Monday, September 9, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
Harvest time: Markets, weather shape potential good farm year
Farmers and crop specialists are cautiously optimistic about major agricultural commodities in Northeast Mississippi after crops got off to a very late start due to a cool and wet spring. It's one of the busiest times of the year for farmers in the region. State cotton specialist Darrin Dodds of the Mississippi State University Extension Service said cotton in the region is doing reasonably well considering its late start. Stanley Wise Jr. is Mississippi State University's Extension Service director for Union County and a part-time diversified farmer in Pontotoc County. "One of the biggest activities you're going to see right now on farms is baling hay," he said. One Mississippi farm enterprise not enjoying particularly favorable market conditions is aquaculture.
City, county hoping to lure Link-recommended Project Cumulus
Starkville and Oktibbeha County officials are working to deliver a Golden Triangle Development Link-backed project, an almost-$20 million investment for data processing, to the Thad Cochran Research Park. "Right now, we have to work with the company to bring about a memorandum of understanding, which at this point has not been executed," said Joey Deason, Oktibbeha County's Link representative. "This could be a really big win for Starkville and Oktibbeha County. I've asked some folks about when the last time a $20 million, private investment was made in Starkville and Oktibbeha County. Today, nobody can give me an answer. Most major investments have been made by Mississippi State University or other public entities that do not pay taxes. This could be one of the largest private projects Starkville has ever seen."
Mississippi State named center for cyber operations
Mississippi State University is among the nation's elite institutions that are preparing students for highly technical cyber security jobs, and the university has a new designation from the National Security Agency that will expand these opportunities. The NSA has designated MSU as one of four new schools for its National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations Program, which was "designed to cultivate more U.S. cyber professionals in an ever-changing global environment," according to the agency. Steven LaFountain, an NSA technical leader, said legal and ethical issues in cybersecurity are a required and critical part of the effort. The certification comes after a rigorous, two-year application process by faculty in the departments of computer science and engineering and electrical and computer engineering.
MSU Lauded For Cyber Security Programs
Mississippi State is among the nation's elite institutions that are preparing students for highly technical cyber security jobs, and the university has a new designation from the National Security Agency that will expand these opportunities. On Wednesday [Sept. 4], the NSA announced that MSU is one of four new schools selected for its National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations Program, which was "designed to cultivate more U.S. cyber professionals in an ever-changing global environment," according to the agency. Of note, Mississippi State also holds national CAE designations in information assurance education and in information assurance research. Mississippi State is the only institution of higher education in the state to attain the three designations.
National Security Agency adds four schools to cyber-training program
The National Security Agency has doubled the size of its National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations program, FedScoop reports. Four schools will receive designation for the current academic year, connecting cyber topics already taught at these schools with real-world national security examples. The Air Force Institute of Technology in Ohio, Auburn University, Carnegie Mellon University and Mississippi State University join CAE-Cyber Operations this year.
NSA Expands Academic Cyber Initiative
The National Security Agency announced this week that they will be expanding their academic cyber initiative aimed at increasing technical proficiency in the US workforce. The security agency has announced that four schools have been newly selected to be added as a part of the NSA's National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations program. The new schools selected for the program include the Air Force Institute of Technology in Ohio; Auburn University in Alabama; Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania; and Mississippi State University.
MSU Men Of Color Summit
Men of Color are attending a two day summit on the campus of Mississippi State University. When it comes to pioneering in social and cultural diversity where issues are important to students of color, those kinds of gatherings tend to bring together business managers and other African American leaders who partner with MSU. "We have the largest enrollment in terms of African Americans of any of the 1862 land-grants and we are very proud of that. We made an effort to recruit minority students and we feel like they add a dimension to our university. That's good for all of our students," said Dr. Jerry Gilbert, MSU's provost.
U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey of Gulfport to visit Mississippi State
U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, a Gulfport native, will appear at Mississippi State University on Sept. 24 to read from her works. Trethewey's program will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Colvard Union's Bill R. Foster Ballroom. A question-and-answer session will follow. Trethewey, a professor of English and creative writing at Emory University in Atlanta, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for her collection "Native Guard."
