Thursday, September 29, 2016  SUBSCRIBE   
New studio at Mississippi State to focus on innovative wood design
A $10,000 grant along with matching money will fund construction of a design studio that promotes innovative wood products and building methods in Mississippi. The $10,000 Community Partnerships grant was awarded by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc., an international nonprofit that promotes responsible forest management. The Mississippi Forestry Foundation and other partners in the industry added $12,000 in a grant match for the design studio. The design studio will be used by fourth-year undergraduate students at Mississippi State University's School of Architecture. Called TIMB(R): Timber Innovations for Mississippi Buildings Reimagined, the studio will hold a competition in which students will design plans for a mid-rise wood structure that could become a showcase for wood building design in the state as well as provide offices for the Mississippi Forestry Association.
Mississippi State finalist for national community service honor
Mississippi State University is one of four universities nationwide recognized as a finalist in the recently announced 2015 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll in the Economic Opportunity category. MSU is among 20 institutions of higher learning in the country and the only school in Mississippi named as a finalist in any of the honor roll's four categories. MSU was named to the honor roll in all of the four possible categories (General Community Service, Interfaith Service, Education and Economic Opportunity). "This recognition is tangible evidence of our university's commitment to community engagement," Director of Student Leadership and Community Engagement Cade Smith said. "It shows service is relevant in the lives of students, in the community, across the state and around the globe."
Mississippi State teaches companies about food safety regulations
Food processors from all over the region are in Starkville for a three-day training course. Food safety professionals who work for meat, poultry and other food processors earn certification mandated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service. This is organized by the MSU Extension Service and the MSU Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion. They learned Wednesday about pathogens and toxins that could cause illness in foods. "It's just to identify critical areas during their processing where food safety is critical and they establish monitoring procedures, preventative controls, establish critical limits in case there is a problem," MSU Extension Food Safety Specialist Courtney Crist said.
Studying workshop to be held at MSU-Meridian
Mississippi State's Meridian campus is holding a workshop to help students get better grades. Dr. Kenneth Sufka will be speaking to students and faculty on Monday at MSU-Meridian's Kahlmus Auditorium. Sufka is a professor at the University of Mississippi who wrote the book "The A Game: Nine Steps to Better Grades." At the workshop, Sufka will use examples from his own teaching to help college students avoid bad habits. "When you get to college, there's an enormous amount of information that students need to learn, but it's not enough simply to memorize the information. Students need to be able to apply it, think critically about it, write about it, connect information from different areas," said philosophy instructor Gregory Johnson.
Longtime MSU Extension Service county agent recognized for service
Longtime County Agent Harvin Hudson issued a challenge for more community involvement Monday after being recognized as Philadelphia and Neshoba County's 2016 Citizen of the Year during the annual meeting of the Community Development Partnership in the coliseum. He told the 300 plus people in attendance that if everyone would increase their community involvement by just 1 percent, the community "would be 300 percent better tomorrow than it is today." He talked about how he started his career in Lawrence County and drove 200 miles one way to Mississippi State University to earn his master's degree. He said his first meeting in Neshoba County was in 1989 at what was then called the Chamber banquet, where Stanley Dearman was named Citizen of the Year and Donald Zacharias, then-president of the Mississippi State University, was the guest speaker. Hudson thanked Bill Yates, who was among those in attendance, for sending him his first mail, a post card, welcoming him to Neshoba County and pledging to work with him as the new county agent.
Legislators to hold public forum Saturday at Sportsplex
Multiple state legislators from across Mississippi will attend a public input session from 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday at the Sportsplex on Lynn Lane. The informal meeting will give citizens a chance to speak to state leaders ahead of the next legislative session on January 3. The event is part of a statewide input series, and is sponsored by the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus. "We want to hear what the people are saying," said District 38 Rep. Tyrone Ellis, D-Starkville. The event will be moderated by former MSU Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development Director Marty Wiseman. Topics will range from criminal justice reform to education and mental health funding, along with budget issues facing the state. The session will also touch on Medicaid expansion, the state of Mississippi's infrastructure and tax issues stemming from corporate tax breaks.
Holiday Inn project avoids foreclosure
The plan to bring a Holiday Inn hotel next to the Cotton Mill Marketplace on Highway 12 is progressing, and construction at the site is expected in three to four weeks, according to the site's developer. The Starkville Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously passed the preliminary and final plat approval for the completed retail site Wednesday afternoon in a special-called meeting. The approvals are one of the final steps before the city can release infrastructure reimbursements as part of the site's tax increment financing plan. Last week, a foreclosure notice was posted for the hotel's owners, Cotton Mill Hotel Group. Developer Mark Nicholas said the release of TIF funds will help repay a loan that funded infrastructure improvements with the shopping center, which has been open for over a year and a half. The foreclosure notice was stopped after a new financing commitment was agreed upon, he said.
