Monday, September 11, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
University and community college students dip in Mississippi
Enrollment this fall fell from an all-time high at Mississippi's eight public universities and declined for the seventh straight year at the state's 15 community colleges. Preliminary counts released Friday show students decreasing 1.6 percent at universities and 0.9 percent at community colleges. Jackson State University shrank 12.5 percent, the most among the universities. Also seeing enrollment fall were the University of Mississippi, the Mississippi University for Women and the University of Southern Mississippi. Among the state's four larger schools, Mississippi State University was the only one to see enrollment grow.
Overall enrollment at public universities falls this fall
Student enrollment at Mississippi's eight public universities has declined 1.6 percent, from 82,654 students enrolled in fall 2016 to 81,350 enrolled this fall. "While preliminary fall enrollment is important, our true measure of success is defined by the number of these students who obtain a degree," said Dr. Glenn F. Boyce, Commissioner of Higher Education. At Mississippi State University, a record number of 2,062 transfer students have enrolled for the fall semester, an increase of 232 over last year's total of 1,830. MSU president Mark Keenum pointed to new and upgraded facilities and programs, such as the recently opened Old Main Academic Center and the Center for Student Success. "We believe there's a direct correlation between sharing our success stories with broader audiences and steadily climbing enrollment, Keenum said.
Evan Peacock named interim leader of Mississippi State's Cobb Institute
A Mississippi State alumnus and veteran environmental archaeologist now is serving as interim director of the university's Cobb Institute of Archaeology. Evan Peacock joined MSU in 1999 as an anthropology faculty member. Born in Clarksdale and reared in Choctaw County, Peacock also worked as an archaeologist with the U.S. Forest Service. In addition to a summa cum laude degree in anthropology from MSU, he holds master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Sheffield, England. The Cobb Institute is part of MSU's College of Arts and Sciences. In making the announcement, Dean Rick Travis said Peacock is an experienced specialist with nearly two decades as a senior research associate at Cobb.
Rollicking 'How I Became a Pirate' launches MSU Riley Center Fall/Winter Series
Soccer-loving Jeremy Jacob sails away with a not-so-fearsome pirate crew but misses his mom's goodnight kisses in Dallas Children's Theater's "How I Became a Pirate," the musical Family Show that leads off the MSU Riley Center's 2017-2018 Fall/Winter Performing Arts Series. The curtain will rise at 2 p.m. on Sept. 23. The show, based on the children's book of the same title by writer Melinda Long and illustrator David Shannon, is crafted especially for kindergarteners through fifth-graders, but slips in plenty of references to amuse grown-ups, too. The Mississippi Children's Museum-Meridian will make the event even more special with pre-show activities that will allow kids to make their own pirate flags and treasure maps. Story to Stage, a Mississippi Children's Museum traveling exhibit, will help youngsters create their own theatrical stories and even let them perform on a stage.
Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer showcases work in new Mississippi State exhibit
Compelling photographs by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Jose Galvez will be on display Sept. 7-29 in Mississippi State University's Colvard Student Union Art Gallery. Titled "Aqui Estamos/Here We Are: Latino Life in the United States," the second-floor exhibition showcases Galvez's ability to capture scenes depicting the daily life of Latinos living in the U.S. The exhibit is part of the university's celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. A 5 p.m. reception in Galvez's honor will take place Tuesday, Sept. 19 in front of the Colvard Student Union Art Gallery. Regular gallery hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Sunday, as well as by appointment. Guests are encouraged to sign the art gallery visitor's log for the duration of Galvez's exhibition.
Mississippi State University Sets World War I Commemorations
Events at Mississippi State University are commemorating the centennial of World War I. A university news release says that on Thursday, veterans of later wars will discuss correspondence by soldiers in the war fought from 1914 to 1918. An Oct. 12 presentation is called "The Choctaw Code Talkers of World War I." A documentary called "Choctaw Code Talkers" will be shown. It was released in 2010 by Native American Public Telecommunications Inc. A Nov. 16 presentation is called "Poetry and the Poppy: 'In Flanders Fields' and One Woman's Role in Creating a Symbol of Remembrance." Veterans and audience members will read from the war poem by Lt. Col. John McCrae, a Canadian physician whose verses focused on the flowers he saw growing on graves of fallen soldiers.
