Monday, April 7, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
Mississippi State's capital campaign exceeds $400M
Fundraising for Mississippi State University's most recent capital campaign has reached $408.6 million at the close of March. The $600-million fundraising effort was launched six months ago as "Infinite Impact: The Mississippi State University Campaign." MSU president Mark Keenum says $106.5 million has been raised for scholarships, resulting in 269 new endowed scholarships and numerous annual awards.
Mississippi State University's 'Infinite Impact' Surpasses $400 Million
Fundraising for Mississippi State's most recent capital campaign has surged past the $400 million mark, hitting $408.6 million at the close of March as it gains momentum toward a minimum $600 million goal. The milestone comes just six months after the launch of "Infinite Impact: The Mississippi State University Campaign." "We cannot thank our faithful alumni and friends enough for their support of this capital campaign. Their gifts will indeed have an 'infinite impact' on our campus and our world for years to come. By giving, they are sending a powerful message that MSU is a leading institution capable of evoking positive change on a global scale through our academic, research and service endeavors," said MSU President Mark E. Keenum.
Purdue police captain taking over MSU's operations
Mississippi State University named Tim A. Potts, a law enforcement agent with a 23-year career, as the university's next police chief. His appointment is pending approval by the State College Board. Potts is expected to begin serving MSU May 15. Potts has worked at Purdue University since 1997, serving most recently as the school's captain of patrol operations. In that capacity, he led a 42-person team, including officers and support staff. The job tasked him with departmental training and athletic event security. Potts was chosen from a four-person finalist pool, MSU Chief Communications Officer Sid Salter said. Campus interviews were conducted last month.
Hopkins and Patilla in concert for voice and guitar
Dr. Michael Patilla and Dr. Joseph Hopkins have shared their considerable talents around the globe. On Friday, April 11, they combine their gifts in a concert of music for voice and guitar in Columbus. The free event begins at 7 p.m. at Wesley United Methodist Church, 511 Airline Road. Patilla is associate professor of guitar at Mississippi State University and choir director at the church. Vocalist Hopkins is dean of the School of the Arts at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. "Michael is a very talented classical guitarist, and we've been very fortunate to have him as our choir director. He's wonderful to the life and worship of the church," said the Rev. Diane Lemmon of Wesley United Methodist Church. She extended an invitation to the community to come to the performance.
Farmers looking for repeat of last year's success
Coming off of a solid year in 2013, Mississippi farmers are planning their planting around market potential. "Prices are driving growers' planting decisions," said Brian Williams, an agricultural economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. "Mississippi corn is trading about $2.50 per bushel lower than a year ago, while Mississippi soybean prices are slightly higher than a year ago."
Feeding a growing world points to need for ag chemicals, GMOs
As global agriculture faces the challenge of feeding another two billion people over the next four decades, the need will be even greater for widespread adoption of herbicides, insecticides, and GMO crops -- particularly in developing countries, says Leonard Gianessi. But, he said in a seminar at Mississippi State University, opponents of ag chemicals and transgenic crops, are determined to thwart proliferation of those technologies.
Career fair offers teaching opportunities
Heather Whitlock and Samantha Thrash are just two of the almost 50 student teachers who took advantage of an opportunity Friday to get their teaching careers off and running at an Education Career Fair at Mississippi State University-Meridian. Whitlock and Thrash met with representatives of area school districts in hopes of finding out about possible job openings while learning first hand how to best to present themselves during the interview process. Dr. Margie Crowe with MSU-Meridian said the fair was a success, thanks in part to participating school districts. Lisa Sollie, project coordinator, recruiting and public relations representative with MSU-Meridian, said this is an excellent program that allows the students to interact with school officials they might not otherwise have an opportunity to meet.
Mississippi Teachers Gather in Meridian for Common Core Meeting
Teachers from across Mississippi gathered at the MSU Riley Center in downtown Meridian this weekend to learn more about Common Core standards and how to use them. "We're showing how use of the arts to teach any subject in K-12 actually fits like a glove with the Common Core standards because in order to learn to think, which is what Common Core does, you have to get engaged in the work and you have to be active," Dr. Charlotte Tabereaux explained.
