Wednesday, August 30, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
MSU engineering prof receives ORAU Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award
Lei Chen, A Mississippi State University assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is among 37 researchers to receive the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award, a prestigious junior faculty grant from Oak Ridge Associated Universities. Chen was recognized for his research on metallic additive manufacturing. The award provides $5,000 in seed money for research. Chen also will receive a matching $5,000 contribution from MSU. Additive manufacturing offers the ability to fabricate customized, complex metallic parts traditionally unobtainable for a variety of applications, such as on-site, rapid fabrication of metallic bone implants with patients, and replacement parts in remote aerospace locations such as outer space.
MDOT Commissioner Mike Tagert forecasts November completion of Hwy. 12 first phase
A large-scale infrastructure improvement project installing medians and updating traffic signals along the western and central portions of Highway 12 in Starkville should be completed by early November, Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert said Monday. The project, which aims to reduce accidents and improve traffic congestion on the heavily used thoroughfare, will also overlay the road, increase turning radii at multiple intersections and provide some space for U-turns in the future. New signals will also be installed near the Highway 25 bypass and across from Dollar Tree, near Kroger. Mississippi Department of Transportation officials originally planned for the first phase of the project -- from the intersection of Old Highway 12 to Eckford Drive -- to end before the Christmas shopping season begins in earnest. Its second phase, which includes similar improvements from Eckford Drive to Spring Street, should begin next year and have a shorter timeline for completion.
State emergency responders keeping eye on Harvey
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency is anticipating up to 10 inches of rain in portions of northwest Mississippi and significant rainfall in south Mississippi as a result of the remnants of Hurricane Harvey. But Greg Flynn, a spokesman for MEMA, said the impact on the state of the former Category 4 hurricane would depend on where it makes its second landfall. "He has been meandering around the Gulf," Flynn said Tuesday afternoon. Because of that "we have to keep people here on guard." The state's ongoing response to Tropical Storm Harvey comes on the 12-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina hitting the Mississippi Gulf Coast and causing widespread, unprecedented damage. The impact of Harvey on the state is expected to be minor compared to Katrina, but it still could cause problems for many Mississippians.
Drone factory brings technology jobs to Clarksdale
A drone technology company, in partnership with the local community college in Clarksdale, is training people to repair drones in preparation for a factory opening in September. Delta Southern UAS, a company that specializes in drone technology, and Coahoma Community College this week are concluding a second training class -- free of charge -- for people wanting to learn more about drone technology. Bill Blackwelder, president of Delta Southern UAS, said the class is teaching the basics about drones, their safety, and how to fly them. In the past the company has held training classes for law enforcement and FAA safety training. The factory his company is planning will build drones for those who work in agriculture, gas and power line inspectors, search and rescue and hobby enthusiasts, according to a press release.
Keesler Air Force Base warns public not to fly drones near the Biloxi base
Drones are small, quick and nimble and their cameras can take viewers places that would ordinarily be out of their reach and some other places they should not go. A one-time trip inside a C-130 engine, for example. Keesler Air Force Base officials are trying to prevent that sort of entanglement with a campaign aimed at educating the public that the AFB environs is off limits to the small unmanned craft. "One of the main concerns going on in aviation, whether it be FAA or DoD, is anyone can buy one of these type of aircraft," said Tech Sgt. Blaine Caudill, the 81st Operations Squadron Support Flight assistant chief controller. Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Lambert, 81st Security Forces Squadron, said Keesler is ready to deal with drones regardless of whether they just simply accidentally flew out of bounds or they are trying to attack the base.
State pension fund's future is still uncertain
The fate of Mississippi's pension fund is once again in the spotlight. A recent routine audit gave a snapshot of where the system stands right now. There's no quick fix for Mississippi's pension fund. "Right now, we do not have sufficient funds if you're today's employee, just like me, I haven't retired yet, to pay all the projected future benefits that we expect to pay you," explained PERS executive director Pat Robertson. The recent audit suggested that the rate of inflation that was being used by PERS was set too high. But what happens if they lower it? "I feel 100 percent sure that we would have to increase the contribution rate or we would see a major deterioration in the funding status," said Robertson.
Court asks Mississippi governor to defend Confederate emblem
The U.S. Supreme Court is asking attorneys for Mississippi's governor to file arguments defending the Confederate battle emblem on the state flag. The court on Tuesday set a Sept. 28 deadline for the filing. Mississippi has the last state flag featuring the Confederate battle emblem. Critics say the symbol is racist, and supporters say it represents history. Carlos Moore, an African-American attorney in Mississippi, filed suit in 2016 seeking to have the flag declared an unconstitutional relic of slavery. Moore and one of his attorneys, Michael Scott, said Tuesday it's a good sign that justices are requesting arguments from Republican Gov. Phil Bryant.