Homeward Bound Project
It's a program that's saved the lives of more than 3,200 animals in Mississippi. The Homeward Bound Project at Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine is celebrating a new milestone with the purchase of a new transport unit designed for transporting pets. The vehicle accommodates up to 60 animals and is an effort to help place animals in loving homes.
Volunteers prepare for National Day of Service and Remembrance events
In 2009, Congress designated Sept. 11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance. With the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 this week, the Starkville community will honor local first responders throughout the week with numerous activities. Volunteer Starkville and the Maroon Volunteer Centered at Mississippi State University have participated in the day since 2011. The two organizations have coordinated many events throughout the week where Starkville residents can get involved, beginning with Serving Those Who Serve Us from 3:30-5 p.m on Tuesday.
MSU Riley Center among nationwide sites for The Big Read
The MSU Riley Center has received a grant to host The Big Read in Meridian. The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts, designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and to encourage citizens to read for pleasure and enlightenment. "We are so pleased to get this grant to emphasize the importance of reading for everyone in our community," said MSU-Meridian Education Director Dr. Charlotte Tabereaux. "This is just another fun way the MSU Riley Center is helping invest in our community's future."
Workshop to prepare for GRE at MSU-Meridian
Anyone preparing to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) may benefit from a workshop to be held Sept. 21 at Mississippi State University-Meridian. According to Dr. Rod Wilson, assistant professor of psychology at MSU-Meridian and coordinator of the workshop, the test is used by many graduate programs for admission purposes as well as in determining grant fellowships or financial aid. The purpose of the MSU-Meridian based workshop is to familiarize students with the three major domains of the exam and current test-taking strategies. Presenters will be Dr. Lin Ge, instructor, and Dr. James Kelley, associate professor of English.
Tupelo leaders find common ground through forming long-term goals
Improving customer service, increasing ways Tupelo government helps small businesses, revitalizing neighborhoods and keeping more residents informed with decisions impacting their lives are now all priorities for the city's elected officials. Those decisions were set on Saturday during a goal-setting session between Tupelo City Council members and Mayor Jason Shelton. The goal discussion follows up the two-day retreat last month at Tombigbee State Park. Staff at Mississippi State University's Stennis Institute will likely revisit the group in a year to check on success toward reaching its goals.
Stoneville scientist's work gets worldwide attention
A Stoneville researcher's work to eliminate a particularly pernicious corn pest has attracted international collaboration. Hamed Abbas, a plant pathologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, and Cesare Accinelli, a microbiologist with the University of Bologna in Italy, are researching chemical-free methods -- employing bioplastics -- to prevent aflatoxin contamination of corn crops. "The concept is simple," Abbas said. "This form of protection is biodegradable. So why not choose it? There is quality control at every step. No contamination. Everything is biological. Our research has an impact."
Three candidates will run for Oktibbeha County prosecutor
Three Starkville attorneys -- Haley Brown, Brace Knox and Matthew Wilson -- have qualified for the Oktibbeha County prosecutor's special election scheduled for Nov. 5. The position opened when Roy Carpenter Jr. ended his almost 30-year career as Starkville's and Oktibbeha County's prosecutor in June. Brown, who the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors named as the position's interim, graduated from the University of Mississippi's law school. Knox is a Mississippi College School of Law graduate who began her full-time Starkville criminal law practice in 2007. Wilson operates a general practice law office in Starkville and handles civil and criminal litigation. He is a graduate of Mississippi State University's Bagley College of Engineering.
Merger committee has no appetite to send students out of county
Members of the Oktibbeha County school merger committee members moved away from possibly asking neighboring school districts to absorb schoolchildren after numerous regional representatives said their systems had no interest in taking on more students. Out of seven school systems, only Louisville's representative told the Commission on Starkville Consolidated School Structure that his district had an interest in absorbing students. School capacity and transportation issues could create even larger problems for neighboring systems, representatives said.
Labeling proposal puts worried lawmaker, chicken growers at odds
News that the federal government will end its ban on processed chicken imports from China has one Mississippi lawmaker calling for labeling legislation similar to that for catfish. But the Mississippi Poultry Association opposes this and says such protectionism could bring retaliation and hurt the state's chicken industry, which is hoping for growth in exports, including to China. "I am very alarmed that the USDA has decided to let factories in China process our locally produced chicken for human consumption," said Rep. Tom Miles, D-Forest, who represents Scott County, the "Chicken Capital of the World." He said the move could hurt Mississippi chicken processors and it's a health safety issue. But Mark Leggett, president of the Mississippi Poultry Association, said such legislation would be bad for the state's chicken industry, which brings $5 billion a year to the state economy and employs 28,000 people directly.