Summer camps for kids funded through Toyota
The Toyota Wellspring Education Fund and the CREATE Foundation will help fund several summer camps at colleges this year benefiting students in Lee, Pontotoc and Union counties. Officials say the program will pay tuition for the Dive Into Free Summer Academic Camps located at Mississippi State University, Itawamba Community College or Northeast Mississippi Community College. The camps are available to public school students in various subjects such as computer science, conservation, horticulture, advanced manufacturing and more.
People on the Move: Eley Guild Hardy Architects
Melissa Knesal has passed the LEED AP exam and is now a LEED AP BD+C. Knesal, a 2013 Mississippi State University, School of Architecture graduate, joined Eley Guild Hardy in 2009 as a summer intern and became a full-time employee upon graduation.
Poster entry wins statewide contest
Poplarville native Catherine Bass is the first place winner of the third annual Jimmie Rodgers poster contest and her entry will be the official poster of the Jimmie Rodgers Festival that begins on May 15 in Meridian. Bass, a graphic art student at Mississippi State University, found out about the contest through one of her teachers. "We entered the competition as a class project," Bass said. "I knew about Rodgers and enjoyed every step of the design process." Betti Lou Jones, president of the Jimmie Rodgers Foundation, said that the competition had almost 100 entries and that Bass' entry stood out as the shining example of quality entries the museum received.
Supervisors hire Garrard as CAO despite Trainer's criticism
Oktibbeha County supervisors promoted Comptroller Emily Garrard to county administrator despite Board President Orlando Trainer's pleas to hire Ivory Williams, Jackson's former deputy chief administrator for funding and deputy director of housing and community development. The board approved Garrard's hire with a 4-1 vote. Only Trainer voted against the matter. Garrard's salary was not set by the board Monday, but it is expected she will immediately take over the job. District 3 Supervisor Marvell Howard motioned for Garrard's hire and said she's a competent employee who had unofficially assumed the role since former County Administrator Don Posey's retirement in December. Trainer came out in vigorous opposition to Garrard.
SPD moving to second substation in north Starkville
Starkville Police Department is close to opening its second of four planned precinct substations after the city approved a revised, rent-free lease for such a location on Louisville Street Tuesday. Police will use the rent-free facility, located at Amos and Miller Management LLC-owned 1200 Louisville Apartments, for at least a year to take and file reports in the field and provide a SPD presence in an area with a high crime rate, Chief Frank Nichols said Tuesday. Aldermen approved the lease, which waives $5,700 in rent, with minor adjustments through memo that must be acknowledged and accepted by the property's owner. SPD formally opened its first substation, located at 151 Alfred Perkins St., on Feb. 28.
Civil Rights Sins, Curated by One of the Sinners
In the woods off Monroe Road, a truck is so rusted that it is melting into the earth. It was Vernon Dahmer's truck, the one that he drove and that his family continued to use after his death, the circumstances of which can be inferred from the three penny-size holes in the back panel. Five men were convicted in the 1966 firebombing and ambush that killed Mr. Dahmer, the local N.A.A.C.P. president. But his family is certain about one culprit that went unpunished: the State of Mississippi. So it was with some faith that the Dahmers agreed to hand over parts of the truck to the state, to be exhibited in the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. Not complete faith, the family clarifies. This is only a loan. And the family has control over its use. "If we can't tell it like it really is," said Mr. Dahmer's son Vernon Jr., "we best not tell it at all."
School districts still in budget hole
Teachers and some state employees got pay raises under the budget passed during the final days of the 2014 legislative session that ended Wednesday night, but some say little was done to dig local school districts out of the financial hole they fell into in 2008. It was in 2008 that the economy plummeted, forcing then-Gov. Haley Barbour to initiate budget cuts. His first round of cuts focused primarily on kindergarten through 12th grade education. From that point, education funding steadily declined. In recent years, it has started to improve. But even with $65 million added to the budget during the just-completed session for a $1,500 across-the-board pay raises for the state's about 30,000 school teachers, K-12 education still has a long way to go to recover from prior budget cuts.
Legislature failed to keep PERS from going back on retirees' pensions
The Legislature failed last week to protect retirees from a recent move by the state retirement system, PERS, to cut pensions. PERS has gone back this year and reduced the pensions of a number of Jackson County employees whose retirements were based in part on unused sick and vacation leave. Some Jackson County officials believe their county is a test case and that PERS will take this practice to hundreds of school districts, cities and counties in Mississippi. The move is based on how PERS interprets local retirement policies. State Rep. Manly Barton, R-Helena, tried wrestling through an amendment to legislation this year that might help the retirees, but failed. Barton said, PERS scared legislators by saying his attempt to change or clarify state law governing this issue could bring "unintended consequences."
