Friday, February 7, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
MSU institute director announces retirement
As one director steps down, Mississippi State University welcomes a temporary director for the Mississippi Water Resources Research Institute. The university announced the retirement of Wayne Wilkerson, former director of the institute, on Wednesday. For the time being, veteran administrator Joe Street, MSU Extension Service associate director, will take over as interim director. Gregory Bohach, MSU vice president for agriculture, forestry and veterinary medicine, said the search for a permanent director will begin later this year.
Country's top talent present at Mississippi Horse Park this weekend
Some of the top talent in the country will be descending on Oktibbeha County this weekend. Starting tonight, the Starkville Rotary Club will host the Rotary Classic Rodeo at the Mississippi Horse Park. According to Horse Park director Bricklee Miller, those choosing to attend this weekend will be treated to a bevy of World Champions and National Rodeo Finalists. "The quality of contestants entered at the Horse Park is important to this event," Miller said. "This level of competition and talent is what sets our professional rodeo apart from others as these contestants are competing to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada. The spectators of this rodeo will get to see the best cowboys and cowgirls in the world right here in Starkville."
Mississippi State helps with maritime museum planning
A group of Mississippi State University architecture students has partnered with local residents to create a new vision for the Mississippi Maritime and Warship Museum, a showcase for ships and nautical artifacts. In January, professors and research assistants from the architecture school at MSU traveled to Pascagoula to help design the new museum. The museum's committee purchased the old Pascagoula High School Math and Science building and band hall on Dupont Street in March 2013, said committee president Pat King. Now, MSU is helping provide a layout for the 17,000 and 10,000 square foot buildings. Assistant Professor Hans Herrmann said this project is challenging for the fourth-year students. "This complex project demonstrates that they're ready to graduate," Herrmann said.
Mississippi State Agriculture Students Compete
When most students do a research project they turn it into a professor for a grade. But for some Mississippi State students the research project offers them a chance to get some real-world experience. At The Future of Agriculture Graduate Student Competition, graduate students from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences get a chance to present their research findings to a panel of agribusiness professionals. The competition gives students a chance to get feedback on the actual application of their research, as well as the scientific findings. This is the second year for the competition, and organizers expect the program to expand next year.
Mississippi State presents Darwin Week, explains scientist's findings
Mississippi State University will host its second annual Darwin Week, a week-long celebration that intertwines the teachings of Charles Darwin with events, showing another side of science. Diana Outlaw, assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, said she loves to teach biology and being able to share that with people is rewarding. She said she considers Darwin Week a great platform to reach a lot of different people in the community. "As a parent and an educator, I care about the education of our young people. It is important for the community to be scientifically literate," she said. Darwin Week events, held both on and off campus, are open to all members of the community.
Fruit, vegetable producers plan for crop year
Nearly 100 active and aspiring growers got technical information and compared experiences at Mississippi State University Extension Service's Fruit/Vegetable Producers Conference at the Lee County Agri-Center on Thursday. "There's a lot of interest in locally grown produce, as evidenced by this turnout," said Crofton Sloan, assistant research professor at North Mississippi Research and Extension Center. Wayne Porter, an Extension horticultural specialist, said producer interest is fueled by consumer demand. "People want to know where their food comes from. When you buy something local, you know it's fresh; you may know the grower and how they operate," he said.
Fruit, vegetable growers get good advice
We're still months away from fresh fruits and vegetables out of the garden, but now is the time growers learn about the best ways to make sure those items are available later this year. On Thursday the people who grow that local produce met in Verona for the North Mississippi Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association Conference and Trade Show. This annual event provides growers needed information from experts at Mississippi State University on producing the best possible crops. Jeff Wilson with MSU said, "We're covering insect problems and disease problems. We're covering how to handle their crop after they've harvested it."
Fruit and Veggie Conference Underway
Mississippi fruit and vegetable growers are at the Lee County Agri-Center for a two-day conference. The topic of discussion among attendees at this annual conference is certainly about the weather. Fruits and veggies are having to endure a very cold winter which includes extremely low temperatures for extended periods of time. "Those who were trying to grow vegetables during the winter have had some significant losses. Their crops have been frozen out. The ones who are growing fruits, they have not been effected for the most part yet to this point," said Jeff Wilson, a horticultural specialist at Mississippi State University. The second day of the conference addresses research, bees and outdoor demonstrations. Producers came from far away as Texas, Louisiana and Tennessee.
