Monday, October 14, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
Mississippi State sets $600M campaign goal with Infinite Impact
Mississippi State University announced Thursday its intention to raise $600 million through a capital fundraising campaign called Infinite Impact. "As our institution unveils 'Infinite Impact: The Mississippi State University Campaign,' it does so with a great purpose of shaping not only the university, but the future of the world in which we live," said MSU President Mark Keenum in the release. "This campaign is like no other in our history, and its success will be measured over time as private gifts allow us to make a positive difference on a global scale."
Mississippi's college overall enrollment falls, but some programs still climb
The beginning of September marked the first time in 20 years that the state College Board recorded an overall decline in university enrollment for Mississippi's eight public universities. Figures show a 0.6 percent decrease in overall enrollment for fall 2013, with a drop from 81,022 students in fall 2012 to this year's 80,532 -- a total of 490 less students enrolled at all of Mississippi's public universities. But despite that overall decrease, the state's four largest universities have seen promising growth in certain areas. Mississippi State saw a record enrollment of 3,156 first-time freshmen, an increase of almost 10 percent over the fall 2012 freshman class's 2,894 students, according to figures released from the university in September. Philip Bonfanti, executive director of enrollment, said Mississippi State's total scholarship freshmen also increased by 295 first-time students.
Mississippi State to host walking track ribbon-cutting Tuesday
A new one-mile loop walking track at Mississippi State University's Chadwick Lake will open during an official ceremony Tuesday. Officials with MSU and the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation will cut the ribbon. A "pumpkin walk'' will follow the 10 a.m. ceremony, with the first 100 walkers to finish the loop receiving free pumpkins. MSU President Mark E. Keenum; Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman; and Sheila Grogan, executive director of the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, are scheduled to speak.
Higher Education Briefs: Mississippi State focuses week on cybersecurity
Mississippi State will host several public programs this week examining critical issues of a hyper-connected, Internet-driven world as part of the university's sixth annual Cyber Security Awareness Week. From 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, the university's Information Technology Services will sponsor an information booth on Colvard Student Union's first floor. On Tuesday, J. Robert Mahaffey, the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security's cybersecurity director, will speak at 10 a.m. in the union's Fowlkes Auditorium about the state's role in cybersecurity awareness and cyberincident response.
Ferriss leads parade at Mississippi State University
Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Dave "Boo" Ferriss of Cleveland was the grand marshal of the Mississippi State University homecoming parade and was honored by the current MSU baseball team. A Shaw native, Ferriss played for the Bulldogs and coached baseball at Delta State University.
On the Move: Mississippi State University
Jeff Davis, a veteran alumni association executive at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, is set to become Mississippi State University's executive director of the alumni association on Nov. 18. Davis served as SFA's executive director of alumni affairs and also was chief executive of both the SFA Alumni Association and the SFA Alumni Foundation. He also previously was director of development for the SFA Alumni Association.
Mississippi State Administrator Wins Award
Mary L. Vaughn, assistant director in Assessment and Testing Services at Mississippi State, is being honored with the 2013 Service Recognition Award of the National College Testing Association. Vaughn has served the NCTA as leader of the organization's Marketing Committee, and has contributed significantly to the organization's governing board and Conference and Awards committees. "It was such an honor to receive this award from a professional organization, and I have enjoyed the work I've done with the NCTA," Vaughn said of the recognition.
Local girl picked to homecoming court at Mississippi State
Carriere native and graduate of Pearl River Central High School, Morgan McCormick has been named to the 2013 Mississippi State University Homecoming Court. McCormick is the daughter of Lt. Col. Berry McCormick and Debra McCormick of Carriere. Morgan said her sorority, Phi Theta Phi, nominated her to the homecoming court ballot this year and then she was one of two sophomores chosen to be on the homecoming court. Morgan said she grew up a Mississippi State fan because her father, Berry McCormick, is an alumnus and also a fan.
Willcutt's generosity, honesty shines through
Robbie Kroger could have been in a bind if not for a little help from his friend. Employed with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Kroger left his vehicle parked near Thompson Hall at Mississippi State University, where his office is located, before taking a recent long distance trip for work. A day later, Jim Willcutt, a biologist with the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks who works in the same building, called and told Kroger his truck had a flat tire. Willcutt's contribution to the solution, however, didn't just stop with bearing bad news. (Subscriber-only content.)
Professors Talk to MSU Students About Monitoring Their Credit
Think first. Swipe later. It sounds so simple. George Mason University professor Todd Zywicki says understanding the basics of credit will save your financial future. "As citizens I think it's important for people to understand consumer credit because we've taken such an interventionist approach since the financial crisis," said Zywicki. As a society that spends more than it makes, the professor drove home the principles of consumer credit at a round-table discussion with Mississippi State business students. "It's something that's different and outside their normal curriculum and a very hot topic in Washington and a very important aspect of their financial lives moving forward," said MSU Finance Professor Tom Miller.