Teacher pay, justice reform biggest achievements
The Legislature faced a litany of diverse issues during the just-completed 2014 session. Lawmakers wound up business Wednesday night after a chaotic final few days to end the 86-day session. Here is a recap of some of the key issues debated and either passed or rejected.
Gipson wields influence in 2014 session
During the 2014 Mississippi legislative session, one of the most influential lawmakers was Rep. Andy Gipson, chairman of the House Judiciary B Committee. The Republican from Braxton was first elected to the House in November 2007, representing a mostly rural district in parts of Rankin, Simpson and Smith counties. He's a 37-year-old attorney, Baptist pastor and married father of four. He has an unapologetically conservative manner that some people find admirable and others find aggravating.
Treasurer works on college savings, financial literacy and debt management
With close to $28 billion in transactions each year, Mississippi State Treasurer Lynn Fitch and her staff have a pretty full plate as they run the state's bank. Among her duties is letting the public know about services provide by her office, so Fitch has been on the road recently in an outreach effort. First among the issues she is working on is the reemergence of a state program through which parents or grandparents can save money for a child's college education. The College Savings Board met recently and unanimously voted to open the MPACT plan, which is the Mississippi Prepaid Affordable College Tuition plan, according to Fitch.
Starrett: Too many people in prison
A Mississippi federal judge is praising the Legislature's passing a bill to reform the state's criminal justice system. U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett said he agrees with Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr., who called the legislation the most important reform in 100 years. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed the bill this past week. The law is modeled on criminal-justice changes made in recent years in several states. The Enterprise-Journal reports Starrett spoke to a McComb civic club this past week. "What we're doing is not working. We're locking up too many people and we're not doing anything with them when they're there. From a human standpoint, it's just not the right thing to do. Most of the people in prisons are not bad people. They just made bad choices," he said.
In Congress, committee chairmen head for the exits but some lawmakers still want the job
At 76, Sen. Thad Cochran could have easily retired this year rather than trying to battle through an ideologically divisive primary in pursuit of a seventh term. Instead, the Mississippi Republican decided it was worth the trouble, because he wants another chance at chairing a Senate committee. "I think it's very attractive. There are a lot of responsibilities, very serious stuff," Cochran said of the prospect of a GOP majority and his chance at heading one of two committees on which he has senior status. Cochran's rationale makes him something of an outlier these days, a 76-year-old veteran fighting to become a committee chairman when the old order has disappeared and derision abounds for chairmen who consider themselves serious legislators instead of ideological warriors.
Election-year GOP split over home-state projects
Republicans can't seem to reach an official party line this election year on the old Washington custom of using the federal budget to benefit the folks back home. The disagreement is a byproduct of divisions between conservative and establishment Republicans, and is on display in three races that will help determine whether the GOP wins control of the U.S. Senate for the final two years of Barack Obama's presidency. It's forcing veteran appropriators and their opponents in Mississippi, Georgia and Kentucky to navigate between conservatives' distaste for tax-and-spend government and voters' fondness for public projects and programs.
Tea Party challenger threatens to 'kill' O-Care
The Tea Party candidate who is challenging Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) promised to "kill" ObamaCare, if he gets elected in November. "We are not going to stand with an eye toward trying to place a Band-Aid on ObamaCare," Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel said at FreePAC Kentucky, a conservative gathering in Louisville on Saturday. "We're not going to fix it. We're going to kill it." "They say this race I'm in right now is a test of the old guard," McDaniel said in a deep Irish accent. "I'm not sure what that means."
Cochran-McDaniel Race Among Top Tea Party Primaries That Begin in May
A seven-week gauntlet of Republican Senate primaries kicking off next month will decide the fate of the tea party's success this year. If a Republican senator loses a primary this year, it will more than likely occur in a span of nominating contests premiering in one month. Incumbents got the boot thanks to tea-party-backed hopefuls in both 2010 and 2012, and those lesser known Republican nominees went on to both triumphs and failures. In the third election cycle since the rise of the tea party, fundraising and organization remain significant hurdles for anti-establishment candidates. The outside groups helping to fuel many of the primary campaigns concede they are realistic about their slim chances against incumbents and mainstream Republican candidates. The races to watch begin May 6 in North Carolina, followed by Nebraska on May 13, Kentucky and Georgia on May 20, Mississippi on June 3 and South Carolina on June 10.
