Monday, February 3, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
Universities work to reduce energy consumption
In Fiscal Year 2006, the state College Board set a goal to reduce energy consumption at Mississippi's public higher education institutions by 30 percent per square foot by FY 2016. We wanted to shoot for something that was a bit ambitious, but within reason," said J.D. Hardy, chairman of the Institutions of Higher Learning's Energy Management Council. Mississippi State currently leads the state's public universities in costs avoided through energy reduction. The university has saved more than $24 million and lowered its energy consumption by 35 percent per square foot since FY 2006. Hardy, who also serves as Mississippi State's interim associate director for utilities, attributes the university's success to HVAC upgrades that allow workers "to schedule the buildings and spaces on campus more effectively."
Mississippi State University honors new Rhodes Scholar
Campus administrators, faculty, friends and family members gathered last week to honor Mississippi State University's recently named Rhodes Scholar, Donald "Field" Brown. University President Mark Keenum praised the Vicksburg senior as "one of the most outstanding college students in all of America, and I would say in all the world." Brown was selected late last year as one of 32 American students for what widely is considered the world's most prestigious international fellowship. The Vicksburg High School graduate is enrolled in MSU's Shackouls Honors College, where he is completing a double-major in English and philosophy. Keenum, an honors college faculty member, told the Tuesday gathering that he came to quickly recognize Brown as an exceptional student while teaching him in a leadership seminar course.
Mississippi State almost at $400 million for capital campaign
The Mississippi State University's capital campaign is steadily moving toward its $600 million goal. At the beginning of January, more than $384 million had been raised for the campaign that is used to benefit areas across the university. Gifts through the campaign may support scholarships, chairs and professorships, facilities and programs, and all gifts to Mississippi State, regardless of designation, are part of the campaign.
Mississippi State fundraising at $384M
Officials of the Mississippi State University capital campaign say more than $384 million had been raised by the end of January. So far, 258 endowments for scholarships and 22 endowed faculty positions have been secured through the campaign. Gifts through the campaign may support scholarships, chairs and professorships, facilities and university programs.
Mississippi State students volunteer at Starkville school
Volunteers from Mississippi State University took time out of their weekend to give back to a local school. Members from MSU's Collegiate 4-H organization helped clean the playground at the Emerson Family Preschool Saturday morning. They were contacted through the Maroon Volunteer Center, which finds people and organizations from campus to help serve local communities.
Burning and birds: workshops to offer answers
For landowners, foresters and others who have questions about prescribed burning and game bird habitat management can find answers at upcoming events. Mississippi State University is offering land management workshops in Panola and Pike counties. The workshops are designed for landowners, foresters, loggers and wildlife biologists. The MSU Extension Service, Forest and Wildlife Research Center, and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks will host the Game Bird Workshop in Batesville on Feb. 21 and in McComb on Feb. 28. "Upland game bird wildlife biologists and managers will teach basic concepts in quail and turkey biology, habitat management, supplemental plantings and the effectiveness of supplementing a property with pen-reared quail," said Bronson Strickland, MSU Extension wildlife management specialist.
Princess tea party educates the next generation
Young girls attended an event Sunday where they heard from a former "American Idol" contestant. Mississippi State University student Jasmine Murray, who holds the crown Miss Riverland 2014, is educating and mentoring young girls through a personal platform called "13 going on 30." "I am here to tell these young girls that they do not have to grow up before their time, that they can wait," said Murray, student and singer. "They can embrace their age, and they can still be successful and love who they are."
MSU Riley Center announces a star-studded lineup
The Mississippi State University Riley Center in Meridian has released the lineup for its spring and summer Performing Arts Series. The star factor is high. The legendary Tony Bennett anchors a season offering A-list artists, ballet and family theater at the venue that frequently draws audience members from the Golden Triangle area. The MSU Riley Center for Education and Performing Arts, located at 2200 Fifth St. in downtown Meridian, opened its doors in 2006. Its mission is to entertain and enrich, further lifelong learning and improve the quality of life for people of Mississippi and West Alabama through education and the arts, while enhancing the reputation and offerings of MSU.
