Wednesday, September 18, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
Colleges, universities, seek differing increases
Mississippi's eight public universities are seeking an incremental increase in their budget in 2015, while community colleges are reaching to redeem long-delayed promises. The College Board asked the Joint Legislative Budget Committee to increase its operating budget by $32 million, or 4.4 percent. Higher Education Commissioner Hank Bounds said that of the $32 million that the universities asked for, $20 million would go toward the new funding formula that the College Board adopted in April. The formula is meant to distribute state aid based on how many students complete courses, with the recognition that some sorts of courses cost more than others.
Corrections and college board make pitch for budget increases
The Institutions of Higher Learning presented its 2015 budget request to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee yesterday. Higher Education Commissioner Hank Bounds asked for a general fund budget of $385.4 million, which is $20 million higher than the current year. Bounds said one of the things that concern him is that the state is falling further behind in the number of students with bachelor degrees and associate degrees. He also said there are intense competition for students from out-of-state universities.
Lucedale teen charged with aggravated DUI in wreck that killed friend
A Lucedale teen has been charged with aggravated driving under the influence after an early morning wreck near Mississippi State University that claimed the life of 18-year-old Kaleb Dwayne Barker, the Starkville Police Department said. Sawyer Tomas Steede, also 18, was arrested and later released on a $50,000 bond. Barker and Steede were friends who graduated together from George County High School earlier this year. They were freshmen and roommates at MSU. Steede and Barker, both of whom lived in Lucedale, were also band mates. In 2010, their band, Hush the Silence, recorded and released a debut EP titled "Live Out Loud." Hannah Henderson, who graduated with Steede and Barker, said she had been close friends with Barker since freshman year at GCHS. Henderson said Steede and Barker were close friends as well, and she said Steede was "a very good guy, too."
MSU student charged in roommate's death
A single-vehicle accident at McDonald's Tuesday killed a Mississippi State University freshman and landed the truck's driver, who was also the victim's roommate, behind bars. Details about the incident were scarce at press time -- Starkville Police Department representatives declined to comment on the situation due to the nature of the ongoing investigation -- but SPD and Oktibbeha County Coroner Michael Hunt both confirmed Kaleb Dwayne Barker, 18, of Lucedale, died as a result of injuries suffered about 2:05 a.m. Tuesday at the Miss. Highway 12 and Spring Street fast food location.
MSU freshman killed in car accident, driver charged
The Starkville Police Department is continuing to investigate a fatal single vehicle traffic accident that occurred in the parking lot of McDonalds East on Hwy. 12. Officers say when they arrived on the scene they found Kaleb Dwayne Barker, 18, of Lucedale, seriously injured. Barker was transported to Oktibbeha County Hospital and subsequently airlifted to University Medical Center in Jackson, where he died as a result of the injuries sustained. The driver of the vehicle, Sawyer Tomas Steede, 18, also of Lucedale, has been arrested and charged with aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol and is currently out on a $50,000 bond.
Lucedale man charged with aggravated DUI
A Lucedale man has been charged with aggravated DUI in connection with the early morning death of a Mississippi State University student Tuesday. Sawyer Tomas Steede, 18, of Lucedale, was charged with aggravated DUI and is currently out on a $50,000 bond. Starkville police responded to a one vehicle traffic accident in the parking lot of McDonalds on Highway 12 in Starkville around 2:05 a.m. Tuesday. They reported finding Kaleb Dwayne Barker, 18, also of Lucedale, seriously injured. Barker was transported to Oktibbeha County Hospital by ambulance and then airlifted to the University of Mississippi Medical in Jackson where he died from his injuries. Another passenger, Halli Camille Reasons, 18, of Dyersburg, Tenn., was also traveling in the bed of the pickup truck and sustained injuries. She was treated and released from the Oktibbeha County Hospital.
Student arrested in connection with one-vehicle accident
A Mississippi State University student was arrested in connection to the death of Kaleb Dwayne Barker, 18, according to a Starkville Police Department press release. Sawyer Tomas Steede, freshman mechanical engineering major, 18, has been arrested and charged with aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol. He is out on a $50,000 bond and will appear in the Starkville Municipal Court on Oct. 21. The press release stated that Steede was operating a 2003 Chevrolet Silverado 2-door-truck while Barker and MSU student Halli Camille Reasons, 18, also injured, were passengers in the bed of the truck.