U.S. Tries Candor to Assure China on Cyberattacks
In the months before Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's arrival in Beijing on Monday, the Obama administration quietly held an extraordinary briefing for the Chinese military leadership on a subject officials have rarely discussed in public: the Pentagon's emerging doctrine for defending against cyberattacks against the United States --- and for using its cybertechnology against adversaries, including the Chinese. The idea was to allay Chinese concerns about plans to more than triple the number of American cyberwarriors to 6,000 by the end of 2016, a force that will include new teams the Pentagon plans to deploy to each military combatant command around the world. But the hope was to prompt the Chinese to give Washington a similar briefing about the many People's Liberation Army units that are believed to be behind the escalating attacks on American corporations and government networks. So far, the Chinese have not reciprocated --- a point Mr. Hagel plans to make in a speech at the P.L.A.'s National Defense University on Tuesday.
Serious reading takes a hit from online scanning and skimming, researchers say
Claire Handscombe has a commitment problem online. Like a lot of Web surfers, she clicks on links posted on social networks, reads a few sentences, looks for exciting words, and then grows restless, scampering off to the next page she probably won't commit to. "I give it a few seconds -- not even minutes -- and then I'm moving again," says Handscombe, a 35-year-old graduate student in creative writing at American University. But it's not just online anymore. She finds herself behaving the same way with a novel. To cognitive neuroscientists, Handscombe's experience is the subject of great fascination and growing alarm. Humans, they warn, seem to be developing digital brains with new circuits for skimming through the torrent of information online. This alternative way of reading is competing with traditional deep reading circuitry developed over several millennia.
New research finds that many Internet trolls are 'everyday sadists'
Anyone who's ever encountered Internet trolls, those vile, racist, sexist and often profane people who gorge themselves on others' misery, might have concluded they are psychologically disturbed. That would be correct, new research suggests. Trolls gleefully spew their "e-bile" using smartphone apps, online comments, texts or social media sites for no other reason than cruelty. According to a recent paper by a team of Canadian researchers that has looked into the psychological underpinnings of trolls, they may be something else as well: Sadists. Yes, sadists. But not the psychopathic sadists who turn to actual physical torture or serial killing.
Diane Howard Art History Lecture Series at MUW to feature first guest speaker
The legacy of Diane Howard, who studied art history at Mississippi University for Women, will continue through a scholarship and lecture series named in her honor. On Thursday, April 10 at 7 p.m., the Diane Legan Howard Art History Lecture Series will feature its first speaker, Dr. Temma Balducci, associate professor of art history at Arkansas State University. The program will be held in the Mary Evelyn Stringer Auditorium of the Art and Design Building, followed by a wine and cheese reception.
USM Faculty Senate stands with Islamic center
A resolution unanimously approved Friday afternoon by the University of Southern Mississippi's Faculty Senate condemned violence against an off-campus Islamic Center. On March 18, Hattiesburg police were called to the center, located on North 25th Avenue, where they found evidence of bullets fired at the center. No one was occupying the facility at the time of the incident. The resolution, which was presented to Jerry Buti of the center, reads in part: "The Faculty Senate of The University of Southern Mississippi, on behalf of the faculty, wishes to express their condemnation of the violence against the Islamic Center and their support for everyone to worship freely without fear of violence. Freedom of religion is a basic human right."
Mover of the Week: David Breaux
David Breaux of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is the new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Delta State University. He will begin his duties on July 1. Breaux is a professor of political science at ULL, where he once served as graduate school dean. He also previously taught in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Mississippi State University. Breaux has published articles in various peer-reviewed academic journals and written numerous book chapters on political party activists, state politics and policy and Southern politics.
Speakers announced for Mississippi College commencement ceremonies
A longtime Baptist leader will be the keynote speaker at Mississippi College's Spring 2014 undergraduate commencement on the Clinton campus. The executive director-treasurer at the Mississippi Baptist Convention since 1998, Jim Futral speaks at ceremonies at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on May 10 at the A.E. Wood Coliseum. he graduate school ceremonies begin at 7 p.m. in the A.E. Wood Coliseum with Theodore "Ted" Snazelle, senior professor for the MC London Semester Program, as speaker. Snazelle led the MC Department of Biological Sciences from 1996 to 2002.