Lawmakers to meet on wild hog problem
Mississippi lawmakers are to hear from wildlife and hunting experts Monday on possible programs to combat a growing wild hog population. Mississippi wildlife officials say wild hogs are now in more than half the counties of the state, tearing up crops and destroying other kinds of vegetation. Sen. Giles Ward, a Republican from Louisville and chairman of the Senate wildlife committee, says many Mississippians are not aware of the serious nuisance and threat feral hogs present to the economy.
Mississippi tax collections beat lawmakers' estimates during July, August
Mississippi tax collections were higher than expected for the first two months of the state budget year, but a top lawmaker said Friday that it's too early to know whether the good numbers indicate steady improvement in the state economy. "I hope we can sustain it," House Appropriations Committee Chairman Herb Frierson, R-Poplarville, said of the growth. "It takes you four, five or six months to see a trend." According to the state Department of Revenue, tax collections for July and August, combined, were 4.3 percent higher than lawmakers estimated. That translates into an extra $26.9 million.
Analysis: Road effort needs business support
It's not like 1987, at least not yet. Efforts to raise money to repair and build highways just don't have the broad push that lifted a major highway program to passage in the Legislature a generation ago. Leaders of the Mississippi Department of Transportation and their allies in the Legislature continue to make the case that they need hundreds of millions of dollars per year to repave roads and fix bridges, as well as keep building new ones. But they don't seem to gaining much traction with the broader business and civic leadership in the state.
How Mississippi turned $3.5 million into $80 million
By virtually any standard, a nearly 23-fold return on an investment in a year is really good. It's so good, in fact, that it's almost unbelievable. But in Mississippi that's exactly what legislators got. When appropriators there gave the state's tax-collection agency an extra $3.5 million in funding for the fiscal year that ended in June, they asked that the agency aim to collect $10 million more in back taxes than it had the year before. The agency, the Mississippi Department of Revenue, said it would try and ultimately achieved the goal. Eight times. The state collected $190.3 million in back taxes last fiscal year, an $80.9 million increase over the year before, playing a role in what turned out to be a surprisingly large overall haul. "We had a little over 5 percent growth in tax revenues [last fiscal year]. We had anticipated about a half-a-percent," said Herb Frierson, the Republican chairman of the state House Appropriations committee. "We upped that twice during the year, but we still way exceeded our highest expectation."
Inquiry Finds Inadequate Staffing at Mississippi Veterans Hospital
An internal investigation by the Department of Veterans Affairs has found that one of its hospitals in Jackson, Miss., did not have enough doctors in its primary care unit, resulting in nurse practitioners' handling far too many patients, numerous complaints about delayed care and repeated violations of federal rules on prescribing narcotics. Although the investigation focuses on one hospital, its findings have broader implications because the veterans department, along with many private hospitals, is moving to increase the use of nurse practitioners to reduce costs. The problems at the Jackson veterans hospital, known as the G. V. (Sonny) Montgomery Medical Center, will be among the topics discussed at a special field hearing of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs in Pittsburgh on Monday.
USDA pilot program fails to stop contaminated meat
A meat inspection program that the Agriculture Department plans to roll out in pork plants nationwide has repeatedly failed to stop the production of contaminated meat at American and foreign plants that have already adopted the approach, documents and interviews show. The program allows meat producers to increase the speed of processing lines by as much as 20 percent and cuts the number of USDA safety inspectors at each plant in half, replacing them with private inspectors employed by meat companies. The approach has been used for more than a decade by five American hog plants under a pilot program. But three of these plants were among the 10 worst offenders in the country for health and safety violations, with serious lapses that included failing to remove fecal matter from meat, according to a report this spring by the USDA inspector general. The plant with the worst record by far was one of the five in the pilot program.