Peanut farmers struggling with weather during harvest
The cool, damp nights that are making it feel like fall in Mississippi are slowing peanut harvests way down across much of the state. Mississippi's peanut crop was 28 percent harvested as of the last U.S. Department of Agriculture Crop Progress and Condition Report released Sept. 30. Because of the federal government shutdown, no new figures have been released in almost two weeks. At the end of September, 48 percent of the crop was listed in good condition, with 13 percent excellent and 39 percent fair. Charlie Stokes, the Mississippi State University Extension Service area agronomy agent who works with peanut growers in northeast Mississippi, explained why growers need favorable weather in October and November.
Devastation of Mississippi catfish farming detailed
The once thriving Mississippi catfish industry has been devastated by Asian imports, a Mississippi State Extension Service director told the Greenville Rotary Club on Thursday. In 2002, 111,500 acres were devoted to the catfish industry in Mississippi, said Jimmy Avery, a Mississippi State University Extension Service professor and director of the Southern Regional Aquaculture Center. "By 2012, we had had a 55 percent decline. Now, only around 51,200 acres are being used." (Subscriber-only content.)
Professor: Catfish production plummeted over last decade
An agriculture professor says Mississippi's catfish industry has been devastated by Asian imports. Jimmy Avery says that in 2002, the state had 111,500 acres devoted to the catfish industry. By 2012, that was down to 51,200 acres. Avery is a Mississippi State University Extension Service professor and director of the Southern Regional Aquaculture Center.
Mississippi State students receive national award of excellence
Scott Polley, Katherine Ernst, Victoria Scott and Josh McCrory are South Mississippi scholars from Mississippi State University who participated in the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum project between 2009 and 2013. More than 100 students representing six Mississippi State University disciplines were recognized Oct. 1 with the American Society of Landscape Architecture's Award of Excellence in Student Collaboration. Awards of Excellence are the highest honor bestowed by the ASLA, the national professional association for landscape architects, said faculty advisor Cory Gallo, assistant professor of landscape architecture at MSU.
AMS awards James 'Certified Broadcast Meteorologist' designation
WTVA's Kara James has earned the American Meteorological Society's Certified Broadcast Meteorologist designation. The CBM was given as professional recognition of the quality of her weather broadcasts. James is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor of science degree in meteorology and minor in broadcast journalism. In 2012, she received a master of science degree in geosciences with a concentration in broadcast meteorology from Mississippi State University.
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College to induct 2013 Alumni Hall of Fame honorees
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College will recognize the Alumni Hall of Fame and Sam Owen Award inductees at a ceremony and reception in their honor on Thursday. The honorees will also be recognized on Homecoming Day on Saturday. Honorees include John M. Hairston, who attended Mississippi Gulf Coast Junior College's Jefferson Davis Campus from August 1981-May 1982. After leaving the college, he graduated magna cum laude from Mississippi State University with a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering. Hairston has been co-chief executive officer of the Hancock Holding Company since 2006 and has been its chief operating officer since 2008.
Online startup YeHive buzzing; Starkville-based social media firm angling for growth
About a year after an encouraging but somewhat problematic start, a Starkville social media platform feels it has repositioned itself for the kind of growth it's hoped for since starting. YeHive is a platform allowing people to publicize their upcoming events, like weddings, parties or baby showers. Users can choose who views their listings, and people unable to attend can view real-time postings from events they're interested in. The platform is available for iPhone and Android devices. "I think now that we're ready for prime time," said Brad Fuller, the company's CEO.
City Hall work moving forward after former SED building demolished
All that is left of the former Starkville Electric Department's Main Street facility is a portion of its front facade. Demolition workers Thursday tore down the old building, making way for construction of Starkville's new, $6.7 million City Hall. Once construction begins, the facility should be completed by 18 months. The two-story building will house city operations, court and various internal departments. After site plans were debuted in April, the building was covered for most of the summer while workers removed asbestos. Demolition crews began their work early Thursday morning, and backhoes continued clearing rubble through the afternoon.
Youth Rally in Starkville Goes on Despite Church Fire
The Starkville Church of Christ had a small, kitchen fire on Friday morning but that didn't stop the church from hosting their annual youth rally. This year's rally theme is Discover the Church. Youth are encouraged to get involved in the church and learn to apply God's word to their lives. The rally is also held during Mississippi State University's homecoming weekend and gives teens like Brian Roberts a look at the college campus. "It's a great experience for those who are seniors. We get to experience the campus but also it's a great time to spiritually grow," says Roberts.
OCH Regional Medical Center budget projecting $1.5M operating income after adjustments
OCH Regional Medical Center's Fiscal Year 2013-2014 budget projects almost $1.5 million in operating income after administrators cut almost $2 million from expenses compared to the previous year. Hospital CEO Richard Hilton confirmed Wednesday a 5 percent pay cut will be implemented to employees who earn more than $8.50 an hour, while workers' 80-hour work weeks will be scaled back to 76 hours. The pay cut also applies to salaried workers. The scale backs were initiated to offset rising expenses and lower reimbursements for health care services. On Wednesday, Hilton said the hospital's moves are reflective of what all hospitals are going through with the changing state of the healthcare industry.