State economist: Mississippi economy grows, but lags US
A late summer pickup in job growth could boost Mississippi's economic output for 2017, state economist Darrin Webb said Tuesday, but that doesn't mean the Magnolia State's economy is off to the races. Webb told an audience at Millsaps College that the state appears to be on track for its overall economic output to expand for the first back-to-back years since 2007 and 2008. Still, Webb said he expects Mississippi will continue to grow more slowly than the nation, which means the gap between incomes for Mississippians and nationwide could keep widening. Webb said he currently expects Mississippi's economy to grow 1.5 percent this year, revised down from an earlier 1.7 percent. That's better than last year, when Mississippi only grew 0.7 percent. It also outstrips four years of contraction in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2014.
State's tax system ranked 28th, poised to climb after cuts take effect
Mississippi doesn't have the worst tax system for attracting financial investment in the nation; nor does it have the best. However, there are signs that recent legislative moves will boost the state's tax system rankings, at least by one measure. A new report from the Washington, D.C.-based Tax Foundation, which monitors government tax policies, shows that Mississippi's tax system is No. 28 among the states. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who championed the tax cuts, said he's encouraged by the report. "For employers, taxes are simply a cost of doing business that is factored into their end product or service," he said through a statement. "A fairer, flatter tax policy helps make Mississippi companies more competitive globally by eliminating or reducing that additional cost. Eventually, I want to see Mississippi move into the top 15 of the foundation's report and this confirms our recent action will help move us in that direction."
Challenger in 1st District Congressional race largely absent from campaign
A Democratic challenger to incumbent Congressman Trent Kelly has apparently raised little or no money and does not appear to be actively campaigning for office. Kelly, a Republican, has represented Mississippi's 1st Congressional District since winning a June 2015 special election. According to campaign finance filings with the Federal Elections Commission, he had about $173,000 in available cash as of earlier this summer. His Democratic opponent Jacob Owens has not yet filed any reports with the FEC. A 25-year old, Owens works for JBHM Architecture. He would not participate in an interview about his campaign. The Democratic challenger did provide the Daily Journal with a written statement indicating limited plans for campaigning.
Road, Bridge Repair is Top of Mind for Some Lawmakers
Mississippi needs to increase funding for roads and bridges by nearly 400 million dollars a year. That's according to a report produced earlier this year by the Mississippi Economic Council. Some lawmakers say they will seriously need to consider increasing the state's gas tax. "Do we want to invest by paying a few more money at the fuel pump and taking care of those highways and bridges so that you don't have to pay $200 or $300 a year to replace tires and shock absorbers and front-end alignments?" says Willie Simmons, a Democrat from Cleveland, and Chair of the Senate Highways and Transportation Committee. "Those things cost you much more than a few pennies on a gallon of gas." Some lawmakers have also suggested using funds from the BP Oil Settlement to offset some of the costs to fix the state's roads and bridges. Simmons says he would consider using the money, but is hesitant to use one-time money.
Public Service Commissioner: Utility rate incentive program helps small businesses
Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley visited Lowndes County Tuesday to promote his Small Business Incentives Rider, a program which saves small businesses money on utilities. The program works with utility companies around the state to provide discounts and other financial incentives for small businesses during their first year of operation, a crucial time for local businesses, Presley said. Presley and representatives from Atmos Energy gathered in Ann's Dairy Bar and Grill, a restaurant on Highway 69 that opened in June. Atmos waived the initial deposit for restaurant owner Ann Wozniak and has discounted the business' base natural gas rates by 25 percent for the first year Wozniak is in operation.
Hosemann, Biloxi at odds again over Margaritaville
After objections from Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, Biloxi officials will start over on the plan to rezone Margaritaville Resort Biloxi and 20 acres surrounding it to encourage family entertainment and prevent a casino there. On Sept. 15, the Biloxi Planning Commission voted unanimously in favor of rezoning 20 tax parcels north and south of U.S. 90 from Neighborhood Business and Waterfront to Community Business. A casino can only be built on property zoned Waterfront, which generally is appraised and taxed at a higher rate. A week later on Sept. 22, a letter from Gulfport attorney Ben Stone was hand-delivered to Biloxi asking for a reconsideration or appeal of the planning commission's decision. A new planning commission hearing will be on Oct. 20, said Biloxi City Attorney Gerald Blessey.
Congress Passes Spending Bill to Keep Government Running Through Dec. 9
Congress avoided a partial government shutdown at week's end after both chambers passed a short-term spending bill that would keep the government running through early December. A weekslong partisan impasse over the bill broke when lawmakers agreed to provide federal assistance for residents of Flint, Mich., in separate legislation this year. That deal quickly paved the way for the Senate to pass a short-term spending bill, also known as a continuing resolution, that would keep the government funded through Dec. 9. The government's current funding had been due to expire at midnight EDT on Friday. The spending bill, which includes funding to combat a mosquito-borne virus linked to birth defects, cleared the House in a 342-85 vote on Wednesday night. President Barack Obama is expected to sign it into law before Friday.
Congress thwarts Obama on bill allowing 9/11 lawsuits against Saudi Arabia
Congress voted to decisively overturn President Obama's veto of a controversial 9/11 victims bill Wednesday, the first override of his presidency and a sharp setback for longtime U.S. ally Saudi Arabia. The bill clears the way for families of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to file claims against Saudi Arabia for the kingdom's long-rumored but unproven links to the 9/11 attackers. The Saudi government has consistently rejected those allegations. Many lawmakers who voted for the override acknowledged problems with the legislation that they hoped could be fixed later. The measure amended the 1976 Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act to allow for lawsuits against foreign nations in federal court if it is determined that they played a role in terrorist attacks that killed Americans on U.S. soil.