Historic Waverley hits market with $2.9M price tag
In his long career in real estate, Dick Leike has not only sold some historic properties, he's bought them, too. Leike, co-owner and president of Crye-Leike Realtors, one of the largest real estate companies in the United States, owns two historic homes in Columbus -- his residence at White Arches and Riverview, which he purchased last year and is in the process of renovating. So when the Snow family decided to put Waverley Mansion up for sale, Leike seemed to be the obvious choice for the job. "This is not your typical home," Leike said Friday. "It's famous all over the world. There are fan clubs in Germany and Japan. There is a market for these kinds of homes, but it's different. With Waverley, my first concern was how to price it because it's known internationally." Waverley, located 10 miles east of West Point on what was once part of a 50,000-acre plantation, was listed on Tuesday. The 8,000-square foot home located on 34 acres has a sale price of $2,975,000.
Mississippi tax collections improve for start of budget year
Mississippi tax collections are looking better than they did this time last year. The Legislative Budget Office released figures Friday showing tax collections for July and August -- the first two months of the current budget year. Overall collections are $53.7 million higher than they were during the same two months a year ago. That is about an 8.1 percent increase. The biggest jump was in individual income tax collections, which were 9.5 percent higher this July and August compared to last. House Appropriations Committee Chairman John Read, a Republican from Gautier, said it's good news that tax collections have increased, but two months don't indicate a trend.
State revenue collections off to strong start
State revenue collections, which have been sluggish for the previous two fiscal years, are off to a strong start for the first two months of the new fiscal year. For July and August, revenue collections are $68.4 million or 10.5 percent above the amount collected during the same time period last year, according to the monthly revenue report released Friday by the Legislative Budget Committee office. Total revenue for the two months is $719.2 million. On social media, Gov. Phil Bryant called the collections "a very good trend."
Lottery study panel set to dive deep on issue
The special committee formed by House Speaker Philip Gunn to study whether Mississippi should have a lottery will get down to the nitty gritty in its next, and perhaps last, meeting. The plan is for the next meeting to take place in October with a final report being compiled in November before the 2018 legislative session begins in January. House Gaming Committee Chair Richard Bennett, R-Long, who chairs the special study committee, last week released a proposed meeting agenda for the next meeting that includes a study on the lottery by the staff of the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute of Government.
Analysis: Stacey Pickering's school funding ideas cut against grain
Legislative leaders recently said that they'd still like to rewrite Mississippi's public school funding formula, and urged people with ideas to speak up. State Auditor Stacey Pickering did. At least one of the things he wants is very different than what lawmakers considered this spring. Pickering has been a longtime critic of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, the current funding formula. It's supposed to provide enough state aid so that all of Mississippi's 480,000 public school students get a midlevel education. Lawmakers have repeatedly failed to provide enough money to cover the amount demanded by the formula, falling short more than $200 million short this year and more than $2 billion short since 2008.
Steve Bannon plotting primaries against slate of GOP incumbents
President Donald Trump's closest allies are planning a slate of primary challenges against Republican senators, potentially undermining the party's prospects in 2018 and further inflaming tensions between GOP leaders and the White House. The effort is being led by Steve Bannon, Trump's bomb-throwing former chief strategist, who is launching an all-out war against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Republican establishment. The activity has alarmed senior Republicans, who worry it will drain millions of dollars from the party's coffers to take on Democrats in the general election. Behind the scenes, Bannon has proposed the possibility of targeting Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, and those close to the former Trump chief strategist are talking about the prospect of a challenge to Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker. Shortly after Bannon left the White House and returned to Breitbart last month, the site published a story promoting a potential Corker challenger, state Sen. Mark Green. The site has also hyped the possibility that state Sen. Chris McDaniel, a tea party favorite, will take on Wicker.
The W awards largest number of degrees in its history
Mississippi University for Women awarded approximately 882 degrees in 2016-17, the largest number in its history. This number is up from 864 degrees awarded the previous year. The W has the highest degree completion ratio in the state's public university system, graduating students at the rate of 32.5 per full-time student. The system average is 20.6. MUW President Jim Borsig said, "Each degree earned forever changes that graduate's future, strengthens their family and improves the resilience of Mississippi's economy. I want to thank our outstanding faculty and staff for their commitment to helping our students succeed academically and in life." The university's current faculty-to-student ratio is 14:1.
Sexual battery reported at UM's Chi Psi Lodge
The University of Mississippi's Police Department issued a REBALERT Saturday morning in regards to a reported sexual battery on campus. The reported battery occurred at 11:27 p.m. at the Chi Psi Lodge. The suspect is described as a white college-aged male, approximately 5-feet, 9-inches tall, weighing about 190 pounds with a non-athletic build, dark medium length hair and wearing a white collared shirt. The reported assault took place inside the Chi Psi Lodge on Fraternity Row.
