Wednesday, January 22, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
Interim director named for Stennis Institute
P. Edward "Eddie" French has been named interim director of Mississippi State's John C. Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development. French succeeds Marty Wiseman, who recently retired after 22 years as the institute's leader. French served the institute as a Stennis Scholar for Local Government since the associate professor of political science and public administration came to the university in 2006. Along with his MSU teaching and research duties, French serves as the graduate coordinator in the political science and public administration department.
MSU recruiting future doctors through Rural Medical Scholars
Mississippi was facing a shortage of doctors even before the Affordable Care Act was enacted. Now, one public university is offering a program to try to put more physicians to work here in the Magnolia State. Mississippi high school juniors considering medical careers in their home state have the opportunity to take part in a summer program at Mississippi State University. The five-week Rural Medical Scholars summer program at MSU aims at identifying the state's future primary care doctors and help them become members of the medical school class of 2023. The program is primarily funded by the MSU Extension Service with additional assistance from the Mississippi Office of Rural Health.
Mississippi State Cotton Specialist Earns National Award
Mississippi State University Extension cotton specialist Darrin Dodds was recently named the 2014 Extension Cotton Specialist of the Year, an award based on leadership and industry service. Dodds received his doctoral degree at Mississippi State University and has worked at MSU for six years studying cotton variety performance, management, fertility, plant growth regulator use, irrigation management and weed control. Joe Street, MSU Extension Service associate director, said Dodds's dedication to the industry helps Mississippi remain a leader in agriculture production.
Mississippi State cotton specialist gets national award
An extension cotton specialist at Mississippi State University received national recognition for his work in the industry service. MSU employee Darrin Dodds recently received the 2014 Extension Cotton Specialist of the Year award. Dodds, an MSU graduate, has worked at the university for six years studying all things cotton, from variety performance and fertility to irrigation management and weed control. The Extension Cotton Specialist of the Year award has been sponsored by Bayer Cropscience since 2008, and each winner is chosen by a panel of peers.
MSU Student Ready for 'Nerds'
Mississippi State senior Mary Kate Smith of Madison is one of 11 self-proclaimed nerds competing to become the next "King of the Nerds" on the TBS network reality show. The first edition of the hour-long show's second season begins at 9 p.m. on Jan. 23. Smith, an aerospace engineering major at the university, joined the other contestants to compete for the $100,000 grand prize and to be designated as the greatest nerd of them all. Smith said she's not only excited about promoting the Thursday night show, but also about promoting the nerd within herself and the other competitors.
MSU senior competes on TBS reality show 'King of the Nerds'
A Madison Central graduate will be going egghead-to-egghead against 10 other nerds to win a crown on a national reality show on TBS. Mississippi State senior Mary Kate Smith of Madison will compete for the title King of the Nerds in the show of the same name. The battle begins at 9 p.m. on Thursday. Smith, an aerospace engineering major at MSU, joins the other contestants to compete for the $100,000 grand prize. "On the show, I feel like I represent MSU and the aerospace engineering department well," she said.
Mississippi State Seeks Tillman Scholarship Applications
Mississippi State University is again proud to support the Pat Tillman Foundation by seeking applicants for the Tillman Military Scholarships. Tillman Military Scholarships are national university scholarships awarded in memory of NFL player and late Army Ranger Pat Tillman. Mississippi State was one of only four schools in the nation who worked with the Pat Tillman Foundation to initially identify scholars. The inaugural scholarships began at MSU in 2009, and have continued each subsequent year. MSU currently enrolls more than 2,000 student veterans, service members, dependents and survivors and is known as one of the nation's premier veteran-friendly campuses.
County supervisors meet to discuss growth options
A strategic planning process is underway in one local county. Oktibbeha County, Starkville and the Greater Starkville Development Partnership are involved in strategic planning and an assessment for the city and county. County supervisors went through an individual session Tuesday to brainstorm ideas under the guidance of the Stennis Institute at Mississippi State University.
Planning Session Held in Oktibbeha County
Oktibbeha County supervisors spent their Tuesday afternoon devising a strategy to succeed in the future. Phil Hardwick from the Stennis Institute at Mississippi State University discussed possible ideas about everything from attracting businesses and industries to improving education. Supervisor Orlando Trainers says laying the groundwork is key to making Oktibbeha County thrive.
Starkville supports LGBT residents with historic resolution
Starkville aldermen denounced various forms of discrimination against Starkville residents, including discrimination based upon sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, with a new policy Tuesday. The resolution, according to the Human Rights Campaign, one of America's largest civil rights organizations working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality, makes Starkville the first Mississippi municipality to pass such a policy.
