Monday, August 19, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
IHL approves MSU, city lease for Cotton Mill project parking garage
The State College Board approved a land-use agreement between Mississippi State University and the city of Starkville Thursday for the Mill at MSU's parking garage, a step which brings developers closer to turning dirt on the entire project. The agreement leases the 1.67-acre parcel on which a 450-space parking garage will sit to the city for 10 years. Starkville is utilizing an $8 million Community Development Block Grant from the Mississippi Development authority to construct the facility, and the garage will become MSU's property at the end of the lease. Starkville and MSU will equally split any profits generated from the facility, Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning documents state, and the university will provide public parking space, including slots for the planned Cooley Center's conference and office space and the incoming Marriot Courtyard Hotel. Mill Developer Mark Castleberry said Thursday's agreement marks a major step forward for the project.
The Challenge of Counting Heat-Wave Deaths - The Numbers Guy
Many victims aren't assigned to heat right away, and more-complete calculations of heat-wave deaths may not come for years, if they come at all. Because many deaths are missed in the early numbers, "the risk from heat is greatly underestimated," said Grady Dixon, associate professor in the department of geosciences at Mississippi State University. "Heat-related deaths are very preventable, so it is important to put effort into preventing the negative impacts of heat because we are confident that we can see results," Dixon said.
Strickland: Shoot all the hogs you can; boar reproduction is exponential
In mathematical terms, the reproductive potential of wild pigs is staggering. "You could go from a pregnant sow to over 100,000 hogs in 20 years," said Bronson Strickland, associate Extension professor at Mississippi State University. "It's an exponential growth curve. It's like compound interest on a loan; after about 10 years it takes off like a rocket. It's the offspring of her offspring of her offspring." While Strickland is quick to point out that reproductive numbers like that are strictly mathematical calculations and will probably never happen in the wild, it shows the potential for growth in Mississippi's hog population. "They have the highest reproductive rate of any large mammal in the U.S.," Strickland said. "They can reproduce at two to four times the rate of deer. That's a biological reality." Another reality is this growing population of non-native swine is in competition for food resources with many species of wildlife in Mississippi, including deer and turkeys.
MSU Hosts Annual 'Day One' Leadership Community Day
Some Mississippi State University freshmen gathered on campus Friday to kick off the Day One Leadership Program. About 250 students took part in MSU's annual "Day One Leadership Community Field Day". The event helps students build connections, have a greater understanding of other volunteers, and learn to work in teams. The program pairs students with non-profit agencies in the Golden Triangle area to perform community service and volunteer efforts at no cost to the agency. This year the program will partner with at least 35 agencies including the Boys and Girls Club, Starkville School District and Community Counseling Services.
Aldermen cut Mississippi Horse Park funding by $10K
Starkville aldermen formally motioned a $10,000 budget cut to the Mississippi Horse Park on Tuesday after the organization requested its annual allotment increased from $50,000 to $70,000. Many of the city's outside contributions and transfers are expected to remain level at Fiscal Year 2013 amounts. Aldermen have until Sept. 15 to finalize the city's budget. Before the board approached individual organizations' requests Tuesday, Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins came out of the gate seeking to decrease the city's annual donation to the Horse Park. The city has given more than $1 million to the Mississippi Horse Park since 1998, he said, and previously decreased its funding from an annual $70,000 contribution.
Putting on the Freshman 15
Classes at Mississippi State University begin on Monday and many first-year students are looking forward to new experiences. But one thing they may not be excited about is picking up extra pounds. Most freshmen expect to gain knowledge and new friends, but gaining weight is usually not what they're looking for in the college experience. "I gained 20 because it's easy access to food. Back at home, we don't eat out everyday. We eat home cooked meals everyday so but it's easy access to fast foods," says MSU student Zachary Peterson. Some students say they know all about the Freshman 15 but they have a plan to fight weight gain. "I plan on going to the Sanderson Center to the gym to work out to not gain the weight, keep the weight off," says Aleah Gray, a freshman at MSU.
Classes begin Monday at MSU-Meridian
Dr. Steven Brown, dean and associate vice president welcomes new students at one of five orientations held at MSU-Meridian over the summer. Classes begin Monday, August 19.
Cattle buyers put up $1.3M for 1,300 head
More than 1,300 head of cattle sold for more than $1.3 million at the Aug. 5 Mississippi Homeplace Producers Sale. The sixth annual sale was carried online live to viewers across the state and the nation from the Southeast Mississippi Livestock lot in Hattiesburg. Since 2008, the sale has been conducted in partnership with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
How to: Have your soil tested
You hear it all the time: Before you get ready to plant a vegetable garden or put in landscaping or lay sod, get a soil test. But what exactly is a soil test, and why do you need one? "September through November is the ideal time to take samples of your soil to get your garden ready for spring," said Susan McGukin, program associate for volunteer management at Mississippi State University's Extension Service for Lee County. "You have to have time to amend the soil and get it right before you plant."
Mississippi State hosts rabies symposium
Veterinary students, public health staffers and veterinary experts will meet in September to examine progress on preventing rabies infections. The Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine will sponsor the symposium on World Rabies Day, Sept. 28. Activities are planned for 8 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Wise Center in Starkville.
Black Crowes headline Bulldog Bash
The Atlanta-based Black Crowes will headline a free performance at Mississippi State University's annual Bulldog Bash on Oct. 4. The band mixes 1970s-era rock infused with Southern soul and blues. The group has sold more than 35 million albums. The concert begins at 5 p.m. Other performers will include country artist Chris Young. Other festivities begin at 3 p.m. with the FanFare and Dawg Rally events for families.
Starkville school board approves 3-mill levy for improvement bond
The Starkville School District Board of Trustees approved a 3-mill levy Tuesday to cover up to $9.95 million in spending power in which at least $2 million worth of no-interest loans will be used for various maintenance and repair projects. The long-term impact of the tax increase will be negligible, SSD Superintendent Lewis Holloway said, as other millage will roll off in the coming years. In two years, the school district's tax requirement will drop about 4.5 mills as SSD retires other debts. The school board is expected to address major roof issues with the bond. Climate control projects are also expected to be addressed with the incoming monies.