New DeSoto County service latest shot in war to bring internet to rural areas
The effort to better connect rural America with high-speed internet service took a step forward Tuesday in a Mississippi field. Federal and local officials gathered with representatives of AT&T to announce that rural areas of DeSoto County, just south of Memphis, will get service as part of the Federal Communication Commission's Connect America program. Plans call for 133,000 locations throughout Mississippi to be connected by 2020, part of 1.1 million new service areas in 18 states by that time. "The jobs in America, and particularly in Mississippi, are created by small businesses," said Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss, who is chairman of the Senate's subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet. Wicker added that President Donald Trump has made it clear that broadband internet connectivity would be a priority among infrastructure needs.
Congress may dole out Hurricane Harvey relief in stages
Congressional Republicans may send Hurricane Harvey aid in multiple installments rather than one large lump sum as Congress did in response to Hurricane Sandy. And it could take months for Congress to deliver, according to Republican lawmakers. As the storm continues to ravage the Texas coast, talks are underway in Congress on delivering money to help Houston and other areas around the Gulf Coast recover from the devastating storm. But Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of GOP leadership and a top appropriator, said it may make more sense to deliver the money as needed, rather than in a catch-all bill like the $50 billion Sandy measure. House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey said his committee will take "quick action" once an official request for money is made by the Trump administration. His Senate counterpart, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, "is prepared to respond to any requests for supplemental appropriations for Hurricane Harvey response and recovery," a spokesman said.
Evangelical leaders' Nashville Statement affirms stance on marriage, LGBT issues
A national coalition of more than 150 evangelical leaders signed a new statement affirming their beliefs on human sexuality, including that marriage is between one man and one woman and approval of "homosexual immorality" is sinful. The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood released the list of 14 beliefs, referred to as the Nashville Statement, on Tuesday morning. The statement says the evangelical coalition who signed it are responding to an increasingly post-Christian, Western culture that thinks they can change God's design for humans. Some of the members of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention that hosted the coalition last week, signed the Nashville Statement. In the news release, ERLC President Russell Moore said it is "urgently needed."
First of four UM provost candidates interviews on campus
Sheryl Tucker presented her vision for the future of the University of Mississippi in a bid to take on the provost position left vacant by former Provost Morris Stocks. She outlined topics like undergraduate research, alumni relations and diversity in today's address to students, faculty and staff. "I want to develop a shared vision for excellence in academic affairs to transform lives, communities and the world," Tucker said. Tucker was the first of four finalists for the position slated to present in an open forum. Tucker is no stranger to the provost position. She currently serves as vice provost for two Oklahoma State University campuses. As a former leader of the Graduate Research Fellowship Program at the National Science Foundation, Tucker emphasized the importance of research programs at the undergraduate level. "Undergraduate research leads to student retention," she said.
UM to host second annual technology summit
For the second year, Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter and the University of Mississippi will host U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and technology industry leaders today for the annual UM Technology Summit. The event, which begins at 9 a.m. in the Gertrude C. Ford Ballroom at The Inn at Ole Miss, is open to the public. The summit will bring together leaders from government, business and higher education to explore trends in technology and stimulate discussions about technology-related needs in industry and education. Wicker, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet, said he expects great results from this year's summit.
'Wow factor' evident at Pearl River Community College's newly remodeled student cafeteria
Slow-roasted chicken, calzones, Southern food, vegetarian options, hot desserts --- these items and many more are now available to students at Pearl River Community College who patronize the school's cafeteria. Students returned to school earlier this month to find the Olivia Bender Cafeteria had a new look and was serving all kinds of tasty food -- from Mexican to Vietnamese. "Our main goal was to enhance the student dining experience by creating an open, modern space and serving freshly prepared foods enjoyed by today's students," said Todd Hickman with Valley Services in an email. Valley Services operates PRCC food services and spent $600,000 to remodel the cafeteria. It ripped out the old serving lines and installed new stations that don't require trays.
Former U. of Alabama law school dean dies
Former University of Alabama law school dean Tom Jones died Sunday. He was 86. "His impact on the School of Law -- and on the students and colleagues he touched -- cannot be overstated. I know this because, before I became his colleague, he was my teacher," dean Mark Brandon said in a statement on the UA law school's website. Jones joined the faculty in 1962 as an assistant professor. During his career, Jones served as to acting dean, associate dean and vice dean. He also served as director of the Alabama Law Institute and a legal consultant to the UA system board of trustees. Jones was also a faculty athletics representative, who in the late 1980s briefly served as an interim athletic director while the department sought a successor for Steve Sloan. Jones also successfully fought the National Collegiate Athletic Association in 1995 when he was charged with unethical conduct related to his handling of the eligibility case involving defensive back Antonio Langham. Jones was later exonerated after he and UA challenged the NCAA, which vacated the charges. Jones later reached a settlement out of court with the NCAA over the withdrawn charges.
