Friday, January 10, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
Mississippi State students well represented in state art contest
Students from 11 colleges across the state submitted 767 works of art to the Mississippi Collegiate Art Competition, and of those, 124 pieces were chosen for display this week. Mississippi State University Interim Art Department Head Jamie Mixon said of those 124 pieces, 35 came from MSU, submitted by 22 students. She said this is the second straight year where MSU has had more entries selected for MCAC than any other school. (Subscriber-only content.)
Maritime museum group has 'fantastic' buildings to work with, MSU architects say
The Mississippi Maritime and Warship Museum's soon-to-be home has great bones and lots of potential, a group of Mississippi State University architects told them on Thursday. The group was in Pascagoula on Wednesday and Thursday to perform a design charrette to identify options for the site of the future museum, which will be housed inside two buildings at the old Pascagoula High School campus on Dupont Avenue. "It's a fantastic building," said David Perkes, director of the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio. "It has a lot of character." But because the building is so old, there are many factors to consider in repurposing it.
Plains GP Holdings Appoints Bobby Shackouls to Board of Directors
Plains GP Holdings announced that effective Thursday Bobby S. Shackouls has been appointed as an independent member of its Board of Directors. Shackouls served as Chairman of Burlington Resources Inc., a natural resources business, from 1997 until its acquisition by ConocoPhillips in 2006, and continued to serve on ConocoPhillips Board of Directors until his retirement in May 2011. Shackouls is the President of the Mississippi State University Foundation, a non-profit organization created to aid the continued improvement of the university. He began his professional career in the oil and gas industry with Exxon after graduating from Mississippi State University in 1972 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering.
Study: Education underfunding affects class
Underfunding of public education has resulted in a reduction in teachers, increased class size and facilities that do not adhere to safety standards, according to a study done of five school districts. Rhea Williams-Bishop, executive director of the Center for Education Innovation, said Thursday her organization commissioned the study to move beyond the political rhetoric surrounding public education funding. The Center for Education Innovation report was presented to about 40 legislators during a luncheon Thursday. Only five of the legislators were Republicans, who control both chambers of the Legislature and the governor's office.
Pay lags for Mississippi government employees
Mississippi government employees make an average of $9,108 less than their counterparts in the surrounding states of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee, said the Mississippi State Personnel Board director Thursday. Deanna Mosley told lawmakers that for the budget year that ended June 30, the average in Mississippi was $34,506. The four states' average for equivalent jobs during that time was $43,614. Mississippi government employees' most recent across-the-board pay raise was approved during the election-year legislative session of 2007. It's unclear whether lawmakers will consider a raise this year. The next election is in 2015. Employees not covered by the Personnel Board work for schools, community colleges, universities, the Legislature and the governor's office. That means some of the higher salaries in state government -- those of university football coaches and physicians at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, for example -- are not calculated in the average.
House OKs concussion bill; legislation targets injuries in youth sports
The House on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a youth concussion bill. House Bill 48, passed Thursday by a vote of 116-1, would set protocols for dealing with any young athlete showing signs of a concussion. Under the legislation, an athlete who reports or show symptoms or signs of a concussion must be removed from a practice or game for at least one day and wouldn't be allowed to return to practice or competition until cleared by a health provider. Both the House and Senate are pushing the youth concussion legislation this session. Mississippi is the last state in the country without a youth concussion law.
Taskforce Focuses On Mississippi Teacher Shortage
A Mississippi task force is getting closer to making recommendations aimed at addressing the state's teacher shortage. The task force met at the Capitol yesterday to look for changes in state law that could led to more and better teacher staying on the on the job in Mississippi. A big focus, says Senate Education Committee chairman Gray Tollison of Oxford is focusing on recruiting the best high school students into teaching. "Have universities actively recruiting young people. And high school counslors into what would be a selective teaching program. And I think it would be an important component of what would be a long term solution for our teaching shortage," Tollison said.
Palazzo debunks myths surrounding flood insurance and homeowners
Rep. Steven Palazzo of Gulfport took to the floor of the House of Representatives this week as part of continuing efforts to draw attention to the need for flood insurance reform and dispel myths about the homeowners affected by rising flood insurance rates. "There are those who have said these people are just a bunch of wealthy, waterfront homeowners," Palazzo said. "That's simply not true. I can tell you that is not the case in my district. I'm hearing from teachers, veterans, fishermen, people who work at the shipyards in support of our Navy. These are everyday Americans, some of whom live 50 or 100 miles or more inland."
MDA executive to lead Monroe County Chamber
William "Skip" Scaggs has been named the Monroe County Chamber's new executive director, effective Feb. 1. Scaggs is a familiar face in Northeast Mississippi, having attended numerous economic development announcements. Since 2010, Scaggs has been director of existing business and business division at the Mississippi Development Authority. "Skip has been an important part of the MDA team, helping our existing businesses grow within the state, even during some tough economic times," said MDA Executive Director Brent Christensen. "Monroe County Chamber of Commerce is gaining a proven, results-oriented leader who will work tirelessly to bring economic development success to the county. We wish Skip the best of luck in his new position."