Trainer again says supervisors should pursue OCH Regional Medical Center financial analysis
Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors President Orlando Trainer says OCH Regional Medical Center's recent scale back with employee salary and work hours highlights the need to put the business through an independent financial analysis, a step required by law before a taxpayer-owned health care facility can be sold. OCH is implementing 5 percent pay cuts for workers earning more than $8.50 an hour, and reducing two-week pay periods from 80 to 76 hours in an attempt to curb expenses as the rate of uncompensated care reimbursements continues to slide. No layoffs will occur, OCH CEO Richard Hilton told the Dispatch Wednesday. Trainer, who pushed repeatedly in 2012 to have such an analysis completed, stopped short Friday of saying the hospital should be sold or leased. The board found traction last year to pursue proposals for an independent financial analysis but stopped short of executing such a study. A study then was estimated to cost about $35,000.
State's workforce aging, numbers flat
One-third of Mississippi state government's workforce will be eligible for retirement in the next five years. Deanne Mosley, executive director of the state Personnel Board, said the employees nearing retirement age are many of the state's leaders and supervisors. "They have an incredible amount of institutional knowledge," Mosley told legislative leaders recently. One of the issues that could impact whether state employees retire when eligible is money. If the employees received a raise, it could provide incentive for them to continue working to increase their retirement benefits.
15 Years Later, Where Did All The Cigarette Money Go?
Fifteen years after tobacco companies agreed to pay billions of dollars in fines in what is still the largest civil litigation settlement in U.S. history, it's unclear how state governments are using much of that money. So far tobacco companies have paid more than $100 billion to state governments as part of the 25-year, $246 billion settlement. In the mid-1990s, Mississippi was the undisputed leader on the tobacco issue. In 1994, Mike Moore, the state attorney general, filed the first state lawsuit against big tobacco. Moore is now the CEO of the American Legacy Foundation, a group created by the tobacco settlement. The organization's mission is to create national anti-smoking campaigns. The tobacco settlement included money specifically to fund public service announcements, but Moore says most of the settlement money came with no strings attached, and that has made it impossible to hold states accountable. In Mississippi, where the settlement money was put into a trust fund, a lot of it was spent on things other than smoking prevention and health care, Moore says.
Declining revenue batters many Mississippi casinos
Month after month, Mississippi's casinos are winning less from gamblers. Some months, such as August, see a blip, and revenue rises a little. But those are exceptions. After hitting nearly $2.9 billion in 2007, revenue fell 22 percent to $2.25 billion in 2012. And the take is on track to dip another $100 million in 2013, state figures show. Revenue is dropping because fewer people are coming through the doors at the state's 30 casinos. The number of customers fell from 10.1 million in the months of April, May and June 2007 to 6.4 million in the same three months of 2013, according to the Mississippi Gaming Commission.
Analysis: Cabana remembered in Mississippi as Parchman reformer
The Parchman penitentiary Donald Cabana returned to in 2004 when he again became warden looked little like what it had been 13 years before. He told the story many times of how he didn't like what he saw -- steel and concrete buildings each with 500-600 inmates. The changes had been coming since 1972, when a federal judge took control of a prison system wracked with crowding, forced labor and segregation. Starting in the 1970s, the state had a frenzy of construction at Parchman. "Personally, although improvements were made at Parchman, unfortunately the things that were good about it -- and there were some -- were tossed out," Cabana said in 2011.
Davis tapped for chief of staff by Hosemann
Former State Senator and lifelong Hernando resident Doug Davis has been named chief of staff for Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. Davis replaces Diane Hawks as Hosemann's chief of staff. Hawks had served as former White House operations director under President George W. Bush. The appointment was announced Thursday by Hosemann who cited Davis' "legislative experience, extensive background in policy and commitment to our state." Davis served in the state Senate for seven years. Davis served as chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee and the Universities and Colleges committee during his tenure.
EBT outage prompts disturbance, theft at Philadelphia Walmart
Customers staged a disturbance then walked out of a Mississippi Walmart store with groceries that hadn't been paid for Saturday night after a computer glitch left them unable to use their food stamp cards. People in 17 states found themselves unable to buy groceries with their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program cards after a routine check by vendor Xerox Corp. resulted in a temporary system failure. Shortly after the mini-riot in Philadelphia, managers decided to temporarily close the store, citing customer safety. The Philadelphia Police Department was not available for comment on Sunday.
Debt-ceiling breach would push economy into freefall, without a government safety net
The Obama administration will have to decide whether to delay --- or possibly suspend --- tens of billions of dollars in Social Security checks, food stamps and unemployment benefits if negotiations to raise the federal debt ceiling are not resolved this week, experts say, one of the many difficult choices officials will have to make at a time when the government will essentially be running on fumes. The government will begin Monday with about $30 billion cash in the bank and a little more room to borrow as a result of extraordinary measures launched in the wake of the debt-ceiling crisis. By Thursday, administration officials say they will exhaust all borrowing authority and have only that cash on hand. President Obama will have to make untested decisions about who and what to pay. Economists roundly agree that no matter which course Obama chooses, a drop in federal spending that large would exert a huge drag on economic growth.
Senate Talks Appear Stuck Over Broader Budget Considerations
Senate Democratic and Republican leaders indicated Sunday that their negotiations are stuck over questions of how to deal with the automatic spending cuts, known as the sequester. Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have been trying to forge an agreement to reopen the government and raise the debt limit. But they seemed to acknowledge in dueling statements that their talks have expanded beyond those two items and into broader discussions over future spending levels. In his comments, Reid expressed a willingness to postpone the question of top-line spending levels to another day -- after ending the government shutdown.
