Monday, September 16, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
Businesses feel effects of game day
Football season is an incredibly important time of year for many college towns around America, and Starkville -- which markets itself as "Mississippi's College Town" -- is no exception. The Mississippi State University Bulldogs will play at home seven times during their 2013 campaign, including a Sept. 7 home-opening victory against the Alcorn State Braves and an upcoming Saturday matchup against the Troy University Trojans. Though the days add up to only one week out of a year's 52, they are of incredible economic importance to the city. (Subscriber-only content.)
Original Grisham books rare
The retail price of John Grisham's first book -- "A Time to Kill" -- was $18.95 when released in 1989. "But I sold a lot of them for a lot less than that," says Grisham, a former Mississippi attorney and legislator. "I'd get clients in my office and try to get them to buy one. I might get 5 or 10 bucks for it. Sometimes I wound up just giving them away." Nobody could've predicted that novel would launch the career of arguably America's greatest writer of legal thrillers. And those "A Time to Kill" first-editions? Each goes for about $4,000 in mint condition. While seeking a career path after high school, Grisham never considered becoming a writer. He chose numbers over words at Mississippi State and earned an accounting degree in 1977. "But I was never afraid to write," he says. "I could put sentences and paragraphs together and write a 10-page paper if I needed to."
A Time to Recall 'A Time to Kill'
The real-life crime that inspired John Grisham to write "A Time To Kill" has remained a secret since he began writing it almost three decades ago. "It was one of those crimes you never forget," said the 58-year-old best-selling author, who began his career as a lawyer in the Memphis suburb of Southaven. "I was praying I would not get appointed to represent the defendant." In the past, he has discussed the testimony he watched a young girl deliver but has shied away from discussing the actual case. In an interview with The Clarion-Ledger, Grisham confirmed the case he watched involved the 1984 rapes of two teenage sisters in a remote farmhouse not many miles from his law office then.
MSU Welcomes Fulbright Scholars
Mississippi State is again welcoming a new class of Fulbright scholars to campus this semester. Provost and Executive Vice President Jerry Gilbert said students who come to Mississippi State as Fulbright Scholars have gone through a competitive selection process and stand out as excellent scholars in their respective fields. But he emphasized that studying in the United States not only benefits the Fulbright scholars, but enriches the campus culture and benefits all MSU students who have the opportunity to interact with scholars from various countries around the world. Jon Rezek, interim associate vice president of international programs and interim executive director of MSU's International Institute, said that due to financial constraints, many students are unable to experience other cultures through study abroad programs, but Fulbright Scholars bring their own experiences from around the world to share with American students.
Higher Education Briefs: Cyber educator designation made
Mississippi State is preparing students for highly technical cyber security jobs, and the university has a new designation from the National Security Agency that will expand such opportunities. On Sept. 4, the NSA named MSU one of four 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." 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 Lyceum Series to open with NYC jazz singer Thursday
An award-winning jazz vocalist and faculty member at New York's Manhattan School of Music will inaugurate Mississippi State's 2013-14 Lyceum Series. Gretchen Parlato performs Thursday, Sept. 19 in Lee Hall's Bettersworth Auditorium. As with all but one Lyceum event this year, her university concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. Because of continuing renovations to Lee Hall, seating for all shows again will be general admission only. An alumna of the Thelonious Monk Institute, Parlato has been turning heads ever since her sultry voice and rhythmically agile phrasing helped win the institute's 2004 international vocal competition.
MSU Hosts Women's Business Panel
Business students at Mississippi State University got to sit in on a different type of lecture Friday. The university hosted a panel discussion called, "The Effectiveness of Women on a Board of Directors." The panel discussed the effectiveness women have in the workplace, and in positions of power. "This is just influential," said Heather Skaggs of the MSU College of Business. "Women and men both know how they can present themselves in a business setting, and know what their future may hold, and some opportunities that may exist for them."
MSU Employee Celebrates 60 Years
Mix positive attitude with strong work ethic, and throw in a dash of love for cooking. Season with enthusiasm for Mississippi State University and its students. Marinate for 60 years. This recipe makes a one-of-a-kind employee -- Henry Isaac, long-time cook in Perry Cafeteria. He is irreplaceable, said Bill Broyles, assistant vice president for student affairs. Isaac's passion for serving students and doing his job well simply put him in a class by himself. "Henry's devotion to the students of Mississippi State is just unmatched," Broyles said.