Stabenow urges compromise for farm bill
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) on Thursday urged all sides to back down and agree to a dairy compromise in order to complete the stalled farm bill. Stabenow says she has floated compromises to resolve a deepening dispute between Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and supporters of dairy production controls in the Senate farm bill. "Over the weekend we've got to come to a conclusion here ... we are basically down to focusing on differing approaches on dairy," she said. "It would be a shame if the Speaker tried to stop the farm bill at this point."
Farm bill in trouble
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas conceded Thursday that final action on a farm bill conference report is now likely to slip into late January -- a major blow to himself and an ominous turn for the bill itself. The draft package combines a landmark rewrite of commodity programs together with cuts from food stamps to generate in the range of $25 billion in 10-year savings, according to preliminary estimates. These accomplishments remain a strong argument for saving the bill, but the persistent in-fighting and delays are taking their toll and a worry for supporters.
December jobs report worse than expected
Breaking a win streak, employers in December added a dismal 74,000 jobs, yet the unemployment rate fell sharply to 6.7 percent, the government said Friday in a confounding report that went against a number of other indicators showing a firming economy. Mainstream economists expected hiring in the range of 200,000 jobs for December, but the government reported less than half of that in hiring last month. Adding to the confusion, the Labor Department revised upwards the November hiring number of 203,000 to 241,000. That makes the weak December number all the more confusing.
MUW President Borsig Celebrates Third Year as Leader
The New Year brings a new semester and new goals for Mississippi University for Women President Jim Borsig. Now, three years on the job, his plans for the future of the Columbus campus continue to evolve. Last year, the "W" saw they largest number of graduates in the schools history, handing out 817 degrees. Now, Borsig wants to continue his mission of creating a connection with MUW and the are it serves.
Former MUW president Strobel dies in Florida auto accident
A former president of Mississippi University for Women was killed in an automobile accident in Florida earlier this week. James Walter Strobel, 80, died at the UF Health in Jacksonville, according to reports in The Florida Times-Union. Strobel was a passenger in a van that was struck by a tractor trailer on Wednesday. Leading MUW from 1977-88, Strobel was president of the Columbus-based university during the time it began admitting men.
Raising awareness: USM fraternity takes part in 'Sleep Out for the Homeless'
It's been 100 years for Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, and members of its local chapter celebrated in style Wednesday night, bundled up in the cold and the dark of Town Square Park. Strange choice, perhaps, but that's the point, according to University of Southern Mississippi senior Tyler Artis. Homeless people don't have a choice. "We would much rather be toasty warm," Artis said. "But we need to bring awareness to things that are going on outside the Hattiesburg campus." The cause was "Sleep Out for the Homeless," an annual event that usually takes place in March on the Southern Miss campus.
New administrator hired at Mississippi Valley State
Mississippi Valley State University has hired a new administrator to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. The Greenwood Commonwealth reports that Dr. Jerryl Briggs came to MVSU from Central State University, a historically black university in Wilberforce, Ohio, where he vice president for student affairs and enrollment management.
Death of Vanderbilt research piglet upsets animal rights activists
The 2012 death of a piglet being used in a pediatric research project at Vanderbilt University Medical Center has reignited scrutiny of the Nashville health institution by animal rights activists. The death of the animal, which came to the attention of federal officials in a routine inspection, is the latest controversy to surface at the facility and has led critics of the use of animals in research to call for other federal action against the medical center, possibly including fines. A USDA official said Vanderbilt had addressed the problem and no additional action was necessary.
UGA climate scientist to take part in White House-sponsored online discussion
With the nation digging out from this week's bone-chilling freeze, the White House will convene a discussion by experts on the frontlines of weather forecasting and climate science, including the University of Georgia's Marshall Shepherd, at 2 p.m. Friday. "We the Geeks: 'Polar Vortex' and Extreme Weather" will be a conversation with leading meteorologists, climate scientists and weather experts about why temperatures dipped to such frigid lows this week, how weather experts turn raw data into useful forecasts and what we know about extreme weather events in the context of a changing climate.
Louisiana higher ed regents: Legislature should listen to recommendations
The legislature can help Louisiana's colleges and universities move forward by giving schools the ability to set their own tuition, a state task force said. The problem is lawmakers won't give up that authority. The Louisiana Board of Regents, the state's higher education policy board, discussed the dilemma Thursday. The topic came up as some Regents members defended the work of the state's Tuition Task Force. The Tuition Task Force is a group of college and high school students, business leaders and education experts created by the legislature last year to find ways to make college more affordable. Its final report was made public this week. The task force has been criticized for coming up with the same ideas the legislature has rejected in the past.