Board: Make ACT part of rankings
As part of the new accountability model being developed for public schools, the Mississippi Board of Education apparently will recommend that the state pay for each student to take the ACT. The ACT "is a measure of college and career readiness," said board member Richard Morrison of Brandon, and eventually should be incorporated into the state's new accountability model proposed by a task force that includes educational leaders and others involved in public schools. House Education Chair John Moore, R-Brandon, who along with his counterpart in the Senate, Gray Tollison, R-Oxford, attended most of the work of the task force, said it makes sense for the state to pay to ensure that all students take the ACT.
Thad Cochran's last stand in catfish war
Southern catfish farmers may be on the verge of getting hooked and filleted by the farm bill. Citing the pressure of fiscal frugality, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) are working to kill a new catfish inspection program that the Southern farmers fought hard to create as a bulwark against cheaper foreign competition. The four-employee program was created through the 2008 farm bill. While tiny and not yet launched, it has sparked outsized controversy because it would be housed at the Department of Agriculture -- unlike all other seafood inspections, which the Food and Drug Administration handles. But McCain and Shaheen call it a waste of money. The two plan to push an amendment that would eliminate the program. One of the few members of Congress standing in the way is Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), the top-ranking Republican on the Agriculture Committee and long a champion for his state's catfish industry. He's worked to protect the floundering industry for more than a decade through legislation and the enforcement of trade regulations.
Analysis: Gov. Bryant expected to focus on prison policy in 2014
Funding for education versus funding for prisons -- it's a constant source of tension when Mississippi lawmakers write an annual budget. Now, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant says he'll push to increase the prison budget as he seeks to focus on public safety during the 2014 legislative session. "It is unfortunate, but Corrections is something we're going to have to put more money in, if we are going to keep the really bad people off the streets," Bryant told reporters during an Aug. 1 interview at the Neshoba County Fair.
3Qs: Blake Wilson, president and CEO, Mississippi Economic Council
Gov. Phil Bryant, with help from the Mississippi Economic Council, recently held the Health Care Economic Development Summit in Jackson, which centered on how to spur the state's economy through the health care industry. Blake Wilson, MEC chief executive officer, answered questions from the Daily Journal's Bobby Harrison.
Mike Chaney Talks Healthcare
The Affordable Care Act, known to many as simply Obamacare, will affect each American differently, and Commissioner Mike Chaney says the time to learn about your personal options is now. "Open enrollment begins Oct. 1," Chaney said. "If you do not have insurance, you can buy on the open market, and it will become effective Jan. 1, 2014." Commissioner Chaney says while he is personally not a fan of the law, he's going to ensure it's enacted effectively for Mississippi. He also says eastern Mississippi should stay in good shape. "You've got a good hospital system here that works, you've got administrators that are here, and I've spoken to several of those groups," Chaney said. "They have plans to try to make sure their hospitals survive all the problems that they're going to encounter. And there will be problems."
Battle Over State's Only Abortion Clinic Continues
Supporters of Mississippi's only abortion clinic are turning up the volume on their defense of the facility. Protestors traveled from across the country to Jackson for what they call an abortion rights freedom ride. The Saturday afternoon demonstration is part of a so-called "abortion rights freedom ride," which is an effort by advocates to make their support of the clinic more public. The advocates say they are worried that a law requiring all the OB-GYNs at the clinic to also have admitting privileges at a local hospital will shut the clinic down, and leave the state without an abortion clinic.
Governor's town hall to focus on teen pregnancy
Gov. Phil Bryant will be in Tupelo on Tuesday to rally educators, business leaders and the community at large in addressing teen pregnancy. The community town hall meeting is part of a series of meetings around the state and has been a major point of focus for Bryant, who initiated the Healthy Teens for a Better Mississippi task force. The teen birth rate has dropped significantly in both Mississippi and the rest of the nation for the past two decades, but Mississippi continues to have one of the highest rates in the nation with 50.2 births per 1,000 teen girls in 2011 compared to a national rate of 31.3 for the nation.
Reading books in the 21st century
Gone are the days when school textbooks were limited to the printed page. Smartboards, e-readers and other methods of reading via printed and electronic text are the wave of the future. All children do not read at the same level, and learning text may be different for some if not all children, according to DeSoto County educators. Yet, state officials and leading school districts like DeSoto County are trying to reconcile the edicts of a state law which mandates that school systems have to issue a textbook to every student to take home. State Auditor Stacey Pickering said school systems across the state are violating state law which says that every student must be provided with a textbook to take home. In DeSoto County, which is the state's largest school district, students in higher grade levels still possess individual textbooks for core subjects.
Mississippi educators give new tests an 'A'
The Common Core State Standards tests will be both less expensive and better than Mississippi's own tests, state education officials say. The 20-state consortium developing the tests recently said they'll cost $29.50 per student, and include two tests a year for both English and math. Mississippi's test costs $30 per subject area plus $17 for Mississippi's MCT2 test -- more than $80 a year for a typical 10th grader. The new tests will also give teachers more information about their students, said Stacey Pace, Lamar County School District assistant superintendent.
Mississippi school lunches among healthiest in U.S.
Today, more than 80 percent of Mississippi school districts are meeting federal regulations for serving healthy lunches to students, according to the federal Department of Agriculture. Regulations issued under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 require schools to increase portions of fruits and vegetables and limit meat and grains per age group. Fat-free milk must be served, and the regulations bar transfats. In Mississippi, 83.4 percent of school districts meet the regulations, according to March data. The state has received $2.8 million from the Agriculture Department based on a formula that sends states 6 cents per lunch for school districts in compliance.