Feds will send fewer election observers
National and local civil rights groups are worried about the Justice Department's plan to send fewer federal observers to watch for election irregularities in states, including many in the South. Attorney General Loretta Lynch recently announced the Justice Department will send fewer federal election observers this fall. The change is one of several in the wake of a 2013 Supreme Court decision -- Shelby County v. Holder -- that threw out a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The provision determined which states and other jurisdictions with a history of voter discrimination had to obtain "pre-clearance" from federal officials before making any election changes. Most of the states were in the South, including Louisiana and Mississippi. Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said the agency's decision to send fewer observers won't make a difference in his state. "The fact that they're not coming doesn't bother me," he said. "Within 30 minutes I can have somebody from my office standing there,'' he said.
Split Over Donald Trump and Cut Off by Culture Wars, Evangelicals Despair
Conservative evangelicals interviewed in central Iowa say they feel as though they have been abandoned. Many say that they have no genuine champion in the presidential race and that the country has turned its back on them. Americans are leaving church, same-sex marriage is the law of the land, and the country has moved on to debating transgender rights. While other Americans are anxious about the economy, jobs and terrorism, conservative Christians say they fear for the nation's very soul. Some worry that the nation has strayed so far that God's punishment is imminent. So, in a year where many voters see nothing but bad choices, many evangelicals feel deeply torn. Long a reliable Republican voting bloc, many are appalled to find Donald J. Trump their only alternative to Hillary Clinton.
Republicans to Trump: Keep Lewinsky out of it
Republican lawmakers have some advice for Donald Trump and his surrogates as they openly mull bringing up President Bill Clinton's infidelity at the next presidential debate: Don't do it. GOP senators who've finally grown more comfortable with Trump warned in interviews Wednesday that descending into Bill Clinton's sexual past is dangerous territory for the GOP nominee, who has his own less-than-pristine history when it comes to his commitment to the sanctity of marriage. Better to stick to, say, the economy, the pols suggested. Congressional Republicans have a lot riding on Trump's debate performances. "I hope he doesn't," said Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, the Senate GOP's campaign chairman. "He oughta stick to how he's going to make life better for the average American worker."
Trump's rise draws white supremacists into political mainstream: 'I am winning,' says David Duke
David Duke worked the Louisiana gun show like a preacher pursuing souls, cornering potential voters as they picked over firearms and ammo. The robes are gone and the rhetoric is softer than during his grand wizard days. But Duke has not shed his relentless proselytizing for the white race, even though voters have repeatedly rejected the former Ku Klux Klan leader's attempts to regain public office. Duke is undeterred. As he sees it, this is the moment. After last running for election in 1999, he's back with a long-shot bid for Louisiana's open U.S. Senate seat. And his reason for optimism is clear: Donald Trump.
Donald Trump's weight problem: He can't stop talking about 'fat' people
Donald Trump has a serious weight problem: He can't seem to stop criticizing the girth of others. For decades, Trump has commented on other people's bodies, particularly women who he believes had gained too much weight or were, in his word, "fat." The recurring habit flared again this week when the Republican presidential nominee attacked the size of a Miss Universe winner, claiming she had gained "a massive amount of weight" while she wore the pageant's crown and that "it was a real problem." Trump's comments about weight, along with a long line of other incendiary comments about women, present another serious challenge for him in attracting female voters in November. Trump needs to gain support from moderate suburban women to ascend to the White House, but so far he has found little success with female voters, many of whom find the Republican nominee offensive and unacceptable.
Supreme Court to consider disparaging trademarks
The Supreme Court agreed Thursday to hear a controversial trademark case with implications for the Washington Redskins. The justices will decide if an appeals court was right to declare a federal law unconstitutional because it allows trademarks considered disparaging to be rejected. The case involves a Portland, Ore., rock band called The Slants that was not allowed to register its trademark for promotional purposes. It's similar to one involving the Washington Redskins, whose 83-year-old name has been the subject of lawsuits from Native American groups who consider it insulting. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office used the same law to cancel the football team's trademarks in 2014. That case is now pending before a federal appeals court in Richmond.
U.S. Believes Hackers Are Shielded by Russia to Hide Its Role in Cyberintrusions
U.S. officials are increasingly confident that the hacker Guccifer 2.0 is part of a network of individuals and groups kept at arm's length by Russia to mask its involvement in cyberintrusions such as the theft of thousands of Democratic Party documents, according to people familiar with the matter. While the hacker denies working on behalf of the Russian government, U.S. officials and independent security experts say the syndicate is one of the most striking elements of what looks like an intensifying Russian campaign to target prominent American athletes, party officials and military leaders. A fuller picture of the operation has come into focus in the past several weeks.