'He knows it. He lives it. He breathes it.'
Curtis Jones, Social Services director at East Mississippi State Hospital, was one of 24 field instructors this semester for Mississippi State University-Meridian's Social Work program. MSU-Meridian students have been doing field work at East Mississippi for at least 20 years, the last nine years under Jones who has supervised, on average, three students a year. Thursday was Jones last day at EMSH. "Although each agency that places our students operates differently," said Angela Savage, MSW,LMSW and instructor and director of field education at MSU-Meridian, "They all help socialize our social work students into the profession, enhance students' knowledge of the agency and community's resources, and coordinate learning through appropriate case assignment and peer-group interaction." For Jones the opportunity to impact students before they get into the field is what he has loved most about his years as a field instructor.
Starkville gearing up for 2 percent renewal push
Starkville aldermen are expected to begin the process toward securing another decade of 2 percent food and beverage taxing authority today during a 5 p.m. special-call meeting at the Starkville Sportsplex. Mississippi lawmakers passed a local and private bill 20 years ago allowing Starkville to impose a 2 percent economic development, tourism and convention tax on the gross revenue of restaurants derived from the sale of prepared food and beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Residents would go on to approve the tax in a referendum. A second bill was passed in 2004 which amended the entities receiving distributions from the 2 percent tax and extended the levy through June 30, 2015. Currently, tax revenues are divided between Starkville Parks (40 percent), Mississippi State University student groups (20 percent), Oktibbeha County Economic Development Authority (15 percent), Starkville Convention and Visitors Bureau (15 percent). The remainder, 10 percent, returns to the city.
House, Senate bills would make Holloway OCSD conservator
Two bills moving through the Mississippi Legislature would place Starkville School District Superintendent Lewis Holloway in control of the Oktibbeha County School District on July 1 and provide him short- and long-term local financing options to improve the two systems' campuses for state-mandated consolidation in 2015. Specific Mississippi State University funding requests for its planned grades 6-7 campus and pre-kindergarten program's expansion were not addressed in either bill, but it is believed monies raised with the long-term funding mechanisms can be shifted over as needed, Holloway said Friday. Rex Buffington, a member of the local consolidation committee who, with other local public education supporters, has recently worked with lawmakers while they wrote the legislation, called the two bills "major wins for the community."
Pair from Columbus among SPD chief finalists
Four candidates with Mississippi law enforcement ties have emerged as finalists for Starkville's vacant police chief position. The four candidates are: Bobby Grimes, former Lowndes County Narcotics Unit commander; Columbus Police Department Capt. Fred Shelton ; Starkville Police Department Capt. Frank Nichols and James Reed, former Meridian police chief. Interviews will be held Tuesday during the board's 5:30 p.m. meeting at City Hall. Nichols is SPD's only internal applicant.
Aggravated DUI charge reduced against Lucedale's Sawyer Steede in fatal Starkville accident
An aggravated DUI charge against a Mississippi State University student has been reduced. WCBI TV reports 19-year-old Sawyer Thomas Steede of Lucedale originally was arrested on the stiffer penalty following a September 17 accident that killed Kaleb Barker, who is also from Lucedale. The Oktibbeha County grand jury reduced the charge to first offense DUI after Steede's attorney Rod Ray presented expert testimony from the truck's computer system that Steede didn't push on the gas, but instead the truck accelerated on its own.
State changes ranking method for schools
Mississippi schools now have greater incentive to improve the test scores of their lowest-performing students. The state Department of Education passed on Jan. 17 a new method for ranking the state's schools and districts. It places heavy emphasis on the growth of students in the bottom 25 percent of the school or district. "That is something we've not seen before," said Pat Ross, director of accountability services with the Mississippi Department of Education. "We've obviously paid close attention to those students before, but now it is being measured, and we think that will have a big impact on our state."