New trial ordered in MSU firearm case
A Mississippi State University student has been awarded a new trial over a firearm on campus conviction. Jeffrey Lance Hill was convicted at trial in May of 2012 of having a rifle and 440 rounds of ammunition at the Aiken Village Apartments. Hill claims he never knew the apartments were part of the campus. The case was ordered back to Oktibbeha County Circuit Court for a new trial.
Partnership turning attention toward lobbying
The Greater Starkville Development Partnership is primed to take a more hands-on approach to public policy as the organization will develop a taskforce to compile local issues and lobby pro-business ideals that the organization will promote and advocate to city, county and state lawmakers. That goal was one of six unveiled Wednesday by the Partnership as part of its strategic planning efforts. Throughout 2013, the Partnership actively promoted Starkville-Oktibbeha County school consolidation efforts and the potential impact a successful merger will have on the community. Officials are also poised to lobby state lawmakers for the city's 2 percent food and beverage tax renewal.
House, Senate split on wild hog bills; animals costing farmers millions
Wild hogs are roaming the state, proliferating in large numbers and destroying farm land, a state senator said Thursday. "Wild hogs are no laughing matter," said Senate Wildlife Chairman Giles Ward. "We have a tremendous problem with wild hogs. They are taking away millions of dollars of crops." Ward said part of the problem is due to people transporting hogs and releasing them in the wild to train hunting dogs. But the House and Senate split Thursday on bills to prohibit the transportation of wild hogs. The Senate passed a bill to prohibit it, but the House voted down a similar bill over concerns that the language would limit trappers who catch them and keep them until they are fattened.
Holland still in hospital, but improving
Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, who is recovering from gallbladder surgery, could be released from University Medical Center in Jackson as early as this weekend. Rep. Bobby Moak of Bogue Chitto, the House Democratic leader, said Holland would need to recuperate for a period at home in Lee County before returning to participate in the 2014 session. "He is getting better, but he needs to go to the farm and rest for awhile," Moak said, saying the Lee County lawmaker had major, invasive surgery. Moak said he hopes Holland can return to the Legislature in early March.
Mississippi's state flag again making headlines
It's been 10 years since the Mississippi state flag made headlines, but it's at the forefront of the news again. Gov. Phil Bryant responded to the controversy in an interview with 16 WAPT News. "The people of this state spoke to that. I was surprised by a group of people from California that have such huge debt and real problems within their state, and they're worried about the Mississippi state flag," Bryant said. State Rep. Kenny Wayne Jones, D-Canton, said it's not just an image issue, it's an economic one. "It has such an ugly history behind it," Jones said. He said he believes the state is losing jobs and business because of the flag. Bryant calls the flag flap ancient history. He said the state is doing just fine without changing its long held traditions.
Senate panel approves Yellow Creek transfer to state
A U.S. Senate committee Thursday approved legislation to authorize the transfer of property in Tishomingo County from the Tennessee Valley Authority to the state of Mississippi for economic development. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Thursday OK'd a bill authored by Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., to approve the transfer of Yellow Creek Port properties in Iuka from TVA to the state. The measure, cosponsored by Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., was approved on a voice vote and referred to the full Senate for consideration. The legislation is supported by TVA, the Mississippi Development Authority, the Yellow Creek Port, and the Tombigbee River Water Management District.
Noting Agriculture's Growth, Obama Will Sign Farm Bill
President Obama will sign the $956 billion farm bill on Friday as he travels to Michigan State University to extol the benefits of a thriving agricultural sector for the nation's overall economy. Lawmakers passed the sprawling legislation this week after four years of bitter arguments over farming subsidies and Republican efforts to reduce financing for food stamps. Mr. Obama plans to sign the bill, the Agriculture Act of 2014, into law in East Lansing, Mich., at Michigan State's equine performance center. Some locals call Michigan State -- known for its dairy program -- "Moo U," and Michigan has one of the nation's largest and most diverse farming economies. In his remarks, Mr. Obama will announce a new "Made in Rural America" initiative that White House officials said was intended to help rural businesses market their goods abroad.
Even farm bill signing is controversial
Even after it's passed Congress, nothing comes easy for this farm bill. President Barack Obama is slated to sign the measure into law Friday, but at the urging of Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), he will do so at Michigan State University -- not at the customary White House ceremony. That decision appears to have been made without first consulting the House Agriculture Committee leadership and has left hurt feelings -- and empty seats -- in its wake. Indeed, among the top four negotiators on the farm bill, only Stabenow is expected to attend the event. In an interview, the chairwoman said her goal was to show Obama out in the country and celebrate Michigan State's history as one of the nation's first land grant universities.