Panel cites transportation needs, no funding solution
A task force created by the 2013 Senate has concluded that the state does not generate enough revenue to take care of its transportation needs. But the task force, which completed its work Tuesday, did not recommend any method to pay for those needs. Senate Transportation Chair Willie Simmons, D-Cleveland, who chaired the task force that started meeting in the summer, had hoped that the panel would reach consensus on a revenue source to provide additional funds to the state for transportation improvements. But Simmons said the fact the task force did not make that recommendation doesn't mean it wasn't successful.
Legislation aims at local firearms bans
A proposed state law aims to enable citizens to sue officials who create or enforce local gun bans that contravene state law. House Bill 314 would allow citizens to collect up to $1,000 plus legal fees from any official under whose jurisdiction the violation occurred. "If a city or county has adopted an illegally broad ordinance regarding guns or posted notice outside their authority ...they could be sued to have that cured," said Rep. Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, the bill's primary author.
Mississippi's two-year colleges plan to rework remedial courses
A new structure for remedial courses at Mississippi's 15 community colleges could help more students graduate more quickly. The centerpiece of the model is an effort to move some students who previously would have been forced to take a remedial course for no academic credit into credit-bearing English and math courses. The colleges would provide supporting labs to boost those borderline students' performance, in hopes of helping them succeed. "The sequence of remedial education can sometimes be a barrier to students being successful," Jones County Junior College President Jesse Smith told a joint meeting of the House and Senate Colleges and Universities committees Tuesday.
Mississippi bill proposes ban on human cloning
A longtime Mississippi lawmaker has filed a bill to ban human cloning, although he said he doesn't know why he filed it, who requested it or even whether there's any possibility of researchers trying to make clones. "I get a lot of people who ask me to do stuff," said Rep. Jeff Smith, R-Columbus. His measure, House Bill 43, is nearly identical to one that passed the state House but died in the Senate in 2006. Back then, opponents were worried that outlawing cloning would block the possibility of embryonic stem cell research that could lead to treatment or cures for some diseases. The state's only research hospital, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, is "absolutely not" conducting research that involves cloning, spokesman Jack Mazurak said this past week.
Job, investment talk expected in State of the State
Expect to hear Gov. Phil Bryant say the numbers 6,265 and $1.03 billion at least once, probably more, Wednesday evening in his third State-of-the-State Address. That's the number of jobs created through Mississippi Development Authority initiative for 2013 and the amount of new business investment last year, both roughly double 2012. Bryant will address a joint session of the House and Senate at 5 p.m., aired live on Mississippi Public Broadcasting. Democratic leaders are apparently planning a surprise with their rebuttal. Many political observers will be listening to hear what Bryant says about teacher pay.
Brock named East Central Community College housing, student activities director
Daniele Brock was recently selected director of housing and student activities at East Central Community College in Decatur, announced ECCC President Dr. Billy Stewart. Brock, who officially began her new duties on Dec. 15, 2013, previously held the position on an interim basis. Stewart said Brock's performance during the interim period has been "exemplary," and that she has demonstrated her ability "to work with students of various backgrounds." Brock, a native of Mountain City, Tenn., received a bachelor's degree in music from Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tenn., in 1991, and earned a master's degree in post-secondary education from Troy University in Brunswick, Ga., in 2010. She completed an education specialist degree from Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Ga., in 2012.
Gas leak prompts temporary evacuation on U. of Alabama campus
The University of Alabama evacuated three buildings on campus for about an hour and half on Tuesday after a construction contractor hit a gas line at about 8:30 a.m. while working on the site of the new Fresh Food Co. dining facility. There were no reported injuries or damage to the buildings, said Cathy Andreen, UA director of media relations. The buildings re-opened by 10 a.m. and classes resumed by 11. Rodgers Library, the South Engineering Research Center and the Science and Engineering Complex were temporarily evacuated as a precaution, said Andreen.
Judge weighs suit against Nick Saban's daughter
The daughter of University of Alabama coach Nick Saban told lawyers she was only defending herself from a drunken sorority sister when the two women brawled after a night of partying in 2010, according to written testimony and arguments in court Tuesday. Court documents show Kristen Saban portrayed one-time best friend Sarah Grimes as the aggressor even though it was Grimes who sued Saban over the altercation, which began over a Facebook post. Both women were members of Phi Mu sorority at Alabama but graduated last year.
Jindal proposes increased funding to Louisiana higher education
Gov. Bobby Jindal announced a plan Tuesday that would put an end to six straight years of budget cuts to higher education. The plan would theoretically give Louisiana's colleges and universities their first dose of stable funding since the recession hit in 2008. But even as the governor is set to unveil all the details of his plan on Friday, there is no guarantee he will get what he wants. Jindal's proposal is just the starting point in very long budget negotiations among lawmakers that will unfold between now and early June. During an afternoon news conference at LSU, Jindal described his plan as a $142 million funding increase to higher education.