Special-education students failed by the state
One in 10 Mississippi public school students has a disability, yet despite federal laws guaranteeing them the same chance at academic success as their nondisabled peers, most never graduate. One quarter of special-needs students leave Mississippi public schools with a traditional diploma, according to statistics from the state Department of Education. The rest drop out or get an alternative recognition like an attendance certificate or an occupational diploma, neither of which counts as a regular diploma nor guarantees access to college or a career. Mississippi graduates fewer special-needs students than any other state in the nation, spending hundreds of millions of dollars to undereducate thousands of kids and leaving the state with a crippled workforce.
Hospitals less vocal on Medicaid expansion
At a Senate Committee meeting last week, Tim Moore, the new chief executive officer of the Mississippi Hospital Association, was described as giving a "less than enthusiastic" endorsement of Medicaid expansion. Last year, the Hospital Association was one of the chief and most powerful proponents of the Mississippi Legislature expanding Medicaid to cover those earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Then-CEO Sam Cameron, who retired last year, was participating in news conferences urging Gov. Phil Bryant and the Legislature to expand Medicaid -- a position staunchly opposed by the governor and the legislative leadership. For the most part, Moore is quiet on the issue.
Analysis: Mississippi legislator says certificate of need law outdated
A Republican state lawmaker thinks it's time for Mississippi to ditch its certificate-of-need requirement that limits where hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities can open and what services they can offer. Rep. Mark Baker of Brandon filed a CON repeal bill this year, and while he concedes it has little chance of survival, he wants to prompt a discussion about government regulation. It's not unusual for competing health care facilities to get bogged down in protracted legal battles when one facility is approved for a CON and another challenges that approval. Defenders of the CON process say it's a safeguard against wasteful spending on health care because it requires facilities to prove that the services they want to offer would not duplicate those offered by competitors nearby.
'Super PAC' Is Formed in Mississippi to Protect 6-Term Senator in G.O.P. Primary
A group of Mississippi Republicans, moving to counter spending from out-of-state conservative groups, have created a "super PAC" to help Senator Thad Cochran fend off a primary challenge and will begin airing a television ad. The super PAC, named Mississippi Conservatives to emphasize its homegrown roots, has bought three weeks of airtime on stations across the state for a commercial attacking State Senator Chris McDaniel, who is running against Mr. Cochran. The ad raises questions about the conservative credentials of Mr. McDaniel, a trial lawyer, claiming that he is not committed to tort reform and has supported excessive state spending.
Haley Barbour-backed group boosts Cochran
Mississippi Republicans with ties to former Gov. Haley Barbour (R) have launched a super-PAC to help Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) defend against a primary challenge from state Sen. Chris McDaniel. The ad, first reported by the New York Times, questions McDaniel's conservative credentials. It charges that despite claiming to support tort reform, he has in reality opposed it, and has supported budgets that increased Mississippi's debt. "So who is Chris McDaniel? He's whoever he needs to be," a narrator says at the end of the ad. The super-PAC, called Mississippi Conservatives, is advised by Henry Barbour, a nephew of the governor, who told the New York Times his uncle will be fundraising for the group.
An unexpected legacy of Citizens United: More money to finance GOP's intraparty war
Republicans are now far more likely than Democrats to field attacks by independent groups in their primaries. In 2012, super PACs and nonprofit groups reported spending nearly $36 million in GOP congressional primaries, compared with less than $10 million in congressional Democratic primaries, according to a Washington Post analysis of campaign finance records. This year, the attacks by the GOP's tea party flank are spurring a financial arms race, as major ­center-right groups and business organizations step forward to bolster incumbents -- an indication that the 2014 primary battles could be bloodier than past cycles. "Right now, the Republicans all have their cannons aimed at each other," said Katon Dawson, a former South Carolina GOP chairman who is heading a new group, the West Main Street Values PAC, to help Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) fend off challenges from four primary opponents, "and the Democrats are getting a free ride."