USA Board of Trustees announces three finalists for university president
The University of South Alabama's Board of Trustees announced three finalists to become the university's new president. The finalists are: Sheri Noren Everts, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Illinois State University; Jerome A. Gilbert, provost and executive vice president, Mississippi State University; and Dr. Arthur J. Ross III, dean of the School of Medicine, West Virginia University. Gilbert is the second-ranking administrative officer at Mississippi State and serves as chief academic officer. He also assists the president with the overall management of the university. Gilbert earned a bachelor's degree in biological engineering from Mississippi State University and a doctorate in biomedical engineering from Duke University.
MSU provost nominated for U. of South Alabama president
According to a University of South Alabama news release, Jerry Gilbert, Mississippi State University provost and executive vice president, is a candidate for the University of South Alabama president position. The news release said over 130 applicants were considered before the USA's Board of Trustees narrowed the list to three finalists. Gilbert, who has worked for Mississippi State University for about 25 years, said he enjoys working for MSU and did not actively seek other job opportunities but decided to see where the nomination for USA president would lead. "It's really too early to tell what's going to happen," Gilbert said. "I'm certainly committed to MSU until something were to develop. I didn't really start out looking for a new position, but I was nominated and decided to pursue it."
Mississippi State's Gilbert among finalists for South Alabama president post
Mississippi State University Provost Jerry Gilbert was named one of three finalists Friday for the University of Southern Alabama's top leadership position. Gilbert, along with Illinois State University Provost Sheri Noren Everts and University of West Virginia School of Medicine Dean Arthur Ross III, was amongst 130 national nominees and applicants from across the country vying for the school's vacant presidential position. The USA Board of Trustees is expected to name a president by late October, and the school's new leader should begin his or her duties by early 2014. USA employs in excess of 5,500 people, and has an annual operating budget nearing $750 million.
MSU's Gilbert in running for president of South Alabama
The trustees of the University of South Alabama have named three finalists for president. The three announced Friday are: Sheri Noren Everts, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Illinois State University; Jerome A. Gilbert, provost and executive vice president of Mississippi State University; and Dr. Arthur J. Ross III, dean of the School of Medicine at West Virginia University. The trustees said a search committee narrowed the field from more than 130 people. Before then, the three candidates will visit the campus in Mobile. Gilbert is scheduled for Sept. 19.
Biofuel researchers recruit Memphis Zoo's pandas in their work
In their spare time, the Memphis Zoo's giant pandas, Ya Ya and Le Le, are contributing more than entertainment for zoo visitors who have turned the pandas into one of the zoo's most popular attractions. Researchers at Mississippi State University have turned to the pandas in an effort to find better ways to process plant materials for the production of biofuels. (Subscriber-only content.)
Charles Baskin, former Mississippi agronomist, dies
Charles Christopher Baskin, 81, Mobile, Alabama, former Extension professor of agronomy at Mississippi State University, died Sept. 12 at Mobile, Ala. During his career in Mississippi, he was a frequent contributor of articles to Delta Farm Press and was widely known in the agricultural community. Dr. Baskin's professional career was highlighted as an expert in seed technology as an agronomist with Mississippi Agricultural Experiment Station, professor of agronomy at MSU, and consulting work in seed technology. He is known globally for his contribution to cottonseed production and quality evaluation.
Dunn Headlines Riley Center Season Opener
Meridian's MSU Riley Center was rockin' on Friday night as country superstar Ronnie Dunn took to the stage. Dunn performed a number of his hit songs before a packed house. Dunn was a member of Brooks and Dunn until 2010 when he decided to go solo. Dunn tells Newscenter 11 it is a decision he does not regret and one he has no plans to undo. He says it has been fun exploring Meridian while he has been in town. Dunn now has ties to Mississippi. He daughter recently started college at Ole Miss in Oxford.
State's dairy farmers still facing steep feed costs
This year continues the trend of high feed prices, making it very challenging for Mississippi dairy farms to make a profit. Lamar Adams, dairy specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said prices farmers are paid for their milk have been higher than in recent years, but feed prices have remained much higher than ever before. "The silver lining dairy producers are seeing now is that feed costs are coming down some," Adams said. "Should we get in a situation again where there are very tight profit margins, a lot of our existing farmers would probably be forced out of business."