Bond issue to benefit Meridian Community College, other local projects
Meridian Community College will receive $1.3 million from the state of Mississippi that will be used to help defray the construction cost of a new dormitory. The money is MCC's portion of $23 million the state Legislature has earmarked for the state's community colleges through a larger bond issue. This year, the state has set aside $92.8 million for public universities. "Mississippi State received $7 million to fund an expansion of the MSU Library, but there were no funds allocated specifically for MSU-Meridian," MSU Chief Communications Officer Sid Salter wrote in an email to The Meridian Star. In addition to the bond money, the Legislature appropriated $3 million in a special repair and renovation fund for the state's community college system. MCC will receive $142,961 from that fund.
Co-Lin Community College sees flurry of activity on campus
Spring has brought with it a flurry of activity at Copiah-Lincoln Community College, Co-Lin President Dr. Ronnie Nettles reported at the board of trustees meeting Thursday afternoon. "It's a very, very busy time at Co-Lin," the president said. At the meeting, trustees approved full-time personnel for the college district, high-tech welding equipment and other budgetary and finance items.
Co-Lin hosts business and industry appreciation event
A new program that intends to help transition Copiah-Lincoln Community College students into the workplace was introduced to a crowd of local business and college officials as part of a Business and Industry Appreciation Luncheon at the Thames Center at Co-Lin Thursday. The event, sponsored by Georgia-Pacific and other local businesses, also recognized industry and college officials for exceptional service and partnership. Called the South Mississippi Alliance for Workforce Solutions, the new training program was signed by five presidents of participating colleges in December.
U. of Alabama trustees approve major bond issue; money to used for capital projects, debt refinancing
The board of trustees for the University of Alabama on Friday approved issuing $236 million in bonds for debt refinancing and capital projects as well as resolutions to begin $80 million in new construction and renovations on the Bryce Hospital campus. About $145 million of the revenue bonds would be for capital projects, including the renovation and expansion of Sewell-Thomas Baseball Stadium, the Houser Hall renovation, construction of a new classroom building on the Bryce Hospital grounds, and the modernization of the campus' information technology infrastructure, according to the trustees' meeting packet. About $88 million would be used to refinance existing bond debt to take advantage of interest rates. The university estimated the refinancing would save approximately $3.77 million.
U. of Alabama to build new state of the art performing arts center on Bryce Hospital grounds
The new $60 million performing arts center to be constructed by the University of Alabama on the Bryce Hospital grounds is planned as a state-of-the-art venue for the Department of Theatre and Dance. The UA board of trustees approved the scope and preliminary budget for the project on Friday. The 109,017-square-foot center will connect to the historic main Bryce Hospital building via a new lobby. The project will require the demolition of the north wing of the main hospital building. The center will feature a 350-seat drama theater, a 450-seat dance theater, a 250-seat studio theater and associated support spaces, such as a scenery shop and rehearsal hall, according to the preliminary plan.
Auburn University, Tuskegee team with medical center to combat diabetes
Auburn and Tuskegee universities recently teamed with East Alabama Medical Center's Diabetes and Nutrition Center in Opelika to develop "Reaching Out for Better Health," a project funded by the American Association of Diabetes Educators, or AADE. The collaboration was one of only 10 funded nationwide. The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama Caring Foundation also supported the research aspects of the project. "We want to help empower people who have diabetes while also measuring the impact of accredited diabetes self-management education," said Jan Kavookjian, associate professor in the Department of Health Outcomes Research and Policy in Auburn University's Harrison School of Pharmacy.
U. of Tennessee hosts Ukrainian crisis forum
The events happening with Russia and Ukraine in the Crimea region will no doubt have large implications for American international relations for many years. In light of these issues, the University of Tennessee is hosting an open forum on the Ukrainian crisis and Russian expansionism at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Hodges Library Auditorium. The forum's panel includes several local and international experts who will give a short talk on a subject of their specialty as well as answer questions from the audiences. "People should attend this in order to begin understanding how Russia has changed since the fall of the Soviet Union to become once again a nation with major geopolitical aspirations and a triumphalist self-concept," said Stephen Blackwell, professor and chair of the Russian program at UT.
