Monday, August 28, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
 
My Turn: Mark E. Keenum: Extraordinary gift of Lincoln from R.I.
Mississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum writes in the Providence Journal: "Mississippi State University now ranks among the most important and relevant academic venues in the United States for the study of the Civil War, based on our status as the host university of both the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library and the Frank J. and Virginia Williams Collection of Lincolniana. Through these hallmark academic collections, I would submit that perhaps no university in the nation has done more to bring substantive academic balance to the study of the conditions that led to the Civil War, the propagation of the war, and the long road of Reconstruction and national reunification. Our university offers a unique opportunity for the study of the Civil War, not from the Northern or Southern perspective, but appropriately from the American perspective. One constant in the growth of MSU's special collections holdings of substantial Civil War and related exhibits has been the influence of retired Rhode Island Supreme Court Chief Justice Frank J. Williams."
 
Mississippi State cybersecurity program gets $3.11M grant
Mississippi State University will receive $3.11 million through a National Science Foundation grant to continue the university's role in the CyberCorps Scholarship for Service program, which prepares highly qualified cybersecurity professionals for entry into the government workforce. As part of the grant, which will support the program for four years, East Mississippi Community College students planning to attend MSU are eligible to receive scholarships. MSU produces the third largest number of CyberCorps students nationally, according to an MSU news release. In addition, the program enhances research and knowledge in the field. More than 70 peer-reviewed publications have been published by graduate and undergraduate MSU Scholarship for Service students.
 
Universities face free speech balance
Here's a scenario: A public university in Mississippi receives a request to host an event featuring a speaker named Richard Spencer, a known advocate for the creation of a white-ethno state or, in his words, "a safe space effectively for Europeans." Do campus officials agree to let him book a space? For the six universities -- Jackson State University, Millsaps College, Mississippi State University, Mississippi University for Women, the University of Southern Mississippi and the University of Mississippi -- that responded to The Clarion-Ledger's request about campus speaker policies, the answer can be dubbed open-ended at best. "We don't speak to hypothetical questions about various individual speakers. We deal with speaking requests as they occur, not in the abstract," said Sid Salter, chief communications officer for MSU. For higher education leaders, dealing with requests on a case-by-case basis is key.
 
EdR Receives Approval for College View Housing
Mississippi State University and EdR will be moving forward with the plans for College View, a student housing campus to be constructed in two phases. EdR received approval from the Board of Trustees of State Intuitions of Higher Learning for the College View, a 1,600-bed student housing campus constructed in two phases. The first phase, slated for completion in fall 2019, will consists of 650 beds and the second phase will feature 950 additional beds. Additionally, the multi-phased university campus will offer retail and restaurant space, recreational amenities, as well as an outdoor entertainment space, a day care center and parking spaces. "We are proud of this partnership with one of the top universities in the South," Randy Churchey, EdR's CEO, said in a statement.
 
Mississippi State hosts Mississippi Bicentennial art exhibition Sept 1-29
To celebrate Mississippi's bicentennial year, the Mississippi Museum of Art is curating 12 exhibitions for 12 cities across the state called "Art Across Mississippi: Twelve Exhibitions, Twelve Communities." Mississippi State University will host the Art Across Mississippi exhibition "Narratives of the Land" Sept. 1 through Sept. 29 at the Cullis Wade Depot Art Gallery on campus. This exhibit is free and open to the public and will focus on Mississippi landscapes through the lenses of artists Eudora Welty, Walter Inglis Anderson, Ke Francis and William Dunlap. Endless Delta sky with telephone poles standing like crosses; remnants of a pier off the Gulf Coast; bottle trees perched in front of a 1930's sharecropper's home: these quintessential scenes embody the landscape of Mississippi -- from Hollingsworth's and Welty's frank representations of life during the Depression to Ke Francis' and others' contemporary fascination with history and memory of the land.
 
Mississippi State holds NAFTA panel discussion
George W. Bush Institute Director of Economic Growth Matthew Rooney gave a lecture on the North American Free Trade Agreement Wednesday at Mississippi State University. The lecture was titled "Avoiding a Neo-Medieval Era: NAFTA, Globalization and American Leadership." The lecture centered on the goals NAFTA set out to accomplish and the current state of the agreement amid emerging isolationist political philosophies. A panel discussion followed Rooney's lecture featuring MSU agricultural economics professors Josh Maples and Lurleen Walters, history professor Richard Damms and political science professor Brian Shoup. Political science professor Vasbijt Banerjee served as moderator. The discussion was hosted by the MSU International Institute and MSU College of Arts and Sciences.
 