U.S. lead in science research and development narrows
The United States could be losing its edge in science and technology as emerging nations rapidly increase their investment in research and development, according to new indicators released Thursday by the National Science Board. Although the United States outspends all other nations at least 2 to 1, its share of global spending on R&D has fallen in the last decade. With China at the lead, Asia's major economies together now account for a larger share of scientific investment, the indicators show. Other nations with significant R&D growth include South Korea, Brazil and India. This trend can be partially attributed to nations investing heavily in universities to educate their labor forces and drive research, NSB Vice Chairman Kelvin Droegemeier said during a conference call.
Food industry launches GMO push
Major players in the American food industry formally launched an effort Thursday to head off regulations requiring labels on genetically engineered foods through the creation of a set of less restrictive federal standards. The push for voluntary federal labeling standards, first reported by The Hill in November, follows expensive battles in California and Washington state over ballot initiatives seeking to impose mandatory labeling regulations. The Coalition of Safe Affordable Foods, made up of roughly 30 trade groups from the food, biotechnology and farming industries, will press for legislation creating a voluntary labeling system for products containing genetically modified organisms.
U.S. employers add 113K jobs; rate dips to 6.6 percent
Hiring was surprisingly weak in January for the second straight month, likely renewing concern that the U.S. economy might be slowing after a strong finish last year. Employers added 113,000 jobs, the government said Friday, far less than the average monthly gain of 194,000 last year. This follows December's tepid increase of just 75,000. Job gains have averaged only 154,000 the past three months, down from 201,000 in the preceding three months. Sluggish job growth for a second straight month may reflect what investors and economists have begun to fear: That the U.S. job market is weakening again, along with sectors like manufacturing and retail sales in the United States and abroad.
MUW begins dorm improvements
Mississippi University for Women residence halls are getting a facelift. The enhancements will begin at Callaway Hall this summer and hopefully be completed by fall, school officials said. "We don't have definite dates but we want things in place before school starts," said Sirena Cantrell, interim dean of students and director of housing and residence life. While the halls are not receiving a major structural overhaul, they are undergoing "serious enhancements," Cantrell said. The exteriors of Kincannon Hall and Jones Hall are also being painted. Cantrell said The W is not only sprucing up the dorms but the campus as well. A green space has been created from old tennis courts.
Renovation, expansion slated for Student Union at Ole Miss
The University of Mississippi announced on Thursday a 4-year, $50 million plan to renovate and expand the Student Union on the Oxford campus. The plans include a larger dining area, new student government offices, including an Associated Student Body Senate chamber, a ballroom, conference space and other amenities, according to a UM press release. "It's going to dramatically improve what we can offer our students," UM Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Leslie Banahan said in the release. According to UM Communications Specialist Michael Newsom, the project is still in the initial design stage, and the university will open the contractor bidding process this summer.
Armed robbery warrant issued for Ole Miss student
Jackson Police have obtained a warrant for Byron Magee for armed robbery of a business and armed robbery of an individual. Police were able to track Magee, who is an Ole Miss student, from surveillance video. Investigators say Magee came into the Kangaroo Convenience Store on Old Canton Road around seven Wednesday morning. When he tried to make a purchase, his card was declined, so he left. A few minutes later, he came in a second time, carrying a shotgun. Earlier Thursday, the University Police Department at Ole Miss issued an alert on Magee, saying he may be back in the Oxford area.
Suspect robs gas station with shotgun after card declined
Police consider a college student a person of interest in an armed robbery of a gas station Thursday morning. University of Mississippi police, who are assisting Jackson authorities, urge students to not approach 22-year-old Bryon Magee. Jackson police issued a warrant for Magee's arrest Thursday night. Ole Miss officials sent out alerts to students stating Magee's current enrollment as a student and that he may be on campus. "I'm happy to see they did. At least I know they're out there to protect us in case something like that do happen so I know. I really safer," said freshman Shawn Sherman.
Gates talks wars, duty during USM appearance
War is an unpredictable business, often escaping the control of those wage it, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told a packed house at the Saenger Theater Thursday evening. "Nearly every war begins with the assumption that it will be short, and that assumption is nearly always wrong, as we learned to our sorrow in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Gates, speaking as a guest of the University of Southern Mississippi. Gates served as Secretary of Defense during both wars from 2006-11 under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Gates was the guest speaker for the University of Southern Mississippi's Lt. Col. John H. Dale Sr. Distinguished Lecture Series in International Security and Global Policy.
Meridian Community College Announces Technology Partnership
Meridian Community College announced a learning partnership with the city of Meridian, Lauderdale County and their fire departments and fire services Thursday. A scholarship program has been established in the division of emergency service technology at MCC that allows individuals who have received large amounts of training to convert that into college credit toward a degree. First responders in Meridian and Lauderdale County will benefit from this new scholarship that will go into effect for the summer semester this year.
