Tuesday, January 21, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
Rhodes Scholar speaks at MSU Unity Breakfast
This year marked the 20th anniversary for the event at Mississippi State University that celebrates the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. The keynote speaker, MSU student and recently named Rhodes Scholar "Field" Brown, spoke on the many successes of minorities in America over the last few decades since King was alive. The university's president also spoke, noting how much has been achieved in civil rights. MSU President Mark Keenum said, "Diversity enriches and it empowers any institution and the individuals within it. That's something we can share. We can impart that with all of our students who attend Mississippi State."
MSU Rhodes Scholar Offers Insight on MLK
Calling it "one of the most important holidays in American history," Mississippi State's 2014 Rhodes Scholar said Monday's annual national celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday is "a testament to the progress America has made" in race relations. University senior Donald M. "Field" Brown of Vicksburg was keynote speaker for the annual MLK Unity Breakfast held each year on campus. He is among 32 Americans nationwide selected this year to receive the prestigious international fellowship. In addition to Brown's remarks, MSU President Mark E. Keenum spoke to the importance of recognizing King's contributions.
Scholar speaks at unity event
Dorothy Isaac remembers the first Martin Luther King Jr. Day Unity Breakfast 20 years ago, in the basement of First United Methodist Church. She brought pictures of that first breakfast to the 20th annual Unity Breakfast Monday, in Mississippi State University's spacious Colvard Student Union Ballroom where hundreds gathered from across the community. In those two decades, she said, the breakfast had come far, and so had the inter-racial unity it promoted. (Subscriber-only content.)
MSU Rhodes Scholar praises MLK, progress in race relations at annual Unity Breakfast
Calling it "one of the most important holidays in American history," Mississippi State University's 2014 Rhodes Scholar said Monday's annual national celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday is "a testament to the progress America has made" in race relations. University senior Donald M. "Field" Brown, of Vicksburg, was keynote speaker for the annual MLK Unity Breakfast held each year on campus, the university said in a news release. An audience of more than 400 attended the free event, which has been held for 20 years and is jointly sponsored by the city of Starkville and MSU.
Mississippi State Holds 20th-Annual Unity Breakfast
Mississippi State and Starkville celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday with the 20th Annual Unity Breakfast. Over 400 people packed the Foster Ballroom at Colvard Student Union. MSU President Dr. Mark Keenum spoke of the university's commitment to diversity, and its efforts to recruit students from a variety of backgrounds. The university also recognized the winners of this year's MLK Writing Contest, Justin Brooks a senior at the Mississippi School for Math and Science, and Yolanda Kelly, a senior at Starkville High School.
Mississippi State Students Participate in Day of Service
What are you doing for others? For the National Day of Service, volunteers from Mississippi State University made a trip to the Adaton-Self Creek Volunteer Fire Department. "MLK Day is a day on, and not a day off. We like to say to our students in our community: 'Volunteer.' We are here giving back to the community," says assistant director of student leadership Meggan Franks. It was just one of many events involving MSU and the city of Starkville in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Museum to remember Old Main
When Mississippi State University's Old Main dormitory burned down in January 1959, Bill Foster was not a member of MSU's staff. But a little more than a decade later, he found himself a critical part of preserving the story of the fire. In 1970, Foster became director of housing at MSU, and he found an 8 millimeter reel in an old desk not long after taking the position. Upon investigation, the reel turned out to be footage of the fire and its immediate aftermath, taken by an engineering student. Thanks to Foster, that footage survives today on DVD, complete with narration of his own. He may have never lived in Old Main, but he said preserving its legacy remained important to him. (Subscriber-only content.)
DawgSnax now offered during MSU basketball games
Basketball fans at Mississippi State University's Humphrey Coliseum no longer have to wait in long lines to enjoy concessions during the university's men's basketball games. Game attendees now have the option of having concessions delivered to their seats with a click of a button from their smartphones. The concession delivery service is the result of a partnership between the Ocean Springs based startup company, SportSnax, and the MSU sporting events concessionaire manager, Aramark. SportSnax was founded by Ocean Springs native Daniel Payne and his business partner, Eric Hill.