MSU student dies in one-vehicle accident
A Lucedale, Miss., man has been charged with aggravated DUI in connection with an accident in which a Mississippi State University student was killed. Starkville police say 18-year-old Sawyer Tomas Steede is free on $50,000 bond after his arrest. He is scheduled to appear in the Starkville Municipal Court on Oct. 21. Police say the one-vehicle accident occurred about 2 p.m. along Mississippi Highway 12 near the MSU campus. The accident is still under investigation.
MSU student dies in accident, another student injured
One MSU student is dead, another is injured and a third has been arrested, all in connection with a Tuesday morning traffic accident near McDonald's and Strange Brew Coffeehouse on Highway 12 in Starkville. Starkville police said the accident occurred just after 2 a.m. Police identified the deceased as 19-year-old Kyle D. Barker of Lucedale. Barker was a freshman kinesiology student, according to University Relations Director Sid Salter.
Man charged in MSU student's DUI death
The Starkville Police Department continues to investigate the one-vehicle accident that killed Mississippi State freshman Kaleb D. Barker. The driver, Sawyer Tomas Steede of Lucedale, was arrested and charged with aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol, according to a release. Steede, 18, is currently out on a $50,000 bond and will appear in Starkville Municipal Court on October 21, police said. Barker, 18, was a passenger in the bed of the 2003 Chevrolet Silverado truck driven by Steede. Police also identified the other passenger as Halli Camille Reasons, 18, of Dyersburg, Tenn., who was also traveling in the bed of the truck.
MSU: Abduction attempt claim was a hoax
A Mississippi State student who claimed to be the victim of an attempted abduction near Sessums Hall last week has recanted her story and told university investigators she fabricated the incident, a MSU release states. The student could be charged with filing a false report, but the Dispatch is unaware if MSUPD has taken such action. "Student safety is a serious issue and is one of our university's top priorities," said MSU Dean of Students Thomas Bourgeois in the release. "We do, however, hope that students will be vigilant in being aware of their surroundings and maintaining normal cautions against any threats to their personal safety."
MSU determines abduction attempt hoax
Mississippi State University has determined that a female student falsely reported an attempted abduction to university police on Wednesday. Mississippi State Dean of Students Thomas Bourgeois said in a university release that the student has withdrawn her account of the initial report to university police. The student now faces possible criminal charges for filing a false report. "Anytime anyone files a false report, it's something that's on the table," Bourgeois said. "Anytime anyone makes a false report it, causes police to use unneeded resources. It brings a negative light to the institution and is very disappointing when it happens."
MSU Research Gets Accreditation
Mississippi State is the first university in the state to attain a highly-sought endorsement from the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs. On Tuesday, the nonprofit organization announced that MSU has earned full accreditation for three years. "This accreditation is very important to our research enterprise because it ensures funding agencies and sponsors of our commitment to the protection of human subjects and building public trust," said David Shaw, MSU's vice president for research and economic development. AAHRPP provides accreditation for U.S. and international organizations that conduct biomedical, behavioral or social sciences research involving human participants and can demonstrate that their protections exceed the safeguards required by the U.S. government.
MSU Professor Named State Chemist
An accomplished Mississippi State researcher and administrator for the Mississippi State Chemical Laboratory is taking the helm of that state agency housed on the land-grant institution's campus. Ashli Brown has been named State Chemist and director of the MSCL, effective Oct. 1 and pending formal approval by the Mississippi Senate. Previously, she served as the MSCL's director of research and agriculture forensics. The lab provides critical support to Mississippi agriculture -- the state's No. 1 industry. "The lab's work affects Mississippians throughout the state every day," Brown said.
Provost in running for president post at U. of South Alabama
Mississippi State University Provost Jerry Gilbert is one of three finalist candidates for president of the University of South Alabama in Mobile, but he has declined to confirm whether he would take the job if offered it. "That would be a difficult question to answer at this point," Gilbert said.