Timber market lags now, shows long-term promise
The combination of a middling timber market, a pine beetle infestation and wet weather is doing Mississippi tree farmers no favors this year. Fortunately, a new sawmill in the state and the prospect of increased manufacturing gives reason for optimism long-term. Biewer Sawmill began operations this year in Newton. Glenn Hughes, a forestry professor with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said this indicates an upswing for the state's forest product industry. "We've got plenty of trees out there right now because the post-recession housing market has been slow to improve, so demand isn't high," said Hughes, who is based in the College of Forest Resources at the MSU Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi. "The new operation in Newton is a positive sign for the future, and I think it's the first of potentially several more mills." In 2016, the production value of Mississippi's forestry industry was more than $1.4 billion.
 
Timber markets lag, show promise
Despite the combination of a middling timber market, a pine beetle infestation and wet weather doing Mississippi tree farmers no favors this year, the prospect of increased manufacturing gives reason for optimism long-term. Glenn Hughes, a forestry professor with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said there are indications of an upswing for the state's forest product industry. Forestry and forest products are important to Warren County's economy, contributing to many sectors of the economy. Using the most recent data from MSU Extension Office, there are nearly 800 forestland owners in the county with more than 250,000 acres of private timberland ownership with an assessed value at nearly $7 million. Standing timber values were $587,733,187, according to most recent numbers from 2014.
 
Official calls for voter awareness ahead of special elections
Interim Oktibbeha County Circuit Clerk Angie McGinnis declared September Voter Awareness Month ahead of November's various special elections in effort to drum up interest and increase participation at the ballot box. Roughly 40 percent of the Oktibbeha County electorate participated in 2015's statewide and county elections, and special election cycles typically see fewer ballots cast than in those and presidential elections. With countywide races set for chancery and circuit clerk positions, the vacant Mississippi House of Representatives' District 38 seat, District 1 constable and a referendum on the future of OCH Regional Medical Center on Nov. 7's ballot, McGinnis said a repeat of 2015's 40 percent turnout "will not be acceptable."
 
Aldermen discuss proposed budget, tax increase
The Starkville Board of Aldermen discussed the proposed budget and possible tax increase for the upcoming fiscal year at its work session on Friday. Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk broke down the budget for the SDN, by explaining the importance of distributing funds to help provide service and maintain Starkville. "It's a spending plan that reflects policy," Sistrunk said "It reflects what is important to our community." Money for the budget comes from an assortment of areas, but the largest portions of the budget are funded by ad valorem taxes and sales taxes. Those taxes account for around 62 percent of the budget. The other percentage is made up of franchise taxes, building permits, grants and other resources. Sistrunk said in the end, after dividing up the costs, the board is looking at about 10 to 15 percent of funds to spend on projects.
 
Bricklee Miller, John Montgomery urge caution with new lake offer
District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery and District 4 Supervisor Bricklee Miller say their fellow board members could be sinking money into a want, not a need, if Oktibbeha County pursues a new $2 million offer from former Mississippi State University basketball coach Rick Stansbury for his Starkville Wet 'N Wild property at Oktibbeha County Lake. Stansbury's new deal -- one that helps the county avoid a single, lump-sum payment by instead allowing for a 10 percent down payment at closing followed by a 10-year financing plan -- was taken under advisement Monday but not before the board voted 3-2 to have the property appraised ahead of any potential negotiations. Questions of costs and liability associated with owning, operating and maintaining the water park and its infrastructure have both Miller and Montgomery saying the board needs to figure out the exact costs and benefits.
 
Community honors retiring State Rep. Tyrone Ellis
"Reverend Representative" and "Dean of the Golden Triangle Delegation." Those were just two of the nicknames given to State Rep. Tyrone Ellis during his career in Jackson, but community members came together on Saturday to celebrate the man responsible for a body of work which is sure to endure through the ages. A retirement celebration for Ellis, 70, was held at the Bost Extension Center -- attended by more than 200 people -- and featured a long list of dignitaries and family members, who praised the representative, pastor and businessman for all he accomplished during his 38 years in the Legislature. While many of the speakers focused on Ellis' character and compassion, the more tangible accomplishments were also brought to the forefront. These included his involvement with the state's legislative black caucus, the consolidation of the Starkville-Oktibbeha County school districts and the Partnership School coming to fruition.
 
How much rain will Harvey bring to the rest of the Gulf Coast?
As Tropical Storm Harvey inundates Texas with unprecedented flooding, the National Weather Service on Sunday night extended the threat of heavy rainfall further east. Much of southern Louisiana, including New Orleans, could see flash flooding and heavy rains early this week. The Weather Prediction Center on Sunday night said rainfall rates of 2 inches per hour are possible in New Orleans, where the city's faulty drainage system has caused flooding from summer thunderstorms. The Center advises just 3 to 5 inches of rain in the city could cause issues. But South Mississippi is -- so far -- expected to be less affected, with 4 to 6 inches of rain possible. Local streams and rivers are not expected to reach flood stage.
 