UGA festival draws a crowd, promotes understanding of different cultures
People enjoying lunch outside of downtown restaurants and playing on the University of Georgia North Campus lawn Saturday couldn't help but wander to the International Street Festival held on College Square. Featuring cultural displays, dances, and international bands from dozens of UGA student organizations, the annual festival offered passersby information about various cultures, Throughout the afternoon, student representatives manned booths about Brazil, Nepal, Japan and Turkey as well as Amnesty International, Hands On Haiti and others.
U. of Kentucky program looks to expand to India for student service work
An interdisciplinary medical group wasn't the only Lexington entity represented in India over the University of Kentucky's spring break. The university's Alternative Service Breaks program sent Belen Hermosillo to evaluate the area as a possible future ASB site. ASB, recently named the American College Personnel Association's Program of the Year, does such "exploratory" trips to scope out possible volunteer service trip destinations. The program offers trips domestically and abroad, doing anything from refugee resettlement to education.
Texas A&M student affairs VP picked to lead TxDOT
Joe Weber, Texas A&M's vice president of student affairs, has been named executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation. Weber's new role will begin on or about April 23, according to a TxDOT press statement announcing his appointment. Weber, who served as a lieutenant general in the U.S. Marine Corps, succeeds Phil Wilson, who earlier this year was named general manager of the Lower Colorado River Authority.
U. of Missouri chancellor shuffles duties for two administrators
With hopes of streamlining existing processes and making budgeting more transparent, University of Missouri Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin recently announced the shuffling of duties for two key administrative positions. In an email to faculty and staff early last month, Loftin announced that the previous vice chancellor for administrative services will become the vice chancellor for operations and chief operating officer, and the budget director will become the vice chancellor for finance and chief financial officer. "There is a need going forward to find additional ways to streamline processes so pulling finance areas more closely together into a comprehensive finance function could aid in finding new efficiencies," Loftin wrote.
Stuck in the Middle on Faculty Pay
Associate professors, in theory, should be hitting a stride in their academic careers. In the middle ranks of faculty, they have typically earned tenure and started to take on broader responsibilities in their departments, juggling more service and governance roles with their teaching and research. But the earning power of these professors is diminishing compared with their peers in ranks above and below them. While pay for associate professors has grown by 5.6 percent since 2000, after adjusting for inflation, salaries for assistant professors have increased by 9 percent, according to a Chronicle analysis of data provided by the American Association of University Professors. The gap is widening even more between associate professors and full professors, whose pay has increased by 11.7 percent.
Study finds increased STEM enrollment since the recession
Policy makers regularly talk about the need to encourage more undergraduates to pursue science and technology fields. New data suggest that undergraduates at four-year institutions in fact have become much more likely to study those fields, especially engineering and biology. And while much of the public discussion of STEM enrollments has suggested a STEM vs. liberal arts dichotomy (even though some STEM fields are in fact liberal arts disciplines), the new study suggests that this is not the dynamic truly at play. Rather, STEM enrollments are growing while professional field enrollments (especially business and education) are shrinking.
Student's death in Colorado raises questions on pot and health
It was spring break, and Levy Thamba, a 19-year-old college student from Africa, had checked into a fourth-floor hotel room with three of his buddies. They had come from their small college in Wyoming looking for an adventure. No one is sure how much Thamba ate of the marijuana cookie purchased by one of his friends at a local pot shop. But soon the engineering student, who had never tried marijuana before, began acting strangely hostile, tearing around the room and pulling pictures from the wall. Sometime in the early hours of March 11, Thamba leaped over the balcony to his death. The case has become a grim exhibit in a growing case file as Colorado health officials wonder whether, in the rapid rollout of legalized marijuana, adequate attention was paid to potential health risks of its use, especially in the little-scrutinized area of edible marijuana.
Colleges Increasing Spending on Sports Faster Than on Academics, Report Finds
Even as their spending on instruction, research and public service declined or stayed flat, most colleges and universities rapidly increased their spending on sports, according to a report being released Monday by the American Association of University Professors. "Increasingly, institutions of higher education have lost their focus on the academic activities at the core of their mission," the association said in its report. "The spending priority accorded to competitive athletics too easily diverts the focus of our institutions from teaching and learning to scandal and excess." For years, the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, a watchdog group of academic leaders and others, has been documenting, and deploring, the race in sports expenditures at the most competitive level, Division I. But this report is believed to be the first that also compares educational spending and athletic spending, over time, at Division II and III schools and at community colleges.