Battles Loom in Many States Over What to Do With Budget Surpluses
In a year when three dozen governors are up for election, unexpectedly robust revenues from taxes and other sources are filling most state coffers, creating surpluses not seen in years and prompting statehouse battles over what to do with the money. After so many years of sluggish revenues, layoffs and draconian service cuts, governors and legislators are eager to use the newfound money to cut taxes, restore spending or, in some cases, pay down debts or replenish rainy-day funds for future recessions. But though revenues are improving, lawmakers are likely to find that there is not enough to pay for everything they want to do, experts say.
'Stunning' shift on gay marriage is changing political landscape
When the new attorney general in Virginia decided recently to oppose his state's ban on gay marriage, it might have been dismissed as an isolated move by a Democrat seeking to reverse Republican policy. But it underscored the speed and breadth of a fundamental change in the country. Public opinion on same-sex marriage is changing at breathtaking speed. Voters across the nation are dropping their opposition, and many state gay-marriage bans just recently adopted are already coming under assault. "On no issue in American life have opinions changed as fast as they have on gay rights," said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster and political consultant. "It is truly a stunning development." The change is especially vexing for Republicans.
Ole Miss names new senior student crop of Hall of Fame inductees
Ten University of Mississippi seniors have earned membership in the school's 2013-14 Hall of Fame, one of the university's highest honors. Chancellor Dan Jones bestowed the honor Friday in a ceremony at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. "Since 1930, inductees into the Hall of Fame have brought distinction to the university as leaders in government, medicine, law, journalism, business, entertainment, education, ministry and a variety of other fields," Jones said.
USM's part-time MBA program makes national ranking
The University of Southern Mississippi's MBA program has been rated among the nation's Top 200 part-time business programs in rankings for 2014 by U.S. News & World Report. Southern Miss currently has approximately 50 students enrolled in the MBA program with most (78 percent) pursuing their degrees on a part-time basis. U.S. News & World Report's part-time MBA ranking is based on five factors.
Delta State to celebrate largest ever gift to the university
Delta State University will celebrate the largest private donation in the institution's history with a gift presentation at the Robert E. Smith School of Nursing on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. The gift will be presented on behalf of the Robert E. Smith Estate, and all students, faculty, staff, alumni, patrons, media and friends are invited to attend. Remarks will be given by President William N. LaForge, Executive Director of the Foundation Keith Fulcher, Dean of the School of Nursing Dr. Lizabeth Carlson, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Charles McAdams, President Emeritus Dr. Kent Wyatt, President of the Foundation Board Anne Wynn Weissinger, Robert E. Smith scholarship recipient Ruth Ann Lopez Luciano and others.
U. of Alabama School of Music gets Steinway designation
The University of Alabama's School of Music has been named an All Steinway School, which will see the department's rehearsal and performance pianos systematically replaced with Steinway instruments. UA joins more than 160 other universities and institutions internationally that have been designated All Steinway Schools, according to the famed piano manufacturer's website. The University of Alabama at Birmingham is also on an All Steinway School. "Having daily access to Steinway pianos for both practice and performance will allow our keyboard students to experience the highest in industry standards and expectations," said Skip Snead, chair of the School of Music in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Auburn's director of golf operations Danielle Downey killed in car accident
The director of operations for Auburn University golf was killed in a single-vehicle accident Thursday night in Auburn, according to Lee County Coroner Bill Harris. Danielle Downey, 33, a former Auburn University and LPGA golfer, was pronounced dead on arrival at the emergency room of East Alabama Medical Center just before 11 p.m., according to Harris. Downey was traveling north on Lee Road 57 in her 2011 Hyundai Sonata when she lost control of the vehicle, left the roadway and overturned several times, ejecting her from the car, Harris said. "I'm absolutely devastated," Auburn head women's golf coach Kim Evans said in a press release. Downey played a huge role in the Auburn women's golf team last season, as she stepped in to fill Evans' role, while Evans was being treated for ovarian cancer.