Analysis: Pressure rises on PERS to seek more money
An outside adviser is telling Mississippi's public pension system that it should change its accounting policies in a way that would sharply increase required contributions to keep the system solvent over the long run, adding to financial pressure on the Public Employees Retirement System. GRS Retirement Consulting made the recommendations last week, as part of its audit of the system's regular actuaries. The consultants advised the PERS board that the pension system's assumptions about how much inflation would rise in the future were too high, advising the board to lower them. Doing so would in turn alter how much money PERS expects to earn on its investments in the future, meaning the $27 billion in assets that PERS has on hand today would be expected to grow less, increasing estimates of a future shortfall.
 
State transportation woes reiterated to Senate panel
State senators were told Friday that the condition of Mississippi's transportation system, which has been bad for sometime, is only getting worse. "Over a 10 year period, pavement in poor or very poor condition is getting worse and is getting worse at a pretty alarming rate, costing us a lot more to address," James Williams, chief engineer for the Mississippi Department of Transportation, told members of the Senate Transportation Committee. For about five years, various officials have warned that additional money is needed to deal with a rapidly deteriorating state and local transportation system. At this point there is a near consensus from state leaders that additional revenue is needed for transportation, but no consensus on how to generate that money.
 
MDOT mantra: 'We have no money' to keep up with repairs
In a second day Friday of exploring potential funding to address the state's failing infrastructure, lawmakers heard yet another bleak outlook from the Mississippi Department of Transportation. The bottom line, MDOT Executive Director Melinda McGrath said: State crews cannot keep up with the rate of declining conditions of the state's roads and bridges under current funding. MDOT, despite the help of powerful lobbyists and interest groups, has failed for several years to convince the Legislature to fund its stated needs: $400 million more per year -- a conservative estimate -- to sufficiently address the state's infrastructure problem.
 
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant set for state business trip to India
The governor of Mississippi is scheduled to lead a state business trip to India. A spokesman confirms that Republican Gov. Phil Bryant is planning to take part in a trip Sept. 11-15. It sponsored by Mississippi Development Authority, the state agency that seeks to create jobs. The agency says participants will meet with potential buyers, agents, distributors and joint venture partners.
 
Black-clad antifa members attack peaceful right-wing demonstrators in Berkeley
Their faces hidden behind black bandannas and hoodies, about 100 anarchists and antifa--- "anti-fascist" -- members barreled into a protest Sunday afternoon in Berkeley's Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park. Jumping over plastic and concrete barriers, the group melted into a larger crowd of around 2,000 that had marched peacefully throughout the sunny afternoon for a "Rally Against Hate" gathering. Shortly after, violence began to flare. In February, 150 similarly black-clad agitators caused $100,000 worth of damage when they smashed through Berkeley protesting a University of California at Berkeley speech by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. Portland, Ore., has been the scene of street battles between antifa members and white nationalists this summer.
 
In Houston, Anxiety and Frantic Rescues as Floodwaters Rise
What felt like an apocalyptic onslaught of pounding rains and rapidly rising floodwaters brought the nation's fourth-largest city to its knees on Sunday, as highways and residential streets turned to rivers, waist-high waters choked off access to homes and hospitals, and officials begged boat owners to pitch in with an enormous and frantic rescue operation. It was a scene that evoked Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana in 2005, with worried residents punching holes in roofs in anticipation of the water rising even higher and people being rescued by helicopters from soggy rooftops. The chaos inflicted by the remains of Hurricane Harvey played out across an enormous swath of Texas, most conspicuously in this metropolitan area of 6.6 million that has long been used to major storms blowing in off the Gulf of Mexico, but that has seldom, if ever, faced a scene quite like this one.
 
Tuesday gallery talk explores The W's 'Viewers' Choice'
Viewers' Choice, an exhibition curated by the Mississippi University for Women community, is now on view in the MUW Galleries. Thirty-six faculty, staff and administration voted on which work from the university's permanent collection to include in the exhibition. Dr. Beverly Joyce, Galleries director, will give a gallery talk about the exhibition on Tuesday, Aug. 29 at 12:30 p.m. "The purpose of the exhibition was to give us a chance to display some work that had not been shown in a long time and also to engage our colleagues across campus in a fun show for the beginning of the academic year," said Joyce. A general call for participation went out last spring. Those responding were asked to vote on their 10 favorite works from a pool of 55 images. None of the participants were given titles or artists' names; their selections were based on aesthetic preference only.
 