PAUL HAMPTON (OPINION): Guntown doesn't get much notice, much less national press
The Sun Herald's Paul Hampton writes: "A Marine from Guntown was slain by another Marine in Quantico, Va., last year, a shooting that got a mention recently because of the shootings at Fort Hood. Its middle school archery team placed second in the North Half meet. A Guntown soldier was remembered in March as one of the casualties of the World War II Averitt's Ferry disaster in Trousdale County, Tenn. And killer-kidnapper Adam Mayes was from Guntown. Then there's state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who put Guntown, a northeast Mississippi town of just under 2,100 people, on the national radar. The McDaniel camp said it's not the senator's fault someone put his name on the flier alongside the Pace Confederate Depot in nearby Baldwyn for a gun rights/Tea Party Rally/music fest planned for May. Guntown first-term Alderman Chad McMahan knows how he feels."
BILL CRAWFORD (OPINION): Legislators neglect repairing highway system
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: "Competent leaders seeking to sustain quality of life and spur economic growth appreciate the importance of physical infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers grades physical infrastructure in each state annually. In 2012, Mississippi grades were: dams and levees, D; drinking water, C-; roads and bridges, C; wastewater, C. Hold on, a C in roads and bridges? Why, it was just two years ago that Blueprint Mississippi touted Mississippi's highway system as No. 1 in the Mid-South: 'The success of Mississippi's roadways system is due in part to Mississippi's Four-Lane Highway Program, which was enacted in 1987 to provide intrastate mobility.' That status was based on a report looking at the period 1984 to 2008. What has happened since 2008 to turn things around?"
GEOFF PENDER (OPINION): Will a tax cut for the masses follow this year's pay raises?
The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender writes: "Lawmakers in the 2014 session that just ended had some extra money and handed out pay raises to teachers and lower-paid state employees and lifted restrictions to allow agency heads to give raises if they can make their budgets balance. Moves like that usually come in an election year. But that's not until next year. So, if the economy keeps perking up and state revenue grows as planned, what will lawmakers do next year for an encore? Perhaps a tax break for the masses."
SID SALTER (OPINION): Thompson's kingmaker role recalls 'Big Jim'
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "At first, it was only black Democratic Party candidates in the Delta who sought the favor of Mississippi's first legitimate African-American political kingmaker. Then, as his stranglehold on his congressional seat grew and strengthened, black politicians across Mississippi sought his support. Today, any Democrat who wants to run credible statewide race not only wants his support, they need it. And during President Barack Obama's two terms in the White House, the federal patronage path in Mississippi increasingly ran through his office. Second District U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Bolton, the senior Democratic official in the state's congressional delegation -- and in recent years, the only one -- has emerged as a political kingmaker the likes of which hasn't been seen since the days of the late 'Big Jim' Eastland."

Prescott puts on a show at Bulldogs' scrimmage
Mississippi State held its second spring scrimmage inside Davis Wade Stadium on Saturday and Dak Prescott did not disappoint. The rising junior quarterback threw for 249 yards and four touchdowns and no interceptions guiding the Bulldogs' first-team offense. "I think I improved today and in the passing game definitely," Prescott said. "I felt like we got better as a team on offense. We started off slow but we picked it up and got better."
Growth of Prescott as passer main purpose of scrimmage for Bulldogs
The continuing development of Dak Prescott as a passing quarterback evolved Saturday with the second inter-squad scrimmage. In MSU's spring football prospective, five of the key statistics the MSU sports information/marketing department chose to highlight have to do specifically with running the football. Simply put, if they know his running is option one, opposing defenses do as well. Therefore, this spring season MSU coach Dan Mullen has intended to use these 15 spring practices to develop Prescott as a passer. In a two-hour scrimmage at Davis Wade Stadium that was set up exactly like the first one last weekend, Prescott was asked to show more ability to recognize, throw from the pocket and make plays with his right arm.