Flood insurance rates to surge; increases of 20% or more coming Oct. 1
With the eighth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina near, homeowners along the Mississippi Coast also have to brace for possible rate increases of 20 percent for flood insurance and 3.2 percent for wind pool insurance. State Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney is urging residents in flood-prone areas to get flood insurance now because it is set to increase by 20 percent Oct. 1. "If you live in a flood area, buy flood insurance," Chaney said recently. "If you buy it now, you will save a lot of money." National Flood Insurance Program premiums are rising under legislation Congress passed last year to make up for deficits in the federal program, which is billions in debt.
Back to the polls: Some certainties, some questions about special Hattiesburg mayoral election
It's unexpectedly the season once again for campaign signs. Thankfully for University of Southern Mississippi English professor Michael Salda, he never threw his Dave Ware sign away from the first mayoral election this year. "You never know when you're going to need a large piece of plastic like that," he said, after restoring the sign to his front yard Friday morning. "My wife always takes the metal legs, and they end up in her garden holding up her tomatoes." Now it's a symbol once again for his support of Ware's candidacy or, better put, his fatigue with the Mayor Johnny DuPree administration. A few things are clear about the special election called by Judge William Coleman on Thursday afternoon in the Forrest County Courthouse, concluding a heated trial where even the question of whether a verdict was reached became a source of contention.
U.S. Rice Farmers Cash In On Venezuelan Socialism
Steve Orlicek, a rice farmer in Stuttgart, Ark., is living the American dream. He owns a thriving business; he vacations in the Bahamas. His good fortune springs from many roots, including an unlikely one: He is a prime beneficiary of the socialist economic policies of Hugo Chávez, Venezuela's late president and critic of what he called U.S. "imperialism." It is a paradoxical legacy of Mr. Chávez's self-styled socialist revolution that his policies became a moneymaker for the capitalist systems he deplored. During his 14 years in power, he nationalized large farms, redistributed land and controlled food prices as part of a strategy to help the poor. But these policies turned Venezuela from a net exporter to a net importer of rice---from farmers like Mr. Orlicek. And it isn't just rice.
Lab on college campus provides research about marijuana
In recent years there's been a shift in the attitudes about marijuana, particularly for its medical benefits. Dr. Mahmoud ElSohly has been the director of the "Marijuana Project" at Ole Miss since 1981. "We here at the University of Mississippi, are in the process of developing other products that could be used in developing it from the plant material that would have good biological activity, good therapeutic potential without having to smoke the drug," said Dr. ElSohly. Currently in the United States, marijuana is legal in some form for medical use only in several states and the District of Columbia. However, Dr. ElSohly says legalization is not the way to go.
James Meredith: 50 years after graduating from Ole Miss
James Meredith's attempts to enroll at the University of Mississippi is an important moment in American history. But, Meredith graduating from Ole Miss was equally important. Meredith sat down with us to talk about the 50th year anniversary of his graduation that he's celebrating today. "Finishing is far more important than starting," Meredith said.
USM freshmen make mark on campus
A University of Southern Mississippi tradition since 1998 was continued Sunday for the incoming freshman class. The annual painting of Eagle Walk was one of many Golden Eagle Welcome Week activities. The freshmen cheered on their fellow GEWW Crew mates as they raced to paint their entire section of the walkway first. "I had no idea what I was getting into," says freshman Alina Martinez. "I'm covered in gold paint now." USM will begin the fall semester on Wednesday.
USM students receive extra help moving onto campus
With just a few days left before classes begin, students are moving back onto campus. Freshmen and upperclassmen at the University of Southern Mississippi moved into their residence halls Friday and Saturday. Although students brought their family members to help them move in, they received some extra help thanks to several campus organizations. "We're a service sorority, we're all about service," said USM Delta Sigma Theta, Alexis Goodman. "We love helping the community, just to get out there and really get our hands dirty, that's what we're all about."
USM program receives certification from ASTL examiners
The American Society of Transportation & Logistics Board of Examiners has approved the online master of science for logistics, trade and transportation at the University of Southern Mississippi as a certified transportation and logistics academic program. Administered by the Center for Logistics, Trade and Transportation (CLTT) at Southern Miss, the program's graduates may now earn CTL designation with their degrees. Graduates may also gain access to a global network of industry professionals; receive electronic subscription to the Transportation Journal; enjoy one year complimentary student membership in APICS and obtain discounted registrations to major industry events such as ASTL annual meeting.
Move In Day At Mississippi University for Women
It's move in time at Mississippi University for Women for freshmen and all returning students. Faculty and staff rolled up their sleeves and offered a helping hand to students moving into the residence halls Saturday afternoon. Students and their families were greeted by MUW staff as they entered the front gate. Family members are able to get all their questions answered as well as plenty of help. "We do it every year, usually on a Saturday. We have a lot of volunteers come out and help students move their stuff in so we can get them in quickly. The summer is kind of quiet and now the students are coming back and the energy and livelihood coming back to the campus," said Sirena Cantrell, director of housing at the W.
Nursing school at Delta State gets $525K grant
The federal Department of Health and Human Services has awarded a grant of nearly $525,000 to the Robert E. Smith School of Nursing at Delta State University. The university said the 2014 Delta States Rural Development network Grant, provided by the Health Resources and Services Administration, will support efforts of the Delta Healthy Families Project. Over the next three years, grants of more than $1.57 million will be injected into the project, which targets improving the health of residents of Delta counties. Shelby Polk, a Delta State assistant professor of nursing, said the grant program supports projects centered on cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity in order to improve health in rural Delta communities.
Listening sessions set in MVSU president search
Members of the panel leading the search for a new president of Mississippi Valley State University have scheduled a series of "listening sessions" with various campus groups. The sessions will run from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Itta Bena campus on Aug. 27. The university says all of the sessions will be open to the public. However, each will focus on the needs of specific groups.