Auburn professors reflect on Vietnam War at documentary screening
Tuesday night, the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities at Pebble Hill previewed a new Ken Burns and Lynn Novick documentary, "The Vietnam War." Following the preview screening, Auburn High School teacher Blake Busbin moderated a panel discussion with three Auburn University professors who served in Vietnam. The panel consisted of Jim Witte, coordinator of the adult education programs at Auburn, who was a pilot in Vietnam from 1968-1971; James Harrison, a retired emeritus professor who coordinated the water resources program in the College of Agriculture and was drafted as a paratrooper in Vietnam during his first semester of graduate school; and Frank Walters, associate professor of English at Auburn who enlisted in the Marines as a young community college dropout, was wounded in the war and sent home.
Facilities workers protest outsourcing at U. of Tennessee
Facilities workers at the University of Tennessee Knoxville were joined by students, faculty and others from the Knoxville community Monday as they rallied to protest plans to potentially outsource facilities jobs on campus. A news release from United Campus Workers, the union representing facilities workers at UT, said the protest was organized to coincide with the start of a new academic year and "send a clear message: keep our jobs on campus." About 200 people showed up to protest the outsourcing plan, an initiative of Gov. Bill Haslam's administration that seeks to privatize the work of facilities employees at public colleges and universities across the state. Chancellor Beverly Davenport said Friday that no decision has been made yet on whether the Knoxville campus will join the state's contract with JLL. A spokeswoman for the UT system also said that other campuses have not made decisions yet either.
LSU joins long list of area schools, state offices closed Wednesday
LSU, the LSU Lab School and its Childcare Center will be closed on Wednesday in anticipation of possible severe weather from Tropical Storm Harvey, a spokesman said late Tuesday. State offices will be closed Wednesday in 28 parishes. Also, most Baton Rouge area schools will be closed. Bands of sometimes-heavy rain from Tropical Storm Harvey have prompted a flash flood watch for all of southeast Louisiana. Harvey has caused catastrophic flooding in southeast Texas. Harvey, the more fearsome hurricane to hit the U.S. in more than a decade, came ashore late Friday about 30 miles northeast of Corpus Christi, Texas, as a Category 4 storm. It has caused catastrophic flooding in Texas.
550 UGA students put in 2,000 hours on service day
Nearly 550 University of Georgia students, faculty and staff participated in the sixth annual Dawg Day of Service on Saturday. Volunteers logged more than 2,000 service hours for 15 Athens community organizations during the day of service organized by the UGA Center for Leadership and Service. "UGA students are really service minded; they are looking for ways to contribute and they are eager to serve," said university spokesman Stan Jackson. "We really wanted to tap into that and get these students to the opportunities for service here in the local Athens community, and that's what this day is for." Timing was important for the event that is a part of the university's annual Welcome Week program, Jackson added. "We're introducing the concept that not only are you now a student at the University of Georgia, but you're also a part of the Athens community," he said.
Former head of U. of Florida ag facility arrested on fraud
The former director of the University of Florida's Plant Science Research and Education Unit has been arrested on charges of grand theft and scheming to defraud the university of more than $10,000. Daniel Lamar Colvin, 58, of Micanopy, surrendered to authorities at the Suwannee County Jail on Friday. He was booked and released on the same day on his own recognizance, according to Suwannee officials. He declined comment to the Star-Banner, instead referring all questions to Gainesville attorney Rod Smith. In May 2016, Colvin was issued a trespass warning from all university properties because of what UF officials said was a personnel matter. The trespass warning was later withdrawn. At the time, a university official had recovered a loaded firearm in a mounted holster under Colvin's desk.
U. of Missouri maintains good credit rating
The University of Missouri's finances are stressed by declining enrollment and state support, but several positive trends are strong enough to maintain the system's good credit rating, according to a new report from Moody's Investors Service. The report, issued Friday, highlighted the continuing profitability of MU Health Care -- including the potential for an affiliation with Boone Hospital Center -- and the wide range of academic programs at the four campuses as well as President Mun Choi's efforts to streamline operations. The report, a follow up to a June statement affirming UM's Aa1 credit rating, is intended to provide investors with more information, said Eva Bogaty, vice president and senior credit officer at Moody's. "The university has been in the news a lot as it recovers from the events of Fall 2015 and we were getting some investor questions," Bogaty said. "This is a little more in depth about what we were thinking about what the key risks were."