Soybean board awards fellowship; backing charcoal rot research
With classes back in session at Mississippi State University, the Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board is investing in possible solutions to a major soybean disease as well as the education of a student who could be bringing production solutions to Mississippi soybean farmers long into the future. MSPB recently awarded the Blaine Doctoral Fellowship to Tessie Wilkerson, a Ph.D. candidate at MSU, who plans to study the incidence of charcoal rot in soybeans and possible solutions to the disease.
Former Baptist exec Jerry Cotton leaves legacy of compassion
Jerry Cotton, former president of Baptist Medical Center in Jackson and executive vice president of Baptist Health Systems, made a habit of showing up to the hospital with coolers full of barbecue ribs to feed holiday staff. "Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, you could set your watch by it," said Bill Grete, Baptist Health Systems general counsel. Cotton died of cancer Sept. 13 at the hospital he used to run. Cotton received a bachelor's degree from Mississippi State.
Fowler earns doctorate from Mississippi State University
On May 11, 2013, Luke Fowler graduated from Mississippi State University with a Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy and Administration. Dr. Fowler has accepted a tenure-track position in the Department of Political Science at Valdosta State University, where he will teach in the graduate public administration programs. He is the grandson of Catherine Tucker of Philadelphia.
Developers hoping for 'Cumulus' announcement in October
Local economic developers say an announcement could come as early as October in regard to a proposed $20 million investment by a data-processing company. Joey Deason, Oktibbeha County's representative with the Golden Triangle Development Link, said a tentative announcement date of Oct. 3 has been set for Project Cumulus, the first significant Link-backed initiative to near fruition for Starkville. Project Cumulus could bring in five or six high-paying, permanent jobs -- about $50,000-$65,000 per position -- and spur about 100 temporary jobs during construction efforts at the Thad Cochran Research Park.
Developers hoping for announcement in October
Starkville and Oktibbeha County officials are hoping for an announcement as early as October on a proposed $20 million data processing facility. The Starkville Board of Aldermen and Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors each approved 10-year tax abatements on the site's property taxes to entice the investor. Officials have said the project could bring in five or six permanent jobs plus about 100 temporary jobs during construction at the Thad Cochran Research Park.
Starkville aldermen start own pay raise early while increasing taxes
Starkville aldermen moved up a pending pay raise for themselves and Mayor Parker Wiseman by a year Tuesday while at the same time codifying a 1.98-mill property tax increase. The pay raise -- a $3,000 increase to $15,000 annually for aldermen, and an $11,500 raise to $71,500 annually for the mayor -- was scheduled to begin Oct. 1, 2014 by the previous board in January. Wiseman went on to veto the matter earlier this year, but the prior board found enough support to override his action.
Aldermen OK budget, raises
A lively public discussion leading to several exchanges between aldermen and citizens Tuesday evening at City Hall ultimately led to Starkville's Board of Aldermen approving the city budget and a 1.98-mil ad valorem tax increase for fiscal year 2014. The board ended more than two months of public discussion about the budget when it approved in separate motions, each by a 4-2 vote, a balanced fiscal year budget projecting expenditures and revenue at $17,646,959 and the millage increase.
Mississippi prisons, mental health, Medicaid seek more money
Mississippi's prison and mental health systems and Medicaid program are seeking millions of extra dollars to get through the budget year, then more money on top of that for the coming year. Agency leaders appeared Tuesday before the Joint Legislative Budget Committee to request money for fiscal year 2014, which ends June 30, and for fiscal 2015, which begins July 1.
Budget hearings: Corrections, Medicaid push for more money now
Lawmakers were hit up for more than $100 million in "deficit requests" Tuesday from health and corrections agencies who say they expect shortfalls in their current budgets. They also were told they and other state employees might see their insurance premiums go up about 5 percent next year. Department of Finance and Administration Director Kevin Upchurch said his agency is predicting a 5 percent insurance premium increase for state employees, although the state board overseeing insurance has not voted to adopt one. The last increase in premiums was more than 4 percent in 2011, with employees bearing most of that increased cost.