LSU has $4 billion impact on state of Louisiana
Imagine dropping a rock into a pond. There's an initial splash and then there are the ripples that follow. If LSU is the rock, the ripples it produces are worth nearly $4 billion to Louisiana. A study done by the university's Division of Economic Development determined that LSU's nine campuses impact the state by as much as $3.9 billion every year. To come up with a snapshot of LSU's value to Louisiana, the study measures everything from the goods and services LSU buys from vendors, the spending habits of faculty and staff and the cost of students' food, transportation and housing. LSU President F. King Alexander on Friday said he asked economists at the E.J. Ourso College of Business this summer to come up with a way to measure LSU's impact on different regions of the state and on Louisiana as a whole.
U. of Florida finding great success with online anxiety counseling
The University of Florida's Counseling & Wellness Center has launched a novel program that provides therapy to patients with anxiety disorders -- all over a computer screen. The Therapy Assisted Online program, started in the fall, has had staggering results, showing that it is, so far, more successful than individual or group therapy sessions offered face to face. Sherry Benton, director of the UF Counseling & Wellness Center, said that when she computed the results, she was so shocked she had to take a walk. "I think my counseling staff are still in shock," she said. Benton explained that the counselors weren't changing what they were doing between their already-effective face-to-face sessions and the online ones.
U. of Arkansas Reserves to Fund Advancement, Help Wipe Out $3.2M Deficit
The University of Arkansas said Thursday that it will use existing reserves to "fully fund" annual operating expenses at its Division of University Advancement, and that a combination of reserves and private fund will eliminate a lingering $3.2 million deficit. "The reallocation will come from the university's contingency reserve funds, intended to meet necessary expenses that surface after the end of the traditional budgeting process," the university said in a news release. "These funds will be used to fully fund the division's annual budget for an interim period." The moves come as the university tries to move on from controversey surrounding a $4 million shortfall in the division, which Arkansas Business first reported in December 2012.
U. of Kentucky cancels Monday classes
University of Kentucky classes were canceled Monday because of bad weather. Classes were to start at 10 a.m. on the main campus. However, text alerts and automated phone calls were issued about 9:30 a.m. UK spokeswoman Kathy Johnson said officials decided to cancel classes because continued snowfall made roads hazardous and made it difficult to keep sidewalks clear on campus.
Kentucky moves forward with plan to raze 5 buildings to make room for new dorms
The University of Kentucky Board of Trustees voted Friday to proceed with a controversial plan to raze five buildings on campus in order to make room for two new residence halls that will cost about $84 million. The move will, in the words of President Eli Capilouto, "reimagine and reinvent" UK's physical and learning environment with modern, wired facilities that house many more students. The board also voted to proceed with the design phase of a renovation and expansion of the Student Center. That project is estimated to cost $175 million, which will be funded with agency bonds that the university must repay.
Texas A&M officials quiet on search for new president
The search for a new Texas A&M University president might take longer than originally expected, or it might not -- officials are still not releasing much information to the public. The chairman of the search committee, Texas A&M System Regent Cliff Thomas, declined to comment Thursday following the board's meeting in Galveston. During previous searches, the chairman has updated the public on the process, but A&M administrators maintain the search will continue out of the public eye to protect the candidates and A&M's ability to attract them. A system spokesman said search firm Korn/Ferry International will handle communications but that the company has a policy of not commenting during or after searches, and maintains confidentiality.
Texas A&M legal department stays busy protecting '12th Man' brand
Fans of the Super Bowl-bound Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos have unlimited access through social media to show the world the passion they have for their teams. That technology is why Texas A&M officials actively are seeking to modernize a license agreement that likely will increase the money the university will receive from the Seattle Seahawks, whose fans also consider themselves the "12th Man." The Seahawks and Aggies might be partners now, but the relationship between the two had anything but a friendly beginning. Eight years ago, when Seattle was preparing for Super Bowl XL, the two were on opposite sides of a legal battle over Seattle's usage of the phrase "12th Man." Shane Hinckley, Texas A&M's interim vice president for marketing and communications, said that the Seahawks are the only organization that A&M has ever filed a lawsuit against over use of the phrase.