Lawmakers Offer Appropriations Directions, but Don't Call Them Earmarks
Appropriators who have been hamstrung by a moratorium on earmarks in Congress still have tools they can use to favor particular programs, and they are working against strong headwinds to make sure they can continue to use them this year. Although lawmakers can no longer steer funds directly to specific companies or locations, appropriators still carry important influence in deciding which federal programs can be sheltered from cuts or even get a rare increase in an era of austere budgets. The hitch is that such legislative tactics usually are available to appropriators only when they get new annual spending bills enacted. That's proved a daunting task in recent years.
Drone hunters: Why are Americans lining up to shoot down drones?
President Obama says the U.S. government doesn't spy on ordinary Americans with aerial drones or any other technology. But in the tiny Colorado prairie town of Deer Trail (pop. 500), residents aren't taking the most powerful man on earth at his word. Instead, they've invented a new pastime: drone hunting. And there's lots of interest. Over 1,000 people have already applied for the novelty license, though the town won't actually vote on the proposal until Oct. 8. It's a half-serious initiative intended as a symbolic protest against what many in the town, and around the country, see as an emerging and increasingly sinister American surveillance state. The Federal Aviation Administration issued a stern warning that it’s against federal law to shoot down unmanned drones.
Khayat discusses new book, time at university
To say former University of Mississippi chancellor Robert Khayat has lived a storied life is an understatement. That story will be shared with the public when Khayat's first memoir, "The Education of a Lifetime," is released Sept. 10. When the Moss Point native enrolled at The University of Mississippi in 1956, he could not predict the bond that would be forged and would last for decades. When Khayat's administration challenged the use of the Confederate flag, a regional outrage ensued. He is blunt about why the flag removal process got underway. Coaches informed him that other schools were using it against them.
Book: Khayat drove Ole Miss changes
Robert Khayat admits he's obsessive, always been. Obsessive as a child about household chores, later about kicking perfect field goals. As an adult, he obsessed about the law and a manicured lawn. Perhaps it takes an obsessive man to lead the University of Mississippi as its 15th chancellor from a 19th century attitude of class and race to the new, excellence-driven state international reporters found when his alma mater hosted the first 2008 presidential debate. In his soon-released autobiograpy, "The Education of a Lifetime," the former Ole Miss chancellor reflects on his obsessive nature, his love of family and his team-play style that saw him through predictable challenges and even death threats toward his semi-retirement in Oxford, a place he maintains always had his heart.
U. of Southern Mississippi honors trailblazers with new pathway
The University of Southern Mississippi celebrated its new pedestrian pathway Friday by honoring two of its most distinguished trailblazers. Armstrong-Branch Plaza, a bricked pathway with bike racks in the middle of campus, now bears the name of its first black students, Gwendolyn Elaine Armstrong Chamberlain and Raylawni Branch. Southern Miss officials held a dedication ceremony to commemorate the 48th anniversary of the school's peaceful integration in 1965. Southern Miss decided to name the pathway upon the initiative of the Student Government Association in the spring. Aubrey Lucas, who was the university registrar at the time of its integration, approved it in one of his final acts as interim president.
USM's Bennett emphasizes recruitment to ADP
University of Southern Mississippi President Rodney Bennett offered "a call to action" Friday morning to area business leaders when it comes to getting great students to his campus. "We need your help in recruiting bright, energetic students so I ask you to speak highly about USM in your interactions with perspective students," Bennett told a full house at Southern Oaks House and Garden. Bennett spoke at the Area Development Partnership's First Friday Breakfast. Bennett added that the university has already made good progress in bringing top-notch students to campus. "I am not yet able to release our fall enrollment numbers....But I can tell you this -- and it is very exciting -- our (students') average ACT score has moved to just under 23," said Bennett. "That is a significant improvement for USM and clearly demonstrates that we are on our way to the top."
Making a full recovery: USM-Gulf Park reopens last Katrina-damaged building
Perhaps nowhere else was the full devastation of Hurricane Katrina more evident than at the University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Park campus at Long Beach. On Aug. 29, 2005, Katina damaged or destroyed some 30 buildings on the USM-Gulf Park campus. Throwing in the damage from the hurricane on the main Hattiesburg campus, Southern Miss sustained approximately $100 million in damage at a time when the state budget and higher education allocations were tight. But, USM persevered, and eight years later the Coast campus is finally restored. This past Aug. 29, university administrators, faculty, staff, students and community leaders remembered Katrina by celebrating the reopening of Elizabeth Hall, the last Katrina-damage structure to be renovated and the fifth major post-Katrina construction project to be completed.