Upset over U.S. fiscal crisis, China urges a 'de-Americanized world'
Upset that the fiscal stalemate in Washington is threatening the global economy, China called for the U.S. dollar to be replaced as the international reserve currency as well as for broader steps to create a "de-Americanized world." China also called for an end to the "pernicious impasse" in the U.S. over the raising the debt limit and ending the partial government shutdown, saying the world needed another reserve currency so nations could protect themselves "from the spillover of the intensifying domestic political turmoil in the United States." Most countries hold their foreign exchange reserves in U.S. dollars because the currency is viewed as the world's most stable.
Fama, Shiller, Hansen Win 2013 Nobel Prize in Economics
Eugene F. Fama, Robert J. Shiller and Lars Peter Hansen shared the 2013 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for their research on how the market prices of assets such as stocks move. The three laureates, all Americans, "laid the foundation for the current understanding of asset prices," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which selects the winner, said today in Stockholm. "It relies in part on fluctuations in risk and risk attitudes, and in part on behavioral biases and market frictions." Their work spans almost 50 years of research.
What archaeology tells us about the Bible
The workday is just beginning in Jerusalem, 20 miles to the northeast over folded ridges and misty valleys, but the sound of clinking trowels and creaking wheelbarrows has been echoing across this hillside since dawn. Dust billows up in the morning sun as a worker sweeps away a section of the excavation, where Hebrew mingles with American accents and yarmulkes with wide-brimmed hats. Clad in soggy T-shirts, the crew sifts through the ruins of a city that some archaeologists believe was part of the biblical realm of King David 3,000 years ago. At 8:30 a.m., Yosef Garfinkel, the codirector of the dig, arrives to survey the project, one of the most prominent and politically sensitive in a country rife with historical excavations. For the past 20 years, a battle has been waged with spades and scientific tracts over just how mighty David and the Israelites were.
Former Ole Miss chancellor tells all in new book
He's known as many things, including a former college football all-star, an all-pro kicker for the Washington Redskins, a law professor, and perhaps his most distinguished title, former chancellor of the University of Mississippi. Robert Khayat spoke about his book, "The Education of a Lifetime," at the Lee County Library in Tupelo on Sunday. Khayat served as chancellor for Ole Miss for 14 years, and now he's telling all in his new book. A graduate of Ole Miss, Khayat returned as chancellor in 1995 in the wake of some unsettling problems.
Khayat speaks on respect, race relations, responsibility
Respecting others and working on a team fueled his successes as chancellor at the University of Mississippi, Robert Khayat told an audience at the Lee County Library on Sunday. Khayat charmed a full house when he spoke as a part of the Helen Foster Lecture Series about his new book, "The Education of a Lifetime." Khayat, who served as chancellor from 1995 to 2009, saw jumps in enrollment, increased numbers of honors students, the addition of a Phi Beta Kappa chapter and a growing operating budget under his leadership. One of his biggest challenges, he said, was the removal of the Confederate flag. Ole Miss' image suffered because of the flag, and he received death threats and hate mail over the controversy.
New York Times bestseller to address Welty Gala at MUW
New York Times bestseller Po Bronson will be the featured speaker for the 2013 Welty Gala Oct. 25 sponsored by the MUW Foundation. The event will be held at 7 p.m. in the Mary Ellen Weathersby Pope Banquet Room at Mississippi University for Women. Best-selling author Bronson has made a career of exploring the real lives of real people. He is the author of six books, including the No. 1 New York Times best-seller "What Should I Do With My Life?" The Welty Gala is a part of the signature Welty Series held annually in October to honor the university's world-renowned alumna Eudora Welty. As a part of the Welty Series, MUW also hosts the Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium Oct. 24-26.
U. of Southern Mississippi Army ROTC not alone in falling short
The University of Southern Mississippi is not the only Army ROTC program in Mississippi that has failed to make the grade when it comes to commissioning officers, despite the fact that it was the only Mississippi program closed by the Army. Army officials pegged Southern Miss' program for closure earlier this month based on a failure to commission 15 officers annually, a policy outlined by the Department of Defense. "The bottom line is they did not meet up to the required number of commissioned officers," Cadet Command spokesman Mike Anderson said. Army Cadet Command spokesman Paul Haverstick said the Army used different criteria in preserving Alcorn State's program and the JSU-MSVU joint program, while closing Southern Miss'.
USM set to broadcast Britain's National Theatre
Very soon famed actor Kenneth Branagh, all 24 feet of him, will make a larger-than-life appearance on the Southern Miss stage. "The university wants us to be on the forefront of everything," said John Warrick, chairman of the University of Southern Mississippi theater department. "Sometimes you just wander into something that's an opportunity to be just that." Throughout the 2013-14 academic year, Southern Miss will broadcast Britain's National Theatre at the Martha R. Tatum Theatre in the Theatre and Dance Building. It starts Tuesday with broadcasts on back-to-back nights of William Shakespeare's "Othello" starring Adrian Lester and Rory Kinnear on a 24-foot cinema screen.