Reeves Flexes at Budget Hearings
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves may be adding a new skill to his resume: investigative reporter. Reeves, who is chairman of the Joint Legislative Budget Hearings taking place this week in Jackson, had his staff -- which includes his communications director, who used to be a newspaper reporter -- dig into state-agency spending, and is asking pointed questions of agency heads making their annual appropriations requests.
Group urges U.S. Rep. Nunnelee to oppose funding Obamacare
U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee's repeated statements that he voted to repeal, dismantle or defund Obamacare 40 times didn't get the job done for a group of demonstrators Tuesday who gathered outside the 1st District congressman's Tupelo office. The dozen or so local Tea Party members believe the fight to prevent a federal law requiring individuals to have health insurance shouldn't end when the law passed or even with failed attempts to repeal it. They want their congressional representative to vote against funding the law.
Ole Miss student recovering after Texas altercation
University of Mississippi student Carson Otter was visibly improving Tuesday after surgery to repair brain injury after he was struck and knocked to the sidewalk in Austin, Texas, during an apparent altercation early on the morning of Sept. 14. Ole Miss Dean of Students Sparky Reardon noted Tuesday on social media, "Got very positive report this a.m. from Carson Otter's mom. He's completely off ventilator, responding to stimulation and feisty." Tuesday afternoon Candy Ulshafer Otter wrote that her son had been able to stay off the ventilator for several hours. She said he was "doing fantastic" and that "the doctors are very happy with his progress."
Ground broken for U. of Southern Mississippi residence hall project
The University of Southern Mississippi broke ground on the largest and most expensive construction project in school history Tuesday, when officials planted their shovels in the soil behind the Thad Cochran Center on the Hattiesburg campus. Officials said they hope the $55.6 million multi-building residence hall project will provide one payoff in the form of college diplomas. "Research has shown that a positive residential hall experience has great impact on helping students achieve success both academically and as they grow and develop on their path towards graduation," Southern Miss President Rodney Bennett said during Tuesday's ceremony. The housing project will have three five-story buildings containing double occupancy rooms totaling 954 beds.
MUW Students Explore the Gulf
The Gulf of Mexico was the living laboratory for 16 biology students this past weekend. Squid, fish, crabs, jellyfish and electric rays native to the Mobile Bay were within their grasps as they explored and researched marine organisms at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama. Students in the ecology and animal behavior courses at The W spent hours on a large fishing boat as it trawled for samples of marine life.
Adcock joins Mississippi University for Women
Neshoba County resident Jared Adcock is working as a teacher intern at the Mississippi University for Women. The teacher internship (formerly referred to as student teaching) is the major phase of a developing cumulative series of academic and professional courses and laboratory experiences designed to prepare the prospective teacher for full teaching responsibilities with competence and confidence. Despite the university's expanded mission and curriculum, education remains one of its most popular and respected fields of study.
Speaker says God was 'cure'; Dr. Hannah Gay noted for work with infant with HIV
Dr. Hannah Gay calls the word "cure" a four-letter word, so you can imagine her discomfort with her celebrity-status as the doctor who cured a baby born with HIV. "I have spent the last six months saying, 'I didn't do it. I can't explain it. God did it. I just happened to be standing close by at the time,' " Gay told William Carey University students Tuesday. Gay, a pediatric HIV specialist at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, kicked off the William Carey University Lecture Series on Tuesday afternoon at Tatum Theater. Despite her humility regarding her findings, she said she is plowing forward to see if they can be replicated in the future.
Judy Bonner vows changes in Greek system at U. of Alabama
University of Alabama President Judy Bonner's message Tuesday that acknowledged discrimination by some sororities during their formal recruitment and offered assurances that steps were being taken to integrate the Greek system was hailed as a positive first step by faculty and students, who also insisted further action was needed to improve diversity on campus. Ross Green, a senior majoring in history at UA, said Bonner's statement was a laudable first step but not nearly enough on its own. "We need leadership from the very top, a university administration that is willing to say this is not tolerated, that is willing to arrest this segregation," Green said.