Ole Miss Theatre opens 'Clybourne Park' to start dialogue
This weekend the University of Mississippi's theater department unveiled its latest stage production, "Clybourne Park." The central character of the play is a house. Playwright Bruce Norris published the play in 2010 as a spinoff of "A Raisin in the Sun," a play published in 1959 that tells the story of a black family who moves into a predominantly white neighborhood in Chicago known as Clybourne Park. Act I of the more recent play is set in 1959 and follows the neighborhood's reaction when they learn the house's owners have sold the property to a black family. Chairman of the Department of Theatre Arts Michael Barnett said this is a perfect play for the Ole Miss community to see because of the university's own troubled history with race relations.
Ole Miss Insight Park co-hosting DRA Delta Pitch competition
Individual entrepreneurs and start-up organizations are invited to vie for fellowships to a national conference at the Delta Regional Authority Delta Pitch competition Thursday at the University of Mississippi. The event begins at 1 p.m. in UM's Innovation Hub at Insight Park. Co-hosts are Insight Park, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation. Space is limited, so early registration is recommended. "The Delta Pitch Competition is part of DRA's region-wide entrepreneurial initiative known as The Delta Challenge," said William Nicholas, director of economic development at Insight Park. "It will provide participants the opportunity to pitch their business ideas to an esteemed panel of judges."
University Libraries at Southern Miss to Present Cookbook Lecture
A lecture on the Calhoun City community cookbook will be given by Dr. Andrew Haley, associate professor of history at the University of Southern Mississippi, on Oct. 11 at 6:30 p.m. in Cook Library 123 on the Hattiesburg campus. This event will be presented by USM's University Libraries in conjunction with the Mississippi Community Cookbook Project. The goal of the Mississippi Community Cookbook Project is to collect, digitize and study the state's unique culinary heritage. In his talk, "The City Ready for Tomorrow: Working Women and Convenience Foods in Calhoun City, Mississippi in the 1950s and 1960s," Haley will discuss how working women in Calhoun City used "labor-saving" foods like canned goods to continue to excel in domestic life while working outside the house.
Institute for Marine Mammal Studies studying health of Mississippi dolphins
The Mississippi Sound is home to one of the largest populations of bottlenose dolphins in the world. The mammals have faced serious challenges in recent years; everything from the BP oil spill, to red tide, to harmful pollution runoff from the Mississippi River. But with frequent strandings and ongoing threats to the environment, how healthy are the dolphins in Mississippi? WLOX News Now recently spent time with scientists at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, who are working to address many of the unanswered questions about the health of the playful marine mammals. IMMS researchers say while it's important to assess the overall health of the dolphin population, it's even more critical to track health long-term.
Federal judgments against Jackson State University under review
Among reasons Jackson State University's then-athletic director Vivian Fuller fired head trainer Fredrick Robinson was his referring to her as his "African Nubian queen" instead of using her proper title, an attorney for the university argued Tuesday in federal court. Robinson said he was fired in May 2012 in retaliation for speaking with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which was investigating a sexual harassment complaint against Fuller by a female employee. A sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the employee was eventually thrown out. In January 2015, after a nine-day trial, a jury in U.S. District Court in Jackson awarded Robinson $107,100 against JSU and Fuller in his lawsuit alleging retaliation and first amendment violation. On Tuesday, LaToya Merritt, a private attorney for JSU, asked U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate to throw out the jury award of $32,100 in compensatory and $75,000 in punitive damages.
Attorney releases new details about Belhaven University sexting lawsuit
A young woman who interviewed to be a receptionist at Belhaven University claims the school's director of online admissions -- who is no longer an employee -- made graphic sexual advances toward her last November, her attorney said. Erica Stewart's attorney Carlos Moore said since the lawsuit was filed earlier this month, his client's reputation has been trashed on social media by someone posting nude photos of her. Two days after the lawsuit was made public, a Belhaven spokesperson said Durham no longer worked at the university. Stewart is suing Belhaven University and the administrator, claiming he sent the graphic text message and then denied her a job after she rejected his sexual advances.
Three Mississippi Community Colleges To Anchor Automotive Training Initiative
Three North Mississippi community colleges will serve as anchors for a $10.5 million initiative to produce a workforce ready to work in the state's growing automotive, aerospace and advanced manufacturing sector, according to U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). Cochran today announced the award of three ARC grants for infrastructure and workforce training projects involving East Mississippi Community College (EMMC), Northwest Mississippi Community College (NMCC) and Itawamba Community College (ICC). The grants are funded through $16 million appropriated by Congress in FY2016 for ARC to support workforce training programs in southern and south-central Appalachia.
Profile: Copiah-Lincoln Community College
Mississippi's 15 community and junior colleges are often called the state's "best kept secret." To find out more about what the state's community and junior colleges offer, Mississippi Public Broadcasting is profiling all of them. Today, we look at Copiah-Lincoln Community College. Ronnie Nettles -- president of Copiah-Lincoln -- tells MPB's Sid Scott the school just recently turned 100 years old.
U. of Alabama earns $566,000 grant
The University of Alabama will receive $566,000 over five years as part of a $3.45 million National Science Foundation grant awarded to a regional partnership that provides education and research infrastructure to help scientific discoveries reach the marketplace more quickly. The funds were awarded as part of the foundation's Innovation Corps program, known as I-Corps, a public-private partnership, is meant to foster entrepreneurship that will lead to the commercialization of technology that has been supported previously by National Science Foundation-funded research. The sites are NSF-funded entities established at universities that are helping local teams to transition their technology concepts into the marketplace.