Ex-USM leader Lucas honored with Winter-Reed Partnership Award
Aubrey Lucas, who has led two universities in Mississippi, is the latest recipient of an award bearing the names of two men known for their lifelong commitment to education in the state. Lucas, president emeritus and professor of higher education at the University of Southern Mississippi, received the 2013 Winter-Reed Partnership Award during a tribute dinner earlier this month at Lake Terrace Convention Center in Hattiesburg. Mississippi Association of Partners in Education launched the Winter-Reed Partnership Award in 2007 to honor former Gov. William Winter and Tupelo businessman Jack Reed Sr. for their lifelong contributions to public education and to provide ongoing recognition to Mississippians who demonstrate similar commitments.
Week of events set for Delta State University presidential inauguration
Delta State University and supporters from across the region will soon be gathering for a joyous inauguration ceremony honoring the university's eighth president, William N. LaForge. The Investiture Ceremony takes place on Nov. 1 at 10:30 a.m. in the Bologna Performing Arts Center on campus, which will be preceded by a week of scholarly and student activities and will conclude with the university's homecoming game on Saturday. The inaugural theme is "Celebrating Excellence," in tribute to the university's historic distinction that will continue under LaForge's leadership. The Honorable Thad Cochran, United States Senator from Mississippi, will be the keynote speaker for the main event. LaForge was a chief of staff to Cochran during his time in Washington, D.C.
Delta State sculptor has big plans
Woodchips are flying and metal is grinding in Michael Stanley's sculpture classes at Delta State University. Stanley is the new assistant professor of art and currently teaches beginning drawing, 3D design one and two, and sculpture one through six. Stanley plans to pair with the Delta Arts Alliance to begin teaching welding classes to local high school students that are at risk of dropping out of the education track after high school or not finishing their education. "Our country is in dire need of welders. We are short in that area and there are jobs everywhere. It's a skill that's teachable and learnable," said Stanley.
Domed stadium still on Jackson State University's agenda
Despite Jackson State pushing its plan for a domed stadium to the front page of its website earlier this week, there have been no new developments in the project. The content has been on for a while but was pushed to the top of the homepage this week. There have been no updates since the spring, JSU Executive Director of Communications Eric Stringfellow said. Information on Jackson State University's domed stadium can be found on "This is a project that we're committed to, but we still got lots and lots of stuff to work through, especially finance," Stringfellow said. "We're in the phase of just trying to identify the resources of making it happen." "Our next step is going to be dictated by what happens in the 2014 Legislature," Stringfellow added.
Healthcare Simulation Center opens at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College has opened its Healthcare Simulation Center at its Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Center in Gulfport. The new center will be the only simulation center with public access on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Part of the master plan for MGCCC's Nursing and Allied Health Division, the center will be available to Nursing and Allied Health students as well as clinical affiliates, community partners and public/private organizations not affiliated with the college.
U. of South Carolina student who was shot may be paralyzed
A municipal judge denied bond Monday morning for the suspect in a shooting early Sunday morning in Five Points that left an 18-year-old University of South Carolina freshman critically injured. Michael Juan Smith, 20, will remain in the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center, following his appearance before Judge James Guignard in a Richland County courtroom. The woman, who is from the Upstate, was hit in the 700 block of Harden Street by a stray bullet in a flurry of gunfire after two men began arguing, police said, adding the victim was not the intended target. A family member said the young woman had taken a friend visiting from Clemson University to Five Points. The family member said the victim may be paralyzed and likely will never walk again. The Five Points area, just east of USC's main campus, draws thousands of USC students every weekend.
Rate My Landlord program planned for U. of South Carolina students
University of South Carolina student Lindsay Richardson thought about moving off campus last year but had a really hard time figuring out which residence would be best for her lifestyle. Now, she is working as a part of Student Government to create a forum where students can help others by having a say about their experiences with off-campus housing complexes by completing a "Rate My Landlord" survey. It's kind of like the website "Rate My Professor" but for apartments.
Asbestos still lurks in spots around U. of Florida
Before renovation could begin at the Reitz Union this fall, workers in protective gear spent two hot summer months removing 9,050 square feet of asbestos-laden plaster coating from the Colonnade at a cost of $182,000. The asbestos in the exterior coating was discovered during a mandatory inspection required before any renovation, remodeling or demolition work is allowed at the University of Florida. "Here at the University of Florida, we don't contain it -- we made a conscious effort to remove it," said Curtis Reynolds, vice president for business affairs at UF. The goal, he said, is to "minimize the risk of exposure for students, faculty and staff alike."
Anti-abortion group bringing graphic signs to UF campus
For more than two years, Mark Harrington has been barnstorming the country with his anti-abortion message, using large graphic posters depicting abortions and fetuses to draw attention to what he calls a great American tragedy. Harrington, the executive director of Created Equal, a Columbus, Ohio-based foundation, will bring those images to the University of Florida's Turlington Plaza from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday. He said his goal is to grab students' attention with the shocking imagery. UF has free speech zones around campus, the two biggest of which are Turlington Plaza and the Plaza of the Americas. While UF can't regulate what people say on campus, it can regulate the time, place and manner of speech to assure that campus activities and work are not disrupted and that no laws are broken.