Ole Miss student in stable condition following shooting
An Ole Miss student who was shot in the head is now listed in stable condition, according to Oxford police. Police say Alisha Smith is still in the Intensive Care Unit at the Med in Memphis. The shooting happened early Thursday morning at the University Trails apartment complex. D'Marius Madkins is accused of shooting her. He has been formally charged with domestic violence-aggravated assault, according to Oxford police.
 
Ole Miss selects first vice chancellor for development
Charlotte Parks, former senior associate vice president for development at the University of South Carolina, will become the inaugural vice chancellor for development at the University of Mississippi on Sept. 1. The position was created to meet fund-raising goals established by Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter in November 2016. As a direct report to Vitter, Parks will lead development officers on the Oxford campus, in athletics and at the Medical Center in Jackson. Before joining the University of South Carolina, Parks directed a $300 million comprehensive campaign for Georgia State University and led all fund-raising efforts for the university's Robinson College of Business.
 
Engineering department at UM debuts biomedical engineering degree
After years of working toward the addition of a new major, the School of Engineering now offers a biomedical engineering degree. In the past, the university included biomedical engineering as an emphasis within the departments of electrical engineering and chemical engineering, but recently it was approved to stand as a degree by itself. Marni Kendricks, assistant dean of the School of Engineering, said the university has been fighting for approval of the degree by Mississippi's Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) Board for about 14 years. "It's something we really wanted for a really long time," Kendricks said. Currently, biomedical engineering is not a stand-alone department. It's remaining housed within the department of electrical engineering until the university can establish a department.
 
JSU Development Foundation Launches 'J5 Drum Majors for Academic Excellence' campaign
Jackson State University's Development Foundation has launched a campaign called "J5 Drum Majors for Academic Excellence" to help the university generate $1 million within four years for endowed scholarships. JSU Development Foundation Chairman Alfred Martin Jr. and JSUTV General Manager Keith Collins named the campaign as homage to the school's J5 Drum Majors and Sonic Boom, but the fundraiser is not an initiative for the marching band. Five JSU officials will lead five competing teams for the program. The five team leaders have committed $5,000 each to the program and recruited four other members to join their respective teams. Individually, each one will raise $25,000 for a total of $125,000. JSU's Title III program will match the funds on the Sept. 30 deadline for first-year contributions for an expected total of $250,000. The program leaders plan to present a check in that amount on the university's football field during JSU Homecoming on Saturday, Nov. 4.
 
Fired prof Daniel Browning's lawsuit against William Carey successfully mediated
The lawsuit filed by fired religion professor Daniel Browning against William Carey University has been successfully mediated, and Browning has dismissed all claims against the school. Both Browning and university officials declined to comment on the resolution of the case. Forrest County Circuit Court Judge Robert Helfrich ordered the mediation, which was concluded at the end of July. The judge ordered the case dismissed with prejudice Monday. The dismissal with prejudice means Browning will not be able to file another lawsuit against the university on the same grounds. Each party in the suit will pay its own costs. Browning filed a complaint Sept. 8 against William Carey, President Tommy King and the board of trustees claiming breach of contract and intentional infliction of emotional harm. He was fired April 28, 2016. No reasons were given in the original termination notice.
 
U. of Tennessee campus braces for Confederate monument rally
Two weeks after a rally around a Confederate monument near the University of Virginia campus turned to deadly violence, administrators at the University of Tennessee are bracing for a planned demonstration by white supremacists at a Fort Sanders monument near campus. "There are things happening in our country and across college campuses," Chancellor Beverly Davenport said in a video message to students Thursday. "You probably know that there is something happening right here in the city of Knoxville. There is a demonstration planned not far from our campus. I want you to be engaged and have a voice; I want you to express your voice but I also want you to respect others." In the video, Davenport reminds new students that they will encounter new and different ideas on campus and asks them to be tolerant and respectful.
 
Vanderbilt pledges $30M investment in faculty as part of massive fundraising effort
Vanderbilt University is setting aside $30 million for coveted positions for research faculty, according to an announcement this week from its top administrator. The investment will be made in conjunction with a yearlong fundraising push that will lean on the university's wealthiest boosters. Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos said the $30 million in university funding has been earmarked to match $30 million in donations made over the next year. Under the plan, which Zeppos described at a recent meeting with faculty, the university would match up to 30 $1 million donations, and would use the combined $60 million to establish 30 new endowed chairs -- a prestigious position for professors that comes with guaranteed research funding.
 