New Indian restaurant brings spice to Starkville
Before having a meal in India, Hindus say the short prayer, "Anna hai poorna brahma," which means "food is divine." This saying will be resonated 8,000 miles from India in Starkville with the addition of the Bombay Spice Kitchen Indian restaurant on Martin Luther King Drive. The Bombay Spice Kitchen features selected cuisine from India. Pradip Patel, owner of the Bombay Spice Kitchen restaurant and a business graduate from Mississippi State University, said suggestions from his friends and his love for cooking inspired his decision to open a restaurant.
Recent cold snap good news and bad news for farmers
Record low temperatures the first week of January plunged the state into a deep freeze, but the cold came too early to cause significant plant damage or have much effect on insect pests in 2014. Lelia Kelly, horticulturist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said most plants were firmly in their dormant stage when the extreme temperatures hit. Winter wheat is the only agronomic crop currently growing in Mississippi fields. As the name suggests, these wheat varieties handle low temperatures. "We are not likely to see much damage to winter wheat at this stage of development," said Erick Larson, Extension small grains specialist. Brian Templeton, an Extension associate in landscape architecture and a certified arborist, said most healthy trees will show little to no injuries from the freeze.
Reeling in the Catfish Industry
One of the biggest success stories in Mississippi agriculture has been the growth of the Mississippi catfish industry. But the industry has been on a decline, hammered by high feed prices, weak demand that started during the recession that began in 2007, and competition from cheap, foreign imports. The industry could not only remain stable, but perhaps even grow if consumers become more aware of the health benefits of eating fish. "Mama always said fish is brain food," says Dr. Jim Steeby, associate professor emeritus, Mississippi State University, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture. Steeby says production of catfish has improved dramatically over time due to research and on-farm innovation.
Mississippi State students taking sweet potato challenge
What will be the next innovative sweet potato product found on grocery shelves across the county? Perhaps something invented by students at Mississippi State University. Gary Jackson, director of the MSU Extension Service, launched the Sweet Potato Innovation Challenge at the Sweet Potato Council's annual meeting. Jamie Earp, incoming president of the Sweet Potato Council, said the goal is to create steady demand for all of the sweet potatoes grown in the state. The challenge will be coordinated by Stephen Meyer, Extension sweet potato specialist, and Jason Ward, assistant Extension professor in agricultural and biological engineering. The Center for the Advancement of Service-Learning Excellence will recruit professors interested in making the challenge a required component of their classes.
Tuition plan's future uncertain
As the 2014 legislative session gets underway, no decision has yet been made on how the state should deal with its underfunded Mississippi Prepaid Affordable College Tuition Plan. MPACT, which was created in the 1990s, was established to allow college tuition to be purchased at a future date at today's prices through various flexible methods, ranging from lump sum to monthly or annual payments. But the program has not been accepting new enrollees since the fall of 2012 because of financial woes. Fitch has stressed that the approximately 22,000 people still in the program are protected by "the full faith and credit" of the state, meaning ultimately the state or its taxpayers are responsible for paying the cost of tuition for enrollees if MPACT runs out of money.
Education forces rally at Capitol
Public school teachers and public education advocates used the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday as an opportunity to gather at the state Capitol to rally for a teacher pay raise and full funding of existing education programs. Full funding and a teacher pay raise were advocated in two separate rallies Monday, though the issue of more funding for education morphed into one sentiment at the two events. One sign just outside of the governor's office on the third floor read "Merit pay for Bryant," referring to Gov. Phil Bryant's support for performance-based pay for teachers instead of an across-the-board raise.
Mississippi teachers rally for pay raise
Mississippi teachers, parents and public education advocates held a barn-burner of a rally at the Capitol on Monday, calling for a teacher pay raise and full funding of public education. About 400 people filled the second-floor rotunda Monday afternoon, and crowded around the railings of upper floors, in the largest demonstration seen at the Capitol in a couple of years. Many carried signs or wore stickers and buttons that said CARE -- confirm a raise for educators. Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn is pushing for an across-the-board teacher pay raise this year, a move that surprised some political observers and appears to put him at odds with fellow Republicans Gov. Phil Bryant and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves.
