Friday, October 18, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
IHL finalizes Mill plans; fed approval last hurdle
The Mill development moved another step toward becoming reality Thursday when the state college board approved a series of agreements finalizing the project's plans. The long-awaited development will transform Mississippi State University's Cooley Building into a conference building with office space, a 450-space parking facility, a Marriot Courtyard Hotel and mixed-use business parcels in the area near the Russell Street-Highway 12 intersection. Developer Mark Castleberry said Thursday he is awaiting approval from the National Parks Service for Cooley Building renovations -- the facility was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, 10 years after MSU acquired the former cotton mill -- before workers can turn dirt on the project. "We have refused to settle for anything that did not meet our highest expectations -- logistically, aesthetically or financially," said MSU President Mark Keenum in a release.
College Board approves The Mill at MSU development
The College Board has given its approval to a series of interrelated agreements for a development at Mississippi State. The approval finalizes plans for The Mill. The development includes three main projects: transforming the landmark former cotton mill into a conference center with adjacent office space, building an adjacent hotel and developing mixed-use business parcels in the land adjacent to the university's old physical plant. In August, the state College Board approved a land-use agreement between MSU and the city of Starkville for the project's parking garage.
College Board Approves The Mill at MSU Project
The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning on Thursday approved a series of interrelated agreements that finalize plans for The Mill development, according to Mississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum. "We have refused to settle for anything that did not meet our highest expectations–logistically, aesthetically or financially," said Keenum. "And we are confident that we have it right and we're grateful that the state College Board shares our vision." The project will bring a conference center, hotel and parking garage complex centered around MSU's historic E.E. Cooley Building.
The pump goes greener at Mississippi State University
Can you imagine pumping renewable gasoline or diesel fuel into your car? That's the plan at Mississippi State University where the Sustainable Energy Research Center opened its doors to the public Thursday. The first ever National Bioenergy Day attracted people from all walks of life. "We'll never replace gas. We'll never replace diesel, but we can definitely be a good supplement and generate a good fraction of the total fuel needs of the U.S," Sustainable Energy Research Center Director Glenn Steele said. MSU scientists are taking their research to the next level -- to consumers.
Tuition likely to rise at five Mississippi universities
Tuition is likely to be increased at five of Mississippi's eight public universities. The College Board gave preliminary approval to tuition plans for the next two academic years Thursday. The board must vote a second time before the plan becomes final. The plans would push tuition above $7,000 a year at the University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University and the University of Southern Mississippi. Mississippi universities have been using money from tuition increases to meet cuts in state funding since 2010, but also to provide pay increases to faculty members and other employees. Higher Education Commissioner Hank Bounds said the pressure to compete with other universities on pay is most intense at Mississippi's larger universities. "Research institutions, compared to research institutions in other states, are the place where we're seeing the big salary gaps," Bounds said.
Mississippi State Program Tries To Bridge The Gender Gap
Female faculty and staff members of Mississippi State University had the chance to learn how to bridge the gender gap in the workplace on Thursday. The President's Commission on the Status of Women hosted a luncheon with a panel of successful women throughout the area. Each woman shared personal experience stories and expertise to help women move up the business ladder. "We have a lot areas I guess on the campus where some users may be stuck in their positions so we felt it was necessary to give them information to help them promote themselves or negotiate for better pay to kind of narrow that gender gap between men and women," says Tamara Gibson.
Ever hear of the gender gap?
Some advice was given Thursday to women and minorities looking to boost their salaries. That subject was on the table at the President's Commission on the Status of Women and the President's Commission on the Status of Minorities at Mississippi State University. "We hope that they will have some takeaways from the session that they can go back to their jobs and their careers and basically have the tools needed to advance themselves in their positions," coordinator Tamara Gibson said.
Carroll County Land Benefits Mississippi State University
A gift of real estate in Carroll County serves as a lead contribution for Mississippi State University's Carsie Clark and Diane Worthington Young Wetland Education Theater and increases a previously established endowment for the James C. Kennedy Chair in Waterfowl and Wetlands Conservation. James C. Kennedy, chairman of Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises, provided the gift valued at more than $4.7 million. Proceeds from the sale of the land will be used to help complete the theater and provide additional funding for the position Kennedy endowed in 2008 in MSU's College of Forest Resources. "This incredibly generous gift from Mr. Kennedy is a prime example of how the Infinite Impact Campaign will shape the future of Mississippi State University," said MSU President Mark E. Keenum.
MSU-Meridian Awards Riley Scholarships
MSU-Meridian presented Riley Next Step Scholarships to 64 outstanding community college graduates this week. This is the fourth year in a row that these scholarships have been awarded. The scholarships provide four semesters of free tuition and fees to transfer students who are continuing their education at MSU Meridian. The Riley Foundation and other donors have made almost $400,000 available to these area students to continue their education. "Students of outstanding academic record as well as well as personal service and great personality are actually rewarded for their hard work," said Dr. Toby Bates, assistant professor of history. "And we're very excited on this campus to have students of this caliber walking our halls and taking our classes."