Fayetteville police, businesses stay alert for fake IDs at undergrads roll into town
Underage drinking and fake IDs can be an issue anywhere, but the problem amplifies when 20,000 undergraduates roll into town. Police were out in force on Fayetteville's Dickson Street from Aug. 17-19, the last weekend before college classes began on Aug. 21. "We try to schedule around when the kids come back, dead day, times like that when historically speaking they've been very popular drinking days," Cpl. Dallas Brashears said. The point isn't to hit students with large fines or ruin their lives, he said. "The point is to discourage underage drinking and the DWIs and crimes and just general problems that come with it." James Trotter, a senior at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, said his friends have ordered IDs online, often getting a copy, "so you have a backup if one is confiscated." They cost from $100 to $300, and people will buy them in groups on a fake-ID website to get a discount, Grace said.
 
No salary agreement between U. of Florida and grad assistants
University of Florida President Kent Fuchs has set increased salaries for teaching staff as a goal, believing they are needed to make UF competitive with the top schools in the nation in attracting premier staff. But UF's Graduate Assistants United, currently negotiating for increased pay, said the university is falling short. After negotiating sessions Tuesday and Friday, the sides could not come to agreement. "We have been patient with it but we are frustrated... We have been promised a lot with these raises and what they offered us less than what we had initially proposed," said union spokesman Josh Papacek. "They told us they have a $1 million, or possibly more, pot of money that they want to allocate to departments but only for incoming (graduate) students in the fall. None of the current students are actually going to see this." GAU represents about 4,000 graduate teaching and research assistants at UF.
 
Louisiana on the hunt for new higher education commissioner
Louisiana is searching for its next higher education commissioner. Joseph Rallo, in the position since January 2015, plans to retire in about nine months. The Board of Regents announced Wednesday that Rallo, whose contract ends in December, has agreed to stay until June while the board searches for a new commissioner. The board intends to hire a national firm to seek candidates for the job, which pays Rallo $364,000 a year. The commissioner oversees policy governing Louisiana's four-year and two-year public colleges and the financing formula that divvies up state dollars to campuses.
 
Departing U. of Missouri Title IX leader recommends discrimination course for freshmen
The University of Missouri's departing Civil Rights and Title IX leader, Ellen Eardley, said the university should create a semester course for freshmen to raise awareness of racism, sexual violence and the importance of bystander intervention. Such a course would be most effective if it were built with peer involvement, where students taught other students, Eardley said. If a longer course is not possible, Eardley said she'd at least like to see more in-depth orientation for students so they can learn about sexual violence, stalking, abusive relationships, racism or similar issues. Right now, incoming students take a "Not Anymore" sexual assault training course online. Eardley, who was the first leader of MU's Office for Civil Rights & Title IX, is leaving Sept. 2 to return to private practice at her former Washington law firm, Mehri & Skalet. Her resignation was announced earlier this month.
 
Texas A&M, Blinn College and some area school districts cancel Monday classes
Texas A&M has canceled classes for Monday and Tuesday, as did Blinn College after a weekend of heavy rain from the remnants of Hurricane Harvey. Bryan and College Station school districts both canceled Monday classes, as did Brenham, Hearne, Navasota and Snook school districts. Texas A&M officials said only essential employees, as determined by their supervisors, would be required to report to work. Campus dining halls will remain open and on-campus bus service will run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Off-campus bus routes are suspended until further notice. Monday was to have been the first day of classes at Texas A&M. The Galveston branch campus remains closed.
 
Texas colleges cope with Hurricane Harvey
Tropical Storm Harvey continued to pummel southeast Texas on Sunday after downgrading from hurricane status, as flooding progressed, the death toll rose to five in Houston and calls were put out by authorities to coordinate with boat-owning citizens for rescue operations. For colleges in the area, from Corpus Christi to Beaumont, the storm caused delays and evacuations, although they seemed to largely escape any serious damage. Photos posted to social media by those on the ground showed flooding at the University of Houston, as some parts of the city and surrounding area saw residents taking to their roofs to stay out of the water. "It's going to be a long night," the university tweeted on Saturday. "Be safe, Houston." Flooding was also seen at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
 
As more humanities Ph.D.s are awarded, job openings are disappearing
Many new Ph.D.s in humanities disciplines report that they struggle to find academic jobs, and that many of the positions they find available are off the tenure track. Data released Sunday night by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences show that these anecdotes reflect realities in a wide range of humanities disciplines. And the data show that Ph.D. production in these fields is up, suggesting that the job shortage won't go away any time soon. The data are part of the academy's Humanities Indicators Project, which is regularly updated with new analyses -- many of which alarm academics in the humanities, even as they applaud the availability of the data. While many colleges rely on humanities departments for general education, and especially for first-year composition, they increasingly use adjuncts, not tenure-track professors, for such instruction.
 