Former dean returns as interim provost at Delta State University
Delta State University President William N. LaForge has announced that Dr. E.E. "Butch" Caston will serve as Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, effective Monday. LaForge revealed Thursday that Dr. Charles McAdams of Northwest Missouri State University accepted the official position and will join the leadership team at Delta State on Dec. 1. The president said due to the significant amount of activity taking place during the next three months, Caston was needed on the interim basis. Caston previously served as Delta State's Dean of the College of Education from 1989 to 2002 and as Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Mississippi University for Women in 2011-12.
Longtime MUW art professor dies
Elizabeth "Betty" Jane Dice, whose tenure as an art professor at Mississippi University for Women spanned nearly 40 years, died August 22. She was 94. Aside from a three-year sabbatical Dice took in the 1960s to pursue her master of arts degree in Indiana, she was a mainstay at MUW from 1945-82. She moved to Columbus to teach costume design and art education when MUW was known Mississippi State College for Women before starting the ceramics and weaving departments there.
Jackson State, Holmes Community College Sign Pact to Help Students
Jackson State University and Holmes Community College have signed a partnership to increase educational opportunities and degree completion for students. The memorandum of understanding signed Thursday will allow Holmes students to pursue a bachelor's degree from JSU in selected fields, including elementary education and criminal justice. Jackson State will provide junior and senior level courses, creating a process for the students to receive a JSU degree without leaving the Ridgeland campus.
Copiah-Lincoln Community College board OKs hirings, purchases
The Copiah-Lincoln Community College Board of Trustees moved quickly to approve a number of items on the agenda Thursday night, including the hiring of two persons that have worked, or continue to work, in Brookhaven. The board moved to rehire Jackie Martin, formerly the tech-prep coordinator and director of curriculum at Co-Lin, as dean of career, technical and workforce education at the Wesson Campus. In other action at the Thursday meeting, vice president of business affairs, Michael Tanner provided a statement of revenues and expenditures for the months of July and August. Total revenue for the months came to $9,066,426, while total expenditures stood at $6,756,460, resulting in a fund balance of $2,309,966.
Pearl River Community College to open state-of-the-art performing arts building
It's hard to believe, but soon the city of Poplarville will boast one of the premier performing arts buildings in the state of Mississippi. Theatrical lighting. A full orchestral pit. Gleaming terrazzo lobby floors. Seating for 850 folks on two levels. Oh, and a menu of some high-profile guests on tap for this year. All in all, not bad for a city of less than 3,000 folks. "We believe this is going to be an economic engine, not only for this community, but all of south Mississippi, because of the kinds of performances ...that are attracted to this facility," said Pearl River Community College President William Lewis. The college unveils the new center on its campus Sept. 24 with a performance by the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra.
Lowndes County could budget more for roads, East Mississippi Community College
Lowndes County revenues are projected to increase by more than $6 million in the upcoming fiscal year, based on the budget county supervisors will consider later this week. The proposed budget would allocate some of those extra resources to East Mississippi Community College for its capital improvements campaign. If the budget is approved as it is now, EMCC will receive a $439,000 more next year through a $325,000 commitment and an additional $114,000 with mill values increasing.
Bonner tells students U. of Alabama has no authority to investigate election
The University of Alabama has no authority to investigate the outcome of the controversial Tuscaloosa municipal election, but if a legal challenge determines students behaved improperly, they will be subject to discipline under state law and the Student Code of Conduct, UA President Judy Bonner said Saturday in an email to students. Kelly Horwitz, the District 4 Tuscaloosa City Board of Education incumbent, has filed a lawsuit challenging her loss in the Aug. 27 election to Cason Kirby. She alleges voter fraud involving UA students.
U. of Alabama president speaks out on voter fraud allegations
The president of the University of Alabama says the school can't investigate voter fraud allegations until local and state agencies have done so. University president Judy Bonner wrote a letter to students and faculty in response to allegations that some of the school's fraternities and sororities encouraged members to vote for municipal elections candidates by offering free drinks and other incentives.