Kelly Horwitz says legal fight targeted The Machine
Kelly Horwitz said that her decision to challenge the 2013 school board election results was more than just a fight against her opponent. She said that the three-year court battle was a fight against The Machine, the group of University of Alabama Greek organizations that has sought to influence campus politics for decades. Horwitz lost the election contest after a trial held Tuesday. She was unable to subpoena enough former students who cast illegal votes to testify in court. Nearly 40 of those voters did testify, however, with some admitting on the stand that they were instructed by their Greek organizations to cast votes for Cason Kirby, who won the seat by a 416-329 vote. Last year, UA's Faculty Senate Task Force For Excellence in Equity, Inclusion and Citizenship made a series of recommendations to the administration about ways to increase diversity on campus and make changes to the governance of student organizations. The committee formed in the wake of the election controversy and allegations of discrimination during the 2013 fall sorority rush.
Auburn University alumnus flies first Cape Air plane into Auburn
An Auburn University graduate made history Tuesday as the first captain to fly Cape Air's Cessna 402 into Auburn University Regional Airport. Capt. Michael Pfeiffer's flight started from Hyannis, Mass. He and Captain Clayton Adamy provided flights Wednesday for pilots currently in the program at Auburn University. Pfeiffer and Adamy are two Auburn University Aviation graduates in the JetBlue Airways University Gateway Program. Auburn University Aviation has been a part of the program since 2013, according to Jose Caballero, University Gateway program manager and Auburn alumnus. "It's a definite path to get to JetBlue from your college level," Caballero said.
No relief seen for UGA workers facing low holiday pay
In person or online, hundreds of UGA employees attended a pair of Monday forums on upcoming changes to the paychecks of about a third of UGA's workers, but they didn't hear anything that would change the fact that December will be a lean month for many. About 3,000 workers are being switched from a "salaried" payroll, in which paychecks go out once a month, to a schedule in which they get paid every two weeks. That means they'll get a little less each month than in the past, for 10 months out of the year, but in two months, they'll get three paychecks instead of two. Because of federal and state laws, there doesn't seem too much UGA can do legally to ease the transition for employees, some of whom are low-paid.
'Fearless' 140th birthday festivities set for Texas A&M
Starting Monday, Texas A&M will kick off a week of activities for the university's 140th birthday and the unveiling of the new national "Fearless on Every Front" branding campaign. The celebrations will include a birthday celebration in Academic Plaza, a scavenger hunt with scholarship prizes, a food drive and a State of the University address by President Michael K. Young. The scavenger hunt will give current students a chance to win a grand prize scholarship of $8,400. The Fearless at 140 Scavenger Hunt will include a multi-day journey across 140 campus sites.
Startup Aggieland's 'First Look' lets university entrepreneurs connect with community
With enough charisma to fill the room, Inioluwa "Ini" Olualakija took the stage at Downtown Bryan's historic Grand Stafford Theater on Wednesday evening to present his team's business ideas during Startup Aggieland's second "First Look" event. Olualakija's Spread Love Cycles was one of 12 diverse teams from the university-run business accelerator that presented their ideas in front of a packed crowd of attendees from around the community. A junior multidisciplinary engineering technology major and applied mathematics minor, Olualakija said while this will be his first semester participating with Startup Aggieland, he already has seen the benefits of being engaged in the community. "The benefit is just being in the same room as a bunch of like-minded individuals, people who are also looking for innovative ways to make the world better," Olualakija said.
U. of Missouri suspends Delta Upsilon fraternity after report of racist, sexist insults
The University of Missouri temporarily suspended the campus Delta Upsilon chapter Wednesday amid a growing backlash over a report of members shouting racist and sexist insults at black students. MU acted a few hours after Delta Upsilon International, headquartered in Indianapolis, also announced a temporary suspension of the chapter and the Panhellenic Association, an umbrella group of traditionally white sororities on campus, condemned the incident in a statement that also engaged in some self-criticism. The incident shows problems of racial animosity on campus have not improved, the Legion of Black Collegians Activities Committee said in its news release. Racial issues dominated the fall 2015 semester.
U. of Missouri fraternity suspended after slurs against 2 Legion of Black Collegians students
Almost one year after members of MU's Legion of Black Collegians were targeted by racial slurs, members said they were again harassed Tuesday night outside an MU fraternity house. The fraternity, Delta Upsilon, was suspended by MU and by its governing body Wednesday. MU Police Maj. Brian Weimer said Wednesday that police were investigating all of the events. Weimer said no official reports have been filed against the responding officer. Throughout the day on Wednesday, black students held hands, prayed and talked about their experiences at a protest in the MU Student Center and at a town hall at the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center.
Survey of presidents, board members suggests shared governance matters but could be improved
When it comes to shared governance, is OK good enough? That's the question behind -- and the title of -- a new report from the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. It's based in part on input from a focus group of faculty members, conducted earlier this year in conjunction with the American Association of University Professors. Three hundred presidents and several thousand board members weighed in via surveys; their feedback makes up the bulk of the report. The answer to the shared governance question? Not quite. While most presidents and board members from both public and private institutions believe that shared governance is working adequately, they believe it could be more effective. Some 95 percent of board members said that shared governance is a very important or moderately important component of decision making on their campuses, and they also overwhelmingly said that it's important or moderately important to higher education overall.