Alcorn State names new police chief
Alcorn State University named Michael Storr the university's new chief of police. Storr, who has spent more than 30 years in law enforcement, begins his new job at the start of the academic year. Storr, a Bahamas native, most recently served as police chief at Grambling State University. He began his law enforcement career in 1981 with the Royal Bahamas Police Department. He joined the police force at Langston University in Langston, Okla., in 1996. He was promoted to chief of that police department in 2007. "Chief Storr was the only candidate that shared his plan for establishing a student mentoring program for campus police," said Vice President for Media and University Relations Clara Ross Stamps. "Our students and campus community want a progressive and transparent leader."
Under construction: Trade students learn by doing, Meridian Community College grows
The Meridian Community College campus is continuing to grow, thanks in part to students who lend their hands and hammers to the construction process. Scott Elliott, president of Meridian Community College, said students in the Construction Trades program and in the Industrial Electricity program get first-hand knowledge and experience through working on campus building projects. It helps the college grow and it gives students practical work experience. This helps the college during tight budget times. Also helpful is the work that employees at the Physical Plant do to help renovate buildings on campus.
U. of Alabama continues gun ban on campus
With a few exceptions, the University of Alabama will continue its prohibition against the possession of firearms on campus by students, employees and visitors, according to a revised weapons policy released Friday. The revised policy, which goes into effect immediately and is posted on the UA website, was issued in response to a new state law that sought to clarify where and how gun owners could carry and transport their firearms. UA's revised policy -- which applies to faculty, staff, students, contractors, patients and visitors -- generally continues a ban on the possession, transportation and use of firearms and other dangerous weapons on property owned, leased or controlled by the university and any affiliated foundation or health care entity.
U. of Alabama puts the 'wow' in its Week of Welcome event for new students
At least 3,000 students gathered at Coleman Coliseum on Sunday night to ride bumper cars, test out a zip line and eat free food being given away by Tuscaloosa restaurants. The carnival-style event was part of the kickoff for the "week of welcome," meant to introduce freshmen and transfer students to the University of Alabama, said Taylor Johnson, an event programmer with University Programs, a student-run program organization that was the event's lead sponsor. As part of the event, Moe's Barbecue, McAlister's, Yogurt Mountain, Baumhower's and other area restaurants handed out free food and desserts. Student organizations had booths lining Coleman Coliseum, ready to inform students about what the university has to offer. "This is to welcome new freshmen and transfer students and give a first glimpse of what we are all about," said event programmer Melanie Williams-Hill.
New Auburn University School of Communication and Journalism plans exciting future
Communication and Journalism was one of four departments at Auburn University to become a school with the Board of Trustees' approval in July, and administrators at the new school are excited about the future for their students. Jennifer Adams, director of the School of Communication and Journalism, spoke with the Opelika-Auburn News about the advantages of becoming a school. "There are so many, but probably one of the biggest differences between being a department and a school is that it raises your profile," Adams said. "In terms of recruitment, we're now on the same playing field as the Floridas, the Georgias, the South Carolinas, the Alabamas. All of those are either in colleges of mass communications and journalism or they are free-standing schools."
Religious groups take a stand on Vanderbilt's leadership policies
The constitution for the new Vanderbilt Christian Legal Fellowship is full of the Bible. In 20 verses -- from "John" 3:16 to "1 Corinthians" 13:1-13 -- organizers outline their faith in Jesus and a mission of worship, friendship and service. The Fellowship's leaders have to follow those Bible verses, according to the document, as they make decisions about the group's direction. But they aren't required to believe them. That small change allows the new Fellowship group to bypass a dispute that drew national attention and forced more than a dozen Christian groups to lose official standing at Vanderbilt in 2012. Among those groups was the Christian Legal Society, which once counted Fellowship leaders as members. The Christian Legal Society, advised by law school professor and conservative pundit Carol Swain, still remains off campus, in protest of the policy.
U. of South Carolina in 1963: Black students step onto campus, into history
Inside the pages of the 1963 and 1964 University of South Carolina Garnet & Black yearbooks, there was no hint that this new generation of students was about to witness the upending of a familiar, segregated way of life. The collegiate traditions seemed fixed and forever. The young men of Kappa Alpha capped their year with the annual Old South Ball with its colorful "Secession-from-the Union" ceremony. As it was for decades, everyone pictured in the yearbooks was fresh-faced, modestly dressed -- and white. There was no mention of the three black students -- Henrie D. Monteith of Columbia, Robert G. Anderson of Greenville and James L. Solomon of Sumter -- who had enrolled on Sept. 11, 1963. But inside USC's Osborne administration building, President Thomas F. Jones Jr. and others in his administration recognized that history sometimes walks in on quiet, determined feet.
Passing the torch: U. of Tennessee students continue hallowed tradition
The freshmen took the baton from the seniors Sunday in a tradition-steeped Torch Night ceremony on the University of Tennessee campus. Based on their stellar academic resume, UT's newest class of freshmen -- all 4,300 strong -- certainly looks capable of running with it. Torch Night began 88 years ago at UT and continues each fall when the upperclassmen symbolically pass down the Torch of Preparation to the incoming freshmen. "I'm very pumped," said Michael Loyd, a freshman from Germantown, Tenn. "It's a great opportunity to learn traditions and meet a lot of new people." Loyd, who had a 3.8 grade-point average in high school and scored a 32 on his ACT test, is part of a freshman class with strong academic credentials.
Thousands of U. of Florida students move in on rainy day
Moving into campus housing in the pouring rain is getting to be a habit at the University of Florida, but it doesn't seem to dampen the spirits of those students and their parents helping them this week. "My mother always told me rain was a blessing," said Trevor "Tony" Anthony, who was helping his son, Moza, 18, move into Beaty Towers on Friday morning. "It's relatively exciting, but I'm nervous about the change," said Moza, a Port Charlotte resident who said he wants to study telecommunications. "I am ready to start in a new environment. I'm looking forward to making new friends." Thousands of students returning to Gainesville faced a soggy Friday, the first day of the five-day Fall Check-in ritual that ties up traffic on the east side of campus and adjacent neighborhood streets. An estimated 7,600 students are moving into the undergraduate dorms, 70-75 percent of whom are new to UF, said Sharon Blansett, assistant to the associate vice president for student affairs.