More than 500 people scheduled to protest U. of Alabama segregation Wednesday morning
More than 500 people are scheduled to march on the University of Alabama campus Wednesday morning to protest Greek segregation and demonstrate solidarity with the sorority women who spoke out against discriminatory recruitment practices in last week's The Crimson White expose. The protest is being organized by a coalition of concerned students and faculty, the same group who submitted an open letter to the administration via The Crimson White Monday, calling for public and transparent denunciation of Greek system segregation and discrimination. "When our tuition money subsidizes repeated acts of racism, we are allowing George Wallace's dream of segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever to live on," the email reads. "This is unacceptable."
PAVE program supports Auburn University student veterans
Auburn University is one of five schools chosen to participate in the Peer Advisors for Veteran Education program, or PAVE, a peer support program that will help ease the transition from military life to college life. Incoming student veterans will be paired with a current, experienced student veteran who can help guide them through this potentially stressful time. The program began on Auburn's campus Aug. 21 after David DiRamio, faculty advisor for Auburn University Student Veterans Association, attended a nationwide student veteran conference and met with the PAVE representatives.
Reitz Union renovation at U. of Florida on schedule; groundbreaking ceremony Saturday
Students walking on the University of Florida's North Lawn over the past week have been greeted by what looks like a disaster zone where the Reitz Union Colonnade once stood. Demolition of the Colonnade began on Sept. 5, marking the first major step in the two-year-long, $75 million Reitz Union renovation project, which will include a new entrance and a 100,000-square-foot addition to the 46-year-old student union. "We're all very excited about this project; it's going to be a great building once it's finished," said Eddie Daniels, executive director of the Reitz Union. A groundbreaking ceremony for the project is planned for 10 a.m. Saturday on the North Lawn.
UGA celebrates centennial of 'father of modern ecology'
Friends and colleagues remembered and celebrated "the father of modern ecology," former University of Georgia professor Eugene P. Odum, on his 100th birthday Tuesday. Odum, who died in 2002, founded what would become the Odum School of Ecology in 1967; on Tuesday, its auditorium was filled with those wanting to remember or learn about the man. Odum would have been "grinning from ear-to-ear" at the interest in ecology demonstrated at the celebration, Dean John Gittleman said, and at the direction the school has taken in its holistic approach. Odum's focus on the ecosystem -- a concept he championed -- resulted in the idea of it being a sum greater than its parts, a concept Gittleman characterized as "way ahead of its time." Now, the school is marked by its multidisciplinary approach, he said.
UGA foundation votes to buy building
The board controlling University of Georgia property voted unanimously Tuesday to pay $5.5 million for the Hodgson Oil Building at 286 Oconee St. in Athens. Although the company's name is still displayed on the brown building, the school has leased it since 2004 with an option to buy it at the price agreed to Tuesday. It houses the university police, public affairs, real estate and other departments. The UGA Real Estate Foundation board also voted to accept $1.2 million in dividends transferred from five of the 10 foundations it controls.
U. of Georgia to host exhibit on architectural intricacy
A gallery at the University of Georgia is set to host an exhibit on architectural intricacy. The exhibit, "Schema: The Work of Cheryl Goldsleger," is scheduled to run Oct. 3 to Nov. 8 at the Circle Gallery at the University of Georgia College of Environment and Design. It will feature drawings and paintings by Goldsleger, who uses drawing and encaustic techniques to look at architectural intricacy. Her work uses real and imagined structures to examine spatial relationships and the power of graphic realization.
UGA fair to introduce students to volunteer opportunities
The ninth annual Athens Volunteer Fair will be held from 11:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. today in the grand hall at the Tate Student Center at the University of Georgia. The event will introduce students and the Athens community to volunteer opportunities with dozens of campus-based service groups as well as Athens-area nonprofits, social services and government agencies. The fair is cosponsored by UGA's Center for Leadership and Service, HandsOn Northeast Georgia, Community Connection of Northeast Georgia and the Athens Banner-Herald.
Committee nearing decision on new Texas A&M chief of police
The search for the next chief of police at Texas A&M is almost complete. A 12-person search advisory committee, made up of representatives from across the university, has narrowed down the pool of applicants to three. Co-chaired by Assistant Vice President for Safety and Security Chris Meyer, the committee looked at 16 applicants for the position last held by Chief Elmer E. Schneider Jr., who was promoted to the rank of chief after Bob Wiatt, a former FBI agent, retired in 2004. Since Schneider's retirement last spring, Mike Ragan has served as interim chief. It was unclear if Ragan was among the candidates for the permanent position, which is being offered at a salary of between $105,000 and $120,000 per year, as Meyer did not release the names of the three finalists.