U. of Alabama board of trustees moves new academic building at UA ahead
Trustees for the University of Alabama during committee meetings Thursday gave preliminary approval to a resolution to begin planning for a new $31.4 million academic building at the Capstone and to an agreement allowing the University of Alabama Hospital to lease the Kirklin Clinic in Birmingham as an outpatient clinic. The resolutions and other agenda items approved Thursday will go before the full board today. The Physical Properties Committee approved a resolution to begin preliminary planning work on a new 72,500-square-foot, two-story academic building with 12 classrooms and a large auditorium. The project would be funded with future revenue bonds.
Medical college breaks ground in Auburn
Officials and supporters of a new medical college at the Auburn Research Park at Auburn University broke ground on the project Thursday. The Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) facility will be a state-of-the-art, four story building with more than 90,000 square feet adjacent to Auburn University's main campus. Osteopathic physicians are licensed across the U.S. to practice the full scope of medicine, according to VCOM. They emphasize the body's ability to heal itself, and therefore focus on disease prevention and nutrition. VCOM has campuses in Blacksburg, Va. with Virginia Tech and in Spartanburg, S.C. with Wofford College. Dr. Jay Gogue, president of Auburn University, believes adding another medical college in Alabama will help bring much-needed doctors to the state.
Share your memories of U. of Tennessee's Stokely Athletic Center
Stokely Athletic Center hosted the likes of Janis Joplin, The Eagles and Elvis Presley, who played the venue for the final time just months before his death. It was the main stage for the "Ernie and Bernie show" that sold out University of Tennessee basketball crowds in the 1970s. It was the home of the first-ever Lady Vols NCAA championship team in 1987, and where Tennessee guard Tony White scored a historic 51 points against Auburn that same year. And it's all about to come down. Construction crews will dismantle the arena -- built as the armory in 1958 and expanded to its current form with a gift from the Stokely family in 1966 -- in the coming months, with the entire demolition done by summer.
Congressman blasts Haslam's community college plan
The Tennessee lawmaker who led the creation of the state lottery and Hope scholarship program blasted Gov. Bill Haslam's plan to use proceeds to foot the cost of community college. U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, said Tuesday that Haslam's proposal to make community college free of charge for all rising high school seniors would "raid funds from the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship surplus" to create a program that would discourage enrollment at the state's top universities. As a state senator, Cohen sponsored the 2002 constitutional amendment that repealed the state's ban on lotteries.
Nearly a dozen UGA fraternity members charged with hazing
University of Georgia police on Thursday obtained arrest warrants charging 11 members of a local fraternity with hazing. The charges stemmed from a recent incident involving members of UGA's Zeta Iota chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi. They allegedly struck pledges as part of their initiation, according to UGA Police Chief Jimmy Williamson. "We began an investigation after we were provided with information by Student Affairs that someone was possibly injured during a pledge event," he said. The incident happened on Jan. 27 and police were notified the next day.
Texas A&M Engineering Dean Kathy Banks honored by academy
Texas A&M Engineering Dean Kathy Banks has received one of the top honors bestowed on engineers. The National Academy of Engineering on Thursday named Banks one its newest members. Inductees are selected by current members. She joins 67 new members, about half of whom come from academia. She is one of six inductees from Texas, the eighth A&M faculty member to join the NAE and the first from Texas A&M to be named while serving as head of the engineering program.
In 'Excellence' Push, A&M Welcomes 9 New Research Fellows
Nine internationally renowned researchers from various fields will be welcomed on Friday as fellows of the Texas A&M University Institute for Advanced Study, part of a group that administrators have nicknamed the Genius Corps. The term is a nod to the university's storied Corps of Cadets, a student military organization that has largely defined campus culture since its founding in 1876. But it is also an indication of Texas A&M's desire to transform itself into a destination for top research talent, women and men who can elevate the university's academic profile. "We're about changing the way excellence is pursued at this university," said John L. Junkins, a professor of aerospace engineering and the institute's founding director.
Dean Mills, dean of Missouri School of Journalism, to retire this summer
The dean of the University of Missouri School of Journalism announced that he is retiring after 25 years at his post. But, he isn't leaving campus. Dean Mills announced his retirement Thursday morning in an email to journalism faculty, adding that he is accepting a part-time job as the director of the Reynolds Fellows program and the Reynolds Journalism Institute. His retirement is effective Aug. 31. Mills had never had a position for more than four, maybe five, years until he came to MU. In his email to faculty, he writes that he anticipated sticking around for five or six years, "a normal tenure for deans." But that didn't happen. With a new chancellor and eventually a new provost, now just seemed like the time to go, Mills said.