An inside look at the forest products industry at MSU
Have you ever wondered how many times you sit in your favorite chair over the course of five years? That's a matter of study for furniture manufacturers who want their products to last. It's one of a number of lessons to be learned for some 4,000 students, teachers and parents from across the state in the annual Mississippi State University Wood Magic Science Fair.
Mississippi State, Prestage Farms Team Up on Swine Research
A partnership with Prestage Farms Inc. is allowing Mississippi State University to improve its swine research facility as university scientists prepare to resume swine-related studies. John Blanton, head of the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences at MSU, said there is a need in the Southeast for science-based information on swine production. "As a department, we will be investigating swine management systems that will improve production efficiency in the Southeast," Blanton said.
Outdoor tourism focus of conference
Two Mississippi State University units are helping sponsor a conference for people interested in developing outdoor recreation and tourism businesses. The MSU Extension Service and Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development are promoting the annual Alabama-Mississippi Rural Tourism Conference Oct. 28-30. The conference is designed for landowners, business leaders, Extension agents with community and economic development responsibilities, and local tourism personnel.
MSU's Scott Willard named associate dean of College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Scott Willard, a Mississippi State University professor and administrator, is the new associate dean in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Willard, head of the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology, has been at MSU since 1999, first as a professor of reproductive and environmental physiology in the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences before taking the helm in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2007.
Former mayor opposes changes to Starkville sidewalk ordinance
Former Starkville Mayor Dan Camp delivered a blistering letter Tuesday urging aldermen to preserve the city's sidewalk ordinance unless they want the city to suffer a major setback. Camp, one of the notable Starkville developers who owns a significant amount of Cotton District property, said in his letter that the city's progressive developments were born from previous boards -- his administration issued the first version of the city's current sidewalk ordinance -- and that repealing the sidewalk ordinance would "take us another 50 years to recapture lost ground." Ward 4 Alderman Jason Walker delivered the letter.
'A Time To' Revisit Clanton, Miss., In John Grisham's Latest
In his new novel Sycamore Row, John Grisham returns to a character close to his heart: Jake Brigance. Grisham introduced Jake to readers in his first novel, A Time to Kill --- an adaptation of which is opening soon on Broadway. Grisham insists that he didn't plan for his first new Jake Brigance book to come out as the same time as the play. "You know it makes us look real smart," he says. "There is no way, if we had planned, that it would ever happen. It is completely coincidental." Grisham acknowledges that Jake is his most autobiographical character. "I wanted to be a real trial lawyer," he says. "That was my dream when I finished law school 30-something years ago."
Literary Rainmaker John Grisham: 'Sycamore Row' is the long-awaited sequel to 'A Time to Kill.'
John Grisham loves writing his books, which he turns out at a furious pace of two a year. He just doesn't like reading them. "I've never read an entire book after it's published," he said during a recent interview at his loft-like office in downtown Charlottesville, Va. "I'm really tired of them." Mr. Grisham is probably in the minority with that opinion. He wrote the sequel anyway. "Sycamore Row," out next Tuesday, takes place in 1988, three years after the murder trial that drives the plot of "A Time to Kill." "Sycamore Row" is poised to be one of the biggest novels of the fall, in a season full of releases from commercial heavyweights like Stephen King, James Patterson and Lee Child.
Mississippi is losing some of its best and brightest grads
Tim Mask believes Mississippi is being plagued by a correctable problem. During Thursday's Economic Vibe meeting at the Knight Nonprofit Center in Gulfport, Mask, who heads up the Mississippi Brain Drain Commission in addition to serving as the vice president of brand planning and development at the Maris, West and Baker advertising agency, said eight out of every 100 people who earn bachelor's degrees or better from Mississippi leave the state. Mask said the trend of graduates leaving is hurting the Magnolia State and will continue to do so unless action is taken.
Wright backs Common Core, prekindergarten in Mississippi
Incoming state school Superintendent Carey Wright gave strong endorsements Thursday to the new Common Core education standards and prekindergarten education. Wright, a former District of Columbia and Maryland school administrator, was named last month as Mississippi's next state schools chief. She's scheduled to start work Nov. 11, but met with reporters at a news conference after attending the Board of Education's monthly work session. Wright said she believes the multistate Common Core standards have been unfairly maligned and are a chance to improve learning in lagging schools. "I honestly, in my heart of hearts, believe that Common Core has the chance to be a game-changer for children across this nation," she said.
New state education chief promises results
The new leader of Mississippi's public schools said the system's challenges are "not insurmountable." Carey Wright, 63, was introduced to the public on Thursday during her first press conference since being named state superintendent of education on Sept. 25. She spoke of Mississippi's "untapped potential" and said its high level of poverty was "not an excuse." "We are going to address each and every issue we have," Wright said while speaking at the Mississippi Department of Education headquarters. "We are going to take it head-on with a sense of urgency, and together we are going to accomplish some amazing things. I have no doubt about that."
New state education chief: Poverty not an excuse
Mississippi's new state superintendent of education is passionate about every child achieving to his or her highest potential. Carey Wright, who arrived in the state Monday and officially begins work Nov. 11, said Thursday she's ready to get to work in a state known for poverty, low student achievement on the national level and too few dollars supporting the public schools. Wright says she's a "huge advocate" of Common Core. "It has the opportunity to be a game-changer for children all over this nation." The curriculum is rigorous, but necessary, she said, to challenge children to learn what they need to have a successful future.
