Tuesday, April 15, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
Mississippi State Again Among Top 100 In Research
Mississippi State continues to rank among the nation's top research universities, according to a new survey by the National Science Foundation. The recently released NSF Higher Education Research and Development Survey for Fiscal Year 2012 places the university at 92nd overall among public and private institutions, based on $233.2 million in total research and development expenditures. "The NSF survey provides important benchmarks, and it is gratifying to see the hard work of our faculty, students and staff compare very well with, and in many cases surpass, our peers," said David Shaw, vice president for research and economic development.
Rebecca's Rooms, MSU Staff Create Special Bedrooms for Special Kids
When she's not working on campus, a Mississippi State accountant from Columbus provides an array of volunteer services for a Golden Triangle nonprofit organization renovating bedrooms for special-needs children. Mindy Matherne, who works with the university's Center for Distance Education, said her administrative role with Rebecca's Rooms is fulfilling because all children deserve a special, safe place at home to enjoy themselves. "Our mission is to redecorate rooms so that children feel safe and happy," she said.
MSU tech leaders making changes in wake of 'Heartbleed'
Technology professionals at Mississippi State University are addressing the worldwide computer security vulnerability called "Heartbleed" by patching affected servers and advising Internet users on campus to change passwords, among other steps. MSU security and compliance officer Tom Ritter said the bug is being actively used against websites throughout the Internet, allowing attackers to connect with servers to draw read-only information that was intended to be encrypted. Ritter said it appears about two-thirds of the Internet has been affected.
MSU Information Systems Expert Advises On Creating Strong Passwords In Response To 'Heartbleed'
The recently-discovered "Heartbleed" bug affecting as much as two-thirds of the Internet is causing people to hurriedly change passwords and further secure online personal information. A variety of websites have found bug-related security vulnerabilities which affect sites employing OpenSSL, an open-source encryption technology that typically indicates personal information is safe with a lock icon in the web browser. Merrill Warkentin of Mississippi State University said Friday [April 11] that choosing strong passwords is among the best proactive steps for minimizing vulnerability to identity theft.
New farm bill: You'll need to be better at managing risk
As you contemplate all the acronyms -- ARC, PLC, STAX, etc. -- and complexities of the new crop insurance-based farm legislation, Keith Coble has some cautionary advice for you: "Don't get terribly wrapped up in thinking that these programs are going to keep you in business. They aren't enough to keep you in business if you have a really disastrous year," he said at the annual meeting of the Mississippi Land Bank. "They are meant to supplement other parts of your risk management program." Coble, who is Giles Distinguished Professor of Agricultural Economics at Mississippi State University and one of the nation's leading experts on farm programs, spent a year in Washington as chief economist for the minority staff of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, helping to craft the farm bill.
Sawtimber, pulpwood markets improving, but challenges remain
Markets for Mississippi's sawtimber and pulpwood are bouncing back from the economic recession, but the industry is not improving across the board. "Slowly but surely, markets for sawtimber are beginning to grow again after the sharp declines seen after the collapse of the U.S. housing market and the ensuing recession," said James Henderson, associate Extension professor of forestry at Mississippi State University. "But the closing of the International Paper mill in Courtland, Ala., will have an impact on north Mississippi's pulpwood markets."
Mississippi State honors local woman
The Mississippi State University President's Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) formally recognized the 2014 Outstanding Women Award winners during a reception at Griffis Hall's Forum Room. Felecia Brown, of the Purvis Clinic in Meridian, was recognized with the Outstanding Community Woman Award. Brown is a certified nurse midwife, a mother of four, and grandmother of two. In addition to her responsibilities at the Purvis Clinic, she founded an organization called "Divas on the Run" which focuses on assisting women in getting physically fit.
People on the Move: MSU Extension Service
Jared Harris of Poplarville, an environmental biologist, has joined the Mississippi State University Extension Service as coastal project coordinator for the Research and Education to Advance Conservation and Habitat, or REACH, program.
MDOT crews convert Starkville intersection to all-way stop
Workers will be on scene in Starkville to convert an intersection to an all-way stop Tuesday. The Mississippi Department of Transportation says the intersection of Highway 389 and Garrard Road in Oktibbeha County will change to an all-way stop starting today. Crews will be working on the conversion from Tuesday at 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. As they work, the right lanes of the intersection will be closed.
Volunteers receive governor's award
Starkville residents were recognized by Gov. Phil Bryant for their volunteer efforts. At a Monday luncheon, Volunteer Mississippi gave the 2014 Governor's Initiative for Volunteer Excellence Awards to 15 Mississippians. The governor's office says Starkville residents Pinks Dudley and Catherine Buffington received an award. Dudley was named The Marsha Meeks Kelly Award for Lifetime Achievement in Volunteer Service, and Buffington was given the Outstanding Volunteer Leadership by a Youth award.