What does academic freedom mean in the era of social media?
The University of Tennessee College of Law will take no disciplinary action against Glenn Reynolds, a professor who last week published a tweet which appeared to urge drivers to hit demonstrators blocking traffic in Charlotte, N.C., the school announced Tuesday. "Run them down," Professor Reynolds tweeted last Wednesday in response to a local news station's tweet showing people blocking a highway to protest the death of a black man at the hands of police. Reynolds's post quickly spread across the internet, with many calling for the college to cut ties with the professor. But after Reynolds deleted the tweet and issued an apology, in which he explained that he was not condoning violence against protesters but rather meant that "drivers who feel their lives are in danger from a violent mob should not stop their vehicles," the university announced that no disciplinary action would be taken. The question of how to respond to a professor's post that is deemed offensive, or even threatening, is one that universities find themselves grappling with increasingly frequently, as institutions navigate where to draw the line on academic freedom in the social media sphere.
An Online Education Breakthrough? A Master's Degree for a Mere $7,000
The master's degree business is booming. College graduates looking for a leg up in the job market are flocking to one- and two-year programs that promise entry to lucrative careers. Top colleges are more than willing to provide them --- for a price. Tuition for a 30-credit master's in computer science from the University of Southern California runs $57,000. Syracuse, Johns Hopkins and Carnegie Mellon charge over $43,000 for the same degree. But one highly ranked program, at Georgia Tech, has taken a very different approach. Its master's in computer science costs less than one-eighth as much as its most expensive rival -- if you learn online. And a new study by Harvard economists found that in creating the program, Georgia Tech may have discovered a whole new market for higher education, one that could change the way we think about the problem of college costs.
U.S. report examines constraints on university programs in China
A U.S. Government Accountability Office review of 12 American universities operating in China identified internet censorship and reports of self-censorship as two key issues. "University members generally indicated that they experienced academic freedom, but they also indicated that internet censorship and other factors presented constraints," the 59-page report released Wednesday states. "Administrators said they generally controlled curriculum content, and faculty and students said they could teach or study what they chose. However, fewer than half of the universities GAO reviewed have uncensored internet access. Representative Chris Smith of New Jersey, the Republican chairman of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations and a critic of China's record on human rights and civil liberties, had asked the GAO to review U.S. universities' agreements to establish satellite campuses in China.
Sluggish tax revenue a national phenomenon
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "Does the Mississippi Legislature bear some responsibility for the impact that tax cuts have had on sluggish state tax revenues? Absolutely. Most lawmakers accept their share of responsibility for those tax cut ramifications. But a recent report from the Rockefeller Institute of Government at the State University of New York suggested that Mississippi and some 35 other states aren't facing budget woes for the sole reason of tax cuts. The Rockefeller Institute report indicated that nationally, tax revenues on primarily sales, personal income and corporate income declined by 2.1 percent in the second quarter after growing just 1.6 percent in the first quarter compared with the same quarters in 2015. The report predicted, 'States are likely to reduce their (revenue) forecasts when they next update them.'"

Mullen wants Mississippi State to clean things up, get healthy
After four-straight games without a break, the Mississippi State football team is getting a chance to catch its breath this week. The Bulldogs (2-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) are in the middle of their only bye week of the season. MSU will play host to Auburn (2-2, 1-1) at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 8 (SEC Network) at Davis Wade Stadium. MSU football coach Dan Mullen said his team is focusing on a number of things this week. "It's cleaning things up, getting some guys some rest and getting healthy," Mullen said Tuesday. Mullen said he will let the team have some time off this weekend if he receives a good academic report.
Mississippi State seeks improvement in bye week
Now one-third of the way through the season, Mississippi State gets an opportunity to do some self reflection during a bye week. The Bulldogs are 2-2 on the young season and are spending this time trying to improve in some areas where they have struggled so far. "We're looking at things that we want to do better," said MSU coach Dan Mullen. "You want to evaluate where the issues are, why they're issues and how do we go about fixing them." Sophomore quarterback Nick Fitzgerald is honing some of his skills during the open date to improve his all-around game.
Offensive continuity helps Mullen's playcalling at Mississippi State
Mississippi State may list John Hevesy and Billy Gonzales as co-offensive coordinators but everyone knows Dan Mullen calls the plays. It's a lot of responsibility for a head coach to also call plays. It's one that Auburn's Gus Malzahn relinquished this season to focus on being the CEO of his football team. Don't expect Mullen to follow suit anytime soon. "I understand where he comes from because as a head coach there's an awful lot to manage during the course of a game," Mullen said. Mullen said Wednesday on the SEC teleconference that there's been years at Mississippi State when he hasn't called the plays and sometimes when he's shared the responsibilities. Recently, he's handled all the offensive playcalling and believes it has worked.