U. of Alabama professor's treatment methods yield results
A University of Alabama professor's positive intervention methods yielded positive results for boys on the Vacca campus of the Alabama Department of Youth Services this summer. Randy Salekin, a psychology professor and clinical child psychologist, brought the components he uses for treatment at the UA Disruptive Behavioral Clinic on campus to the DYS to help more severe conduct cases. Salekin utilizes the biology behind the brain and behavior, making goals and working toward them, and positive reinforcement.
NSA names Auburn University a center of excellence in cyber operations
Auburn University is one of four universities selected by the National Security Agency to carry the designation of a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations. Joining Auburn are Carnegie Mellon University, Mississippi State University and the Air Force Institute of Technology. The program is designed to cultivate more U.S. cyber professionals in an ever-changing global environment. “Auburn has devoted significant resources and interdisciplinary rigor across campus to expand new cyber initiatives and extensive collaboration with external organizations,” said retired Lt. Gen. Ron Burgess, senior counsel for national security programs, cyber programs and military affairs at Auburn.
'Value' plan shakes LSU, Tulane ranks
President Barack Obama's recent proposal to improve higher education has reinvigorated conversation about how best to measure the value of a degree from one college compared with another. Nationally, higher education officials have begun discussing how to value degrees from very different types of universities, public and private. The complexities of that task become readily apparently in comparing Louisiana's premier private university, Tulane, to its public flagship university, LSU in Baton Rouge. LSU economist James Richardson says it will be hard for any group to come up with a simple formula to calculate the value of one university compared with another because students have a variety of motives.
LSU seeks medical school expansion in Baton Rouge
LSU is asking a national accrediting agency to allow it to operate a Baton Rouge branch of its New Orleans-based medical school. It's the first step toward having a full-blown medical school campus in Baton Rouge as LSU looks to train more physicians to address in-state shortages. If approved, a phase-in would begin as early as July with some more senior medical school students based in Baton Rouge. LSU's New Orleans-based medical education programs moved to Baton Rouge after 2005's Hurricane Katrina devastated the area, sparking talk of a permanent move in some circles. LSU Health Sciences Center-New Orleans Chancellor Dr. Larry Hollier said the current move is all about expansion.
Ex-U. of Florida provost returns to lead E-Campus
A former University of Florida provost and psychology professor who made a name for herself as vice chancellor of the State University of New York and as provost of Arizona State University is returning to Gainesville to run the state's first public online university. Elizabeth "Betty" Phillips has been hired as executive director of UF's E-Campus, which will be the state's first fully online bachelor's degree program. As provost and executive vice president of ASU since 2006, Phillips was involved in the development of ASU's online program. Phillips -- whose last name was Capaldi prior to marrying UF Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Win Phillips -- was selected by Provost Joe Glover from a number of finalists recommended by a university committee after conducting a nationwide search.
University system enrollment in Georgia declined nearly 3 percent last year
Enrollment in the University System of Georgia declined by nearly 3 percent last year, according to budget documents the system released in advance of this week's meeting of the state Board of Regents, the appointed body that governs the state's 31 public colleges and universities. Measured in credit hours, not student bodies, the system saw a decrease of 232,423 credit hours in the 2013 fiscal year (July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013) compared to the 2012 fiscal year, or 2.7 percent, according to figures in a proposed fiscal year 2015 operating budget request that will be presented when the regents meet Wednesday. The decline will cost the system about $20.2 million in so-called formula funding, according to the proposed budget request.
U. of Georgia in line to get hoped-for science building
The University of Georgia is finally in line to get the big building administrators say would be a linchpin for helping UGA scientists be more competitive for federal research grants. The University System of Georgia released last week a list of fiscal year 2015 capital projects it will ask the state Legislature and Gov. Nathan Deal to authorize when state lawmakers convene next year, and UGA's hoped-for Science Learning Center is one of just two large projects on the list. The request for the Science Learning Center is $44.7 million.
Texas A&M System regents OK ground leases for private developers
The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents have approved ground leases to allow private developers access to university land. The regents approved two agenda items at a special meeting Saturday morning. Regent Judy Morgan was absent. The items were approved unanimously without comment or discussion by the regents. Chairman Phil Adams said the regents discussed the items during their closed-door executive session. The move frees up A&M system officials to enter into ground leases with private companies.