Multi-tasking to the max
Angela Farmer, an assistant professor of education leadership at Mississippi State, writes: "Rather it's via the planner, the cell phone, the laptop or the PC, Americans find themselves regularly filled with appointments. These may manifest as work related, school related or personal; but important they are and busy they make the masses. The challenge is not how to book these interactions, but how to multi-task in a manner that produces constructive outcomes rather than destructive chaos. Students become entrenched in the management of this lifestyle early in life. Even the most novice of kindergarteners can find himself regularly engaged in school from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, an after school soccer practice or two, perhaps a church engagement, a music lesson and a few other scheduled interactions ranging from hair appointments, to doctor's visits, to the occasional playdate."
 
When the generals are in charge
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: "Seven Days in May, written by Fletcher Knebel and Charles Bailey and published in 1962, portrays a tense, nearly successful coup of American government by a cadre of senior generals. A quote on the cover of the paperback attributed to the Army Times said, 'They say it can't happen here, but if it does, it probably will be pretty much as Knebel and Bailey say.' Wrong. Over 18 days in August three senior generals accomplished a coup peacefully, co-opting a volatile President and inexperienced Secretary of State. On July 31, retired Marine four-star General John Kelly moved in as President Trump's Chief of Staff. Over the first 18 days in August, he began consolidating his power, culminating in the ouster of the President's closest advisor Steve Bannon. Kelly's rise gives him and two other generals extraordinary power in the Trump administration."


SPORTS
 
NFL drafts 3 Mississippi docs for medical team
This is the new normal for Dr. Allen Sills: On a recent weekday morning, he drove from New York to the ESPN studios in Bristol, Connecticut, to update the network's announcers, analysts, and anchors on health and safety changes the NFL made for the 2017 season. "This is not something I dreamed about growing up in Starkville, certainly not something I could see down the road," he says. "The whole thing is surreal." In March, the 52-year-old Sills was named the first full-time chief medical officer of the NFL. A neurosurgeon and a 1986 graduate of Mississippi State, Sills will work closely with teams' medical staffs throughout the league and lead the NFL's commitment to health and research, especially regarding concussions. The name Sills has long been associated with Mississippi State athletics.
 
Mississippi surgeon takes NFL job for love of the game
It doesn't take long for Dr. John Davis to name the current NFL stadiums he has visited: NRG in Houston, the Superdome in New Orleans, M&T in Baltimore and Soldier Field in Chicago. That list is about to grow. Davis, a neurosurgeon with NewSouth NeuroSpine in Flowood and a 1988 graduate of Mississippi State, will serve as one of the NFL's unaffiliated neurotrauma consultants for the 2017 season. His job will be to work with a team's medical staff on the sidelines and help identify players who might have suffered a concussion and oversee evaluations. Football always has been a huge part of Davis' life. Though he only played through seventh grade. "I've been a big Mississippi State fan, a big SEC fan," he says. "I've loved the NFL games for a long time, too. Like many people in this part of the country, I grew up rooting for the New Orleans Saints and Archie Manning. Despite being raised in a family that bleeds maroon and white, everybody loved Archie. And since the Saints didn't do well for a number of years, I picked a second team to pull for --- the Dallas Cowboys. Now, I root for them harder than ever because (former State quarterback) Dak Prescott is with them."
 
Flowood doctor: Protect NFL players, sport
Dr. Jack Moriarity's life changed the first time he saw a human brain. "I was in medical school at Johns Hopkins (University), and it is like nothing else in the world," he says. "To me, looking at human anatomy is studying the handiwork of God. For a lot of people, they get the same feeling looking out over Yosemite (National Park) or the Himalayas ...it's hard to describe what the brain looks like, but it completely took my breath away. Moriarity's knowledge and curiosity helped him land a position on the NFL's medical team heading into the 2017 season. He will serve as an unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant. The invitation was especially meaningful because one of his practicing partners, Dr. John Davis, also was chosen to work games. And the person who called Moriarity was Dr. Allen Sims, a Mississippi State graduate whom Moriarity met while training in neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.
 
Gabe Myles looking forward to playing bigger role in Mississippi State offense
Gabe Myles can look back on the first four years of his Mississippi State career and candidly recognize a reality of playing college football: players are not immune to outside noise. "It's no secret. We get on social media and we see things, we see what people say," Myles said. "We go to the same school, you root for us but you say these things about us. At some point when things are going well and doubt starts to creep in, you wonder if they might be right." He also acknowledges its impact on his career -- particularly last season, ending with eight catches for 63 yards and no touchdowns. The offseason between then and now has been a bit of a mental revolution for the Starkville native; now he's more mentally prepared than ever to be a big part of MSU's wide receiving corps.
 