McDaniel targeting Cochran in Senate bid; GOP state lawmaker says it's time for change
Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel, an ambitious political up-and-comer with strong tea party support, on Thursday announced he's running for U.S. Senate next year, for the seat held by six-term incumbent Republican Thad Cochran. Cochran, 75, has not said whether he will seek a seventh term. His only response to McDaniel's announcement Thursday was a statement from his office that Cochran "has indicated that he will determine his plans regarding the 2014 election cycle later this year." Cochran is known in Beltway circles as "Gentleman Thad" or a nickname from Time magazine, "The Quiet Persuader," as someone who could work across the aisle and broker deals and compromise with Democrats. He was known back home for being able to bring home the bacon. But the bipartisan work and earmarks that once brought him accolades have in recent years brought some criticism.
McDaniel tosses hat into U.S. Senate race; state senator running for Cochran's seat
The day after Congress and President Barack Obama negotiated an end to the partial government shutdown, state Sen. Chris McDaniel pushed the bipartisan deal to the center of his 2014 U.S. senatorial bid. McDaniel, 41, a second-term state senator and attorney, announced his candidacy on the steps of the Ellisville Courthouse, located within the 42nd District that he represents. Martin O'Neal, a Hattiesburg business owner, said that it's time to see more energetic and robust leadership in Washington than what Mississippians are receiving from either Sen. Thad Cochran or Sen. Roger Wicker. "In this climate, I think anyone can win," O'Neal said. "It's a brave new world."
Tea Party's McDaniel running for U.S. Senate against Thad in 2014
Second-term state Sen. Chris McDaniel said Thursday that he's running for the U.S. Senate in 2014, a decision that likely pits him against longtime incumbent Thad Cochran in the Republican primary. Henry Foreman of Diamondhead criticized Cochran for bringing so much federal money to Mississippi. McDaniel has been closely allied with tea party supporters and is chairman of the state Senate Conservative Coalition, which had 11 members when formed in June.
Tea Party Candidate Challenges Thad Cochran
Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel announced Thursday afternoon that he will challenge six-term Sen. Thad Cochran, potentially setting up a dynamic and divisive GOP primary in the Magnolia State in 2014. McDaniel kicks off his bid with support from several national conservative groups, including the Club for Growth, Senate Conservatives Fund and the Madison Project. The seat is safely in GOP hands, but Cochran is still mum on whether he will seek re-election. He's said he will make a decision by the end of the year. A longtime appropriator, Cochran has leveraged his seniority to bring home funds for decades. Mississippi's economy relies heavily on federal funds -- thanks in part to the state's high poverty level.
Reactions to Chris McDaniel's U.S. Senate announcement
Taking on the established Washington leadership. That's what Chris McDaniel plans to do. Republican strategist Henry Barbour says there's one twist to this story. "It's a little bit unusual for somebody in the same party to run against somebody who's viewed as a legend," explained Barbour. Barbour isn't convinced McDaniel is ready. "Senator McDaniel is ineffective in the state senate and not really able to get much accomplished in the state senate. So it's hard to think why he deserves to be promoted," said Barbour. "I don't take Chris McDaniel lightly. But he's got an uphill battle."
Recriminations and fundraising follow congressional votes on budget
The government shutdown is over, for now. Let the blood-letting and fundraising begin! Within hours after Sen. Thad Cochran, a Republican from Mississippi, voted for a budget deal that reopened the government, two influential conservative advocacy groups announced their support for a state senator challenging him in the 2014 primary. Cochran, one of 27 Republican senators to vote for the measure, has served in the Senate since 1978. The ready-aim-fire at Cochran may have been a first blast of anger but it was unlikely to be the last. Tea party loyalist Sarah Palin offered a road map of the activists' dismay in a Facebook post after the Senate vote.
Conservative groups back Thad Cochran opponent
A trio of outside groups endorsed a Mississippi Republican state legislator's primary challenge to Sen. Thad Cochran Thursday. Club for Growth PAC, the Senate Conservatives Fund and the Madison Project PAC all offered support for state Sen. Chris McDaniel, 41, who has tied himself closely with tea party groups and announced his bid earlier in the day. Cochran, 75, has not said whether he will run for a seventh term next year. He has picked up his fundraising some, but he voted Wednesday night for the budget compromise to reopen the federal government -- giving any potential opponent fodder for attacks.
Barbour laments GOP tactics on budget
Former Mississippi governor and Republican National Committee chairman Haley Barbour on Thursday called GOP tactics resulting in a partial government shutdown "foolish" and "stupid." After speaking at the Tupelo Luncheon Civitan Club on the topic of the state's energy policy, Barbour, an influential politico nationally, turned from policy to the politics of the recent partial federal government shutdown in response to a question from the audience. Barbour said the aggressive tactic could hurt Republicans and could have an impact leading into mid-term elections in 2014. "I think the way the Republicans went at the budget was really stupid," he said. "In my business of politics, you don't pick a fight you know you'll lose."