U. of Georgia dedicates Oconee research farm
About 200 people soaked up the sun in a University of Georgia greenhouse Tuesday as UGA dedicated its new Oconee County research farm with a series of short speeches from politicians and administrators. "This is a great day for the University of Georgia," said UGA president Jere Morehead in a ceremony at the Oconee County farm called the J. Phil Campbell Sr. Research Center. In recent years, federal scientists' research at the farm has focused on sustainability, nutrient cycling, erosion and water pollution. Scott Angle, dean of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, said UGA scientists will continue research in that vein.
Career Showcase gives younger U. of Florida students a head start
With graduation less than a year away, Rebecca Weichman is starting to feel the pressure of finding a job once she's finished school. But the 21-year-old University of Florida business management senior is no stranger to the job search. For the third time in a year, Weichman joined approximately 3,500 students on the hunt for jobs and internships during Tuesday's Career Showcase at the O'Connell Center. Tuesday kicked off the first of two days for Career Showcase.
Governor proposes budget cuts and building projects for Kentucky universities
Kentucky's colleges and universities would take a budgetary blow in Gov. Steve Beshear's two-year financial proposal, with a 2.5 percent cut to operating funds that is only slightly softened with new funding for buildings and research. Beshear said the choice to cut higher education was the most difficult made in the budget process, as it will have been cut 17 percent since 2008. "This is one of those hard choices and it's not a good choice but it's the best choice we have," Beshear said during a media briefing Tuesday afternoon.
Missouri College Advising Corps plans to double in size over next two years
Missouri College Advising Corps, headquartered at the University of Missouri, last week took part in the Higher Education Summit at the White House, where it committed to doubling its size in the next two years. The program places recent MU graduates at high schools where many students don't go on to college. The graduates act as advisers to encourage the high school students to pursue a college degree. Right now, the program has 25 advisers at 26 schools in places such as St. Louis, Kansas City and rural south-central Missouri. The goal is to expand to 50 advisers in 52 schools by 2016.
Former Texas A&M President Robert Gates talks new memoir, time at TAMU during speech
Former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Robert Gates returned to Aggieland on Tuesday to plug his new book, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, and address a crowd of 2,500 at Rudder Auditorium as part of the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation's Distinguished Authors Series. Gates, A&M's president from 2002 to 2006, greeted the sold-out Texas A&M auditorium with a "Howdy!" Copies of his memoir were on sale at the event and all 1,200 were sold. Gates and his wife, Becky, received a standing ovation from the primarily non-student crowd, as did two other special guests -- George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara.
Gunman surrenders after killing on Purdue campus
One person was killed inside a Purdue University classroom Tuesday by a gunman who surrendered to a police officer within minutes of the attack, officials said. Purdue Police Chief John Cox said the suspect appeared to have targeted the male victim in a basement classroom of the Electrical Engineering Building about noon and didn't attack anyone else. "The individual entered the facility and took the actions that he took, and then immediately left the facility without any other interaction that we're aware of," Cox said. The suspect gave himself up to a West Lafayette police officer outside the building on the 40,000-student campus, he said.
To see how liberal arts grads really fare, report examines long-term data
Liberal arts majors may start off slower than others when it comes to the postgraduate career path, but they close much of the salary and unemployment gap over time, a new report shows. By their mid-50s, liberal arts majors with an advanced or undergraduate degree are on average making more money those who studied in professional and pre-professional fields, and are employed at similar rates. But that's just one part of the paper's overall argument that concerns about the value of a liberal arts degree "are unfounded and should be put to rest." "That's a myth out there -- that somehow if you major in humanities, you're doomed to be unemployed for the rest of your life. This suggests otherwise," said Debra Humphreys, a co-author of the report and vice president for policy and public engagement at the Association of American Colleges and Universities. "That sort of journey to professional success is more of a marathon than a sprint."
EDITORIAL: Mississippi doesn't need a shorter school year
The Sun Herald editorializes: "John Moore of Brandon is not just any member of the Legislature. He is the chairman of the education committee in the House of Representatives. So when Moore introduces legislation dealing with public schools in Mississippi, that legislation has a good chance of getting a hearing. This legislative session Moore has authored House Bill 75, which would 'reduce the length of the public schools' scholastic year from 180 to 175 days.' ...Trimming the scholastic year by five days would not make Mississippi especially odd. Among neighboring states, Alabama and Tennessee require a minimum of 180 days, but Arkansas requires 178 and Louisiana calls for 177. What is odd is that the chairman of one of the two education committees in the Legislature would seek to shorten the time some of the nation's most poorly educated students spend in school."