Hello, goodbye: Texas A&M students begin moving in ahead of classes
Smiles, tears and traffic were abundant throughout the day on Sunday as students, parents, siblings and friends made their way onto the Texas A&M campus for move-in day. With eight days to go before the fall semester begins, students began arriving with all the necessities of on-campus living. Kaitlin Rainey, 17, and Sue Curtis, 18, are two friends from Texas City who arrived with a pair of bicycles in tow. With family at their side, the freshmen began to make their way toward the dormitories with their eyes on the future. "I'm just excited to be an Aggie," Curtis said.
Top Texas A&M officials propose fee change
Top Texas A&M University administrators have a new plan for how to charge student fees that were found to lack accountability in an audit. The amount A&M will collect from students, or their parents, would be the same under the proposal, but President R. Bowen Loftin and Provost Karan Watson pitched a plan to the Board of Regents that would change how the fees are spread out. The Texas A&M University System audit presented to system regents in May found that the majority of the $28 million in course fees collected by the university in fiscal year 2012 lack proper documentation to justify the charges. University officials also had a hard time showing that the fee money went where it was supposed to go, according to the audit, which sampled random fees. Nothing in the audit showed that the course fee monies were misspent, and university and system officials said there was no evidence of wrongdoing.
Three Corps of Cadets units at A&M set to be reactivated next week
Activation ceremonies for three former units will be held next week at the plaza in front of the Sanders Corps of Cadets Center. The joint ceremony for C-Company and C-Battery -- part of the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band -- will start at 10 a.m. on Friday, and the ceremony for Squadron 4 begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday. The three units were chosen for reactivation by the Corps of Cadets to accommodate the increase in students joining the Corps. This year, Texas A&M is welcoming its largest freshman class, as is the Corps. The Corps has also increased its recruitment efforts, said Annette Walker, a Corps spokeswoman. Those efforts include an increased presence in high schools and on social media, she said. Advertising in public areas, such as movie theaters and the Corps website,, have also helped the organization attract attention.
IBM partners with the U. of Missouri on course to teach 'big data' skills
IBM announced last week it would partner with the University of Missouri to offer a new class using its software to analyze massive datasets. The new course, Big Data Analytics, is being offered this fall through MU's Department of Computer Science and Information Technology and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the College of Engineering. The course is open to undergraduate and graduate students, said Dong Xu, the computer science department chairman. Already, 28 are enrolled, he said. "The company culture, the work ethics ...I think working with a highly successful international company, the students can learn a lot," Xu said.
Once homeless, U. of Kentucky medical school student hopes to help those in need
As Kayla Kinker stood onstage and put on her white coat, her induction into the medical profession put Kinker one step closer to her goal of helping people who are struggling. She can relate because six years ago she was living in a homeless shelter. Kinker, 24, began her first year of medical school at the University of Kentucky two weeks ago. Her journey hasn't been easy, but she's willing to share the story if it will help inspire others, especially teenagers who might not have a place to sleep or clean clothes to wear.
Master's Degree Is New Frontier of Study Online
Next January, the Georgia Institute of Technology plans to offer a master's degree in computer science through massive open online courses for a fraction of the on-campus cost, a first for an elite institution. If it even approaches its goal of drawing thousands of students, it could signal a change to the landscape of higher education. From their start two years ago, when a free artificial intelligence course from Stanford enrolled 170,000 students, free massive open online courses, or MOOCs, have drawn millions. But the courses have not yet produced profound change, partly because they offer no credit and do not lead to a degree. The disruption may be approaching, though, as Georgia Tech, which has one of the country's top computer science programs, plans to offer a MOOC-based online master's degree in computer science for $6,600 -- far less than the $45,000 on-campus price.
Mark Edmundson's new book calls for renewed emphasis on teaching
It's a question many professors may be asking themselves this month, as they prepare for another academic year: "Why teach?" Mark Edmundson, professor of English at the University of Virginia, answers the question in a new book, Why Teach? In Defense of a Real Education, out Tuesday from Bloomsbury. But what is a real education -- and why does it need defending?
U. of Maryland Eastern Shore professors to get bulletproof whiteboards
Calling "campus violence a reality" to prepare for, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore announced plans Thursday to spend $60,000 on the Clark Kent of teacher supplies: an innocuous-looking white board that can stop bullets. The high-tech tablet -- which hangs on a hook, measures 18 by 20 inches and comes in pink, blue and green -- can be used as a personal shield for professors under attack, according to the company that makes it, and a portable writing pad in quieter times. High-profile incidents like Sandy Hook and the 2007 mass murder of 32 people at Virginia Tech have led campuses across the country to focus on safety. Body armor is the latest effort, security experts said.
In Absence of New Revenue Bonds, Texas Universities Delaying Projects
The University of Houston-Clear Lake, which is scheduled to become to a four-year university in 2014, had sought support from the Texas Legislature for new science and academic support facilities that administrators hope to open in 2017. But a package of tuition revenue bonds to provide more than $2.7 billion to support about 60 campus construction projects around the state was not approved during the last legislative session, despite broad, bipartisan support. And during the three subsequent special sessions, Gov. Rick Perry did not add the issue to the agenda. Following yet another session without tuition revenue bonds since the last round was authorized in 2006, many universities -- especially smaller, regional ones -- are delaying their projects. "It's tougher on the regional campuses," said John Sharp, the chancellor of the Texas A&M University System. "They don't have the leverage that we do at our flagship, which is big enough where we can go in the private sector and see if someone will partner with us."
GOP Delivers on Activist K-12 Agenda in N.C.
After taking simultaneous control of both chambers of the legislature and the governorship for the first time in 140 years, North Carolina Republicans have moved aggressively on K-12 policy this year, with swift---and divisive---action on school choice and teacher policy against a backdrop of continued statewide budget woes. In addition to creating a new $10 million statewide voucher program, GOP lawmakers and Gov. Pat McCrory ended teacher tenure, cut teacher bonuses for master's degrees, and expanded Teach For America funding by just over $5 million. The shake-up for laws governing teachers and their pay made some of the biggest waves, and teachers were prominent among the protestors at the weekly rallies that became known as Moral Monday events.