Mississippi State's Mullen balances calling plays, running team
Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen understands why Auburn coach Gus Malzahn relinquished his play-calling duties. Malzahn, who admitted his play calling hadn't been very good in Auburn's two losses, handed the duties over to offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee before his team defeated LSU 18-13 on Saturday. Lashlee will call the plays the rest of the season. Mullen, who was an offensive coordinator at Florida from 2005-08, has been calling the plays the last couple of seasons for MSU. But he said it's "tricky" to call plays and to be in charge of the entire team. "If I'm actually doing head coaching things, I don't think we miss a beat with somebody else calling the plays," Mullen said Wednesday on the Southeastern Conference teleconference. "Even though I call a bunch of the plays, they'll be times where I click over and say, 'Hey, I need to do something with the defense, call the plays,' and then somebody else is calling them."
Mississippi State's Richie Brown named semifinalist for scholar-athlete award
Long Beach native Richie Brown was named Wednesday a semifinalist for the 2016 William V. Campbell Trophy, an honor that goes to the best football scholar-athlete in the nation. The senior linebacker at Mississippi State graduated this past spring in industrial technology with a GPA of 3.52. He is currently pursuing a master's degree in business administration from MSU's College of Business. Brown has stayed active in the community with 100 community service hours in over 30 events. He's been involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Salvation Army, Starkville Humane Society and the T.K. Martin Center for Technology and Disability at Mississippi State. He has read at elementary schools, helped with local food drives, and pitched in with tornado relief for the people of Louisville.
Mississippi State's Richie Brown named a semifinalist for Campbell Trophy
The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) named Richie Brown a semifinalist for the 2016 William V. Campbell Trophy on Wednesday. The honor recognizes the best football scholar-athlete in the nation. It's the second consecutive year a Mississippi State senior has been in the running. Taveze Calhoun was named a finalist last year. Brown graduated in the spring with a degree in industrial technology with a 3.52 GPA. The three-time SEC Academic Honor Roll member and Long Beach native has collected nearly 100 community service hours.
Mississippi State searching for options at No. 3 WR behind Ross, Gray
Mississippi State may have returned Fred Ross, owner of the best statistical season for a wide receiver in school history. And it may have also had Donald Gray flourish as the team's No. 2. But the state of the position is more complicated than Ross and Gray, and the search for a No. 3 is still ongoing. Coach Dan Mullen may have initially expected 2015 juniors De'Runnya Wilson and Fred Brown to return this fall. Instead, Wilson declared for the NFL draft and Brown was dismissed from the team. The search to find a No. 3 wideout began in the spring, but MSU still hasn't found a consistent option. "It's the trickle down effect where now you're trying to get guys up ready to be go-to guys," Mullen said. "The young guys, you're seeing some young guys improve."
Mississippi State has been as successful as its third-down conversions
Among the turbulence of Mississippi State's first and second halves this season, there's an area of consistency. MSU's offensive success lies in its ability to convert third downs. Overall, MSU (2-2) ranks last in the SEC and 116th nationally converting 28.8 percent on third down.The only Power 5 team that ranks lower is Penn State at 127th (24 percent). In Mississippi State's two wins, the Bulldogs have converted 43 percent (12-28) of the time, which is better than the SEC average of 40 percent. But in the two losses, Mississippi State is 3 of 23 (13 percent). "It's a couple different things. It's not one thing," coach Dan Mullen said. "We've had a couple of drops. A couple of protection breakdowns, and a couple (I) probably have to put us in better route combinations."
Preseason honors continue for Mississippi State's Victoria Vivians
Mississippi State junior guard Victoria Vivians earned another first team Preseason All-American honor, this time by Sporting News. Vivians was previously picked as a second team All-American selection by Athlon Sports two weeks ago. She finished second in the SEC last season averaging 17.1 points per game. Sporting News ranked the Bulldogs No. 7 in its preseason poll while Slam Magazine selected MSU at No. 8. Vic Schaefer's squad has also been picked No. 7 by Athlon and No. 12 by Lindy's.
Victoria Vivians, Mississippi State earn more preseason accolades
A team that advanced to the Sweet 16 last year and returns all five starters continues to receive national notoriety. Two publications ranked Mississippi State in their preseasons top 10 on Wednesday. The Sporting News tabbed the Bulldogs No. 7 and Slam Magazine ranked them No. 8. The Sporting News also named junior guard Victoria Vivians a preseason first-team All-American. The rankings come after Mississippi State landed at No. 7 in Athlon Sports and No. 12 in Lindy's Sports preseason preview. Athlon also tabbed Vivians a second-team preseason All-American.
Mississippi State coaches prepare to say goodbye to Stricklin
Ben Howland got a good sense about Scott Stricklin as he interviewed for an opening at Mississippi State. After spending two seasons away from college basketball, he was ready to get back in to the game. He met with Stricklin, MSU's director of athletics, in March of 2015 to interview for the opening. Stricklin had just let Rick Ray go after three seasons. Howland was immediately sold on MSU, and Stricklin hired him as the new MSU men's basketball coach. "I just thought he was really down to earth, I thought he was incredibly honest and he gave me the sense of being an incredibly supportive person for each of the coaches and sports at Mississippi State," Howland said Tuesday. "He also really fostered a family atmosphere at Mississippi State. Really, it's a family-type atmosphere." MSU women's basketball coach Vic Schaefer, who took over for the retired Sharon Fanning-Otis, was Stricklin's first major hire in 2012. "He is the best. He is the reason I came to Mississippi State," Schaefer said.