Family Business Benefits From Cottage Industry Law
Mississippi's new cottage food law went into effect July 13. "This new law allows people to process 'low risk' foods in their home kitchens and to sell these products that have a low risk from a food-safety standpoint," said Byron Williams, food safety expert with the MSU Extension Service. "This includes items such as baked goods without cream, custard or meat fillings; spice mixes; dry baking mixes; jams and jellies; and breads." Cottage food business owners do not have to have a licensed and inspected facility, but they are limited to $20,000 per year in gross annual sales. Business owners must keep accurate financial records for review to make sure they are in compliance with the income limits, Williams said.
Wildlife agent to speak at chamber luncheon
Bill Maily, area wildlife and fisheries agent with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, will be the guest speaker for the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce luncheon noon Wednesday at the Vicksburg Convention Center, 1600 Mulberry Street. To register or for more information, contact the chamber at, or call 601-636-1012.
School 'report cards' issued: Oktibbeha County, Starkville both earn 'C' rating
Oktibbeha County School District and Starkville School District earned 'C' grades from the Mississippi Department of Education based on last year's state testing scores. Although SSD earned what was previously considered a 'successful' designation, officials Thursday set their sights on continuing to grow the district's test scores, increase graduation rates and improve educational delivery. Less than a year after the state took over Oktibbeha County School District, Conservator Margie Pulley and her staff resurrected the district's academic measurement by bringing the system's two high schools out of failing ranks and improving its overall score to a "C."
Oktibbeha County will raise pay without tax increase
Oktibbeha County supervisors approved a $29.63 million operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year that provides an across-the-board, 3 percent pay raise for full-time employees and allocates monies for East Mississippi Community College capital improvement projects. While the county's operating budget increased compared to last fiscal year's amount -- the general county fund jumped $798,9000, while "other funds" increased almost $734,000 -- County Administrator Don Posey, under supervisors' guidance, was able to balance cuts, increases and rolling millage without raising taxes. EMCC President Rick Young previously approached area representatives this summer for monies to help fund a two-phase, $34 million expansion project. Future Golden Triangle industrial development is expected to push the school's enrollment and workforce training levels.
Budget writers optimistic
House and Senate leaders express cautious optimism as they prepare to begin a week-long process of hearing from key state agency heads. The optimism is that state revenue estimates will continue to improve, providing additional funds to fill budget gaps left over from the recession that hit in 2008 resulting in an unprecedented drop in revenue during a two-year period. The hearings, which run through Thursday, will provide information to the 14-member committee as it develops a budget recommendation as a starting point for the full Legislature in the 2014 session. The budget will be for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
Mississippi lawmakers to hold FY15 budget hearings
Mississippi lawmakers are holding public hearings this week to start planning how to spend state tax dollars during fiscal 2015, which begins next July 1. Agency directors will appear before the Joint Legislative Budget Committee to present spending requests for schools, highways, prisons, Medicaid and other services. Hearings are Monday through Thursday at the Woolfolk state office building near the state Capitol. House Appropriations Chairman Herb Frierson, R-Poplarville, said in an interview that he wants to increase spending for all levels of education, from kindergarten through universities.
State agencies prepare to make budget pitches
New Department of Marine Resources Director Jamie Miller this week will ask lawmakers for a nearly $430,000 increase to the $1.1 million his agency receives from the state's general-fund coffers. It will be a tough sell. Miller's agency is the subject of a state and federal probe of spending under his predecessor, who was fired early this year. The coastal agency also handles millions a year in federal and other money, and there are reports of potentially millions of dollars misspent or mismanaged. Miller will be among leaders of about two dozen agencies coming hat-in-hand this week to make a pitch to the committee's key lawmakers for more money. It's the first step in setting a state budget for fiscal 2015.
Education cuts some of nation's deepest
Mississippi had the 10th deepest cuts nationally in education spending since the recession hit in 2008, according to a study by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. According to the study released last week, Mississippi is spending $648 less per pupil, adjusted for inflation, for the current fiscal year than it did in 2008 before the recession hit. Or put another way, the state is spending 13.1 percent less, adjusted for inflation, per student. According to the study, Mississippi is one of at least 34 states spending less per pupil than when the recession hit in 2008. Mississippi experienced an unprecedented drop in revenue collections during the midst of the recession. But during the past two years, the state has experienced growth of more than 5 percent.
Analysis: Former governor's influence continues to be felt in Mississippi
Once a governor, always a governor in Mississippi. The title never fades, even when the time in office expires. However, with his recent re-entry into public policy discussions about energy, Haley Barbour appears to be wearing "Gov." as more than an honorary title. Call him Shadow Gov. Barbour -- a person who still pushes ideas that, for better or worse, might shape Mississippi's economic future. When Actual Gov. Phil Bryant was in Brazil on an economic development trip this past week, fellow Republican Barbour earned headlines with a speech defending rate increases for a new power plant and advocating the possibilities of nuclear waste reprocessing --- two projects that aren't far from the wallets of Barbour and his current professional colleagues.