Education funds rally held; groups want teacher raises, money for schools
Public school teachers and education advocates rallied Monday at the Capitol to push for higher pay and increased state aid to public schools -- not a new fight, but one that they hope will have more success this year than it has in the past. The Mississippi Association of Educators, or MAE, the state's largest teacher union, is pushing for an across-the-board pay raise for the state's 22,000 public school teachers. Groups sponsored by the Children's Defense Fund also rallied to push for lawmakers to fully fund the state's formula for sending school aid to local districts.
Rep. Palazzo gears up to run for third term
Congressman Steven Palazzo said he was gratified to see Congress end the bitter budget battles of the past year with the passage of the recent $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill. And while Palazzo said he saw a lot of good in the federal legislation, he acknowledged that he would have liked to have seen federal spending slashed even further to reduce the national debt. "It wasn't a bad bill, but it wasn't perfect," Palazzo said Monday afternoon during a meeting with the Hattiesburg American editorial board. "We've reduced spending $165 billion in the past four years, which is the first time that we've reduced spending of that magnitude since the Korean War.
Chris McDaniel's Quest: Mississippi state senator takes on the GOP establishment's Thad Cochran
Mississippi state senator Chris McDaniel may be running for the Republican nomination for one of his state's U.S. Senate seats, but he'll be the first to tell you that he puts his conservative principles ahead of his allegiance to party. McDaniel's proudest moment back home came when he tried to override a veto from Republican governor Haley Barbour -- one of the GOP establishment's eminent figures -- to rein in the state's aggressive use of eminent domain for redevelopment purposes. Now he's taking on Republican senator Thad Cochran.
Mississippi Economic Council reiterates focus on infrastructure
Mississippi Economic Council president Blake Wilson said Blueprint Mississippi remains a top priority for state business and economic leaders. Blueprint was developed in 2003 to seek ways to make the state more competitive. It was updated in 2011, and Wilson was in Tupelo Friday as part of the MEC's "Pathway to Progress Tour" focusing on implementing Blueprint's goals. "We want to continue to do that, in the areas of technology advancement, economic competitiveness, educated workforce and of course, resources," he said. Wilson also reiterated the MEC's support for the Common Core State Standards, reminding the audience that it was not a federal program, but an idea that came from the National Governors Association and the National Business Roundtable. "This is a no-brainer; it's something we need to do," he said.
Haley Barbour questions New Jersey mayor's claims
Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour continued his defense of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Monday, comparing the latest allegations, from Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, that Christie threatened to withhold Sandy aid to his own experience with Hurricane Katrina. "I've done this with Hurricane Katrina, and you always have people who want more than there is," Barbour said Monday on CNN's "New Day." "In fact, I'm told that New Jersey, they have received $14 billion of requests for hazard mitigation money when they are only getting $300 million, but for her to think that this is going to shake that money loose, that was a surprising thing to read in her interview," Barbour said.
Driver charged in fatal crash that killed two Ole Miss students
The driver of the vehicle that wrecked on Nov. 9 on Mississippi Highway 7 near the University of Mississippi, killing two Ole Miss students, has been charged on two counts of aggravated DUI. Authorities say 20-year-old Christopher J. Grimaud of St. Louis and 18-year-old Kevin J. Eagan of St. Charles, Mo., were pronounced dead at the scene. The driver, 21-year-old Arthur Lueking and passenger, 19-year-old James Connors, both of the St. Louis area, were ejected from the vehicle.
Mississippi Valley State students return after explosives search
Students were allowed to return to Mississippi Valley State University as of noon Monday after a multi-agency search turned up no explosives on the campus. After an open-ended bomb threat was made against the university campus and the Leflore County Civic Center on Wednesday, Thursday evening and Friday classes were canceled. A search was conducted of the university's almost 20 buildings, officials said. School was out on Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but students were allowed to return to campus under security from school, local, state and federal officials, spokeswoman Maxine Greenleaf said.
A Day in the Life: Delta State University President Bill LaForge
A handwritten letter sat on the desk of Delta State President Bill LaForge from a family whose daughter had recently chosen to attend DSU. The parents were DSU graduates and their daughter was trying to decide between the Delta and Ole Miss, however after a visit to the campus and a meeting with the president himself, she decided the green and white should be her home for the next four years. The letter was one of thanks to the president for his personal efforts in helping the young girl make her decision. One of his main goals is to get the student body numbers back up because it is the main problem DSU currently faces.