Former Mississippi State standout Hunter Renfroe homers off roof of brick warehouse in Padres' win
For 13 seasons, right-handed sluggers have peppered the Western Metal Supply Co. building in the left-field corner at Petco Park, driving home runs into the three decks and off the facade. No one had hit a home run to land on the roof until San Diego Padres rookie Hunter Renfroe, a former Mississippi State and Copiah Academy star, did it Wednesday night. His two-run shot went an estimated 435 feet and helped carry the Padres to a 6-5 victory against the NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers. "A home run's a home run, honestly," said Renfroe, who seemed unimpressed by his mammoth shot with one out in the third off rookie Jose De Leon." I guess it's probably pretty cool to be the first one to do it."
Kraft Analytics Group, Learfield Form Joint Data And Insights Venture
Earlier this week, Kraft Analytics Group and collegiate marketer Learfield formed a joint data and insights venture, KLEARintel. The new venture will assist college athletic departments in better understanding their fans. An existing Learfield partner, Mississippi State University is the first school to partner with KLEARintel and incorporate its new software data warehouse, predictive analytics and marketing services into its decision-making processes. MSU Senior Associate Athletic Director Scott Wetherbee in a statement: "We are thrilled to partner with KLEARintel and utilize the innovative data analysis they can provide us. We will now be able to collectively analyze our data and effectively determine ways to increase our season ticket sales and donations. This is certainly a game-changer for us."
Former LSU AD Skip Bertman says he wouldn't hire Lane Kiffin as head coach
Skip Bertman is no longer LSU's athletic director, and thus will have no direct influence as to whom the Tigers will hire to replace the recently fired Les Miles. But he still has his opinions on whom he would hire were he still in charge, and it wouldn't be Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. Bertman appeared on "Sports Today with Charles Hanagriff and Jimmy Ott" on ESPN Radio Baton Rouge Wednesday, and said Kiffin wouldn't be a good choice for LSU. "No, no, no, no," Bertman said, when asked if he'd hire Kiffin. "I don't like him. I don't think he's a fit for here. But he's good, as an offensive coordinator. I feel that way, but I'll go with whoever they pick."
Ed Orgeron, LSU's new Cajun coach: 'I think people have been waiting for this'
Ed Orgeron walked into T.J. Ribs on Wednesday night using the front door -- far away from that back door Les Miles used to slip through each week. Yes, Orgeron is serious about this change thing. "You just got to do things different," Orgeron said after his hour-long show. "If nothing changes, nothing changes (in the game). I am different. Although I love coach (Les) Miles, I do things different." In front of a packed crowd at the restaurant, Orgeron took phone calls, signed helmets and posed for pictures at his first radio show as LSU's interim coach. He walked in, through that front door, to cheers. The 55-year-old Louisiana native pumped his fist and high-fived purple-and-gold clad fans, using that same energy and enthusiasm he's been known for.
Harvey Updyke has paid less than 0.4 percent of $796K he owes Auburn for tree poisoning
While Auburn University deals with the aftermath of last weekend's tree fire at Toomer's Corner, it continues to receive minimum monthly payments of $100 from Harvey Updyke for poisoning the original oaks in 2010. After Updyke pleaded guilty to the crime, Circuit Judge Jacob A. Walker III ordered Updyke to pay $796,731.98 in restitution in 2013 to help the university replace the trees and make up for lost revenue due to their removal. A representative at the Elmore County Clerk's Office told Wednesday that Updyke still owes $793,852.98, meaning he has paid off just 0.361 percent of the balance. He made payments of $100 every month in 2016 except in June and August. He made a double payment in September, so is behind by one.
U. of Florida's O'Sullivan: $1M dollar head coach
Kevin O'Sullivan has made trips to Omaha a regular occurrence during his nine years at Florida. On Wednesday, O'Sullivan was rewarded with a nine-year contract extension through 2025 that will make him the highest-paid coach in college baseball at $1.25 million per season. The deal surpasses Louisville coach Dan McDonnell, who makes an average salary of $1.06 million per season. Per terms of the deal, first reported by Kendall Rogers of, O'Sullivan received a $500,000 signing bonus. O'Sullivan's buyout protection on the deal is $500,000 for each year remaining on the contract. In addition to O'Sullivan's salary bump, Florida has committed to improve baseball facilities in its proposed master plan.
Big 12 commissioner tells sports departments not to accept athletes with histories of violence
The commissioner of the Big 12 Conference on Wednesday called on colleges to prevent athletes with histories of violence from so easily transferring from team to team, and expressed support for allowing the National Collegiate Athletic Association to punish programs that mishandle sexual and domestic assault cases involving athletes. Speaking at a forum about sexual assault and domestic violence organized by the conference, Bob Bowlsby, the Big 12's commissioner, said that colleges should use "every tool that is available in eradicating the behavior," including possible NCAA intervention. Bowlsby described the forum as "timely and important," but some victims' advocates worry that the forum's message may be muddied by the fact that the Big 12 invited Ray Rice, a former National Football League player who was arrested in 2014 for domestic violence, to speak at the event.

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