Tax-exempt status of U. of Florida Hillel restaurant is up in the air
The Alachua County Property Appraiser's Office and University of Florida Hillel are awaiting a new decision from a special magistrate regarding a dispute over whether a portion of Hillel used for a restaurant should remain tax-exempt. The property appraiser's office investigated Hillel's tax-exempt status after noticing advertisements for the restaurant, Sababa UF, through Groupon and WCJB TV-20. Byron Flagg, an attorney for Hillel, said Sababa helps Hillel accomplish its mission of providing a religious and cultural facility for Jewish students in the University of Florida community by serving kosher food. "It's pretty important for people in the Jewish community who are trying to keep their faith and are trying to keep a kosher diet," he said.
U. of Georgia earns economic development distinction
The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities has designated the University of Georgia an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University, the university announced last week. UGA is one of only 16 universities in the nation to receive the designation, according to a news release from the school. The new APLU designation acknowledges universities working with public- and private-sector partners in their states and regions to support economic development through a variety of activities, including innovation and entrepreneurship, technology transfer, talent and workforce development, and community development, the release noted. Economic development has become one of the cornerstones of UGA's mission under the direction of President Jere W. Morehead, who serves on APLU's Committee of Research Intensive Public Universities. "
LSU student robbed at gunpoint on campus early Sunday
An armed man robbed an LSU student early Sunday morning on East Campus Drive near the law school, university police said. A light-colored pickup stopped near where the student was walking on East Campus Drive at about 3 a.m. The passenger jumped out and demanded all items the victim had on him, spokesman Capt. Cory Lalonde said. The robber pulled up his hooded sweatshirt and revealed a handgun in his waistband, Lalonde said. Police issued a campus-wide text alert at about 3:40 a.m., informing people of the robbery.
LSU studies old ice for future insights
It may be many more lifetimes before humans discover a cure for cancer or learn whether there is life on Mars. Whether those discoveries happen within the next several centuries or not, LSU researchers believe they have evidence that those discoveries are at least possible, locked away in a sixth-floor freezer of the university's Life Sciences building. It's in that freezer that Brent Christner, an associate professor of biological sciences, and his colleagues store several hundred pounds of ice they had shipped from such far-off places as Siberia and Antarctica.
U. of Missouri research chief Rob Duncan leaving for Texas Tech
Rob Duncan, the University of Missouri's vice chancellor for research, will leave for a similar position at Texas Tech University starting Jan. 1. Duncan, who has worked at MU since 2008, announced Friday he will become the vice president for research at the university in Lubbock. Duncan said he was approached by a firm conducting the search for TTU's vice president of research more than a year ago. He expressed little enthusiasm at first, he said, because he enjoyed working at MU. "I really never planned to leave Mizzou," he said. When he heard Duane Nellis would take the helm of Texas Tech as president, he became intrigued. "I became very interested in Texas Tech because the state of Texas is concentrating their resources to make Texas Tech the third major 'Tier 1' research public university," he said.
Journalist symposium gives Texas A&M students career advice
A small group of veteran journalists met with a handful of journalism enthusiasts from Texas A&M on Friday to offer some of their experiences as professional writers. The symposium, "Truth in the Age of Nonfiction," included a panel discussion featuring Loren Steffy, a former Houston Chronicle columnist and author of Drowning in Oil: BP and the Reckless Pursuit of Profit as well as The Man Who Thought Like a Ship, and Denise Gamino, a former Austin-American Statesman writer and author of Around the World with LBJ: My Wild Ride as Air Force One Pilot, White House Aide and Personal Confidant, a story recounting the life and experiences of Gen. James J. Cross, or "Jim," President Lyndon B. Johnson's personal pilot. Their talks came after keynote speaker James McGrath Morris addressed the students in attendance. Morris is the author of Pulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power. The symposium was geared toward Texas A&M students interested in journalism.
Man found unconscious at U. of Missouri residence hall, pronounced dead Sunday
An 18-year-old man was pronounced dead Sunday morning after being found unconscious in an MU residence hall. According to an MU Police Department news release, MU police officers found Gregory Gerard Holthaus of Highland, Ill., unconscious and not breathing shortly after 9 a.m. Paramedics started performing life-saving procedures and transported him to University Hospital, where he was declared dead. Frankie Minor, director of MU's Department of Residential Life, said he believed it was Holthaus' friends who called emergency services. The official cause of death has not yet been released, but there is no indication of foul play, according to the release.
Giuseppe Verdi's arias displayed at U. of Missouri Honors College 'Speaking of Culture' talk
When Michael Budds hears the music of composer Giuseppe Verdi, it's as if he can't help but stand on his tip-toes and quietly sing the composer's arias in an operatic soprano that's usually left to the professionals. Those arias were on full display Sunday during the MU professor's "Speaking of Culture" talk, the second in a new series of lectures organized by the MU Honors College. Nearly 60 people gathered in Orr Street Studios for the lecture to learn about Verdi's opera and to celebrate the composer's 200th birthday, which was Thursday. Budds led the group through an exploration of Verdi's life and music. The 19th-century Italian composer is best known for his attention to the artistic preferences of the middle class.