University System of Georgia may privatize student housing
The University System of Georgia may sell a significant portion of its student housing portfolio, the beginning of what could be an even larger privatization of its campus dorms. The plan, part of broader changes to the way the University System operates in the wake of the recession, could set the stage for one of the country's largest privatizations of student housing. A request for qualifications could be issued in weeks to identify companies the university system might partner with. The proposal comes almost two years after the University of Kentucky decided it would exit the student housing business.
U. of Florida library unveils Judaica Suite
One enters the new suite of reading rooms of the Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica at the University of Florida through a foyer that has a sculpture showing a floor-to-ceiling stained glass window representing "the one God" of Deut. 6:4. "Hashem Our God Is One Hashem" are the words written across the top. Occupying an alcove off to the right is a full-sized sculpture of a pyramid with bronze wires sprouting out of its peak, symbolizing the parting of the Red Sea and the Jewish exodus from Egypt, followed by four decades of desert wandering. Behind the sculpture is a plaque with a quote from Kenneth Treister that explains the significance of the reading suite he designed for UF -- the Jews invented a portable religion, a religion of the book. That tradition is carried out in this library, he said.
Texas A&M System forms partnership with oil and gas tubing company
The Texas A&M University System is touting a new kind of research contract to help funnel private dollars into the public institution. The Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station has signed a memorandum of understanding with Tenaris, an oil and gas tubing company. The MOU is indefinite and essentially allows the company and university system to share resources. Kathy Banks, the system's vice chancellor for engineering and dean of Texas A&M's Dwight Look College of Engineering, said she helped broker a deal with company executives after being introduced by Phil Adams, chairman of the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents.
Demographic Data Let Colleges Peer Into the Future
Until just a few years ago, colleges could anticipate classes of high-school graduates each bigger than the last. Two decades of steady supply drove enrollment growth and let campuses be choosy, gathering freshmen with good test scores and parents who could pay. But those days are over. Peer into kindergarten classrooms across the country, and you will see fewer students. For every 100 18-year-olds nationally, there are only 95 4-year-olds. The Northeast and Midwest show the sharpest drop-offs, according to a Chronicle analysis. College officials not already following such trends would do well to pay attention.
Colleges move to digital transcripts managed by outside firms
The much-maligned college transcript is finally going digital. A small group of private firms are seeing increasing demand for their repositories for e-transcripts, as colleges move away from paper versions for both incoming and outgoing students. Roughly 24 percent of institutions received some form of digital transcripts in 2009, according to a survey conducted by the American Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers. Only 17 percent sent them to other colleges or to employers. But those numbers have almost certainly increased.
Caution Flags Raised for Six Waiver States, Including Mississippi
More than a year after the U.S. Department of Education awarded the first No Child Left Behind Act waivers, some states are struggling to intervene in schools with the biggest achievement gaps and ensure that the worst schools implement the right improvement strategies. That's according to new, intensive monitoring reports Education Department officials released last week for six states. Federal officials found success, but also raised red flags, in each of the states: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Mississippi, and New York. But by far the biggest problems, based on the reports, are found in Mississippi and Idaho.
OUR OPINION: MPACT's status remains uncertain; scrutiny ahead
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal editorializes: "The strong hope many parents and guardians placed in the Mississippi Prepaid Affordable College Tuition plan remains shaken as the college tuition plan guaranteeing the cost of tuition at today's prices for a future date remains in limbo. ...MPACT had bipartisan support, and it attracted tuition investors in many different income ranges. Its flexibility for payment was an attractive draw, and it was seemingly working without missing a beat until the fall of 2012, when its governing board and Mississippi Treasurer Lynn Fitch suspended enrollment because questions arose about its viability for the long term. ...If no clear way is found to make MPACT work on a financially sound basis then doing what's necessary to guarantee the commitments made to enrollees should be completed and the fund abolished, as has been the case in many other states."
GEOFF PENDER (OPINION): Why is speaker breaking ranks?
The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender writes: "Everyone around the Capitol is wondering why House Speaker Philip Gunn appears to have left the farm, pushing for a teacher pay raise. No matter the reason, or the result, the move appears to be good politically for Gunn. It's the first mega-issue where Gunn has broken ranks with fellow Republicans Gov. Phil Bryant and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves."