Community college students rely on financial aid in wake of tuition hikes
All fifteen of Mississippi's community colleges raised tuition costs this fall, shifting more of the cost of attendance to students. This has been a pattern in recent years, with only slight drops in enrollment. In Northeast Mississippi, most community college students rely on financial aid anyway, meaning community college remains largely accessible despite tuition hikes. Northeast Mississippi Community College saw one of the largest tuition increases for the 2017-18 year with an 18.5 percent increase in the cost of tuition from last year. Jay Allen, ICC president, said enrollment has been trending down for a couple of years due to plentiful jobs in Northeast Mississippi and a healthy economy. "I feel certain that a large part of that is an impact of the overall economy with the unemployment rate being at a historic low," Allen said.
New U. of Alabama diversity chief sets goals
G. Christine Taylor, the University of Alabama's vice president and associate provost for diversity, equity and inclusion, is about a month into her new role as the Capstone's first chief diversity officer. Taylor, who held a similar role previously at other campuses including Purdue University, joined the administration this fall after being hired in the summer. She is tasked with establishing the new Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as well as developing the campus' strategic diversity plan. She sat down with The Tuscaloosa News to discuss her new role and goals.
Irma: Auburn University cancels Monday classes, will resume noon Tuesday
Auburn University will be closed to classes and activities on Monday. It will reopen to employees Tuesday morning, and classes will resume at noon Tuesday. If employees or students have safety concerns about returning to campus Tuesday, they should contact their supervisor or professors to discuss their specific situation. Because of the increased likelihood of tropical-storm-force winds in the area, Draughon Library and Greene Hall will be available Monday and Monday night to students and employees who have a need for shelter such as those who live in mobile homes.
U. of Arkansas ready to sell land donated in 1871
For sale: 40 acres donated to Arkansas in 1871 for an "agricultural university" in Washington County. On Friday, the University of Arkansas board of trustees approved the sale of one of the original tracts of land donated for what became the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. The undeveloped land is a couple of miles south of the Baldwin community and about 6 miles east of the downtown Fayetteville square. "This is apparently an unused tract of land that, at this point, if we aren't going to use it we might as well sell it," said Mary Hightower, a spokesman for the university's Division of Agriculture. She said money from the sale would stay with the Division of Agriculture. It could be used to build labs and improve old infrastructure.
UGA to close Monday due to Irma
The University of Georgia, Athens Technical College and the Clarke County School District have canceled classes for Monday. The threat of inclement weather due to Hurricane Irma prompted school officials to shut down campuses, according to a messages, emails and Facebook posts. The UGA message noted the cancellations include campus events and activities, but residence and dining halls will remain open. Campus transit will continue to operate as long it remains safe to do so, according to the message.
U. of South Carolina cancels classes for Hurricane Irma
University of South Carolina students will not have class Monday. The downtown Columbia school announced Friday it has called off Monday classes in preparation for Hurricane Irma. The school plans to re-open for class at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Classes before 10 a.m. Tuesday are canceled. Recent forecasts have the powerful storm shifting west of South Carolina.
Texas A&M researchers receive more than $9 million in grants for cancer efforts
Texas A&M researchers have received more than $9 million in grant funding from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, accounting for nearly a tenth of the institution's awards this year alone. A&M Interim Vice President for Research Karen Butler-Purry praised the impact made by the grants and their ability to help further critical research at the university and across the state. "By funding these grants, CPRIT continues to demonstrate that Texas A&M, our faculty-researchers and their research teams are substantially advancing the state's commitment to cancer research, treatment and prevention," Butler-Purry said. Of the grants received by Texas A&M, more than $8.6 million -- over six grants -- was awarded to researchers within the university's Health Science Center.
New director of U. of Missouri Human Performance Institute wants to focus on athletes
Aaron Gray, a sports medicine physician at University of Missouri Health Care, has been named the new medical director of the MU Human Performance Institute, according to a news release from the university. Gray's experience in pediatric orthopedics gels well with the athletic performance programs offered at the institute. This fall, the institute will offer a six-week basketball program focusing on increasing jump height, agility and speed as well as injury-prevention principles. In addition, the institute will also focus on patients suffering from chronic conditions such as diabetes, cancer and Parkinson's disease.
When Obama-era guidelines are rescinded, many requirements for campus handling of sex assault will remain
Betsy DeVos last week blasted guidance from the Obama administration on investigation of campus sexual assault for creating a failed system. What she didn't note was that many of the provisions covered in the 2011 guidelines -- which she has vowed to rescind and replace with new regulation -- have since been enshrined in law. While DeVos has the power to repeal current guidelines, that won't change many of the responsibilities for institutions already in place. The reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2013 prescribed new standards for campus disciplinary proceedings. And a number of court decisions involving Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 lawsuits have backed up the finding that institutions have an obligation to investigate and adjudicate campus assaults. The impending debate is likely to focus as a result on questions involving the standard of evidence that should be used in reaching decisions and the ability of students to challenge the other party in the course of proceedings.
