry about things he can't control. He stays focused on the task in front of him, he says, controlling only what he can. When the 24-year-old is not studying film or on the field, he likes to get lost in NCAA football on PlayStation 3 to take his mind off the game. "I play video games---just the fact they kind of take me away from my life or whatever is going on now ... and in something that's not exactly real," the Louisiana native told the Jackson Free Press in a phone interview this week. It is only Prescott's second season in the NFL, but the 24-year-old is leading one of the best football teams in the country, based on last year's season, for the second year in a row. The quarterback, who grew up in a trailer with his mother and brothers in a small, rural Louisiana town, says his advice for young people growing up in similar circumstances is all about control.
Some Georgia athletes may be blocked out of seeing the solar eclipse due to practices
It won't be a normal work or school day for many in the Athens area on Monday. Georgia athletic teams, for the most part, live by a certain structure. They still have games to get ready for and their preparations won't deviate much even though there is a total solar eclipse happening in the afternoon. Athens is a prime spot to view it (if you have the proper glasses). "We heard about it, talked about it a little bit, but I think we'll be in meetings," football wide receiver Michael Chigbu said. "I don't think we'll have the luxury of seeing this once-in-a-lifetime eclipse. I would love to see it, but if not, I understand. I have a job to do." The football team, which opens its season on Sept. 2 against Appalachian State, has a practice scheduled for Monday afternoon, and the eclipse won't affect the Bulldogs' practice plans. "Not that I'm aware of," coach Kirby Smart said.
U. of Alabama fans can expect a next-level experience at Mercedes-Benz Stadium
It looks like Atlanta, it feels like Atlanta and it certainly smells like Atlanta, but the enormous and shiny, new Mercedes-Benz Stadium now looms over the city like a main character in a "Transformers" movie. Is it from the future? Will it move by itself? Can you touch it? No, yes and yes. Billed as "The Finest Sports and Entertainment Facility in the World," it is pretty much going to rock every football fan's world. Not just football either; soccer fans and concert-goers, too. The stadium will host the Alabama Crimson Tide's football season opener, when UA plays Florida State on Saturday, Sept. 2. The first thing attendees will encounter, if they use the stadium's front entrance, will be a large, stylish, steel statue of a falcon perched atop a football, a symbol signifying it as home of the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League.
Friends and fans say farewell at Frank Broyles' funeral
Not every monument on the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville campus to Frank Broyles involves the Razorbacks' athletic teams. Dan Ferritor, who as Arkansas' chancellor from 1986-97 worked with the Razorbacks' longtime football coach and athletic director, said Saturday that Old Main would not be standing today if not for Broyles. Old Main, which opened in 1875, was closed from 1986-91 for safety reasons. Ferritor told the story of how the historic building was saved, as he spoke during Saturday's celebration of life ceremony held in Broyles' honor at Bud Walton Arena on campus. Broyles died Monday at age 92 from complications of Alzheimer's disease.
U. of Florida player may be in deeper trouble
Redshirt freshman defensive end Jordan Smith, one of seven players suspended last Sunday for misuse of scholarship funds, is now facing a possible criminal charge for alleged credit card fraud. GPD spokesman Ben Tobias confirmed Friday that police did an open criminal investigation involving Smith on Thursday that has been forwarded to the detective division for follow-up. The other six suspended players are not part of the investigation. Smith and the six others -- wide receiver Antonio Callaway, defensive end Keivonnis Davis, defensive tackle Richerd Desir-Jones, offensive tackle Kadeem Telfort, linebacker James Houston and linebacker Ventrell Miller -- were suspended from the opening game against Michigan last Sunday and also suspended from all team activities. The suspensions are indefinite and will not end until certain monetary conditions are met by the players.
Texas A&M's student section sells out for seventh straight year
Texas A&M announced Friday that the student section for football games at Kyle Field is sold out for 2017, pushing the current streak to seven seasons in a row. A&M's student section will include more than 35,000 this season in the stadium that holds 102,733. It is the largest student section in the country.
Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork: 'Football changed my life'
University of Mississippi AD Ross Bjork writes in the Oxford Eagle: "I read with great interest a recent column by Alex McDaniel titled 'Why I, a hypocrite, won't let my son play football.' I first met Alex when I arrived at Ole Miss in 2012 and have the utmost respect for her as a mother and editor of The Oxford Eagle. But I am compelled to say in response that I sure am glad my mother let me play football. The game changed my life. In her column, Alex described her love of the game and how it has been a passion of hers since childhood. She noted that the game conjures up the feelings of passion, family, and many other great things football can mean to her and so many others. She goes on to say based on the current state of football, both on and off the field, she will not let her son play the game. As a former college football player, athletics director and the parent of two young boys who might play tackle football one day, I believe this is a great game that has so much to give."
The sound and the fury of sports as only Faulkner could convey
Mississippi sports columnist Rick Cleveland writes: "Your faithful correspondent rose early Saturday morning to write about celebrated Mississippi authors who wrote first about sports, usually for newspapers. It seemed the proper time with Saturday's Mississippi Book Festival at the State Capitol. So later in the day, I was working at the Mississippi Today booth on the Capitol grounds when a visitor remarked that he had read my piece, and then he asked: 'Did you know William Faulkner wrote sports on at least two occasions for Sports Illustrated?' Why, no, I didn't. I had no idea. This was in 1955, seven years before the most celebrated of Mississippi authors died, six years after he won the Nobel Prize in Literature and the same year he first won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Faulkner was awarded the Nobel for 'his powerful and artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel.'"

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