Mississippi GOP lawmakers split on vote for shutdown deal
After weeks of federal furloughs and partisan fighting, Rep. Gregg Harper broke with other Mississippi Republicans and voted late Wednesday for legislation to end the partial government shutdown and extend the debt ceiling. Reps. Steven Palazzo and Alan Nunnelee, both members of the conservative Republican Study Committee, were among 144 GOP lawmakers who voted against a bill crafted in the Senate to end the shutdown and raise the nation's $16.7 trillion debt ceiling. Rep. Bennie Thompson, the lone Democrat in the delegation, voted with all other House Democrats for the measure. Thompson said he's glad House Republicans have "ended their political gaming."
GOP's McConnell promises no more shutdowns over ObamaCare
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell says he will not allow another government shutdown as part of a strategy to repeal ObamaCare. McConnell (Ky.) told The Hill in an interview Thursday afternoon that his party learned a painful political lesson over the past 16 days, as its approval rating dropped while the government was shuttered. He said there's no reason to go through the political wringer again in January, when the stopgap measure Congress passed late Wednesday is set to expire. "One of my favorite old Kentucky sayings is there's no education in the second kick of a mule. The first kick of a mule was when we shut the government down in the mid-1990s and the second kick was over the last 16 days," he said. McConnell said the best chance of reforming ObamaCare before 2017 will come if Democratic support for the controversial law erodes dramatically.
From the Right, Despair, Anger and Disillusion
On talk radio and in the conservative blogosphere, the bipartisan vote on Wednesday to reopen the government without defunding President Obama's health care law was being excoriated as an abject surrender and betrayal by spineless establishment Republicans. But for glum and frustrated conservative voters on Thursday around breakfast tables in eastern Tennessee, in the shadow of a military base in Colorado Springs and on the streets of suburban Philadelphia, it was as much a surrender to reality as to Democratic demands.
Republicans reassess after shutdown debacle
The GOP establishment has embarked, once again, on a round of soul-searching. But this time, the question is: What will it take to save the Republicans from the self-destructive impulses of the tea party movement? That the government shutdown was a political disaster for the party that engineered it is widely acknowledged, except by the most ardent tea partyers. And that near-unanimity presents an opportunity for the establishment to strike back -- and maybe regain some control from the insurgent wing. "You roll them," advised former Senate majority leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.). "I do think we need stronger leadership, and there's got to be some pushback on these guys who think they came here with all the solutions." Only then, he said, can the party begin to push an agenda and "get things done," rather than obstruct. Added another Mississippian, former governor Haley Barbour: "They need to get back on substance." Barbour noted that the upcoming conference committee on the fiscal 2014 budget presents an opportunity to do that.
Wicker named to joint budget panel
Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a member of the Senate Budget Committee, has been named to a budget conference committee between the House and Senate. The legislation to reopen the government passed by Congress Wednesday required the panel to deliver a spending plan to both chambers of Congress by Dec. 13.
Mississippi TEA Party disappointed in Steven Palazzo
U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-4, appears to be taking a hit from the TEA Party, even though he was among those who supported until the end a TEA Party-backed movement that sparked the government shutdown. "Steven has disappointed us in many, many ways," said Roy Nicholson, chairman of the Mississippi TEA Party. "Although we do appreciate his vote against the compromise." But Palazzo isn't conservative enough for the TEA Party, which backed his primary opponent, Joe Tegerdine, in 2010. Nicholson pointed to the FreedomWorks website that rates Democrat Rep. Bennie Thompson just as conservative as Palazzo. "We really feel like our congressional delegation betrayed us," Nicholson said.
Southern Dems to Seize on Chaos
Democrats are taking the advice of one of their own, former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, and not letting the recent debt-ceiling crisis go to waste. At a town-hall meeting this week at the Jackson Medical Mall sponsored by Democratic political groups and labor unions, about 85 people discussed ways to promote social-justice issues in the South and, by extension, help put deeply conservative states like Mississippi back in Democratic hands. Robert Shaffer, president of the Mississippi AFL-CIO, said that Republicans often woo poor and working-class white voters on social wedge issues such as abortion, gay marriage, guns and other issues that tap into deeply rooted racial hostilities. "White people in Rankin County think it's their God-given right to be on CHIP, but if a black person's on it, (whites think) that's welfare," Shaffer said of the state Children's Health Insurance Program.
Bobby Jindal, Haley Barbour boosted visa firm
A company now closely tied to former Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe, and currently under scrutiny for allegedly trying to win political favors from the Department of Homeland Security, earned high-powered support only a few years ago from Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and then-Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, according to documents obtained by a nonpartisan watchdog group. Both Jindal and Barbour wrote letters to DHS in 2008 seeking federal approval for the firm Gulf Coast Funds Management to become a regional EB-5 center -- a hub that helps channel foreign investment into American projects and opens a path to green-card status for foreign businessmen.
137,800 in state in health insurance 'coverage gap'
A new study shows 137,800 low-income Mississippians fall into a health insurance "coverage gap." They're currently uninsured. They earn too much to enroll in Medicaid but too little to qualify for government subsidies that would reduce their cost of buying private health insurance. The number represents 37 percent of uninsured Mississippi adults who are younger than 65. Mississippi is one of the poorest states in the nation, and it has the highest percentage of residents in the coverage gap.