Mississippi State using multiple wideouts to replace Fred Ross
Mississippi State is tasked with replacing the program's all-time leading receiver Fred Ross this season. Ross was such a big part of the Bulldogs' passing game the past four years that it make take several wideouts to replace his production. Luckily, MSU's offense has proven to be at its best when multiple receivers are involved. "We're the most successful when we spread the ball around to everybody," said MSU coach Dan Mullen. "We don't need to have just one guy but multiple guys to keep it balanced and spread out." A pair of seniors, Donald Gray and Gabe Myles, return to lead the Bulldog receivers. Gray was second on the team last season with 41 catches for 709 yards and five touchdowns while Myles is seeking a bounce-back year after a disappointing 2016.
 
Mississippi State's projected starters
Mississippi State is expected to release its first depth chart of the fall later today. Here's who Daily Journal beat writer Logan Lowery projects to start in the Bulldogs' season opener against Charleston Southern on Saturday.
 
Mississippi State's Ben Howland praises offseason improvements
By the time last season concluded, Mississippi State had the second-least experienced men's basketball team in the country out of 351 Division I programs. Despite their youth, the Bulldogs finished with a 16-16 overall record and the first non-losing season for MSU since 2011-12. The benefit of being so young is that the Bulldogs now have most of their roster returning including four of their top five scorers. MSU coach Ben Howland lauded the improvements of several of his players over the summer starting with sophomore guard Eli Wright, who contemplated transferring in the spring. Howland said Wright had logged the most minutes in the gym, arriving as early as 4:30 a.m. to get shots up.
 
Bulldogs improve to 4-0 in soccer with 3-0 win
There doesn't have to be much scoring to win soccer matches for the Mississippi State Bulldogs as long as their defense plays the way it has lately. The Bulldogs have allowed only one goal in four matches to begin the season and secured their third shutout Sunday in defeating the Central Arkansas Bears 3-0. MSU goal keeper Catalina Perez had a season-high four saves and sophomore MaKayla Waldner has confidence in what she can do to prevent opponents from scoring. "Anytime that anything happens and someone is going to be one-on-one with our keeper, I have complete faith in Cat and I think the rest of the team does too," Waldner said. The Bulldogs improved to 4-0 and it's the best start since the 2012 season. MSU is scheduled to host Houston on Friday.
 
Mississippi State's Graham Ashcraft on the mend
Leading into his freshman season last fall, Mississippi State pitcher Graham Ashcraft started experiencing pain in his right hip. An MRI revealed an inflamed ligament and he received an injection that would keep him pain free for the next six months. During his 10th outing on the mound and fifth start against Florida International on April 4, Ashcraft began feeling the same discomfort in his hip. He received another injection but this one did not provide any relief. By the time the 6-foot-2, 223-pound right-hander began to warm-up in the following week at South Carolina, he knew it was serious. After arriving back home, Ashcraft saw a specialist who discovered two inches of extra bone growth on his femur which had caused the damage to the cartilage and ligaments in his hip. Ashcraft underwent successful surgery on May 9 but was told he would be out of action for the next 4-6 months, meaning he would not be a part of the Bulldogs' postseason run to the Super Regionals.
 
USM president Rodney Bennett chairman of Conference USA's board of directors
Rodney Bennett wants to be heard. The University of Southern Mississippi president, who was recently elected to a two-year term as chairman of Conference USA's board of directors, has watched over the past decade as the NCAA landscape has transformed radically. Gradually at first and more intensely so in recent years. And the makeover, from his perspective, has not necessarily been for the good of the whole. "Conference USA is part of a larger organization (the NCAA)," Bennett said. "And we don't want to lose our footing as part of that organization." As the clear divide between the haves and have-nots has become even more distinct in college athletics, it begs the question: What is his plan to stem the current tide? Bennett knows there is no formula that will crack the code. But as far as he's concerned, at least part of the solution is simple: speak up.
 
LSU 'almost certain' BYU game won't be played in flooded Houston
Another hurricane is impacting an LSU football game. The Tigers' season opener against BYU will "almost certainly" be moved out of Houston because of the historic flooding in Texas created by Hurricane Harvey, LSU athletic director Joe Alleva said Sunday through a school spokesman. Officials are weighing several options for a potential relocation of the Tigers-Cougars game, including playing it in LSU's Tiger Stadium or in the Superdome, multiple sources confirmed to The Advocate. A move seems more than likely, something that Alleva confirmed in his statement. "Almost certainly it will not be played in Houston. He has not been told that officially, but he is almost certain the game will not be able to be played in Houston on Saturday," Bill Franques, an athletic department spokesman, said Sunday night, citing Alleva.
 