Alabama Marine killed in hit and run on Highway 82
The Mississippi Highway Patrol is looking for a vehicle which struck and killed a Marine from Alabama on Sunday morning. Cason Bryant Park, 25, of Gordo, Ala., was traveling west on Highway 82 in Oktibbeha County early Sunday morning around 4 a.m. near the Center Grove Community when his car broke down. Leaving the vehicle with the hazard lights flashing, he began walking down the highway. He was struck from behind by a vehicle about a quarter of a mile from where his car broke down. The vehicle fled the scene. Pieces of the vehicle found at the scene are being analyzed by investigators to determine what kind of vehicle it was that hit Park.
Flood of Memories: 35 years ago
The Pearl River's waters flooded parts of Jackson and surrounding areas in 1979 in a deluge that paralyzed the city and led to the evacuation of 15,000 people. Now, 35 years later, the river is making a return visit. At the 34-foot stage, water has done little more than flood wooded areas, compared with the 43-foot crest of 1979. But with the swollen Pearl climbing again Monday after heavy rain overnight, it's a reminder that, despite decades of study, little has been done to protect Mississippi's largest urban area. The Easter flood caused more than $500 million in damage -- $1.3 billion in today's dollars. But damage from an equivalent flood could be even more costly, because the Rankin County side of the river has sprouted hospitals, office buildings and shopping centers in the ensuing decades.
Assessment of rural hospitals warns of fiscal trials and tribulations ahead
Many of Mississippi's rural public hospitals owe their existence to the Hill-Burton Act, a post-World War 11 initiative that provided grants and loans to build the hospitals. Today, their futures are increasingly tied to the resourcefulness of public officials and medical managers. Can they adjust to changes in delivery of services, reimbursements for services and the pressures of treating more and more patients who have neither money nor insurance? If not, the landscape of the future is going to look mighty rugged for them, according to an April 2 report issued by Mississippi State Auditor Stacey Pickering titled "The Financial Health of Publicly Owned Rural Mississippi Hospitals."
Text messages ruled public record in Mississippi
Public officials' text messages about government business are public records, the Mississippi Ethics Commission says. The commission's first opinion on the matter was unanimous, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported. The opinion arrived Monday in a dispute between the newspaper and the city of Tupelo but was made Friday at a meeting attended by seven of the eight members. "This will be precedent for all public officials in Mississippi," said Leonard Van Slyke, a media law attorney who advises the Mississippi Center for Freedom of Information. "I think the significance of the ruling is public officials can't use text messages as a method to circumvent compliance of the Public Records Act."
Successful session: Council of Governments members get update from legislators
State Representatives Greg Snowden and Charles Young were the speakers at the Council of Governments Monday during a luncheon held at the Meridian Community College Culinary Arts and Hotel Management Center in College Park. Both of the state representatives said this latest legislative session was one of the best they have seen while in office. "This was a successful session," Young told the group. "We got a lot of good things accomplished like the teacher pay raises and improvements with the state's penal system."
McDaniel campaigns for GOP votes in Tupelo
Area Republicans packed Earnest B's Barbecue Monday night for ribs and a red-meat conservative stump speech from U.S. Senate challenger Chris McDaniel, an attorney and current state senator looking to unseat the state's six-term incumbent. McDaniel entered the room to a group of many supporters and other Republicans uncertain about a man who decided to battle the state's senior federal elected official in the June 3 primary challenge.
Chamber ad criticizes McDaniel on tort reform
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday is starting a television ad in the Thad Cochran-Chris McDaniel Republican U.S. Senate primary. The chamber says its ad "highlights the contrast between Cochran and his trial lawyer challenger" and focuses on "McDaniel's hypocrisy."
Tea party leader: Mississippi GOP chair should resign
The president of the Mississippi Tea Party said Monday that state Republican chairman Joe Nosef needs to either remain neutral in the Republican U.S. Senate primary or step down. Laura Van Overschelde said she thinks Nosef is favoring incumbent Thad Cochran over challenger Chris McDaniel. Van Overschelde supports McDaniel. In a news release and in an interview with The Associated Press, she said Nosef has gone on TV and radio shows to criticize McDaniel but has not raised questions about Cochran's record. Nosef said he's not playing favorites before the June 3 primary.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn denies weighing presidential bid
A report over the weekend that Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn might launch a 2016 Republican presidential bid spurred a non-denial denial from her campaign staff, though she appeared to be more explicit during a visit to New Hampshire. The website RealClearPolitics.com, quoting an unnamed Blackburn aide, said the Brentwood Republican was considering a presidential candidacy and had gone to New Hampshire to "test the waters." In advance of the New Hampshire appearance, Blackburn campaign spokesperson Darcy Anderson said in a statement that Blackburn wasn't going there to "test anything," but added: "We don't need any tests to tell us that the country is not on the right path." A Laurel native, Blackburn is a 1973 graduate of Mississippi State University.