Columbia College, U. of Missouri partner to host Iraqi exchange students
In Mid-August, eight Iraqi students arrived on the Columbia College campus for a six-week program to study English, the American culture and engineering. Britta Wright, director of international student services at the college, said although Columbia College doesn't have an engineering program, having the Iraqi students here as part of the International Research Exchange has created a unique collaboration between the college and the University of Missouri.
U. of Missouri human research director receives new title, expanded responsibilities
The University of Missouri's human research protections director, Michele Kennett, received a new title and a bigger workload when she took on additional responsibilities on Tuesday. "It's not a new position; it's just a change in title," said Robert Hall, MU associate vice chancellor for research. "She's agreed to take on more responsibility. There is no increase in salary -- just more work." In addition to maintaining her current responsibilities, Kennett will work more closely with senior research division staff as the division's assistant vice chancellor for research. "She will assume additional responsibilities in the day-to-day operations of the research division, especially in the area of research compliance, and will continue in her present role as Director of Human Research Protections," according to a MU Office of Research announcement.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center cutting several hundred more jobs
Vanderbilt University Medical Center is eliminating several hundred more jobs this week as part of its plan to cut up to 1,000 positions by the end of the year. The cuts are expected to continue for several more weeks, and should be complete by late October. "What's happened here at Vanderbilt is today we've started this action, and several hundred people will be leaving the organization," said John Howser, spokesman for VUMC. This latest round of layoffs is part of the medical center's plan to cut $250 million from its $3.3 billion operating budget over the next two fiscal years. Jeffrey Balser, head of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, has told staff that the restructuring is part of a plan called "Evolve to Excel."
Feeling the Heat: The 2013 Survey of College and University Admissions Directors
Filling a class is the job of admissions, and the 2013 Inside Higher Ed Survey of College and University Admissions Directors shows just how hard that job has become. Just under 60 percent of admissions directors reported, for example, that they had not met their enrollment goals for this fall by May 1, the end of the traditional period of courtship of admitted applicants by colleges. It is of course common for community colleges to attract students right up to the point that classes start (if not after), and so it's no surprise that two-thirds of those institutions hadn't met their annual enrollment targets on May 1. Among all admissions directors, 46 percent reported that they were "very concerned" about meeting their targets this year, and another 30 percent were "moderately concerned."
15-Plus Drinks A Night: Teenagers Binge At Dangerous Heights
When teenagers drink, it's all too often all out, downing five or more beers in a session. But some teenagers are drinking even more, a study finds, boosting the upper limits of binge drinking to 15 drinks or more. Teen drinking rates have declined since the 1970s, but the rates of extreme binge drinking has remained stubbornly high. Prevention efforts have been focused on binge drinking at the five-drink level, an accompanying notes, not at the extreme levels reported here. Researchers need to start asking about extreme drinking routinely, the editorial says, so that scientists can figure out what kinds of interventions will help reduce this high-risk form of alcohol use.
Employers and Public Favor Graduates Who Can Write and Communicate
Americans adults and employers want colleges to produce graduates who can think critically and creatively, and can communicate orally and in writing, according to the results of a public-opinion survey released by Northeastern University on Tuesday. Respondents were far less interested in having students receive narrow training and industry-specific skills. In fact, nearly two-thirds of adults and three-quarters of employers agreed with the following statement: "Being well-rounded with a range of abilities is more important than having industry expertise because job-specific skills can be learned at work."
EDITORIAL: Katrina spending and budget hearings underscore need for mandatory audits
The Sun Herald editorializes: "Quite a few eyebrows were raised by recent reports of how Mississippi has spent billions of dollars and will spend hundreds of millions of dollars more in Katrina-related federal assistance. In their defense, some public officials have issued statements assuring taxpayers that their money has been and will be properly spent. Not that we doubt a single one of those testimonials, but how much better and more convincing it would have been had someone in elected or appointed office simply come forward with an independent audit of these expenditures verifying how and where all the money went. It boils down to the old adage of 'trust, but verify.'"