Survey reveals overwhelmingly white face of leadership in research libraries
If you attended the Association of College and Research Libraries 2017 conference in May this year, you may remember the moment when the author and keynote speaker Roxane Gay looked out over the audience and remarked, "Wow, there's a lot of white folks out here." It was a pointed reminder of the lack of racial diversity in academic librarianship -- an issue that library organizations have been grappling with for decades. In a new report on diversity in academic libraries, Ithaka S+R said that while many librarians consider "diversity to be a core value," academic libraries have traditionally struggled to address problems of equity, diversity and inclusion. The low representation of people of color in library staff, has been a particular shortcoming, despite many initiatives to attract minority staff to the field.

Which of Mississippi State's true freshmen could play in its season opener?
There is one true freshman who will definitely play for Mississippi State when it opens its season Saturday against Charleston Southern. There is another guy who will likely play. There are a few others who may play. Before names are named, some background. Two things have to be clear in order to play as a true freshman under Dan Mullen. First, the player has to be "ready," as Mullen put it, in terms of preparation, conditioning and skill. Second, there has to be a spot -- whether that is in a position group's rotation or on special teams -- where a player would receive an adequate amount of snaps to actually contribute. That's not dissimilar in comparison to the philosophies of many other coaches across the nation. But it's vital context when discussing whether or not quarterback Keytaon Thompson, running back Kylin Hill and receiver Austin Williams, among others, play against visiting Charleston Southern on Saturday (3 p.m., SEC Network).
Notebook: Mississippi State scouting data limited on Charleston Southern
The file on Mark Tucker is nonexistent. This week, that is Mississippi State's problem. Tucker is the new head coach of the Charleston Southern football team -- MSU's first opponent, visiting Davis Wade Stadium Saturday at 3 p.m. -- and is in his first head-coaching job. That being the case, MSU's coaching staff has little to work on when it comes to formulating a game plan for his Buccaneers. "There's nothing to watch," Mullen said. What MSU lacks in film it can make up for in offensive precedent: Tucker was promoted from quarterbacks coach to the head coaching job, and Tucker has said Charleson Southern's triple option run-based offense won't see drastic changes. As Mullen pointed out, Tucker is one of very few points of continuity.
Bulldogs' Brandon Bryant's confidence at an all-time high
Brandon Bryant burst onto the scene in 2015 leading Mississippi State in interceptions as a redshirt freshman. But Bryant's life was changed forever that December when he learned his father, Harold, was killed in a motorcycle accident. Bryant was left unsure how to process the sudden and tragic loss of the man that gave him life. "I dealt with a lot of issues," Bryant said. "I lost my dad and that was real hard for me because my dad was my hero. I always felt like my dad was invincible." During the spring, Bryant's joy for football finally returned and with it came the same confidence and swagger that made the 6-foot, 215-pound safety one of Tim Tebow's "Freak of the Week" picks during his freshman season.
Walk-on Wednesday: Brett Armour juggles demands of ROTC, MSU football team
Brett Armour's first choice was the United States Naval Academy, but the Naval Academy ritually admits less than 10 percent of its applicants. When he got word he wasn't accepted, the Brighton, Tennessee, native went searching for a ROTC program he could find a spot in. He wasn't expecting it to be Mississippi State's, but it was. A call to the Army ROTC program on campus got his foot in the door; once he did, his father offered up an innocent suggestion. Why not join the football team? Armour made the team and has balanced the demands of college football and ROTC ever since. It even impresses his fellow cadets: Armour said he's often asked how he does it. "I'm just used to it. It just came together," Armour said. "The schedule has some conflicts, but for the most part it works out."
Columbus School District, MUW reach agreement to share baseball field
Columbus High School's baseball field will be shared by Mississippi University for Women to host the university's baseball games. MUW and the Columbus Municipal School District signed the lease agreement on Tuesday after a thorough review by the state and local educational authorities. "This is definitely a win-win situation for CMSD, MUW and the City of Columbus," said CMSD Superintendent Dr. Philip Hickman. MUW President Dr. Jim Borsig says this partnership is a testament to the university's community partners. MUW is returning to athletic play after more than a decade without sports.
Auburn determining if 'unresolved issues remain' in softball investigation
Auburn is conducting a comprehensive review of its softball program in the wake of an ESPN report that alleged abusive treatment and sexual harassment from the coaching staff, as well as an attempted cover-up by the university. University President Steven Leath told ESPN on Monday that Auburn has hired the Birmingham-based law firm of Lightfoot, Franklin & White in order to serve as a third, objective party. A university spokesperson confirmed the hiring Tuesday night. "An investigation was launched when concerns were raised about the softball program," a university spokesperson told the Opelika-Auburn News in a statement. "While it's substantially completed and appropriate actions were taken as a result, university officials are determining if any unresolved issues remain."

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