Reed College course lectures canceled after student protesters interrupt class to protest Eurocentrism
An education from Reed College, where students' sense of individualism is perhaps matched only by their studiousness, is anything but common. And recently one of Reed's most distinctive experiences -- one designed, ironically, to bring students together -- has become one of its most divisive. "We don't ever want to repeat what happened that Wednesday -- we don't ever want there to be shouting over one another and shouting people down," said Kevin Myers, a Reed spokesperson, about escalating tensions over the college's signature yearlong freshman humanities course. He added, "I don't think that was a proud moment, and we want to get past it." Hum 110 -- like virtually everything at Reed -- is rigorous. But alumni who took the course as far back as 1943, when it was conceived, tend to recall it as one of their most worthwhile. Things changed last fall, though, when Reed, like so many other institutions, faced student demands that it be more inclusive of people of color.
North Carolina board bars UNC Center for Civil Rights from litigating
The University of North Carolina system Board of Governors voted 24 to 3, with one abstention, Friday to bar litigation by the UNC Chapel Hill School of Law's Center for Civil Rights. The proposal voted on is technically a ban on all centers and institutes engaging in litigation, but the only entity that litigates is the Center for Civil Rights. System President Margaret Spellings, whom the board clashed with in its session the day before, did not speak during the brief debate and has not spoken publicly on her position regarding the center. Reached by phone last week, Ted Shaw, director of the center, said he wasn't hopeful going into the vote. "In my most hopeful dreams, I think maybe they might have been persuaded by all the arguments made in favor of the center," said Shaw, who was also in attendance for the vote Friday. "They might think of things like Charlottesville, and that [this] is not the time -- if there ever is one -- to cut back on mechanisms to enforce civil rights and fight against discrimination."
Understanding new norms
Angela Farmer, an assistant professor of educational leadership at Mississippi State, writes: "While the start of the school year typically brings many an adult to reflect on his days as an elementary or high school student, other than the overall structure of the K-12 experience, more things have changed than those that have remained the same. While this may come as a surprise to those who have been away from the public school front for over a decade or even two, those who work daily to educate the young can share poignant stories of how times have changed and how the system has to struggle to keep up with its surroundings."
Fear, hate messaging makes government the enemy
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: "'The first principle is that everyone is scared,' Mike said. 'The second principle is that everyone hates.' Wondering what drives our politics these days? Read Eugene Burdick's powerful 1956 novel, The Ninth Wave. 'A prescient and still relevant story,' opined one critic. The opening quotations come from the book's lead character, Mike Freesmith, who harnessed the power of fear and hate to control an election. Today, big money and big data have taken these principles to new heights to manipulate and control voters to enhance their political power."

Mississippi State easily handles Louisiana Tech
Nick Fitzgerald threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more to lead Mississippi State over Louisiana Tech 57-21 on Saturday night. Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons scored two touchdowns, one after blocking a punt and recovering the ball in the end zone, and another after recovering a fumble and running 90 yards for the touchdown. It was the first time a Mississippi State defensive player scored two touchdowns in a game since Jonathan Banks in 2009. Mississippi State hosts No. 12 LSU in its Southeastern Conference opener Saturday.
Defense keys Bulldogs' blowout
Mississippi State fans were having flashbacks of 2008 as Louisiana Tech quickly jumped out to a 9-0 lead Saturday night. With its offense sputtering early, MSU's relied on the other phases of the game to get things going. Jeffery Simmons blocked a punt and recovered it for a touchdown and would later scoop and score 90-yards on a fumble return. Gerri Green had two strip sacks that led to touchdowns and Mark McLaurin picked off a pass that led to another score. By the time halftime hit, State led 36-14 and finished things off with a 57-21 victory in front of 28,100 at Joe Aillet Stadium, second largest in school history. Mississippi State's defense racked up six tackles for loss, four sacks, two fumble recoveries and an interception. It's offense amassed 459 yards with 327 coming on the ground.
Jeffery Simmons fuels another dominating defensive effort for Bulldogs
As the midway point of the third quarter loomed, Gerri Green and Jeffery Simmons already had made an impact. Green forced a fumble that led to a quick score, while Simmons scored a touchdown after he blocked a punt. Green and Simmons then joined forces to put the game out of reach. Green's second sack with less 10 minutes to go in the third quarter forced the football from Louisiana Tech quarterback J'Mar Smith's grasp. Simmons was there to recover the fumble and return it 90 yards for a touchdown. The score was part of a another dominant defensive effort that led the Mississippi State football team to a 57-21 victory against Louisiana Tech on Saturday night.