U. of Missouri System president wants to fix up STEM facilities
The buildings that house science, technology, engineering and mathematics facilities on the four campuses of the University of Missouri System are not suitable to turn out the number of graduates those fields require, UM System President Tim Wolfe said Friday. In his annual report to the Board of Curators, Wolfe said he wants to improve at least one building used for science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- or STEM -- on each of the four campuses this year. That would cost $176.5 million. "The physical infrastructure -- the education plant -- that we need to produce those students in is in disrepair, and we need to fix it," he told curators.
U. of Missouri System hotline complaints on the rise
The University of Missouri System's ethics and complaints hotline yielded almost twice as many calls in 2013 as it did in 2012, and the majority of the calls came from employees with University of Missouri Health Care. Last year, 74 calls came into the hotline, up from 39 in 2012. Each year, the hotline fielded more calls from MU Health employees than from all four campuses, with 50 out of 74 complaints in 2013 and 23 out of 39 complaints in 2012. "It's not surprising to us that reporting among health employees has increased the last two years," said Mary Jenkins, public relations manager with MU Health. "We've been giving the number out widespread through internal publicity and letting employees know they can and should call that number if there's a problem."
More states grant in-state tuition to immigrants
Supporters of immigrants' rights are energized because after years of contentious fights, New Jersey and three other states passed statutes last year that will allow such students who came to the U.S. when they were minors to pay in-state tuition. Fifteen states now have such a statute, said Ann Morse of the National Conference of State Legislatures. In addition, university boards in Hawaii, Michigan and Rhode Island have granted these students in-state tuition. To qualify, high school graduates typically must meet requirements such as living in a state for a set number of years. Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, Mississippi, New Hampshire and Virginia have bills under consideration that would extend the in-state benefit, said Tanya Broder, a senior attorney with the National Immigration Law Center.
Adjuncts Gain Traction With Congressional Attention
Maria C. Maisto went to Capitol Hill last fall to correct what she saw as a misperception about colleges' response to the nation's new health-care law. By the time she left, she had accomplished something bigger. She had gotten lawmakers talking about higher education's reliance on adjuncts and how their working conditions make it difficult for them to do their best work. "There's a huge lack of understanding of what it means to be in the adjunct world," Rep. George Miller, a Democrat from California, said during the hearing at which Ms. Maisto testified. The new awareness on Capitol Hill is a turning point for the movement as it tries to improve conditions for faculty members who work off the tenure track, says Adrianna Kezar, a professor at the School of Education at the University of Southern California who studies changes in the academic work force.
ICANN's personalized domain names attracts little interest from higher education
".edu" has for almost 30 years been the online signature of most education-related websites, but three years after the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers loosened restrictions on what comes after the "dot," few institutions are jumping at the opportunity to brand their corner of the internet. Until 2011, most of the internet could be neatly categorized into the familiar .com, .org and the other generic top-level domains, as well as country-code domains such as .us and .uk. While people and organizations have so far been able to personalize second-level domains -- think the "insidehighered" in -- ICANN's rule change clears the way for web addresses that end in .apple, .paris and .transformers, among others.
State Chambers of Commerce Defend Common Core
Chambers of commerce in a growing number of states are casting themselves in the role of defenders of the common core against increasingly vocal opposition to the new standards from some of their traditional Republican allies. State chambers of commerce---which have longstanding relationships, networks, and well-established resources---are considered to be among the most proactive and highly regarded interest groups. They are defending the common core on the grounds that the standards are essential to business interests and the long-term economic viability of their states.
PAUL HAMPTON (OPINION): From the front lines of the civil war of 2014
The Sun Herald's Paul Hampton writes: "...Palazzo is the incumbent and House incumbents have been notoriously hard to uproot, primarily because of their huge advantage in fundraising. In the past, about the only way to do it was to catch someone like Taylor who chose to sit on his bankroll rather than to try to turn the growing tide of anti-incumbent anger in 2010. But that was before the civil war broke out in the Republican Party. Palazzo so far has been able to walk in the middle of the warring factions without suffering as much as a scratch."