The farm bill is back
Corn prices continue to fall even as Republicans celebrate their new "welfare queen" for abusing food stamps: a long-haired surfer-rocker from California buying lobster with his $200 monthly benefit. The final text of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's proposed cuts from nutrition spending is due out Monday. Floor votes could come this week in what remains a closely fought battle. Fox News has jumped in, distributing scores of videos to Capitol offices of last month's report featuring the surfer deadbeat. Welcome back to the farm bill -- or Washington's version of "The Hunger Games."
Official estimates impact of Tuscaloosa Marine Shale
Local economic development officials are -- in the words of Natchez Inc. Executive Director Chandler Russ -- feeling bullish about the possibilities of the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale. Speaking at the weekly Friday Forum, Russ said that between the two major players in the TMS, Goodrich Petroleum and Encana, a $500-million drilling campaign is planned for next year. The TMS is a marine deposited shale formation that has been the source bed for the Tuscaloosa sand sections that have been drilled in Mississippi for decades. The shale is located under several Mississippi counties and Louisiana parishes, including Amite, Wilkinson and Adams counties.
Under fire from women, Summers drops bid to head the Fed
Facing strident opposition from women's groups and fellow Democrats, Obama administration economic confidante Lawrence H. Summers removed his name from consideration to the head the Federal Reserve, the White House said late Sunday. Chairman Ben Bernanke's term ends in January. The autonomous Federal Reserve has strived to steer clear of politics, but the very unusual public spat over Obama's potential choices made that difficult.
Police say 2 shooters have killed 4, injured 8 on grounds of Washington Navy Yard
Police now believe two shooters, including one in fatigues, have killed four people and wounded eight others at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday, throwing the region into fear and chaos during the morning commute. At least one of the shooters is "down," police said mid-morning, but it was unclear whether that means the suspect has been arrested or shot. They said the other suspect remains at large, and police believe they have pinned down one between the third and fourth floors of one of the buildings on the installation in Southeast Washington.
Break in rains should help Colorado flood rescue operations
Search and rescue operations were expected to get a boost from Mother Nature on Monday as the storms that have pummeled much of Colorado's Front Range begin to subside. More than 1,250 residents remain unaccounted for, many isolated in the mountain communities where scores of bridges and roads have been washed. Telephone, cellphone and Internet service have been disrupted for several days. The National Weather Service expects warmer, drier conditions in the state by mid-day Monday with rain ending at night.
Cyber security: The new arms race for a new front line
The Pentagon -- and a growing cyber industrial complex -- gears up for the new front line: cyberspace. Cyber defense is necessary. But it could cost us.
Former NSA and CIA director says terrorists love using Gmail
Former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden stood on the pulpit of a church across from the White House on Sunday and declared Gmail the preferred online service of terrorists. As part of an adult education forum at St. John's Episcopal Church, Hayden gave a wide ranging speech on "the tension between security and liberty." Asked whether the United States's promiscuous surveillance was setting a harmful example for other nations, Hayden suggested that the Internet's origins in the United States partially justifies the NSA's conduct. If the Web lasts another 500 years, he said, it may be the thing the United States is remembered for "the way the Romans are remembered for their roads." "We built it here, and it was quintessentially American," he said, adding that partially due to that, much of traffic goes through American servers where the government "takes a picture of it for intelligence purposes."
Amid slow economic recovery, more Americans identify as 'lower class'
Chris Roquemore once thought of himself as working class. But it's hard to keep thinking that, he said, when you're not working. The 28-year-old father said he sparred with his supervisors at a retail chain about taking time off after his mother died -- and ended up unemployed. Since then, Roquemore has worked odd jobs and started studying nursing at Long Beach City College, trying to get "a career, not a job." All those changes, in turn, changed the way he thought of himself. Roquemore is among the small but surging share of Americans who identify themselves as "lower class." Last year, a record 8.4% of Americans put themselves in that category -- more than at any other time in the four decades that the question has been asked on the General Social Survey, a project of the independent research organization Norc at the University of Chicago.