Problems with scientific research: How science goes wrong
A simple idea underpins science: "trust, but verify". Results should always be subject to challenge from experiment. That simple but powerful idea has generated a vast body of knowledge. Since its birth in the 17th century, modern science has changed the world beyond recognition, and overwhelmingly for the better. But success can breed complacency. Modern scientists are doing too much trusting and not enough verifying -- to the detriment of the whole of science, and of humanity. Too many of the findings that fill the academic ether are the result of shoddy experiments or poor analysis.
Remarkable skull hints at dramatically simpler view of human evolution
Five remarkably preserved, 1.8-million-year-old skulls are opening a unique window on early human evolution. In the process, they hint that several early human fossils found elsewhere and identified as different species may actually all be members of this same species, according to a new study. Scientists discovered the skulls and other skeletal remains as they were excavating a long-studied site at the small town of Dmanisi on the southern border of the Republic of Georgia. All the specimens represent individuals who lived at various times within the same roughly 100-year span, suggesting they belong to the same species, the researchers say. The discovery represents "a significant contribution to our understanding of the origins and evolution of our own genus, homo," says Donald Johanson of Arizona State University.
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College honors Hall of Fame inductees in Biloxi
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College hosted a ceremony and reception Thursday night at Beau Rivage Resort and Casino to honor several important graduates. The college's 2013 Alumni Hall of Fame, Sam Owen Award, Athletic Hall of Fame, Bulldog Hall of Honor and Spirit of Gulf Coast inductees shared the limelight. "It's an exciting night," MGCCC President Mary Graham said. Graham praised the inductees and the school that was a step on the road to success.
Judge rules Horwitz's election challenge involving U. of Alabama sororities to proceed at trial
A legal challenge to the results of the District 4 Tuscaloosa City Board of Education election is going to trial after all. Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court Judge James Roberts ruled Thursday that incumbent Kelly Horwitz had met the legal requirements of Alabama law to move forward with her challenge. Kirby, a political newcomer, beat Horwitz 416-329 in the Aug. 27 municipal election. However, Horwitz raised claims of massive voter fraud involving University of Alabama students immediately after the election. In court Tuesday, her lawyers presented a list of nearly 400 names of people who allegedly voted illegally. Most were UA students who either did not meet residency requirements or voted in return for a promise of free drinks or concert tickets, her attorneys said.
Auburn University homecoming queen surprised by nation's reaction to her adoption story
When Auburn University senior Molly Anne Dutton elected to share the story of her birth mother's decision to choose adoption over abortion as part of her "Light of Life" campaign for Miss Homecoming 2013, she was worried about how her fellow students would respond to it. In the months of planning, it never occurred to the 22-year-old that she might need to consider how the nation would perceive it as well. "I keep saying the word bananas," said Dutton, who has appeared on 'Fox and Friends' and in national publications since her crowning.
U. of Florida students demonstrate in front of Tigert Hall for tuition equity
Members of the University of Florida Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) want tuition equity, and they want it now. In a demonstration organized by SDS, about 30 students gathered at 1 p.m. Thursday on the steps of Tigert Hall to speak out in favor of equal tuition for in-state students in the country without authorization. "We have to win where we can fight; we have to fight where we can win," said Chrisley Carpio, 21, SDS lead organizer and master of ceremonies for the event. Throughout the demonstration, which lasted about a half hour, representatives from UF CHISPAS, the Hispanic Student Association, the Institute of Hispanic-Latino Cultures, Students for Justice in Palestine, Graduate Assistants United and the AFL-CIO spoke to the crowd about the issues unauthorized students face and the need to reform tuition policy.
Sustainable Communities Focus of U. of Arkansas Summit
Building and maintaining sustainable communities was the focus of the second-annual Sustainable Communities Leadership Summit Wednesday from the Wyndham Riverfront in downtown North Little Rock. The event, titled "Thrivability: Growing Sustainable Communities," was hosted by the Applied Sustainability Center at the University of Arkansas Walton Business College. It brought together community leaders from across the state and region to address how local communities can demonstrate leadership and innovation on issues related to sustainability. Luncheon keynote speaker Ruth Randleman, mayor of Carlisle, Iowa, said small cities can set examples of how to lead on sustainability issues. Other keynote speakers included John Robert Smith, former mayor of Meridian, Miss., and co-chair of Transportation for America.
Georgia's university system, technical colleges work together to produce more grads
The state's two public higher education systems are cooperating as never before to build an educated Georgia workforce, the systems' respective leaders told an Athens audience this week. "We will meet all the requirements of industries and business that they will have the workforce they need," said Ron Jackson, commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia. Jackson and University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby spoke Wednesday morning to a small group of invited education, business and political leaders in a downtown meeting room of Athens Federal Bank and Trust. The pair also addressed a meeting of the Athens Rotary Club later in the day.
LSU fieldhouse fire leads to evacuations
A Thursday afternoon fire at LSU's Huey P. Long Fieldhouse on Field House Drive caused the evacuation of a handful of students, faculty and staff from the building, but did not injure anyone, Baton Rouge Fire Department investigators said. A preliminary investigation pointed to a blow torch used during some construction work as the source of the early afternoon blaze that began in parts of the wall and ceiling near the back of the building's first floor, said Robert Combs, a Baton Rouge Fire Department spokesman.