Mississippi native Tartt wins fiction Pulitzer
Donna Tartt's "The Goldfinch," already among the most popular and celebrated novels of the past year, has won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Tartt's novel, a sweeping, Dickensian tale about a young orphan set in modern Manhattan, was published last fall to high praise and quick commercial success that has not relented. Fans of the 50-year-old Mississippi native, many of whom still had strong memories of her 1992 debut, "The Secret History," had waited a decade for her to complete her third novel. "The Goldfinch" was published after the disappointing "The Little Friend." "I am incredibly happy and incredibly honored and the only thing I am sorry about is that Willie Morris and Barry Hannah aren't here. They would have loved this," said Tartt, referring to two authors who had been early mentors.
First 'cyber' Pulitzer honors publishers of NSA leaks for public service
The Pulitzer Prize for Public Service was awarded Monday to The Washington Post and The Guardian US for reporting on the global scope and intricacies of the National Security Agency's global surveillance programs. A controversial award to be sure, the Pulitzer committee appeared to draw distinctions between the two organizations' approaches to the task of reporting on the tens of thousands of top secret documents leaked to them by Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor now living in asylum in Russia. But the committee's choice transcended ongoing debate over whether Mr. Snowden is a "hero or traitor," by highlighting the first-ever Pulitzer for cyberspace reporting, observers said.
E-cigarette firms targeting young people, lawmakers say
E-cigarette companies are preying on young consumers by using candy flavors, social media ads and free samples at rock concerts, according to a report released Monday by Democratic legislators. A survey of nine electronic-cigarette companies found most were taking advantage of the lack of federal regulations to launch aggressive marketing campaigns targeting minors with tactics that would be illegal if used for traditional cigarettes, according to a report released by lawmakers. Producers have come up with an array of creative flavors, a practice that was banned for traditional cigarettes by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009.
Petal hosts powwow: USM's Native American festival finds new home
The Golden Eagle Intertribal Powwow has spent the last 11 years as a nomadic event in search of the perfect place to call its home away from home. Now, as the 12th annual powwow approaches, organizers are looking forward to exploring new ground in Petal. Set for Thursday-Saturday, the majority of this year's powwow will take place at the City of Petal's Willie Hinton Park. "We started talking this year, and I just assumed we'd have it again wherever we could find a place, and one of the community members said, 'I live in Petal, and I think Petal and its residents would love the powwow,' " said Tammy Greer, director of Southern Miss' Center for American Indian Research and Studies.
Former East Central Community College President Eddie M. Smith dies
Former East Central Community College President Eddie M. Smith died Monday at his home in Decatur, following a lengthy illness. He was 71. Smith led the community college from 1985 to 2000 and was his alma mater's its sixth president. Smith's tenure was marked with an increase in enrollment, new program offerings, campus facilities and workforce education and training. The Student Union Building was named for Smith. A graduate of Noxapater High School, Smith received an associate's degree from ECCC and earned bachelor and master degrees from Mississippi State University, and a doctorate from the University of Southern Mississippi.
MGCCC Scholarship Gala Honors Malcolm White, raises more than $100,000
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College set a fundraising record at its 2014 Scholarship Gala and Celebrity Roast on Monday night at the Beau Rivage. "This is the big scholarship fundraiser that we do for the institution," said MGCCC President Mary Graham. "People have the opportunity to give. This year, thus far, we've raised the most money we've ever raised for our scholarship gala -- well over $100,000.00. And the great thing is that other scholarships have been spinning off of this since last year. It's contagious and it's exciting to help people get their college education." Celebrity roastee was Malcolm White, director of tourism for the state of Mississippi. "Malcolm's ties to the college run very deep. He and his brother Hal grew up on the Perk campus, and their dad was our football coach," Graham said.