Tax-bill rally draws crowd on U. of Missouri campus
With a Republican lawmaker bashing Gov. Jay Nixon for using "fantasyland projections" and a Democrat defending him as "precisely correct," University of Missouri students Thursday night heard a preview of the debate that will take place next week over a tax-cut bill. More than 400 students showed up for free pizza and political debate in the MU Student Center, where UM President Tim Wolfe asked them to join him in opposing the measure. "When there is something that threatens our mission, I have to speak up about that," he said. State Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, one of three lawmakers who took part in the discussion, said the bill undermines chances for restoring college funding to past levels.
Divisions help fund U. of Arkansas unit's budget
The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville's chief fundraising arm got about $500,000 worth of help with its $13.3 million budget by shifting some costs to eight university colleges and other outside units that historically have partnered to fund certain positions. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that six academic colleges, the athletic department and the Division of Student Affairs agreed to take on a greater share of paying for 16 positions for a combined contribution of $505,137 toward the Advancement Division's fiscal 2014 budget, which took effect July 1.
As effects of sequester take effect, scientists worry about future of research
The billions of dollars in cuts to federal research funding earlier this year are prompting science researchers across the country to lay off researchers, close laboratories and scramble to find other sources of funding. Researchers said the budget cuts, caused by across-the-board reductions known as sequestration, are threatening important scientific investigations and pushing young scientists out of the field. Those worries are compounded by the uncertainty of how much money will be available for research in the coming fiscal year, which could bring even deeper cuts.
Wisconsin faculty object to idea that shared governance should change
A meeting between the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents and state legislators last week was designed mainly to find common ground in the wake of recent disputes over cash reserves. But discussions during the meeting about rethinking shared governance had some faculty feeling like they were left holding the bag for administrators' actions -- and that their decision-making authority within the system was under threat. Michael Falbo, the board's president, told legislators they needed to "reboot" the longstanding partnership between Wisconsin and its public universities."We need to remember that we are all in this together, and we need to look at ways to strengthen that partnership." During a panel discussion on board governance, however, legislators took the opportunity to start a discussion about the role of the faculty in decision making.
Scrutiny again for for-profit colleges
As the Education Department gathers a panel to rewrite controversial for-profit college regulations, the motto might as well be "the more things change, the more they stay the same." The quest to regulate those colleges defined most of President Barack Obama's first term and continues into his second -- although the last attempt at a crackdown in 2011 ended with a rule later thrown out in court. The department remains determined to hold for-profits accountable for their graduates' debt burdens and ability to repay them. And the colleges are equally committed to fighting a process they say unfairly singled them out.
BILL CRAWFORD: Job trends show tough times linger
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: "Job trends indicate more tough times ahead for Mississippi.While the unemployment rate for Mississippi has been trending down, so has overall employment. In July of 2012, the Mississippi Department of Employment Security reported the unemployment rate was 10.3 percent and the number of people employed was 1.214 million. In July 2013, the unemployment rate was down to 8.6 percent but the number of Mississippians employed had dropped to 1.196 million. How can the unemployment rate fall with fewer people working?"
GEOFF PENDER: Kemper plant no political game changer | Geoff Pender (Opinion)
The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender writes: "When, or maybe if, Mississippi Power fires up the burners at its Kemper County plant next spring, many state leaders will be watching with bated breath, and their anxiousness will be more about politics than power generation. If it works as planned, and starts producing cheap and clean electricity from crappy old lignite, a lot of Republican state leaders, including Gov. Phil Bryant, will breathe sighs of relief. If it doesn't work, is delayed long beyond May or ends up with even more cost overruns or power bill hikes, many Democratic leaders will scream 'Republican-corporate boondoggle' to high heaven, along with their strange bedfellows, tea partiers and some ultra conservatives."
SID SALTER: Lawmakers kicking the MDOT can down the deteriorating road
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "When special interest groups are struggling to avoid a tax hike, one of the tried and true methods is to call for a study that will buy time and essentially kick the issue down the road. Business groups calling for an efficiency study of the Mississippi Department of Transportation prior to facing up to the undeniable reality that Mississippi doesn't have a credible funding source to repair the state's existing roads and bridges -- which are deteriorating significantly -- are in essence kicking a difficult discussion of restructuring the state's road and bridge finance system down a decaying road and off a substandard bridge."