OUR OPINION: ACT as part of school rankings makes sense
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal editorializes: "The most important single component in determining whether a Mississippi high school student gets into college -- and sometimes which institutional choices he or she has available -- is the American College Test. A student's ACT can make or break that person's future academic progression because it's seen as the best determinant of the ability to do college work. Yet as important as ACT scores are to Mississippi students, they aren't part of the way schools are evaluated in the state. They should be."
Editorial: Stacey Pickering's handling of DMR scandal undermines public confidence
The Sun Herald editorializes: "State Auditor Stacey Pickering's handling of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources scandal has led to waning confidence by many in the public and by this newspaper. ...Surely federal authorities will not be so reluctant as state officials appear to be when it comes to recovering wasted tax dollars. As for state Auditor Stacey Pickering, he can still fulfill his duty to his constituents by forgoing sweetheart deals and instead aggressively and transparently holding fully accountable all those responsible for their misdeeds at the DMR."
JIMMIE GATES: State needs to do more to promote itself | Jimmie Gates (Opinion)
The Clarion-Ledger's Jimmie Gates writes: "This year's Legislature appropriated money for some tourism projects including $3 million for a Grammy Museum in Cleveland and $1 million for a museum to house the music collections of country singer Marty Stuart. I don't think this state does enough to highlight itself. A bill that would have increased state spending on tourism apparently got caught up in politics and didn't survive the legislative process. Mississippi spends roughly $3 million on tourism to promote the state, which is about three times less than surrounding states spend on tourism promotion. Mississippi also has an abundance of parks, wildlife, and other people and places we can highlight."
MICHAEL NEWSOM: An odd response from SMPDD | Michael Newsom (Opinion)
The Sun Herald's Michael Newsom writes: " I recently asked the Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District for the qualifications it required of its last executive director and I got a comical answer. The district has been the center of controversy over the hiring of its new director, Southern District Public Service Commissioner Leonard Bentz Jr., whose father was on the SMPDD board of directors until Bentz was hired. The elder Bentz didn't participate in the vote to hire his son, but nonetheless there have been plenty of questions of conflict of interest. There's also been talk the qualifications for the job were changed to allow Bentz to get the position even though he has no college degree."
BILL CRAWFORD: Economic developers under pressure
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: "Jobs. The great challenge facing communities today is more jobs. As a result, people responsible for growing jobs are under tremendous pressure. Then, there are places like the Columbus area where economic developer Joe Max Higgins is having great success attracting jobs. Other communities see such success, ask 'why not us,' and put even more pressure on their developers to grow jobs. Of course, it's not fair to put the job growth burden on economic developers alone. They do not and cannot work in isolation. Communities must provide resources and tools needed for them to be effective. Governing boards must give them clear and realistic goals. That said, economic developers are expected to grow jobs. So, how can communities tell if their economic developers are doing a good job or not? Every community is not going to land a Yokohama, Toyota, or G.E. Aviation plant."
GEOFF PENDER: Talk of tax raising questions about MDOT | Geoff Pender (Opinion)
The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender writes: "Never was a proposal more dead on arrival than Senate Transportation Chairman Willie Simmons' $700 million in tax increases to fund highway maintenance, and other stuff. If such sweeping tax increases were to pass in the Republican-led 2014 Mississippi Legislature, I'll eat a print copy of this column. Now, it should be noted that Simmons, who's heading up a task force looking into what transportation officials say is a shortfall of hundreds of millions of dollars a year in maintenance funds, said he just threw his proposal out there to get the ball rolling, get a conversation started. It did. But probably not the conversation he wanted. And it appears it might hamper any real consideration of more modest tax hikes to fund road maintenance. Ultra conservatives jumped on it like a chicken on a junebug. The talk I've heard from the arguably more moderate GOP legislative leadership is that they want to know more about how the Mississippi Department of Transportation is spending the money it gets now before they would even entertain a tax increase."
SAM R. HALL: Can Musgrove be a winner again? | Sam R. Hall (Opinion)
The Clarion-Ledger's Sam R. Hall writes: "Former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove probably doesn't strike too many people in Mississippi as the guy who can lead a resurgence of the Democratic Party in the South. He lost his bid for re-election to Haley Barbour, who at the time was more 'fat-cat lobbyist' than the hard-nosed chief executive he would successfully rebrand himself as over two terms as governor. Many Democrats blame only Musgrove for the loss. ...Following his U.S. Senate defeat -- which saw a record number of Democratic voters turnout -- Musgrove's political future has seemed all but over. He was a non-player in 2011, even from the standpoint of raising money for candidates. So what gives?"
SID SALTER: Khayat's memoir offers lessons on changing our state's image
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "The national perception of Mississippi is a hard nut to crack. Regardless of the realities which explode the perceived myths once we actually can get someone disparaging the state to pay us a visit and give us a try, the perceptions of our state as poor, backward, insular and, in many cases, racist remain. Perhaps no university president since Mississippi State University's Dean Colvard in 1963 recognized that fact more readily than did former Ole Miss Chancellor Robert Khayat -- who led Ole Miss from 1995 through 2009. Colvard risked his life and career at MSU in authorizing the 'Game of Change' with an integrated Loyola of Chicago team in the 1963 NCAA basketball tournament. Khayat wrestled some of those same demons 34 years later in the 1990s when he took on his university's Old South vestiges -- the Confederate flag, the song 'Dixie' and other symbols that he came to believe were holding the university back."

Bulldogs get day off as classes start today
Mississippi State's football team is taking a break as the fall semester gets under way today. Classes begin, and so the Bulldogs will stay off the practice fields. They will resume work Tuesday in what is the final week of preseason camp. Next week brings full-on preparations for MSU's season opener against No. 13 Oklahoma State on Aug. 31 in Houston.