Superdome 'standing by' as option to host LSU-BYU, official says
A relocated LSU football opener could be played Saturday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Superdome officials have contacted NRG Stadium officials in Houston to let them know the Dome could host the game between LSU and BYU on Saturday, according to Doug Thornton, the Vice President of Stadiums for SMG, which manages both stadiums. The game contract calls for "reasonable efforts" to reschedule the game should "extreme weather" or other circumstances prevent it from being played at the scheduled time and location. The schools do not have a common bye weekend, so moving the game to another weekend would not appear likely. The contract said LSU will not be held liable in the case of cancellation. LSU will be due a $4 million game payout within 30 days after the game, according to the contract.
 
Former Auburn Tigers softball player alleges abuse, sexual harassment in 14-page complaint
A former Auburn softball player sent a 14-page complaint alleging abusive treatment by the Tigers coaching staff, a pattern of sexual harassment and concerns about administrative cover-up to school officials and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey a month before the abrupt retirement Wednesday of head coach Clint Myers. The letter, sent by Milwaukee attorney Martin Greenberg on behalf of former player Alexa Nemeth, came weeks after Nemeth filed a Title IX sexual discrimination complaint with the school claiming "Coach Clint Myers knowingly let his son Corey Myers have relations and pursue relations with multiple members of the team." Nemeth was cut from the team by Clint Myers following the 2017 season. According to the letter and several players, the team was then "quarantined" for several hours prior to a trip to Georgia. Five players told ESPN that, at that meeting, Auburn executive associate athletic director Meredith Jenkins told the players they were risking arrest for taking the text messages from their teammate's phone and ordered them to delete the messages.
 
Amid protests, Kentucky football statue takes on more meaning
The two Confederate monuments the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council has voted to move from the downtown site of a former slave auction block are not the only statues concerning racial history in Lexington. Fewer than three miles away from the statues of Confederate officers John Hunt Morgan and John C. Breckinridge at the old Fayette County courthouse, University of Kentucky football players walk by a statue of Nate Northington, Greg Page, Wilbur Hackett, and Houston Hogg every day as they enter the program's practice facility. Just less than a year ago most of the UK team huddled outside that building alongside fans as four of their teammates pulled off the curtain of the statue depicting the four African-Americans who helped break the color barrier in Southeastern Conference football. "They sacrificed for us to be here and all of us to play together," UK linebacker Josh Allen said.
 
Missouri curators unanimously approve $98M Memorial Stadium south end zone expansion
The University of Missouri System Board of Curators unanimously voted to approve the $98 million expansion of Memorial Stadium's south end zone Friday morning. MU has already raised $40 million to fund the project, the most in school history, athletic director Jim Sterk said. The rest will be paid through bonds on future ticket revenues and a small contribution from the Campus Infrastructure Fund. Sterk presented a finalized financial plan and renderings of the upcoming project to the board. "This is a project that's funded from interest from our supporters," Sterk said. "This is the largest amount of money that's been raised for a project at Mizzou, and so there's huge interest there." Construction for the new football facility, overseen by Populous, an architectural firm, will begin this year and is expected to be ready for the 2019 football season.
 
U. of Alabama player suffers minor gunshot wound at Tuscaloosa bar
Alabama defensive tackle Raekwon Davis was shot in the leg while at a Tuscaloosa bar early Sunday morning. Davis, 20, was hospitalized with a minor injury to his leg. Investigators with the Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit would not identify Davis as the victim, but The Tuscaloosa News has confirmed his identity. Investigators believe Davis may have been hit by a stray bullet. "The victim told investigators he was standing outside of Bar 17 when he heard several gunshots and realized he had been shot in the right leg," Homicide Unit commander Capt. Gary Hood said. "The victim was uncooperative with investigators." Bar 17, at 3217 10th St., is just off Stillman Boulevard and has been the site of shootings and a homicide over the last few years. It was most recently called The Playhouse. The bar showed the pay-per-view Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather fight Saturday night, according to its Facebook page.



The Office of Public Affairs provides the Daily News Digest as a general information resource for Mississippi State University stakeholders.
Web links are subject to change. Submit news, questions or comments to Jim Laird.
Mississippi State University  •  Mississippi State, MS 39762  •  Main Telephone: (662) 325-2323  •   Contact: The Editor  |  The Webmaster  •   Updated: August 28, 2017Facebook Twitter