MUW hosts New York Times bestselling author Wednesday
No questions will be off limits when syndicated advice columnist Harlan Cohen takes the stage on The W's campus Wednesday, Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. in Nissan Auditorium. The New York Times bestselling author will have a candid discussion about dating and relationships. Cohen has been credited with cracking the code on dating and relationship and shares the hilarious and brutal truth about dating, relationships and hooking up in college. No questions will be off limits; audience members are encouraged to bring their cell phones so that they can text Cohen questions live during the event.
Universities touting organ donation
The University of Southern Mississippi, University of Mississippi, Jackson State University and Alcorn State University are trying to raise awareness for organ donation with Donate Life Mississippi. The Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency on Friday had a tailgate party and press conference to kick off the 2013 Donor Challenge. The Donor Challenge promotes organ and tissue donation on college campuses and encourages onsite and online donor registrations.
Official: Attempted armed robbery near Ole Miss campus
Campus police are investigating an attempted armed robbery which occurred at an apartment complex near the Ole Miss campus, according to a university crime alert sent via social media. The report states university police received a report of an attempted armed robbery at Campus Walk Apartments between 2 and 3 a.m. Sunday. The victim told police she was intercepted in the stairway of the building, according to the alert. After someone else came out and witnessed the ordeal, the suspect ran away before robbing the victim. Police Chief Calvin Sellers said they expect more information to be released Monday.
Ole Miss student Carson Otter hospitalized after Texas game
Ole Miss student, Carson Otter, is in Texas fighting for his life after an altercation following the Rebel's victory over University of Texas Longhorns Saturday evening. "We know that he was hospitalized in Texas. We've spoken to his parents and they've asked for prayers," said Sparky Reardon, Ole Miss Dean of Students. Officials with the Austin Police Department said around 2:00 a.m. Sunday morning Otter was walking in downtown Austin around the time bars were closing. Witnesses say Otter exchanged words with occupants of a passing vehicle. Someone in the vehicle got out and punched Otter who then fell to the ground.
'Maintenance mishap' closes Johnson Hall on JSU campus
Jackson firefighters have been called to the Jackson State University campus for what school officials are calling a "maintenance mishap" at Johnson Hall. JSU Director of Public Relations Jean Cook says just before 8 a.m. an air conditioning contractor was working on an air conditioner in the basement of Johnson Hall. His torch caught on fire but was quickly contained. The building is expected to reopen by 10 a.m.
Alabama president meets with sorority advisers behind closed doors
University of Alabama officials denied reporters access to a meeting between UA President Judy Bonner and Panhellenic sorority advisers Sunday night, stating it was a closed meeting and providing with a written statement. On Sunday, representatives from UA's Media Relations stopped and The Crimson White reporters in the lobby of Rose Administration Building, stating the scheduled meeting was closed to members of the press. When asked if details of the meeting would be released at its conclusion, a university spokeswoman provided with a copy of a prepared statement from Bonner.
Jesse Jackson speaks on segregation in U. of Alabama greek system, suggests picketing sorority houses
The Rev. Jesse Jackson Saturday compared the public outrage following accusations of racism in some University of Alabama sororities to the civil rights movement that swept through the state and nation 50 years ago Speaking mostly to members of the university's student newspaper, the Crimson White, Jackson addressed allegations of advisers and alumnae in some sororities blocking black women from being recruited because of their race. He used the university's football team, the No. 1 ranked Crimson Tide, to point out the absurdity of systemic segregation. Head Coach Nick Saban, Jackson said, would never limit his recruiting capabilities to only white players. It would hinder his ability to have the most talented team possible. In the same way, Jackson said, sororities that are traditionally white-only hurt themselves by prohibiting qualified women from joining their ranks. It also keeps their members from cultural exposure in a richly diverse world.
Auburn University Board of Trustees approves 2014 budget
The Auburn University Board of Trustees approved the 2014 budget at its regular meeting Friday for a total amount of $1.054 billion. The budget is broken up into three divisions: Auburn's main campus, Auburn University at Montgomery, the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Auburn University's main campus receives the bulk of the budget, with 80.7 percent or $851 million. The board also approved a request from the Property and Facilities Committee to replace the architect assigned to the Toomer's Corner Redevelopment Project.