Mississippi State D-line holds itself to high standards
Nearly a month ago, Geoff Collins stood outside the D-Block cell at Alcatraz, off the coast of San Francisco. The prison's "D-Block" housed the most notorious inmates. Collins snapped a picture outside the cell and posted it to Instagram. "We (are) the most notorious D-Line," Liberty Bowl Defensive MVP Preston Smith commented. That's the goal of Mississippi State's defensive line this season --- to become one of the nation's most-feared units. "There's no ceiling on us," senior Curtis Virges said. "I can't do that. I won't put a limit on it. I can't put a ceiling on talent, because there's a whole lot of talent."
Mississippi State's Schaefer sees strides from second team
Vic Schaefer believed progress was possible in his second season as Mississippi State women's basketball coach. But the veteran coach wasn't sure how much better MSU could be with three freshmen and a junior college transfer in key roles. Schaefer's hope was the Bulldogs could find a way to come together and navigate the marathon route together.
Baseball Bulldogs swept away on bayou
Here's the weekend summed up for Mississippi State: The Bulldogs nearly doubled their hit total from the first two games against LSU and quadrupled their scoring output on Sunday. And lost. After entering the weekend tied for the West Division lead, now the Bulldogs (20-13, 6-6 SEC) are tied for fourth place, half a game behind LSU (24-8-1, 6-5-1). "Things are bunched in our league and it is going to be a wild race to the end," Bulldogs' coach John Cohen said. "Quite simply, things did not happen for us this weekend. We had some hard-hit balls. We couldn't turn those into runs. On the mound (Sunday), we couldn't contain them. That has not happened very often this season."
Recreational hog hunting popularity continues to soar
A quick tap on the roof of the electric hunting cart and the pop of two rifle shots and Jody Greene and Jeff Goeggle have taken down their first hog of the night. It's one of hundreds they will kill this year; they bagged 420 last year. Goeggle's tap on the roof of the cart signals he has spotted a hog, and he and Greene both shoot to ensure one of them hits the animal. It's a routine they'll repeat during approximately 200 hunts in 2014. You might call them hog wild, but they are just two of many local hunters who are part of a national trend of recreational hog hunting that's popularity has soared in recent years. Some would argue the increased popularity of hog hunting came as a response to farmland and other property becoming overrun with wild hogs. Others, like Mississippi State extension associate Bill Hamrick, say the translocation and release of wild hogs for hunting is largely responsible for the pervasiveness of wild hogs, which number in the millions around the country. "There have always been some pockets of them around, but it seems like in the past 10 years, it's really gotten worse," Hamrick said.
MHSAA denies that it protects star players
The Mississippi High School Activities Association's top executive has denied that his organization attempted to protect star players in the recent state basketball championship tournament. Two Mississippi high school basketball referees, speaking anonymously, told the Daily Journal they were told at halftime of a March state championship game to do a better job of keeping a star player in the game. One referee said a man came into their halftime room and said he was delivering a message from an MHSAA official, motioning with his hands that the large crowd at Mississippi Coliseum was there to see a certain player and the three-man crew needed to do a better job making sure the player stayed on the floor and not foul out or get too hassled on defense. "It is not true," MHSAA executive director Don Hinton said.
Points for Product Placement: N.C.A.A. Cashes In, but Not the Players
The new champions of men's college basketball, whoever they may be, will cut down a net Monday night. And when they do, they will climb to the basket on a blue-and-yellow Werner ladder, and they will clip the cords with a pair of orange Fiskars scissors. They will also probably wear Nike hats and T-shirts, and they might sip from Powerade cups as they cheer on their teammates. In a tournament that has been packed with upsets and surprises, one of the few mainstays has been the prominence of the logos of corporate sponsors alongside the N.C.A.A.'s. In total, some 19 major partners and corporate supporters are listed in the official fan guide of the Final Four. The rabid commercialization is hardly new to March Madness and the Final Four --- and it is not uncommon in professional sports and at the Olympics. But the N.C.A.A.'s opponents are using it as fresh ammunition with the model for college athletics increasingly under siege.
NCAA President Mark Emmert Blasts Union Idea
In expansive comments on the discontent facing college sports, NCAA president Mark Emmert acknowledged on Sunday that the organization needed change but said a union of college athletes would be a "grossly inappropriate solution." In his annual address at the Final Four, Emmert blasted a recent ruling by a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board that said Northwestern scholarship football players are employees and have the right to unionize and collectively bargain with the university. "It would blow up everything about the collegiate model of athletics," he said. While conceding the NCAA needed to address certain problems, "no one up here believes the way you fix that is by converting student-athletes into unionized employees."

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