U. of Kentucky hopes to boost student retention with prescriptive analytics
Student data analytics are not a miracle cure -- nor are the models easy to set up -- but some institutions represented at the annual Educause conference said they are already seeing the benefits of identifying at-risk students before they drop or fail a course, as opposed to after the fact. Speakers during back-to-back sessions Thursday gave participants an introduction to building their own analytics models, then showed how the University of Kentucky is using student data to improve retention. Common to both sessions was a charge that institutions can do more with data they already collect than they do today.
U. of Kentucky to pay former pediatric surgeon more than $1 million in settlement
University of Kentucky HealthCare will pay Dr. Mark Plunkett more than $1 million as part of a settlement after Plunkett's pediatric cardiothoracic surgery program at UK was shut down and he resigned to take a job at the University of Florida. The agreement, signed Monday and obtained by the Lexington Herald-Leader under Kentucky's Open Records Act, also gives Plunkett salary supplements over two years to make up the possible difference between his former UK salary of $700,000 and future annual earnings. Plunkett was recently let go by the University of Florida, according to a statement from that institution. UK officials declined to comment on their settlement with Plunkett, except to say it would be paid out of clinical revenues, not general-fund money or state revenues.
Internal review of U. of Kentucky's pediatric heart surgery program doesn't say why it was closed
An internal review of the University of Kentucky's pediatric cardiothoracic surgery program does not address why the program was voluntarily shut down last fall, despite numerous calls for transparency from affected parents, some of whose children died. The only clues are in the task force's recommendations, which call for a total revamping of pediatric cardiac care at UK, including the creation of a new, dedicated intensive care unit for pediatric heart patients, staffed by doctors and nurses with special training.
Martha Childress's family planning forum on Five Points for U. of South Carolina students
University of South Carolina students may be on fall break, but efforts are underway to sustain momentum for change in Five Points. The family of freshman Martha Childress, who was paralyzed early Sunday morning after being shot in Five Points, is planning a campus forum for students. Family representatives met with university officials Thursday afternoon to set a time, date and location for the event, said Steve McNair, a Charlotte developer who works with Childress' family and is helping coordinate the forum. "Martha says, and her Mom has said, something good has got to come from this," McNair said. "We're all connected to this university and this town."
Texas A&M President Loftin announces administrative reshuffling
Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin announced Thursday the administrative reshuffling that will fill the administrative duties of departing Vice President for Administration Rodney McClendon. Loftin, in a note to faculty and staff, said B.J. Crain, vice president for finance and chief financial officer, will temporarily oversee the administration and finance divisions. The changeover will take place Oct. 31. "I am confident she will effectively lead the division during this time of transition," Loftin said of Crain.
Three Texas A&M professors win 2013 Bush Excellence Awards
The 2013 Bush Excellence Awards have been handed out to top Texas A&M faculty. This year's winners include Cynthia Boettcher for international teaching, Nicholas Suntzeff for international research and Mark Holtzapple for public service. A&M Provost Karan Watson and George Bush Presidential Library Foundation Chief Executive Officer Frederick McClure presented each recipient with a plaque and a check for $2,000 during an awards ceremony on Wednesday hosted by university President R. Bowen Loftin and the A&M International Advisory Board. Three award winners have been recognized annually since 2002. President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush, with financial assistance from the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation, helped establish the awards.
U. of Tennessee nursing students offered first global disaster program
Should a catastrophe occur, Knoxville is the best place to be. Created in 2005, the University of Tennessee is the first and only university to offer the Global Disaster Nursing Program. An innovative graduate degree that trains nurses to manage disastrous events, the program educates students on how to navigate natural disasters, man-made disasters, large-scale public health emergencies and humanitarian relief. Program director, Susan Speraw, Ph.D. and RN, believes the program addresses the rising need for nurses with the ability to not only care for victims, but act as knowledgeable leaders. "Our objective is to produce interdisciplinary professionals who are able to be leaders in response, policy development, education," Speraw said. "We're not focused just on disaster just in the United States. We're aiming to prepare our students to respond in a broader context."
U. of Missouri students printing less in digital age
University of Missouri students are printing less now than they were five years ago, despite the university adding about 3,300 more user accounts since then. Some faculty attribute this trend to better information accessibility, while some students say their decreased printing use echoes their concern about the environment. In 2009, students printed about 13.4 million pages. Four years later, they printed about 12.3 million pages, a decrease of about 9 percent, according to reports generated in September by the MU Division of Information Technology. At MU, students are awarded printing quotas based on their status; undergraduates receive $35 in printing for the academic year, while graduate students receive $50 for the same time frame.
Explosion of Wireless Devices Strains Campus Networks
Information-technology departments around the country are being tested by an explosion in the use of personal, Internet-capable wireless devices on campuses. The phenomenon -- sometimes referred to as BYOD, or "bring your own device" -- is not confined to higher education, but has nevertheless created a unique confluence of demands on campuses, where the core customers have a voracious appetite for mobile technology. Campus-technology officials say they struggle to maintain and expand wireless-network capacity in heavily taxed locations, such as lecture halls, common areas, and sports venues. They are excited about integrating wireless technology into classroom learning, but worry about safeguarding personal and research data increasingly viewed on mobile devices. Underscoring their concerns are budget realities and an obligation to transparency and collaboration.