Auburn University dedicates new Mike Hubbard Center
Speaking to a crowd of distinguished guests sporting an array of orange and blue neckties, Auburn University President Jay Gogue announced the opening of the university's newest facility Friday. "Bo knows it's a great day in the life of Auburn University," Gogue said, noting the 1985 Auburn Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson came from Chicago to attend the event. Gogue, along with other university officials, hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony to dedicate the new Mike Hubbard Center for Advanced Science, Innovation and Commerce Friday. The $28.8 million center is the result of collaboration among the College of Agriculture, the College of Architecture, Design and Construction, the College of Sciences and Mathematics and the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences. The 84,000-square-foot facility houses labs and equipment that span five areas of research: biofuels development and analysis, ecosystems, food safety and food engineering, genomics and informatics and water quality and quantity.
New research center widens Auburn's kinesiology program
Auburn University's recently created School of Kinesiology has a new research facility that readily demonstrates the university's commitment to the science of "wellness and human health." The 58,000-square-foot center, which was officially opened Thursday, will be utilized in a number of ways. Among other functions, it will provide health screenings and fitness assessments for community members and serve as a training center for USA Team Handball. "We are excited to see the culmination of a dream that was started several years ago to elevate the Department of Kinesiology to the School of Kinesiology," said Jimmy Rane, president pro tempore of the Auburn University Board of Trustees. "It is important to study the science of human wellness and human health."
Diamond Says U. of Arkansas' Gearhart Ordered Destruction of Documents
The outgoing chief spokesman of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville on Friday accused school officials of intentionally destroying documents about the finances of a fundraising division that was cited by legislative auditors for poor money management. Speaking to a legislative panel reviewing an audit of the school's Advancement Division, John Diamond told lawmakers that a "culture of secrecy" led Chancellor David Gearhart and other officials to order the destruction of documents relevant to the audit. The audit showed that the division ended the 2012 fiscal year with a $4.19 million deficit and the previous fiscal year with a $2.14 million deficit. Gearhart denied Diamond's allegations.
Student borrowing grows as HOPE money shrinks in Georgia
Christina Serra is like a lot of University of Georgia students. The HOPE Scholarship has paid for a huge part of her college expenses, but she still has to work to pay for her college education. But Serra, now a UGA graduate student, is also different. A year away from graduating with Master's of Public Administration degree, Serra has managed to avoid borrowing money, unlike most UGA students. "The HOPE Scholarship is why I have no loans," she said. Today's undergraduates aren't so lucky, she said. The lottery-funded scholarship no longer pays full tuition for most students, and the percentage is expected to decline in the future.
Texas A&M Pulls in $740-Million for Academics and Football
Texas A&M University announced on Monday that it had received more than $740-million in gifts and pledges for the fiscal year that concluded on August 31. It is a significant achievement, though not technically a record for a public institution since the full amount has not yet been received. Record or not, Texas A&M has raised a tremendous sum at a time when many public institutions are feeling pinched by diminished state support, public resistance to tuition increases, and flat or nearly flat growth in endowments and private giving.
Human resources jobs up for review across Texas A&M University System
The jobs of all of the Texas A&M University System human resources positions in Brazos County are under review. Chancellor John Sharp, as part of a potential overhaul of the $3.8 billion system, has hired Mindstream Analytics to review employee performance and best business practices. The system hired the company in March for $80,000 without requesting bids for the contract. A spokesman said the system decided to save time and money by going with a company it had worked with before. The review is one of several being conducted by contractors with the system, the largest of which is a planned system-wide audit that will assess the job of every non-faculty member employed by the system. The HR review will run concurrent to the administrative audit. Also under review are information technology and communications operations and the operation of Easterwood Airport.
New U. of Missouri System VP has plan to help boost research, entrepreneurship
The University of Missouri System's new executive vice president for academic affairs says he would like to see Missouri as a fly-in state rather than a fly-over state and he thinks the best way to do that is by making Missouri a hotbed for entrepreneurs. Hank Foley, who this summer came to the UM System from Penn State University, presented a plan to the UM Board of Curators yesterday to make the state and UM System more appealing to entrepreneurs. Foley's position, which is new, oversees the four-campus system's academic functions as well as its research and economic development efforts, which until recently had been led by separate administrators. Foley said Missouri is in the middle of the pack in terms of entrepreneurship, and he proposes improving the state's standing by creating a research quadrangle between the system campuses and loosening intellectual property ownership policies.
U. of Missouri puts safety on display
The University of Missouri will host the first "Safe Mizzou" week-long event to promote safety on campus. Kathy Murray, associate director of the Department of Student Life, said for nearly 13 years, MU has been putting on "Fire Factor," an event that features a burning room and demonstrates the speed and ferocity of fire. Murray said a member of the Columbia Fire Department was looking at how the university could increase the impact of the event. "Through the course of the conversation" we "decided to broaden the event into a Safe Mizzou week of events built around this very successful event," Murray said. Capt. Brian Weimer of the University of Missouri Police Department said the purpose of safety week is to not only give people safety tools but to make them aware safety is a community thing.