GEOFF PENDER (OPINION): What if sessions weren't annual?
The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender writes: "Every year about this time, as the state Legislature starts arguing over where to require 'In God We Trust' be displayed, deer baiting, Big Gulps or outlawing numerous things that don't really exist, Rep. Hank Zuber's legislation starts looking mighty good. For years, he has proposed a constitutional amendment for the Legislature to meet only every other year -- at least on general bills -- instead of annually. It could save money, reducing the nearly $30 million a year taxpayers spend on the Legislature. It could allow the Legislature to spend more time on big issues -- education, health care, spending -- and less time debating whether to allow caning of prisoners, prohibit restaurants serving fat people or change the length of raccoon-hunting season. Zuber's proposal has always died from inattention in committee."
SID SALTER (OPINION): 'Eph' Cresswell's passing stirs echoes of better days in Washington
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "The obituary read 'William Ephraim Cresswell' and relayed the story of the quiet death of a husband, father and grandfather who died in Springfield, Va., on Jan. 29 at age 87. Cresswell left a wife, three children, a grandson, a brother and a sister to mourn his passing. Those facts alone suggest a family tableau worthy of respect. But there is so much more to 'Eph' Cresswell's life story. For Mississippians of a certain age, 'Eph' Cresswell was the gatekeeper, the confidante, the defender and the trusted sounding board of one of the most powerful men in Mississippi history. From 1958 to 1989, Cresswell was administrative assistant and chief of staff to U.S. Sen. John Cornelius Stennis -- the legendary 'conscience of the U.S. Senate.' ...They were an interesting pair -- Stennis, the most famous alumnus of Mississippi State University and Cresswell, the devoted Ole Miss law school graduate."

Roy Oswalt speaks at Mississippi State First Pitch banquet
Roy Oswalt dreamed of taking the mound for Mississippi State in Omaha. The thought of pitching the program to its first College World Series championship enticed the Weir native enough to accept MSU's offer. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the Houston Astros' contract outweighed his vision. "It would be nice. State's never won one. Last year I was pulling for them to win the first college world series," Oswalt said. "But it worked out pretty well." Oswalt returned to Starkville as the keynote speaker at MSU's First Pitch banquet. The Bulldogs kick off the 2014 season on Feb. 14. Expectations are high after the program's first trip to the College World Series finals last season.
Who has pull? Mississippi State's Tony Hughes is the best at recruiting in-state
Dan Mullen won't walk into the home of a Mississippi prospect without Tony Hughes. Hughes, a native Mississippian, has served as the point man for Mullen, a Northerner, in building relationships in the state. The Mississippi State recruiting coordinator has well-established connections throughout the state and frequently plays a major role when the school signs a highly regarded in-state player. "If you were Notre Dame and wanted to recruit Mississippi, you would go after Tony Hughes," one national recruiting expert said. "He's synonymous with Mississippi recruiting." If only by a hair, Hughes ranks as The Clarion-Ledger's top college coach at recruiting in-state players.
Mississippi State women win battle of Bulldogs
The Mississippi State women's basketball team enjoyed a Super Sunday as they beat Georgia for the second year in a row. Martha Alwal led the way with 20 points and 7 rebounds in an 80-67 victory at Humphrey Coliseum. Katia May scored a career-high 17 points and Breanna Richardson added 13 for the Bulldogs (16-7, 3-6 SEC). "We executed and were committed to playing together," May said. "On the defensive end, we played well. On offense, we did a good job of getting the ball to the open person." No. 7. South Carolina visits MSU on Thursday.
Transfers make impact for Mississippi State softball
Logan Foulks and Alison Owen have played in their fair share of big softball games. Foulks started her career at North Carolina and played in an Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championship game and an NCAA regional championship game. Owen started her career at Georgia and pitched in the 2010 Women's College World Series. Now the duo is teaming up as batterymates for their senior seasons at Mississippi State. After seeing the game played on its highest level, Foulks and Owen hope to see MSU play in a similar limelight.

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