JOE ROGERS: Robert Khayat, Mr. Ole Miss | Joe Rogers (Opinion)
Columnist Joe Rogers writes in The Clarion-Ledger: "'Most people want progress,' Robert Khayat writes in his new book, 'but very few want change. This is true even if the change is a clear improvement.' Khayat learned that lesson the hard way as chancellor of Ole Miss, because it was his intent not only to change reality, but to change the way people thought about the university. 'We had to,' he told me the other day. 'Perception is just so powerful.' And too often, for too long, the perception of Ole Miss was shaped by images from 1962 and the rioting over the admission of James Meredith, the first black student. Khayat was determined to provide something more positive for the university, and the state."
BRIAN PERRY: Klan forced sin confrontation
Consultant and columnist Brian Perry writes: "This week marked the fiftieth anniversary of the bombing of Birmingham's 16th Street Baptist Church by a cell of the Ku Klux Klan, killing four young girls. Similar racially motivated attacks set on suppressing the civil rights movement earned the Alabama city the nickname 'Bombingham.' But Mississippi had its share of explosive attacks and murders in towns like Laurel, McComb, Philadelphia, Meridian and Jackson. And like Birmingham, the Klan targeted houses of worship in Mississippi. ...In its campaign to deny equality and freedom to black Americans, the Klan increasingly turned to violence, which -- whether in Birmingham or Jackson -- only emboldened civil rights workers and forced the silent majority of whites to confront sin and choose a side. Nelson's book includes stories of strength and redemption, and reminds us the fight for freedom has not only been oceans away, but also in our own neighborhoods."
SID SALTER: Will Mabus end up the fall guy in Navy Yard shooting?
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus may be cast in the role of the political fall guy as the search for answers in the Washington Navy Yard shootings continues. National news organizations already were examining that angle on the story less than 24 hours after the tragedy. One line of inquiry has been whether or not the Navy implemented an unproven security system as a means to cut costs while another focuses on allegations that felons may have been able to gain restricted access to Navy facilities on a consistent basis. The bottom line is that someone in a position of authority in the Navy will have to account for not only the actions of alleged shooter Aaron Alexis, but for his access to the supposedly secure military facility. ...But the knee-jerk conclusion that Mabus is somehow culpable is suspect at best. But as in the aftermath of most events of this nature, the country is quick to seek someone to blame and that target is now aimed at the Obama Administration."

Prescott has eye for Mississippi State WR Morrow
Joe Morrow didn't know which quarterback would be throwing him the ball against Auburn. Not until the first play at least, when Dak Prescott led Mississippi State's offense onto the field. Some of the first encouragement Prescott received during his first Southeastern Conference game came from Morrow. "I said, 'Let's get it. Let's go. I'm ready. You throw it, and we're going to make plays for you,'" Morrow said. Morrow's second catch of the season came on Prescott's second pass attempt against Auburn. The Ocean Springs native finished with four catches and a career-high 40 yards during the Bulldogs' conference-opening loss.
MSU's Robinson stronger, faster after losing 20 pounds
Josh Robinson has modeled his game after running backs of a similar mold such as Maurice Jones-Drew and Ray Rice. So when Robinson's weight hit 230 pounds last season on his 5-foot-9 frame he knew something had to be done. The sophomore running back at Mississippi State shed 20 pounds in the offseason to get down to the weight that his favorite two pros play at. "My body has changed tremendously," Robinson said. "(MSU strength coach Matt Balis) told me I needed to drop weight and get faster so that's what I did. Not only did I lose weight but I got stronger as well. I'm more conditioned and can be in for more plays. I feel like I can get more out of my body. That's the main goal to maximize your body to your full potential."