Mississippi State's Vic Schaefer talks leadership at Wake Up! Tupelo
After a record season that led the Mississippi State University women's basketball team to the NCAA Final Four, head coach Vic Schaefer has plenty of leadership advice to share both on and off the court. Schaefer spoke to Tupelo Community Development Foundation members and others about leadership at the September Wake Up! Tupelo event Friday morning at the Elvis Presley Birthplace. It turns out, according to Schaefer, that leadership in basketball is the same as leadership in the workplace. Schaefer spoke about how he manages his team, and encouraged business leaders to apply the same principles to their work. "It's not what we do, but how we do it that separates us from the rest of the country," Schaefer said. "I think that's something that you've got to do is ask what's going to set us apart?"
U. of Mississippi's NCAA infractions hearing begins Monday
Mississippi's football program will begin its appearance in front of the NCAA's infractions committee panel, nearly five years after the governing body first launched its investigation. The hearing starts Monday in Covington, Kentucky, which is a suburb of Cincinnati. The NCAA has set aside up to three days for the hearing. The Rebels are facing 21 allegations, including 15 that are classified as Level I, which the NCAA deems the most serious. The charges in the wide-ranging case involve academic, recruiting and booster misconduct.
What's Ole Miss' contingency plan if COI hearing keeps Matt Luke, other coaches away from practice?
Ole Miss may have to go through part of its preparation for California this week without its coaching staff intact. Interim coach Matt Luke, running backs coach Derrick Nix and tight ends coach Maurice Harris are each required to appear at Ole Miss' hearing with the Committee on Infractions, which begins Monday in Covington, Kentucky. The hearing will continue Tuesday and could trickle into Wednesday. Luke isn't named in any of the 21 alleged violations tied to the NCAA's investigation into the football program but is required to attend as the Rebels' acting head coach after Hugh Freeze abruptly resigned in July amid a female escort scandal. Nix and Harris were both requested to appear after being accused of helping arrange impermissible benefits for recruits -- both Level-I charges -- though Ole Miss is refuting the allegation against Nix.
Thousands at Texas A&M game don 'BTHO Harvey' shirts in support of storm victims
What started as an impromptu student idea and transformed into a university movement left the stands at Kyle Field awash in white Saturday as thousands of fans donned T-shirts to support victims of Hurricane Harvey. Texas A&M beat Nicholls State 24-14 on Saturday, but the Aggies didn't coast to an easy victory against the FCS team. In the fourth quarter, the heavily favored Aggies were tied 14-14 with the Louisiana university that boasts just 6,000 students. The spirit of unity and generosity spurred by the "Relief-Out" helped boost fans' mood, even during those uneasy moments before Texas A&M pulled off a victory. "This all just makes me proud to be a part of the Aggie family," said Greta Swift, who started the idea for BTHO Harvey.
U. of Missouri fires defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross
Missouri announced Sunday afternoon that it was relieving defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross of his coaching duties. "I am very appreciative of all that DeMontie has done for Mizzou, and am sorry that this did not work out," coach Barry Odom said. "However, after careful evaluation, I believe it is important to make this change now." Odom brought Cross, a Missouri alum, onto his staff when he was hired in 2015. Cross was the co-defensive coordinator at TCU in 2015 and the Horned Frogs' linebackers coach from 2013-14. He also had coaching stints with Kansas, Wisconsin and the Buffalo Bills. Cross' contract was set to expire in February 2019. He was Missouri's second-highest paid coordinator with an annual salary of $500,000.
The Steering Committee: How does a university go about replacing a live mascot?
Five weeks after the death of Bevo, the University of Texas' beloved mascot, in 2015, Ricky Brennes brought a half-dozen young longhorn steers into Texas Memorial Stadium to see if they could stand the sound of a 375-piece marching band playing the hits of Stevie Ray Vaughan without freaking out. "Can we use the hoses under the bleachers to clean up after any messes a young/nervous steer might create?" Mr. Brennes had written to the stadium facilities coordinator earlier that week. He was a bit on edge himself. Bevo, like the Pope, encompasses both an office and the individual who holds it. As director of the Silver Spurs Alumni Association, Mr. Brennes oversaw both. Now he was in charge of the first Bevo conclave in more than a decade. Mr. Brennes watched the young steers. They were keeping their cool. Some of them chewed their cud, a sign of contentment similar to a cat purring. None of them tried to bolt. He was pleased.

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