Purdue's Mitch Daniels Says He Erred in Giving Conservative Talk
Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., who had pledged to remain nonpartisan after he made the transition from Indiana's Republican governor to Purdue University's president, said on Thursday that his recent decision to give a paid speech to a conservative think tank showed poor judgment. Mr. Daniels has been on the defensive for the past several days, following reports that he delivered the keynote speech on Monday at the Center of the American Experiment, in Minneapolis. The former governor said he had violated no university policy or tenets of his contract, but he acknowledged that he had created a perception problem.
Colleges consider whether e-cigarettes are covered by bans on smoking
As the use of electronic cigarettes grows, colleges are trying to determine whether the products fall under their tobacco-free policies, many of which were adopted before the new form of smoking took off. The University of Iowa became a smoke-free campus after a 2008 state law prohibited smoking in public places. At the time, e-cigarettes -- battery-powered devices not monitored by the Food and Drug Administration that provide doses of nicotine and other additives -- were not on the university's radar. Now, university groups, including the Faculty Senate -- are discussing whether e-cigarettes should be included in the ban. It's hard for university groups to come to an agreement, university spokesman Tom Moore said. If Iowa decides to forbid e-cigarettes, it would join a growing number of college campuses that have enacted similar bans.
Online Application Woes Make Students Anxious and Put Colleges Behind Schedule
With early admission deadlines looming for hundreds of thousands of students, the new version of the online Common Application shared by more than 500 colleges and universities has been plagued by numerous malfunctions, alarming students and parents and putting admissions offices weeks behind schedule. Colleges around the country have posted notices on their admissions Web sites, warning of potential problems in processing applications. For the nonprofit company, also called the Common Application, that creates the form, it has been a summer and fall of frantic repair work, cataloged on its Web site, and frequent mea culpas. In an interview, Rob Killion, the executive director, readily acknowledged a wide range of failings. But he said that they were being fixed and that the number of applications was up more than 20 percent from last year, indicating that students were successfully navigating the system.
OUR OPINION: Voter ID outreach is critical for state
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal editorializes: "Barring significant developments such as a court challenge, Mississippi's voter ID law is set to take effect with the congressional primary elections next June. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said last week in an interview with the Daily Journal that implementation efforts, including outreach to people who may not already have government-issued photo identification, are on schedule. It's been a long and contentious road."
OUR VIEW: State of health care should prompt closer look at hospital sale
The Dispatch editorializes: "This might be an excellent time to sell a hospital, if you happen to have one. This week, Oktibbeha County Hospital Regional Medical Center acknowledged it will cut pay for most employees in an effort offset a loss of almost $900,000 during the past fiscal year. While this is no knock on the administration of the hospital -- 90 percent of the state's hospitals finished the year in the red -- it does suggest that the county would be wise to take a serious look at Capella Healthcare's offer to lease OCH for $45 million in cash."
BILL CRAWFORD: A sensible proposal from Ryan
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: "Republican budget-master Rep. Paul Ryan emerged from self-imposed obscurity last week, speaking out on the government shutdown and looming default in an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal. His words deserve consideration..."
LLOYD GRAY: Not the way America works | Lloyd Gray (Opinion)
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Lloyd Gray writes: "The past is always judged in the context of the present, and it's not always as it is remembered. There really was no golden age of politics in Washington when everyone got along, the government was clicking on all cylinders and everything was run efficiently and effectively. Incivility is not new in the capital, and some politicians have always said bad things about other politicians. But because the past wasn't as rosy as we sometimes think it was doesn't mean the present isn't as dark as it seems. There's something different about today. While politicians have always been about self-preservation -- it's a basic characteristic of the breed -- up until fairly recently there was always a point where you could be confident opposing sides would come together to avert a catastrophe."
GEOFF PENDER: Rein in state's travel costs | Geoff Pender (Opinion)
The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender writes: "It's a hackneyed phrase around Mississippi politics, but you still hear politicians vow to run government like a business, or, in the vernacular, 'bid'ness.' Well, after spending about a month recently combing through state records, I believe I've happened upon something government officials could change to be more businesslike and save millions of tax dollars. Cut out the unnecessary travel. Bid'nesses did it years ago, at the first hint of recession and with commonplace technology. I work for a private business. If I and a few other colleagues walked in and told the bosses we wanted to go to a big conference in Cancun or the Virgin Islands, they'd think we'd lost our minds."
SID SALTER: The shutdown, the debt ceiling and memories of Sonny Montgomery
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "As the government shutdown and the subsequent rancor and gridlock reached new depths, I couldn't help but think about the late U.S. Rep. Gillespie V. 'Sonny' Montgomery. ...I pass Sonny's statue almost daily on the Mississippi State University campus. ...It was my pleasure to know Congressman Montgomery on a personal level. He was a man of great conviction who was guided by his principles and his fundamental love of God, his family and his country. But those principles did not lead him to doctrinaire political histrionics or lead him to conclude that the solution to the problems that vexed the U.S. government was to throw a wrench in the works of government."