Mississippi State deep in middle of defense
Geoff Collins might make Rick Ray a little jealous. In his first season as Mississippi State's defensive coordinator, Collins' pool of usable linebackers outnumbers the total number of players Ray had at his expense on last year's men's basketball team. Unlike Ray's team, which was hampered with a bevy of injuries last year, Collins has plenty of help in the middle of his defense. "I would say eight to 10 would be a great number," Collins said. "So yeah, that's good." Not surprisingly, MSU football coach Dan Mullen believes the Bulldogs' linebackers have the most depth of any position on the team, even after a key departure.
Mullen, Gundy have different opinions about opener
Two coaches can't have more different opinions about a season-opening game than Dan Mullen and Mike Gundy. The men who will be on opposite sidelines for the Texas Kickoff Classic, the season opener between Mississippi State University and No. 14 Oklahoma State University, have taken opposing views on nearly every aspect associated with the game. Mullen, who is in his fifth year in Starkville, is projecting an energetic message about opening the season at Reliant Stadium in Houston in front of a national television audience (WKDH-WTVA / ESPN2). He has used words like "excited, motivated, challenge, and honor" to describe the Aug. 31 game against OSU. "I think starting with a big-time game really draws that urgency from day one that the clock is ticking to kickoff," Mullen said Tuesday at the school's media day.
Time for Bulldogs' young DTs to rise
Ryan Brown knew his place last year, and this year he knows his role needs to evolve. That goes for a lot of his defensive linemates. There is an abundance of youth on Mississippi State's defensive line, including Brown, a sophomore who got on the field as a true freshman. The 6-foot-6, 260-pounder finished his rookie year with 15 tackles, one tackle for loss and two pass breakups in seven games. Brown was new to SEC football and just tried to keep learning. "I kind of kept that in mind, that I'm young," Brown said. "When you're young, you don't really know too much, so I just try to absorb everything around me." MSU is now in its third week of preseason camp, and defensive line coach David Turner is looking for young players like Brown, who's backing up Preston Smith, to keep progressing.
Frosh Mississippi State DE Jones still adapting to college game
Chris Jones arrived at Starkville as a heralded freshman, who was stuck at the bottom of the defensive line's totem pole. His 6-5, 310-pound frame dictated otherwise. The hype that follows him echoed the sentiment. Numerous scouting publications ranked Jones the No. 2 overall player in the class of 2013. Even his teammates' attempts at hazing translate more into compliments than jeers. "We joke with him, you're going to be a three-technique in the future," junior defensive lineman P.J. Jones said. "He's like 'No, I'm going to play defensive end!' I'm was like, 'Man, you weigh more than the inside guy.'"
Brown hopes to play bigger role at linebacker for Mississippi State
When Richie Brown steps onto the field for Mississippi State this fall, he expects to take on a deeper role in the linebacker rotation. The Long Beach native sat out as a redshirt freshman during the 2012 season after committing to MSU following a highly acclaimed high school career. Brown tallied more than 200 tackles for Long Beach High in his senior season as a Parade All-American, and said he has settled in well at MSU.
New-look Dogs: Big shoes to fill in Mississippi State secondary
The second round of the NFL draft stripped Mississippi State of its two starting cornerbacks, including Thorpe Award winner Johnthan Banks. The Bulldogs returned the favor, however, poaching the NFL to help bolster their program. Deshea Townsend joins Dan Mullen's staff this season, after spending 13 years in the league as a player and last year as a coach. "Most of these kids, that is their dream. They'd love to go win the Super Bowl. They want to have long NFL careers, and here's a guy that has done that," Mullen said. "Came out of Mississippi from South Panola High School, goes on and gets a college degree playing in the SEC." With the holes left by departing seniors, Mullen might want to request a fifth year of eligibility for Townsend, who physically looks like he can still compete in the SEC.
Whitley anchors MSU safety spot
Mississippi State's secondary does not return many starters from last year's team. There are no returning starters at cornerback and the only returning starter in the secondary plays safety. Senior safety Nickoe Whitley will anchor the secondary and the safeties this season, as he is the most experienced player on the back end of the defense. Whitley tested the National Football League waters last spring. It was mainly to get feedback, but he decided to return for his last season with the Bulldogs. Safeties coach Tony Hughes is glad he has a starter returning. "Having Nickoe Whitley back, as the veteran leader of our secondary, he's having a really, really good camp," Hughes said.
Wells' new-found confidence a boon for Bulldogs
Matt Wells possesses a lot of tools, but until recently he was lacking in one critical area: Confidence. He's got that now, and Mississippi State's defense will be the better for it. Wells, a junior, is stepping into a starting role this fall at weakside linebacker, replacing the departed Cam Lawrence. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Wells has starting experience under his belt -- seven games the past two years -- and has shown an ability to make plays all over the field.
Big plays define Mississippi State scrimmage
Big plays defined the Mississippi State University football team's closed scrimmage Thursday at Davis Wade Stadium. That's how MSU coach Dan Mullen described the 160-play, two-hour session at the Seal Family Football Complex to reporters, but he doesn't know how to evaluate the action. "I don't know if that's good or bad till we see it on film," Mullen said about the big plays. "You want to make sure a big play is because all 11 players are executing instead of somebody made a terrible mistake." Mullen said freshmen defensive end Chris Jones, wide receiver D'Runnya Wilson, and running back Ashton Shumpert stood out.
Tackles Evans, James making slight progress for the Bulldogs
Asked if his enigmatic sophomore defensive tackles are progressing through fall camp, Mississippi State University defensive line coach came up with the perfect answer. "Well, it depends on the day to be quite honest," Turner said bluntly. "If they come out with their minds right, they have pretty good days." And just with that 23-word answer by their position coach, the potential and the problem for MSU sophomore defensive tackles Quay Evans and Nick James. Both players were hyped to be the perfect defensive tackle duo coming out of the 2012 recruiting class as four-star prospects from within the state of Mississippi. Both players are now finding the adaption to the level of play, preparation and mental strength needed in the Southeastern Conference to be a much longer process. "Both of those guys are talented but right now they just don't have a clue in terms of effort and consistency," Turner said.