BRIAN PERRY (OPINION): Bringing home the bacon
Consultant and columnist Brian Perry writes: "Republicans and Democrats alike praised the recent $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill passed last week; Republicans and Democrats alike also criticized it. All of Mississippi's federal delegation voted for the measure that encompassed 12 appropriation bills. That includes the sole Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson and all Republicans: Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker, and Reps. Alan Nunnelee, Gregg Harper and Steven Palazzo. ...Mississippi benefits include funding for the Appalachian Regional Commission for economic development projects in Northeast Mississippi, transportation grants, and funding for the Northern Gulf Institute at Mississippi State University."
CHARLIE MITCHELL (OPINION): Lawmakers once were bold when it came to teacher pay
Longtime Mississippi journalist Charlie Mitchell writes: "'Mississippi has developed the kind of attractive employment package that still eludes New York.' So said The New York Times in an editorial on July 24, 2001. Of course, praise for this state's lawmakers came with a twist. The newspaper was also trying to shame New York for not being as bold. The topic was Mississippi's largest (and perhaps only) multiyear package of increases in compensation for the state's public school teachers. ...Given the totality of the situation, it's highly unlikely that editorial writers of The New York Times will have the opportunity this summer to invoke education progress in Mississippi to spur others to follow this state's lead. But once upon a time it did happen. Back when we were bold."

Mississippi State looks to defend its turf
Mississippi State looks to continue its home success tonight against Auburn at 7 p.m. The game will not be seen on over-the-air TV, but will be shown online at The Bulldogs are 10-1 inside Humphrey Coliseum and 2-0 so far in Southeastern Conference play. MSU has won four straight over Auburn in Starkville and 12 of the last 13 at home. Mississippi State enters tonight's game at 12-5 overall and 2-2 in the league. The Bulldogs are coming off an 81-72 overtime victory over Texas A&M on Saturday.
Mississippi State faces an array of star scorers this week
Stopping the league's best scorers involves focusing on their intricacies before a shot is even taken. "It's little things like that that we're trying to change with this game," Mississippi State senior Colin Borchert said. "It's a lot of details but coach (Rick) Ray is doing an outstanding job with it." Force a left-handed player to go right. Stutterstep into the lane to a show help. Deny space for an entry pass to be received. Mississippi State listed those coaching points Tuesday as keys in stopping the Southeastern Conference's top scorers. By the end of the week, the Bulldogs will have faced the top three in the SEC.
Bulldogs most likely without Ready against Auburn
When asked about the status of IJ Ready for the third time in four days, MSU coach Rick Ray simply shook his head. Ray said Ready, the Bulldogs freshman point guard, has been unable to participate in any practice since suffering a concussion in the loss at Alabama on Jan. 15. Due to his lack of activity this week, Ray didn't set much likelihood that the 5-foot-11 guard would see the floor tonight against Auburn (7 p.m., ESPN3). "He's still out and their hasn't been a change with him at all," Ray said.
Barbee looking for more from post players as Tigers head to Mississippi State
Surrounded by near darkness, with only the faint sunlight streaming in from the second-floor windows partially illuminating the Auburn Arena floor, Asauhn Dixon-Tatum was alone working diligently on his game Tuesday afternoon. It should come as a welcomed sight from Auburn's 7-foot, 235-pound senior center, who has struggled this season, averaging just under 6 points and six rebounds per game. Tigers head basketball coach Tony Barbee has been critical of his post players throughout the season, often pointing out a lack of inside presence as a reason for much of the team's struggles to this point. In the midst of a 14-game conference-losing streak dating back to last season, the road doesn't get any easier as Auburn opens a week-long road trip with a 7 p.m. tipoff at Mississippi State on Wednesday.
Ron Polk to speak at fundraiser
Legendary Mississippi State University baseball coach Ron Polk will be the guest speaker at the First Pitch Dinner presented by the Philadelphia High School baseball and softball teams. Softball coach Austin McNair said Polk was a great choice for the first time event, which will be held annually. "Everyone's real excited," he said. The dinner will be held at the Philadelphia Country Club at 7 p.m. on Feb. 1. On getting Polk to speak in Philadelphia, McNair credited the efforts of PHS baseball coach Cody Freeman, who was under Polk's direction for three years at MSU. "He [Freeman] asked Polk to speak," McNair said. "He's [Polk] real good to give back to his former players."
Mississippi Valley States lands former Jackson State coach Comegy
Rick Comegy is staying in Mississippi. The former Jackson State football coach will move about 100 miles north to Itta Bena, where he was named Mississippi Valley State's new coach Tuesday. "It's not just about winning on the football field, but in the classroom," Comegy said. "I know a lot of people just say that. But if you're not winning in the classroom, then you're going to have a hard time on the field." Comegy, 60, was fired by Jackson State on Dec. 18, 11 days after the Tigers made their second-straight appearance in the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship. They lost both in overtime.

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