Willeford: Perry "Going After" UT-Austin, Powers
Did a former chief of staff to Gov. Rick Perry say in 2011 that the governor and his appointed regents were targeting the University of Texas at Austin and its president, Bill Powers, "because we can"? That's what Pamela Willeford, a former U.S. ambassador and former chairwoman of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, alleged in a mass email to her friends, a message that The Texas Tribune obtained Wednesday. Earlier this year, state lawmakers accused Perry-appointed regents at the University of Texas System of being on a "witch hunt" targeting Powers. A legislative committee is currently mulling articles of impeachment against one regent, Wallace Hall.
The Whitest Historically Black College In America
It opened in the late 19th Century as the Bluefield Colored Institute, created to educate the children of black coal miners in segregated West Virginia. Although it still receives the federal funding that comes with its designation as a historically black institution, today Bluefield State College is 90 percent white. The road that separates those realities is as rocky as any story of racial transition in post-WWII America. The story of Bluefield State's racial transformation is wrapped up in many of the big political and economic upheavals of the late 20th century, although you might not guess it from the serene setting.
OUR VIEW: No time for guerrilla warfare
The Dispatch editorializes: "The Affordable Care Act will succeed or fail not because of anyone's opinion of it. It will succeed or fail on its on merits after it is implemented. The people will decide. That is the way it should be. The practical reality is that roughly 275,000 Mississippians who do not have health insurance or are not already covered by Medicare are required to enroll in the ACA or pay a fine. It is in the best interest of everyone that enrollment is achieved with as little confusion as possible. If our elected leaders obstinately choose to impede that effort, they will have not struck a blow against a law they don't like. They will have done an injustice to the people they are sworn to serve. The war is over. Let the guerrilla war be over, too."
EDITORIAL: Spare us another $24 billion political feud
The Sun Herald editorializes: "Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker are to be commended for voting to end the shutdown of the federal government after 16 days. As for Congressman Steven Palazzo, their Republican colleague in the House of Representatives, his eagerness to precipitate the shutdown and his unwillingness to vote to end it are indefensible. According to an estimate from Standard & Poor's, the shutdown has already taken $24 billion out of the economy and may exact an even higher price as its effect ripples through the rest of this fiscal quarter. What will be gained by this loss? Nothing. That is Palazzo's own assessment."
CECIL BROWN: Some hear God saying do more for the poor and sick
State Rep. Cecil Brown of Jackson writes: "In recent public statements, both Gov. Phil Bryant and Speaker of the House Philip Gunn have raised the issue of religion and how it affects their work in the public offices they hold. Gov. Bryant told a group of school kids that Christianity 'shapes his world view.' He went on to say that his Christian faith leads him to oppose abortion and support the display of nativity scenes on government property. He has also opposed any and all efforts to create health care exchanges and has opposed Medicaid health insurance expansion. Speaker Gunn said he opposes expansion of Medicaid health insurance coverage for the poor because, he argues, that his reading of the Bible indicates that 'It is not the government's job to take care of its citizens' and that 'people should not look to the government for their provision, their dependence or their joy.' I read these opinions and thought how different they are from how Christianity and the Bible inform my own world view. For the religious community, caring for the poor and the sick is a timeless obligation."
BILL MINOR: Chaney unfairly targeted by right
Longtime political observer and columnist Bill Minor writes: "Mike Chaney, the Vietnam War veteran and for 15 years a state legislator who is now the state's elected insurance commissioner, is a rare Republican. He's an unabashed moderate. Because he has shown compassion for Mississippians to buy medical insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act (otherwise called Obamacare), he is being targeted by crazies in his party as consorting with the 'enemy.' Reminds an old-timer like me how the old Citizens Council use to brand as traitors any public figure who did not slavishly toe the Councils' segregation line. Tea-partiers and a handful of collaborators in Congress who shut down the federal government for three weeks in a mindless attempt to eviscerate Obamacare, brought pain to thousands of disadvantaged Americans."

Mississippi State has dealt with crazy season
Jump back to August. Tell anyone on Mississippi State that before Halloween it would lose its starting safety and left guard for the year. It'd transform its offense into a two-quarterback scheme. Dillon Day's consecutive start streak would be snapped --- due to suspension. Don't forget about the rumors of an NCAA investigation circulating around Ole Miss' recruitment of freshman Chris Jones. And then the Yahoo Sports report claiming former players received impermissible benefits from an agent. All the while back on the field LaDarius Perkins would have just one touchdown. "You're crazy man. I would've been like, 'What?'" defensive lineman P.J. Jones said. "But hey, that's football. Things happen. Things come up."
Bulldogs bulk up hoops roster
Mississippi State was picked to finish last in the Southeastern Conference last season. The Bulldogs finished 10-22 but four of those victories came in conference play -- good enough to finish one spot out of the cellar. It may not have been much, but that was one of the positives in Rick Ray was able to take away from his tumultuous first season in Starkville. This year, MSU was predicted to finish 13th at SEC Media Days ahead of Auburn. Ray's roster was decimated by attrition, suspensions and injuries last season leaving as little as six scholarship players available for games. One benefit from that is the Bulldogs will have all five starters returning this season.