Noted philosopher Martha Nussbaum to give lecture at U. of Tennessee
Noted scholar and philosopher Martha Nussbaum will talk about religious intolerance at a University of Tennessee Humanities Center lecture on Monday. Nussbaum, the Ernest Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, will present "The New Religious Intolerance: Overcoming the Politics of Fear." Her talk will begin at 3:30 p.m. in the University Center ballroom, Room 329. Nussbaum is an American philosopher and political theorist with a particular interest in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, political philosophy, feminism and ethics, including animal rights. "There is hardly anyone today who would not rank Martha Nussbaum as one of America's leading intellectuals," said Tom Heffernan, Kenneth Curry Professor in the Humanities and director of the UT Humanities Center. "She is a model for all of us on what it means to participate in society in a measured and intelligent way."
ROBERT PEARIGEN: Private colleges may cost more to attend, but value worth it | Robert Pearigen (Opinion)
Robert Pearigen, the president of Millsaps College in Jackson, writes for The Clarion-Ledger: "Crafting an accurate comparison of cost and financial assistance between smaller, private colleges and larger, public universities is difficult and can provide a misleading picture. Residential liberal arts colleges offer experiences that can't always be found in a larger college atmosphere. Large public universities provide an excellent opportunity for many students, but we offer a different experience for the students who come to our campus."
BIRNEY IMES: Lynn Spruill's journey | Birney Imes (Opinion)
The Dispatch's Birney Imes writes: "Lynn Spruill grew up in Starkville, the only child of an accountant whose energy level and curiosity exceeded the demands of his practice. L.E. Spruill, the son of a Kolola Springs farmer (his only sibling is the wonderful Frances Jutman of Columbus), also bought, demolished and rebuilt failing subdivisions and rental properties. He did dirt work. The daughter inherited her father's restless energy. As a child she learned to shoot skeet, competed in archery tournaments and developed into an avid equestrian. She learned to fly when she was in junior high. Spruill earned a degree in business at Mississippi State and planned to go to law school. About that time the Navy had begun a push to recruit female pilots. A recruiter called and Spruill said yes. ...In June municipal elections, Starkville voters elected four new aldermen. Spruill was one of several victims of the town's changing political currents, a trend some characterize as a shift from competence toward partisanship. At its first meeting the new board fired Spruill. No reason was given."
JIMMIE GATES: Ike Brown returns to Noxubee County politics | Jimmie Gates (Opinion)
The Clarion-Ledger's Jimmie Gates writes: "Recently, political operative Ike Brown told me a federal court order that kept him and others from running Democratic primary elections and runoffs in Noxubee County was no longer in effect. Brown said he is back at the helm of the Noxubee County Democratic Executive Committee. It was vintage Ike Brown. He was basking in the glow that he was in charge. In case anyone has forgotten, Brown was the central figure in the first case of its kind brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, accusing him and his associates in the Noxubee County Democratic Executive Committee of discriminating against white voters in a majority black county."
SAM R. HALL: Many factors affect school's performance | Sam R. Hall (Opinion)
The Clarion-Ledger's Sam R. Hall writes: "There are two obvious takeaways from the school rankings the Mississippi Department of Education released last week. 1. The state made great strides in the number of A districts once graduation rates were factored into the model. 2. More schools slid into danger of facing state takeover than in recent years because of a new grading system that includes one less grading position than the previous one. ...More substantive takeaways can be found when comparing a school's grades to factors such as funding, student-teacher ratios and percentage of funding used for classroom instruction vs. administrative costs."
GEOFF PENDER: BlueCross BlueShield playing havoc with health care in Mississippi | Geoff Pender (Opinion)
The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender writes: "BlueCross BlueShield is flexing its muscles, and its nearly monopolistic hold on Mississippi's insurance market could allow it to upend state health care, shutter already scarce hospitals, force patients to travel long distances, pay more or receive substandard care. It appears time for state government, which helped BCBS achieve its catbird seat atop the health insurance market here, to step in. Lawmakers are holding an initial hearing on the issue Monday. I suspect it will be a gut-check for Mississippi politicians, whether they're willing to tackle the mighty BCBS, which, by the way, administers the state government health care plan."