Road gets rougher for Rebels, Bulldogs
Week 3 of the college football season will require the top players from Northeast Mississippi's two SEC schools to go on the clock again. Ole Miss and Mississippi State were able to give starters a break against FCS foes on Saturday. MSU won 51-7 against Alcorn State without the services of ailing quarterback Tyler Russell or running back Ladarius Perkins. With their first win of the season in pocket, the Bulldogs (1-1) travel to an improved Auburn (2-0) team on Saturday night.
If cleared, Mississippi State's Russell will start vs. Auburn
Don't call it a controversy. Through two games, Mississippi State played four quarterbacks. Tyler Russell and Dak Prescott both started a game this year. Prescott and Sam Cowart each finished a game. The Bulldogs played three against Alcorn State on Saturday due to a favorable situation in a blowout win. In Week 1. Prescott finished the game out of necessity after Russell left with a concussion. As the MSU gears up for its first Southeastern Conference game of the season, there isn't much debate who will receive the start. "If Tyler is healthy enough to go, then he'll be playing quarterback for us," MSU coach Dan Mullen said. "If he's not, then Dak will be playing quarterback for us."
McDonald leads Mississippi State with school-record 66
Junior Ally McDonald's school-record 6-under-par 66 led the way on Sunday as Mississippi State took the first-round lead at the Cougar Classic. McDonald, from Fulton, had seven birdies -- two on her first two holes of the season -- to share the firstround lead. She's tied with Brittany Marchand of North Carolina State. Mississippi State senior Mary Langdon Gallagher was tied for fourth after a career-best 69.
Mississippi College Set to Rejoin Divison II
The Mississippi College Athletic Department was proud to announce earlier today the National Collegiate Athletic Association has granted the school permission to rejoin Division II. The JFP received this press release just before noon: Mississippi College can now move forward to become an NCAA Division II member and rejoin the Gulf South Conference, NCAA officials said Friday. Returning to the Gulf South Conference -- MC was a member from 1972 through 1996 -- the Choctaws will renew rivalries with teams like Delta State, West Alabama, Valdosta State, North Alabama, and face new Baptist-affiliated opponents like Union University of Jackson, Tennessee and Shorter University of Rome, Georgia.
Texas fires defensive coordinator after rout
Texas fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz on Sunday, less than 24 hours after one of the worst defensive performances in the history of the program. "Our performance on defense last night was unacceptable, and we need to change that," Longhorns coach Mack Brown said. Brown hired Diaz after Texas finished 5-7 in 2010 and defensive coordinator Will Muschamp left to be the head coach at Florida. The hire was a surprise considering Diaz had been defensive coordinator just one season at Mississippi State, but Brown called him a rising star in coaching who brought energy and new ideas to his struggling program.
Law enforcement agencies team up to keep A&M's Kyle Field secure
With a cheer from the crowd on a first-quarter touchdown by the Aggies, security on the field motioned for Lt. John Fisher to cover his ears. Seconds later, a loud bang from the Parson's Mounted Cavalry cannon signaled a scoring drive and the opportunity for "mugging down" in the stands. Fisher, who coordinates special events and operations for Texas A&M police, went back to listening to the police radio with a peek at the jumbotron during the Aggies' 65-28 routing of the Sam Houston State Bearkats on Saturday. For every home game during football season, he coordinates the event security efforts, which are done in collaboration with local, state and national agencies.
U. of Missouri athletics added $188 million to economy last season, study says
The economic impact of University of Missouri athletics on the local economy grew by 27 percent in the 2012-13 season, according to a study conducted by MU. The study, conducted by graduate students at MU's College of Business, estimated total economic impact from athletic events from July 2012 through June was $188 million. That was up $41 million from the prior year's estimate, and $3 million more than a study last year estimated the economic activity would be. MU Athletic Director Mike Alden, who was on hand for an event announcing the study at the Columbia Chamber of Commerce building, pointed to the authors as an example of the real importance of the university: academics and research. "What goes on at the University of Missouri ... it's a lot more important than sports," Alden said. But, he said, MU athletics are "one of the best advertising vehicles" for the university and its work.

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