Two MGCCC students accused of selling drugs on Perkinston campus
Two Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College students are behind bars after authorities said they were found with drugs and stolen firearms on the school's campus. Wiggins police Capt. Jimmy Green said officers stopped a Pontiac Grand Prix shortly before 2 a.m. on April 4 for traffic violations. Green said officers immediately smelled the odor of marijuana coming from the car and received consent for a search. Green said officers found two stolen firearms and 13 grams of marijuana as well as paraphernalia commonly used to package and sell the drug. "I think it's absurd that this would go on on a campus of all places. It's not a place for guns and it's not a place drugs," said Green.
U. of Alabama honors College of Human Environmental Sciences dean with portrait recognizing service
A portrait unveiling ceremony honoring Milla Boschung, dean of the College of Human Environmental Sciences, was held April 9 at the University Club off Queen City Avenue. The portrait, which will hang in the Alumni Room of Doster Hall, honors the dean's service to the University of Alabama. "I was just so honored to have my portrait painted," Boschung said. "I follow so many wonderful deans." UA President Judy Bonner, introduced Boschung. Jo Bonner, vice chancellor for government relations and economic development at the University of Alabama System, spoke first at the April 9 ceremony.
LSU students seek to ban e-cigarettes from campus
The wave of the future may get snuffed out with the past. Regardless of whether the decision comes down to make LSU's campus smoke-free, tobacco-free or somewhere in between, electronic cigarettes may well be placed under the same on-campus restrictions as its traditional counterparts. The LSU smoke-free campus committee voted unanimously to recommend smoking electronic cigarettes -- known as "vaping" -- be banned from campus as part of any official smoke-free initiative, committee member Judith Sylvester says.
College degrees lacking in Louisiana
With a college degree, a person is less likely to live in poverty, less likely to be unemployed and, according to a Pew Research study, more likely to have fared well during the recent recession. Just three in 10 working-age adults in Louisiana held either a community college or a university degree in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, putting the state well below the Southern and national averages. And while state lawmakers on the Senate Finance Committee agreed Monday that those numbers are startling, it doesn't appear the state government is going to do anything meaningful to reverse the trend, they said. The state's top higher education adviser, Tom Layzell, painted a stark picture for committee members.
Snowden no hero, national security leader says at UGA
Edward Snowden is no hero, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a University of Georgia audience on Monday. Clapper said Snowden made the country less safe. Snowden, a former Central Intelligence Agency worker and National Security Agency contractor, leaked details of massive federal domestic and global surveillance programs to journalists last year. The leak prompted a global debate over how to keep security agencies such as the NSA and CIA from violating constitutional guarantees of privacy and where such lines should be drawn. Clapper, speaking in the UGA Chapel, said Snowden's leaks "have cut deeply" into security agencies' ability to gather information.
Tuition Waiver Act a relief to veterans at U. of Florida
When Skye Barkley decided to move to her home state of Florida to go to college after a stint in the Marine Corps, she had no idea she'd be classified as an out-of-state resident. Barkley, 26, got married while stationed at Camp LeJeune in North Carolina and had to get a new driver's license to go with the name change. Because of that Tar Heel state license, Barkley no longer qualified as a Florida resident when she and her husband moved to the Sunshine State. It meant postponing her dream of going to the University of Florida until she could re-establish her residency and be able to pay the much lower in-state tuition. But now, thanks to the "Congressman C. W. Bill Young Veteran Tuition Waiver Act" signed into law last month by Gov. Rick Scott, out-of-state veterans will be able to attend state colleges and universities at in-state rates.
U. of Kentucky, 8 others share grant to increase minority graduates in math, science
The University of Kentucky and eight other universities in Kentucky and West Virginia announced a $2.5 million grant Monday to help more minority students graduate with degrees in math and science. The National Science Foundation provided money for the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, named for former U.S. Rep. Louis Stokes of Ohio. The other schools are the University of Louisville, West Virginia University, Western Kentucky University, Centre College, Marshall University, Kentucky State University, West Virginia State University, and Bluegrass Community and Technical College. The initiative "provides rich opportunities that we hope will excite more underrepresented students to explore, delve into and thrive in academic and research programs in STEM fields," UK President Eli Capilouto said.
Hosting VP Biden, U. of South Carolina limits tickets for May 9 commencement
University of South Carolina seniors graduating May 9 will have to prioritize their guest lists carefully for the big day. The university said Monday that tickets will be required for the commencement exercises in Colonial Life Arena, where Vice President Joe Biden will be the commencement speaker. Each graduate can get one ticket to use and up to four more tickets for guests. Graduates must submit a typed list of guests' full names to the university. "It's great honor, and it's a commencement ceremony that everyone will enjoy and remember," said Wes Hickman, USC's chief communications officer. "There is a limited amount of seating available, and we're trying to accommodate as many people as possible within those limits."