SID SALTER (OPINION): UAW's tactics aren't about civil rights
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "The rhetoric from the United Auto Workers and their hired or rented guns that seeks to equate union organizing efforts at Nissan's Canton plant with the civil rights struggle in Mississippi in the 1950s and 1960s truly strains credulity. ...The bottom line is that the UAW is a union in decline that must infiltrate Southern auto plants to survive. Since Nissan came to Canton (and remember Canton's pre-Nissan economy?), some 16,000 Mississippians have good, high-paying jobs. The UAW doesn't want to build on that, they want to leech from it to replenish their own dying business model."

Ray, Bulldogs will try to build momentum
The message couldn't be more clear from Mississippi State men's basketball coach Rick Ray to his players: it's on you. Following an 81-72 overtime victory against Texas A&M on Saturday, Ray has focused on getting his players to build on the win and not to revert to old habits. "It's all in the minds of our players," Ray said. "Players haven't had the chance to experience success in the past. Now they're starting to experience a little bit of success and it's all about them growing up and maturing." In Monday's Southeastern Conference media teleconference, Ray said the routine and tone in practice wouldn't change for his team's game at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Auburn at Humphrey Coliseum.
Ray wants to build on Bulldogs' recent success
Mississippi State is starting to turn Humphrey Coliseum back into one of the toughest venues in the Southeastern Conference for opposing teams. The Bulldogs are 12-1 at home this season, including a 2-0 start in league play. MSU, 12-5 overall, has already surpassed last year's win total by two games. Next up for the Bulldogs is a Wednesday home matchup with Auburn. MSU has won four straight over the Tigers overall.
Mississippi State PG I.J. Ready remains day-to-day
I.J Ready's status wasn't complicated. "Still the same," Mississippi State coach Rick Ray said Monday in the Southeastern Conference teleconference. Ready, the Bulldogs' starting point guard, sat out of Saturday's win against Texas A&M with a concussion. "It's totally in the medical staff's hand on that," Ray said after MSU's game with the Aggies. "He's got to make sure that when you're dealing with a head injury we want him totally to be symptom-free." The freshman left MSU's contest with Alabama on Wednesday suffering from headaches. Ray confirmed after the game Ready sustained a concussion.
Collins signs extension, gets raise to stay at Mississippi State
Mississippi State made a commitment to defensive coordinator Geoff Collins to keep him on its football coaching staff. On Monday, Collins and MSU agreed to a two-year extension and a raise that will keep him in Starkville. Collins is the first MSU assistant coach in Dan Mullen's five-year tenure as head coach to receive a contract renegotiation. Collins' new deal includes a salary of $575,000 for this season and a salary of $625,000 in 2015. According to USA Today, the figure in the final year would make Collins the seventh-highest paid defensive coordinator in the Southeastern Conference.
MSU moves to keep Collins with extension, raise
Geoff Collins' stock rose following his first season as Mississippi State's full-time defensive coordinator. So much so that Collins was offered a contract extension and raise to keep him. The 42-year old has signed a two-year deal worth $1.2 million. Collins will receive $575,000 in 2014 and $625,000 in 2015. He was paid $325,000 last season. "Geoff is one of the bright defensive minds in all of college football," MSU head coach Dan Mullen said in a release from the university.
Bulldogs DC Geoff Collins gets $1.2M to remain
Mississippi State can focus on offense now. Its defense is in good hands. Defensive coordinator Geoff Collins agreed to a two-year contract extension on Monday. The terms of the deal pay the second-year coordinator $1.2 million in that span: $575,000 next year and $625,000 in 2015. "I am proud to be a Mississippi State Bulldog," Collins said in a release. "We have a talented group coming back next season."
Holder earns another preseason award
Mississippi State junior right-handed closer Jonathan Holder received his third 2014 preseason All-America honor Monday when he was named a second-team pick to the Perfect Game All-America Team. MSU's career and single-season saves record holder also has earned first-team praise from the NCBWA and Louisville Slugger. Holder, the incumbent closer on the preseason No. 2 team in the country, was a 2013 consensus All-American. MSU will begin its 124th season Feb. 14 against Hofstra at Dudy Noble Field.

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