Bulldogs play Bulls to 1-1 match in exhibition soccer action
There were certain things that Aaron Gordon wanted to see in his first match as the coach of the Mississippi State women's soccer team. Overtime wasn't necessarily one of those things. After the Bulldogs and the South Florida Bulls battled to a 1-1 tie after regulation, a decision had to be made whether to continue with the match. "We never talked about overtime and what we were going to do," Gordon said. "(After regulation) they came over and said, overtime? I said, overtime? We didn't want to get anyone hurt, so we compromised and agreed to play one 10-minute overtime."
MSU's McVey looks to build off a good freshman season
There may be several words to describe Roxanne McVey, but most of her coaches and teammates agree on one specific thing. She's not selfish. The Mississippi State sophomore libero had one of the better freshman campaigns in school history. McVey was the one of the very few bright spots on last year's squad. Bulldog head volleyball coach Jenny Hazelwood has not seen it go to her head, rather it's pushed her to do the best. Not for her, but for her team. "One of the things in any team that's going to make their teammates look up to them is how hard are they working on a daily basis," Hazelwood said. "Roxanne, from day one, has walked in and said 'I'm going to work has hard as I can.' She really does it from a place of being the best teammate she can be. She's not a selfish player. She really does want to be great so she can help her team."
Blendinger enjoys good run in kayaking
For his day job, Jack Blendinger teaches both undergraduate and graduate classes as an Educational Leadership professor in Mississippi State University's College of Education, but when not in the classroom he enjoys the great outdoors from the comforts of a kayak. Now Blendinger is not your average kayaker. Over the years, he has worked his way into the elite ranks and this year he won his eighth straight national master's title in Olympic kayak racing. "I owe a lot to kayaking," Blendinger said. "It has done wonders for me and for my physical fitness. I have won the national championship eight straight years, but it is not the winning that matters to me. What is important to me is at 80-years-old I am being active. I don't care if I win or come in last, the whole idea is that I can actually do this. I can finish the race. I can confront the challenge and overcome it."
Vince Dooley witnesses the growth of Gulf Shores and college football
SEC BeachFest filled the parking area at the main public beach in Gulf Shores with vendor and activity tents, wrapping around the Hangout and abutting the Pink Pony Pub over the weekend. Stages were erected on the beach for interviews with football coaches and players against a backdrop of condos and hotels as far as the eye could see. One of those coaches, 80-year-old Vince Dooley, remembers a different Gulf Shores. The Mobile native can recall the beachfront from before it became a vacation destination for anyone but local folks. Dooley said if he knew then what he knows now about Gulf Shores, he'd be an extremely wealthy man today. "It was probably the best hidden secret in the world because nobody thought Alabama would have beautiful beaches," Dooley said. The undiscovered Gulf Shores exists only in memory now, not unlike the college football era that allowed Dooley to spend his entire career as a head coach at one school.
Construction Begins On Razorbacks' $10M Baseball, Track Facility
The University of Arkansas has begun construction on a combination baseball/track indoor training facility, though it has raised just $1 million of the nearly $10 million needed for the project. Construction on the 52,000-SF facility could be complete as early as summer. A UA news release said the $9.6 million project will be funded by a mix of private donations, athletic revenues and proceeds from a bond issue. "The baseball and track indoor training facility will give the University of Arkansas the finest indoor training facilities for baseball and indoor track and field in the nation," athletic director Jeff Long said.
Vanderbilt football season-ticket sales down despite success
Vanderbilt is unlikely to sell as many football season tickets as last year, and coach James Franklin said he is tired of hearing excuses as to why fans aren't buying up every available ticket. The Commodores are coming off back-to-back bowl games for the first time. Last year, about 18,500 season tickets were sold, and Vanderbilt celebrated a nine-win season for the first time since 1915. Vanderbilt went over 16,200 season tickets this past week, Director of Sales and Marketing Steve Walsh said. The season opener is Aug. 29 against Ole Miss.
Alabama among 15 schools vying for Southern Living's tailgating title
The University of Alabama is a contender in a competition to determine the top school for tailgating in the South, according to Southern Living. The magazine picked 15 schools to feature in its September issue, which will be on newsstands Aug. 23. "In the South, pre-game celebrations matter as much as what happens on the field," said Lindsay Bierman, Southern Living's editor-in-chief. "We're asking readers to decide which school best honors our great tradition of Southern hospitality with the most stylish and spirited spread."
In Defense of Football: It's a rough, sometimes dangerous sport, but critics exaggerate football's risks
For The Wall Street Journal's Saturday Essay, Max Boot writes: "The tang of fall is in the air, and every American knows what it portends: the sights and sounds of cleats digging into grass turf, of grunting linemen colliding shoulder pad to shoulder pad, of an oblong leather ball spinning through the air, high above the mortals below. Football season is almost upon us, and with it comes another season of controversy, prompting fresh claims of a crisis in the game. ...But let's not overreact to a handful of tragic injuries and legislate or litigate away a game that means so much to so many Americans. Teddy Roosevelt, the president who 'saved' football in an earlier era, warned that abolishing the game would result in turning out 'mollycoddles instead of vigorous men.' 'It is to my mind simple nonsense, a mere confession of weakness,' he thundered in 1907, 'to desire to abolish a game because tendencies show themselves, or practices grow up, which prove the game ought to be reformed.'

The Office of Public Affairs provides the Daily News Digest as a general information resource for Mississippi State University stakeholders.
Web links are subject to change. Submit news, questions or comments to Jim Laird.
Mississippi State University  •  Mississippi State, MS 39762  •  Main Telephone: (662) 325-2323  •   Contact: The Editor  |  The Webmaster  •   Updated: August 19, 2013Facebook Twitter