UAB suspends high school tours of anatomy lab after student's 'selfie' with cadaver
The University of Alabama at Birmingham is suspending high school field trip tours of its human anatomy lab in the wake of an incident this week in which a student was caught taking a "selfie" with a cadaver. The photo was posted on Instagram after the Monday outing before outrage led to it being deleted. Despite strict guidelines against taking photos or even having phones in the area, a Clements High School senior removed a sheet and took the photo of herself grinning next to the dead body, officials said. At this point the tours have been suspended for the semester," said UAB spokesman Jim Bakken. "It's a big deal," Bakken said. "These are people who donate their bodies to science and deserve respect and to have their remains treated with respect."
As Data Proliferate, So Do Data-Related Graduate Programs
One hundred and fifty applicants for 30 spots. That was the target as business-school administrators at the University of Texas at Austin laid the groundwork for a new master's-degree program in business analytics. This past fall, they welcomed the inaugural class: 52 students selected from more than 400 applicants. It's not just Texas that is rushing to accommodate the queue of applicants. As data generated by social-media sites and mobile devices proliferate, so, too, do degree and certificate programs designed to train data professionals. The programs represent a blending of disciplines including applied mathematics, statistics, and computer science. Programs are being planted in informatics schools, engineering schools, and cross-disciplinary research centers. Some of them see the possibility of substantial revenues.
Colleges and analysts respond to Obama ratings proposal
The Obama administration on Thursday released hundreds of pages of formal comments on its proposed college rating system, documents that mostly underscore the deep reservations that many higher education leaders have about the plan but also highlight pockets of support. Nearly every major higher education group submitting comments on the rating system expressed concerns about the proposal. Comments from other higher education associations largely echoed the concerns of many college leaders: they worry that a ratings system will create improper incentives for institutions, undermine the value of higher education and cut off access to institutions that serve low-income and underprivileged students.

Ready makes early impact for Bulldogs
When I.J. Ready committed to Mississippi State in May 2012, he was thought to be the Bulldogs' point guard for the future. As it turns out, that future began with a start in his first game of collegiate action this season. Although the true freshman has missed six games due a concussion and hamstring injury, Ready has been a steadying influence for MSU when he has been on the court this year.
Mississippi State lands 23-player signing class
National Signing Day had its share of surprising moments for the Mississippi State football team. In an announced 23-player recruiting class for the 2014 season, MSU went 1-for-2 in flipped commitments Wednesday afternoon to give sixth-year coach Dan Mullen some talking points. "There were only two that came down to the end for us -- one was good and the other was bad," Mullen said at the Seal Family Football Complex." Everything else didn't waver from what our thoughts were." Most of the players MSU signed had given verbal commitments that allowed the coaching staff to focus on years down the road to increase the depth in what is expected to be larger classes in 2015 and 2016.
MSU's Mullen stands by recruiting record
Dan Mullen was sick. His eyes were watery. His forehead was sweaty. But when Mississippi State's football coach stepped to the podium to talk about his newest recruiting class, his symptoms abated. "It's a great day to be a Mississippi State Bulldog," Mullen said. Some recruiting experts may beg to differ. Mississippi State's class of 2014 ranks as the 38th best in the country, according to 247Sports composite rankings. It's 12th in the Southeastern Conference, which consists of 14 teams. But Mullen relies on his own system of ranking players.
Mississippi State softball begins season today
Jack Frost may still be nipping at their nose a little bit, but that's not stopping the Mississippi State Bulldogs from hitting the softball field for competition this weekend. The Bulldogs start the 2014 campaign today with a pair of games. MSU plays host to Mississippi Valley State and Northern Kentucky in the Bulldog Kickoff Classic with first pitches at 3 and 5:30 p.m. respectively.
Mississippi State women nearly upset No. 6 South Carolina
Mississippi State was once again close to knocking off one of the Southeastern Conference's best teams. That used to be encouraging for the Bulldogs. Not anymore. Mississippi State fell to No. 6 South Carolina 71-64 Thursday night. The Bulldogs fought back from a 12-point deficit to pull within 55-54 with 6:25 left, but couldn't take the lead. "At the end of the day, you lose to No. 6 in the country and I'm sure everyone in the arena thought 'Man, we're close,'" Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said. "The kids played hard and we had a chance to win, but we're not very happy in our locker room because we feel like this was our night to beat No. 6."

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