Mississippi State QB duo's 1st half enough for win
An hour before kickoff Saturday night Mississippi State's four quarterbacks met at the 10-yard line. The meeting lasted more than five minutes. The huddle ended with each raising their hand toward the sky and then they broke into warm-ups. The group should have held the same get together to begin the second half. Tyler Russell and Dak Prescott guided the Bulldogs to three first-half touchdowns, but Bowling Green shut them out in the second half of MSU's 21-20 win Saturday.
Mississippi State dealing with injuries up front
In less than six days, the Mississippi State football team's public injury report went from a non-issue to a serious problem. Prior to his team's game Saturday against Bowling Green, MSU coach Dan Mullen said he expected everyone without a season-ending injury to play. Following a 21-20 victory against the Falcons, Mullen mentioned the Bulldogs' injured offensive lineman without solicitation. "We were really banged up front all week," Mullen said when asked if Bowling Green changed anything on defensive in the second half. "At one point, we had six starters (from last season) out on the offensive line."
Mississippi State baseball team dealing with pitching injuries
When asked which pitchers he wouldn't have for the start of fall scrimmages, Mississippi State pitching coach Butch Thompson could only joke. "How about an entire starting rotation?" Thompson said. "I think that would be a pretty important place to start." Thompson and the MSU baseball program were without three starting pitchers Friday when they started intra-squad scrimmages. Those pitchers are expected to compete for roles in the weekend rotation this season.
Mississippi State takes softball twinbill from Shorter College
Mississippi State softball coach Vann Stuedeman said last week that there would be a baseball-type of mentality brought to games next spring when it comes to managing the pitching staff Fans who attended Sunday's doubleheader against Shorter College got to see some of that approach In the second game, Shana Sherrod started the game in the circle and got it under control, while Alexis Silkwood came in and worked a perfect fifth, sixth and seventh as the Bulldogs capped the sweep with a 7-6 victory. (Subscriber-only content.)
Dillingham will give Mississippi State women's basketball another versatile defender
It's fitting Dominique Dillingham mentions three things when asked what role she feels she will play on the 2013-14 Mississippi State women's basketball team. While playing defense and bringing toughness and energy to the team very well may be some of the things second-year head coach Vic Schaefer expects from Dillingham, the 5-foot-8 freshman from Spring, Texas, her resume suggests she has the ability to do plenty of other things. "If you look at me, you think defense first, but I can score the ball as well," Dillingham said. "I like defense better, but I don't mind scoring."
Athletic department announces REBELS25 program
The Ole Miss Athletics Foundation has formed REBELS25, a membership program, as an opportunity for students, young alumni and community members to get involved with athletic programs on campus. REBELS25 is a foundation rebranded and integrated with The University of Mississippi Athletics Association Foundation. It's for people 25 years old and younger to participate in athletic foundations and make networking connections for the future. According to athletics demographics, the membership base of the athletics foundation is getting older. The foundation's goal is to get 10,000 members by the end of the year. "There is a gap of the ages in our donor base. This allows students to get involved while they're in school and while they're transitioning out of school," said Ashley Winning, assistant director of development. "We're all about inclusivity; we want people involved."
Family's lawsuit finalized after Ole Miss football player's death
The family of a Mississippi football player who died following a workout reached a settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit against the university and the NCAA this summer, but it was finalized this week after going through probate in chancery court. The family of 20-year-old Bennie Abram, III came to a settlement with Ole Miss and the NCAA. The Southaven man died in 2010 after collapsing during an off-season workout in Oxford. According to settlement documents, the family will receive $50,000 from the Ole Miss Athletic Foundation's insurance company. The university will also pay for any undergraduate and graduate courses Abram's mother and two brothers take at the school.
UGA units working to keep beach clean on Georgia-Florida weekend
The University of Georgia Marine Extension Service and Georgia Sea Grant are reaching out to Athens and the UGA community through social media sites to prevent littering on St. Simons Island beach on Nov. 1, the Friday before the annual Georgia-Florida football game in nearby Jacksonville. Volunteers are also being sought to clear the beach of litter at the Community Beach Sweep, which will be held at 7:30 a.m. Nov. 2 on St. Simons Island. The past several years, thousands of pounds of waste have been left on the beach after football fans and visitors tailgate and celebrate before the football game.
Big-Time Sports Pose Increasing Risks for Universities, Moody's Says
Success in big-time college sports can increase universities' visibility and improve their brands, but a heightened focus on athletics also presents increasing financial and reputational risks, Moody's Investors Service said in a report released on Friday. The credit-rating agency's report examined the implications of athletics programs at NCAA Division I institutions. It found that athletics budgets have increased rapidly relative to other expenses. The report also said that 90 percent of athletics programs were not self-sustaining and required subsidies. Moody's also warned that the long-term costs of athletics programs were uncertain, given growing concerns about head injuries and unresolved, high-profile litigation that is challenging the NCAA's system of amateurism.
Popular sports supplements contain meth-like compound
A popular and controversial sports supplement widely sold in the USA and other countries is secretly spiked with a chemical similar to methamphetamine that appears to have its origins as an illicit designer recreational drug, according to new tests by scientists in the USA and South Korea. The test results on samples of Craze, a pre-workout powder made by New York-based Driven Sports and marketed as containing only natural ingredients, raise significant health and regulatory concerns, the researchers said.

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