Private dorms near U. of South Carolina get city board's approval
An Ohio-based development group that wanted to demolish the Palmetto Compress warehouse in Columbia for student housing has gotten initial city approval to build two private dormitories with a total of 700 beds flanking the historic structure. Members last year said the project, located on Blossom, Greene and Pulaski streets, didn't meet the guidelines for the University of South Carolina's Innovista District. Members, however, called the re-designed project "good-looking" and "interesting." The land under contract for the apartments is owned the USC Development Foundation, which has said the project would not compete with USC's plans for its own student apartments just a few blocks away behind Carolina Coliseum. USC plans to work with a private developer for a 919-bed apartment complex.
Texas A&M custodian charged with forging checks, stealing gift card
A 37-year-old Texas A&M custodian was arrested Wednesday after police accused her of forging checks and stealing a gift card from fellow employees. Lynn Rosade Jackson of College Station was charged with three counts of state jail felony forgery, punishable by up to two years in jail, and misdemeanor theft. According to the police report, Jackson stole three checks, each for $300, and a Best Buy gift card from employees in the Emerging Technologies Building on the Texas A&M campus in November. She told police the money would help pay her Christmas bills, according to the report.
New report calls for reform of federal rules governing human subject research
As the federal government considers an overhaul to rules governing scientific research involving human subjects, the National Research Council is urging officials to be more exacting in determining which types of social and behavioral science research should receive oversight. A report released by the council on Thursday outlines a wide range of recommendations for how to protect human subjects while making social and behavioral research more effective. A committee of National Research Council-appointed researchers drafted the document -- described as "a consensus report" -- after holding a workshop with researchers earlier this year and reviewing empirical literature on protecting human subjects.
BILL MINOR: Khayat memoir reflects courage, ingenuity in education career
Longtime political observer and columnist Paul Minor writes: "Robert Khayat, the ex-pro football player, designed the best play of his life for the toughest battle of his career as an educator: How to snatch the thousands of tiny Confederate battle flags out of the hands of loyal Ole Miss fans without setting off another campus riot. He did it. Take away the sticks, not the flags. Simple? But it worked. You couldn't wave the beloved Civil War symbols without the stick. What Khayat set out to do as chancellor of a 160-year-old university steeped in Confederate lore, bucking a custom that some Ole Miss loyalists were willing to die for, would take a ton of courage. Some of his closest associates told him he was crazy. When the 1998 football season began, the sea of tiny Confederate flags suddenly disappeared, not to reappear. To the amazement of many, Khayat pulled it off."

Bulldogs prepare for different-looking Rebels
Only one guarantee with the Ole Miss men's basketball team without Marshall Henderson is about 15-20 shots per game have to be accounted for somebody else. The rest with the scouting report of the Rebels may be a complete mystery. Just like in Ole Miss' 65-62 victory over Auburn Thursday night, Mississippi State will have to prepare for a game where the Rebels will be without its leading scorer in the highly controversial senior guard. Henderson, who is averaging 18.8 points per game in 14.58 shot attempts, is forced to sit out the team's first two Southeastern Conference games as part of a school-imposed suspension announced in October.
Bulldogs' Thomas adds size to improve his game
After appearing in all 32 games as a true freshman last year, Mississippi State wing Fred Thomas understood that he needed to get stronger as a sophomore to go through the grind of college basketball. Thomas arrived in Starkville weighing just 180 pounds but has since packed on 26 pounds to his 6-foot-5 frame. "I worked pretty hard this summer to get my body right and gain weight," Thomas said. "I think it's made me a better rebounder. I'm playing better defense and can be more aggressive throughout the whole game."
Mullen, Mississippi State staff put final touches on current recruiting class
Dan Mullen sat in Memphis answering questions about Liberty Bowl. But his sixth season was on his mind. "To be honest, our coaches are off New Years Day," he said, "then Jan. 2, we're right back at it getting to work for next year's program." The coaching staff celebrated the 44-7 win. A day later, though it hit the road to use the win as another pitch to undecided recruits or to solidify a verbal commitment. Mississippi State has 17 verbals entering this weekend and a junior college transfer.
Mississippi State strength coach Balis leaves for Connecticut
Mississippi State strength and conditioning coach Matt Balis is leaving his position with the Bulldogs program to take a similar job at Connecticut. MSU football spokespeople confirmed the news to The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog Thursday afternoon. Balis, who had been the strength and conditioning coach under head coach Dan Mullen since he was hired as the head coach at MSU, has often been referred by Mullen as "the most important part of his program" and has called him "the best strength coach in the country." Attempts to contact Mullen by The Dispatch were not successful but MSU spokespeople were able to confirm the information after speaking with members of the MSU coaching staff.
Gators see rise in attendance during win streak
Florida's current 24-game home win streak has not only generated prestige for the school's basketball program. It's generated more fans in the stands as well. Florida finished its non-conference home schedule with an average paid attendance of 10,458, a 17.3 percent jump compared to UF's average non-conference home attendance a season ago (8,913). "The students really made the difference," Florida associate athletic director Mike Hill said. Hill said that season ticket sales are up five percent from last season, UF's biggest increase since the back-to-back national championship seasons in 2006 and 2007. A number of other factors also have contributed to UF's attendance increase this season, including a strong non-conference schedule and favorable dates.

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