Mississippi State Notebook: Troy brings high-scoring offense to town
If there's one quarterback that knows what it takes to put it up big numbers on a Mississippi State defense, it's Troy's Corey Robinson. The senior racked up 343 passing yards in last season's 30-24 victory for the Bulldogs at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Troy. Robinson was the most by an opponent against a MSU team under head coach Dan Mullen since Houston's Case Keenum left Davis Wade Stadium with 434 yards in 2009. "Their quarterback is special, college football's current all-time leading passer," Mullen said Monday. "A very explosive player. They've always been able to put up points and they put up points in a hurry and it will cause a great challenge to us that way."
Mississippi State's Bell works on short (kicking) game
Devon Bell might need a new set of irons. The Mississippi State kicker misfired on a 35-yard approach last weekend against Auburn. It dropped the sophomore to 6 of 12 on field goals from 30-39 yards. From all other distances, he's 10 of 13. "Kicking is exactly like golf," Bell said. "Field goals, 35 and in you've got to pull out your 4-iron and hit it right in." It may be time to go with a smooth 3-iron, rather than the hard 4. "I've just been trying to hit the ball too hard," Bell said. "I've got to be a lot more smooth. I've got to slow my body down and just put points on the board."
Mullen: MSU doesn't have 'controversy' at QB
Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen said Monday he has been fortunate never to have "a quarterback controversy" in his coaching career. But the Bulldogs' fifth-year coach could face a decision Saturday that will test that assertion. With fifth-year senior Tyler Russell still not cleared to participate in physical contact and sophomore Dak Prescott coming off a solid performance Saturday in a loss to Auburn, Mullen may have to decide which players starts for MSU against Troy at 6:38 p.m. Saturday (FSN South) at Davis Wade Stadium. "I've never had a quarterback controversy in all my years coaching, (and) I've never had a tailback controversy, linebacker controversy or any of that," Mullen said. "You do your job when we tell you to run on the field. Perception is always different than reality."
Mississippi State tries to stop extended slide
The losing continues for Mississippi State, which now finds itself in an extended slide. The Bulldogs have lost seven of nine games dating back to last season, including Saturday's 24-20 loss to Auburn. It's been a humbling and frustrating stretch for a program that has been to three straight bowl games under fifth-year coach Dan Mullen. Now Mullen is trying to address a myriad of issues on both sides of the ball.
Senior guard Steele leaves Mississippi State basketball program
Mississippi State guard Jalen Steele has left the men's basketball program with the intention to transfer after he graduates following the spring semester. The program announced via a university release Tuesday afternoon that Steele "has decided not to play his senior season at MSU but will instead focus on graduating in the spring". Steele's mother, Terrara Kimber, told The Dispatch a few hours after the release was published that her son met with MSU coach Rick Ray Sunday to discuss the possibility of a redshirt year. Kimber said her son had concerns about the medical status of his knee and requested Ray allow him to redshirt the 2013-14 season -- a request Kimber says was denied by the MSU coach.
Oft-injured Mississippi State guard Jalen Steele elects to end basketball career
Mississippi State guard Jalen Steele has elected to end his injury-riddled basketball career and will focus on graduating this spring, the school announced Tuesday. Steele, a 6-foot-3 senior from Knoxville, Tenn., suffered two torn ACLs and a broken wrist during his Bulldogs career. He played in 78 games at Mississippi State, but missed 19 games due to injury the last two seasons. "What Jalen has experienced with injuries has been extremely unfortunate," MSU coach Rick Ray said. "He's battled through a lot of adversity, and it's important we do everything we can to support and help him earn his degree from Mississippi State."
Oft-injured Steele won't play senior season for MSU
Mississippi State senior guard Jalen Steele, who's career has been riddled by injuries, has decided not to play his senior season, the school announced Tuesday. He wants to focus on graduating in the spring. The Knoxville native has suffered two ACL injuries and a fractured wrist while at MSU. Most recently, he tore the ACL and meniscus in his right knee near the end of last season.
Mississippi State, veteran Jalen Steele part ways
After a school-issued release and a heated Twitter-venting session, this much is clear: Jalen Steele, a veteran guard, will not play this season. And he plans to graduate in the spring. But don't take that to mean his college playing career is over. Steele can now finish out the school year, graduate in May and transfer without penalty. Mississippi State released a statement Tuesday evening that Steele will not to play in 2013-14. The part-time starter has suffered two ACL tears and a broken wrist in his career.

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