Bulldogs' Ware compares team to Lakers
Rick Ray may be the new Phil Jackson --- at least according to Gavin Ware. Through the first few weeks of practice, Ware's teammates have made that kind of impression. Thursday at Southeastern Conference Media Days Ware compared himself and freshman point guard I.J. Ready to the former Los Angeles Lakers duo Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal. "Just like I talked about our guys being overconfident, I would say that's over confidence," Ray said. "If those guys come close at all to being like that, I'll be really satisfied. But I think that's a little bit of a reach at this point."
Ware hopes to be center of attention for Mississippi State men
Every time Rick Ray talks about Gavin Ware he uses the word "throwback" as if he is using the lingo of a past generation of basketball. In Ware, the Mississippi State University men's basketball team's second-year coach has a traditional post player who likes to stay in the paint. But more and more post players, including numerous international standouts, like to drift to the perimeter -- even beyond the 3-point arc -- to stretch defenses. Ray is glad his 260-pound sophomore center knows who and what he is. "I like being described as that old-school post player that likes having his back to the basket, likes banging with the big bodies, and likes the physicality of the game," Ware said Thursday at Southeastern Conference Media Days.
Wilson thrives on field, may not hit hardwood
De'Runnya Wilson was named Mr. Basketball in the state of Alabama last season at Wenonah High School. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound power forward averaged 18.4 points and 15.8 rebounds as a senior leading the Dragons to a 34-2 record and a third straight state title. However, Wilson spurned several basketball scholarships for the opportunity to play football at Mississippi State but also expressed a desire to walk on to the basketball team as well. Originally during Wilson's recruitment, both Dan Mullen and Rick Ray planned to share Wilson's talents. But Wilson is already making an impact on the gridiorn for State as a true freshman. He has appeared in all six games hauling in seven passes for 134 yards and a touchdown.
College Board approves plan for new Ole Miss basketball arena; expected to cost $100 million
The Ole Miss Athletic Foundation plans to borrow almost $80 million to build a basketball arena and parking garage that could cost up to $100 million. The College Board, meeting Thursday at Jackson State University, approved plans for the University of Mississippi to lease 8.3 acres on the west side of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium to the foundation. The 9,500-seat arena is scheduled to be completed by January 2016 and would replace the 9,061-seat Tad Smith Coliseum, built in 1967. Ole Miss says the current arena is outmoded and worn out. But first would come an 820-space parking garage, costing up to $15 million.
LSU seeks higher ticket prices for football, baseball
LSU is planning to raise football ticket prices for next season and baseball prices for 2015. The announcement came in the form of a news release Thursday in which athletic director Joe Alleva cited a need for the university "to stay competitive at the highest level of collegiate athletics, but also because of the rising costs of doing business on a daily basis." The timing wasn't the best considering there were 15,000 no-shows for the Tigers' game against Florida last Saturday in Tiger Stadium, leading Alleva to post a letter to fans on the athletic department website Tuesday. In the letter, Alleva detailed steps the university is taking to address traffic and parking difficulties as well as long lines entering the stadium.
Auburn fans in for sea of maroon for first visit to Aggieland
Auburn fans in Aggieland for the Tigers' first visit to Kyle Field will be met with an even larger-than-normal sea of maroon at Saturday's sold-out game. It's Maroon Out. Each year since 1998, one home game has been designated as Maroon Out, with A&M's Class Councils selling an average of 40,000 to 45,000 T-shirts per year. The student organization has sold about 28,000 shirts so far this year, not counting sales this week. Shannon Overby, the CEO of the Bryan-College Station Convention and Visitor's Bureau, said she has yet to see negative press about Aggieland's hospitality and hopes Auburn fans will enjoy all that the area has to offer. That includes the reopened George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.
Battle of Bristol could net more than $4.3 million each for Tennessee, Virginia Tech
The "Battle of Bristol" football game between Tennessee and Virginia Tech in 2016 could pay each school more than $4.3 million, according to a term sheet obtained by USA TODAY Sports through a public records request. The figure is based on a sellout of 141,100 grandstand seats at Bristol Motor Speedway, plus royalties the schools will receive for use the use of team logos on event-specific merchandise. Each team is guaranteed $3.5 million for 25,000 tickets sold, $3.75 million for 32,500 tickets sold and $4 million for selling out the 40,000-ticket allotment each team will be provided to sell to its fans. Each team will receive an additional $300,000 if the speedway grandstand sells out.
Judge considers hold on sports participation rule
Sixteen Tupelo and Starkville teenage soccer players likely will learn today if they can participate in both their high school teams and independent club play. The players, and their parents or guardians, asked U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock on Thursday to put a temporary halt to a new rule that bans some of them from playing both, while allowing others to do so. "I'm having a time and trouble understanding the rationale for removal of the exception," Aycock told MHSAA's attorney, Jeff Trotter. He and Don Hinton, association executive director, insist that revocation of the exception was to put soccer on the same basis as all other high school sports. As the hearing drew to a close, Aycock questioned MHSAA about how it made its rules changes.

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