Mullen: Mississippi State's Russell still not ready
Tyler Russell continues to work with a spinal doctor as he recovers from a concussion. The Mississippi State quarterback returned to the field Saturday but has yet to be cleared for contact, MSU coach Dan Mullen said during his Sunday teleconference. "The decision was, Tyler was not cleared for contact," Mullen said. "He's cleared to do stuff, but he's not cleared for contact." Russell dressed for the team's game against Auburn, took reps with the first team during the pregame warm-ups and acted as the team's captain at the coin toss. But minutes before kickoff, Russell's return ended.
Impressive debut: Mississippi State QB Prescott stands out in first SEC start
Tyler Russell's name appeared as the No.1 quarterback on the official depth chart. They announced the fifth-year senior as the starter on the PA system at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Russell even took the snaps with the first team in pregame warm-ups. Psyche. About 20 minutes before kickoff, the team's official Twitter account announced Dak Prescott would start the game. MSU coach Dan Mullen said earlier in the week that if Russell was cleared, he would start. MSU officials said prior to the game Russell had been cleared to play. Mullen refuted that after the game. "Tyler was not cleared to play," Mullen said. Prescott made the most of his opportunity.
McGillis: USM facilities need work; Reed Green on 'front burner' for athletic director
New Southern Miss athletic director Bill McGillis has only been in Hattiesburg full time for about six weeks. But that's been more than enough time for McGillis to determine what needs the majority of his attention: facilities -- all of them. "I do feel like every facility we have needs improvement," he said. "Every one of them." The Golden Eagle athletic director indicated, however, that there are positives among each facility, including the Duff Athletic Center, M.M. Roberts Stadium, Reed Green Coliseum, Pete Taylor Park and the Southern Miss Tennis Complex. McGillis intends to put together a strategic plan for exactly how to get what he wants this fall.
Vanderbilt says rape case wasn't reason for banning athletes from Tin Roof bar
When athletic director David Williams banned all Vanderbilt University student-athletes from the Tin Roof bar this summer, it wasn't because a football player and the 21-year-old student he is charged with raping while she was unconscious had been there on the night of the incident. Williams said he worried that student-athletes were being given free drinks -- a possible violation of NCAA rules, which prohibit student-athletes from accepting anything of value given because of their status as athletes -- and drinking illegally at the Tin Roof with fake IDs. The bar was named in court Friday as the place where authorities say former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Vandenburg, 20, spent part of a night with a 21-year-old female student who they say he then took to be sexually assaulted in his campus dorm.
Kyle Field renovations could create problems for bats, community
It wasn't the kind of welcome back from spring break that Maggie Gartner wanted. Gartner and others returned in April to Cain Hall, located across from Kyle Field, to find more than 1,000 bats had made their way into the A-wing of the building through the small, uncovered overhang of the roof. "They were disturbed from the work they did at Kyle Field in the spring, so they came across the street in force," Gartner said. It's no secret bats have long called Kyle Field home -- signs and smells around the stadium warn of bat guano, particularly at The Zone. But with a $450 million transformation to turn the 85-year-old stadium into the largest in Texas and the Southeastern Conference, Texas A&M officials are trying to figure out what to do with the hundreds of thousands of bats who don't leave the stadium after game days.
Time running out on lobbyists' game freebies for Georgia politicians
One college football tradition in Georgia will soon disappear: Letting politicians into the stadium for free. A new law taking effect next year bans lobbyists from giving Georgia's politicians free college football tickets, a rite as well-established as Game Day beer and barbecue in the football-obsessed South. As the season kicks off, lobbyists and lawmakers are squeezing in a few more free games before the prohibition takes effect Jan. 1. Many lawmakers get tickets in Georgia because the Legislature controls the $6.4 billion higher education budget, including the roughly $1.9 billion that comes directly from state coffers. A free ticket probably won't swing a vote, said William Perry, executive director of Common Cause Georgia. However, he described the tickets as just one part of the unchecked lobbyist spending that distorted Georgia politics.
Uncommonwealth: Wildcat fans tailgate in style with their tricked-out vehicles
For some University of Kentucky football fans, the luxury boxes have nothing over their luxury mini school buses, trailers, vans and ambulances. Yes, ambulances. These are not the standard tricked-out recreational vehicles that start with something big and fancy and make something even bigger and fancier. In the tailgating city that surrounds Commonwealth Stadium before home games, you'll see that almost any kind of vehicle can be converted into a tailgating dream.

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