Texas A&M prof earns Outstanding Mentoring Award
A veteran Texas A&M math professor was recently named as the 2013 recipient of the Outstanding Mentoring Award for her contributions as mentor to junior faculty members. Sue Geller was recognized with the award by the Texas A&M Women's Faculty Network, an organization formed in 1990 to promote and foster professional development of women faculty. Geller joined the Texas A&M Department of Mathematics in 1981 after earning a master's and a doctorate from Cornell University. She's served as the director of the Honors Program in Mathematics since 2004. Along with an award plaque, Geller will be getting a $500 check.
Fortune smiles on Aggie after video of opponent's game show flubs go viral
Texas A&M student Shelby Edmiston got to pick up the pieces of the $1 million mistake that's being called the worst Wheel of Fortune flub of all time. Scenes from Friday's Wheel of Fortune have gone viral after contestant Julian Batts of the University of Indiana missed a series of questions that would have netted him $1 million, a new car and an international trip. He lost the cash prize because he mispronounced Achilles as "A-chill-is." Wheel of Fortune rules require a "generally accepted pronunciation." Following each of the wrong answers was Edmiston, who used her Aggie education to correctly solve the puzzles.
Teachers may be close to settling suit against state, U. of Missouri
Almost four years after a group of teachers filed a lawsuit against the University of Missouri, among other entities, the parties are asking for the case to be settled without a trial. In August 2010, 14 Missouri teachers filed a lawsuit against four entities, including the University of Missouri Board of Curators, for a breach of contract. The teachers were among about 45 teachers who started jobs with the Missouri Virtual Instruction Program, or MoVIP, in August 2009 but were out of work by November 2009 because the state eliminated funding for the program. The lawsuit also is filed against the Missouri State Board of Education, the state and eMints, a national program based on the MU campus that extended the MoVIP contracts, but the suit has mostly focused on the portion dealing with the university.
Report brings comfort to Sasha Menu Courey family, could spark change at U. of Missouri
The parents of Sasha Menu Courey now believe their daughter's death can spur significant change. The family announced in a statement Monday that they are pleased with the findings of an independent investigation into whether University of Missouri employees acted consistently with university policy and the law in the Menu Courey case. The former MU swimmer committed suicide in 2011 after she was allegedly raped by three football players in 2010. The Dowd Bennett law firm reported its findings to the UM System Board of Curators Friday, saying MU didn't meet its responsibilities in reporting sexual assault cases through Title IX.
Pace of hiring at counseling centers lags behind spike in student problems
The number of students seeking help for anxiety continues to grow, and while counseling centers are starting to recover financially from the recession, they're still as short-staffed as ever, an annual survey of counseling center directors found. Many directors report that their budgets and hiring levels are back on the rise after a post-recession decline. But centers are still being stretched thinner: On average, directors report having just one staff member for every 1,772 students on campus during the academic year, up from one for every 1,673 last year. The Association for University and Counseling Center Directors released its 2013 annual survey on Tuesday.
MARTIN WILLOUGHBY (OPINION): Music is Dennis Sankovich's profession and passion
Contributing columnist Martin Willoughby writes in the Mississippi Business Journal: "I believe one of Mississippi's real opportunities is to leverage its rich culture. Around the state there are individuals, groups and organizations who are trying to make their communities richer through the arts and education. One of Mississippi's notable success stories in this area is the Mississippi State University Riley Center located in the heart of downtown Meridian. ...I was interested in this success story and recently interviewed Dennis Sankovich, the executive director of the MSU Riley Center, to learn more."

Alcorn State baseball visits Bulldogs tonight
No. 24 Mississippi State continues its run through the Magnolia State facing its third consecutive in-state opponent as Alcorn State travels to Starkville tonight at 6:30 p.m. The Bulldogs (22-15, 7-8) split last week's games against Southern Miss and Ole Miss by winning an extra-inning affair from each. MSU is 12-0 all-time against Alcorn State outscoring the Braves 181-34 in the series. ASU was able to keep things close a year ago and nearly pulled the upset in a 7-6 decision.
MSU Softball's Owen Named SEC Pitcher of the Week
Owen helped the Bully Bombers to a series victory over No. 2 Alabama on Sunday. After guiding Mississippi State to a 2-2 week in four games against top-15 opponents, senior Alison Owen has been named the Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Week. It is the first honor this season for Owen and the third of her career as she picked up the award Feb. 25 and March 4, 2013. MSU has received at least one SEC Pitcher of the Week honor for three-straight years, the longest such stretch for the program since 2001-04. Owen is the only pitcher in program history to win the award more than once in her career.
NCAA talking points attack union push
The NCAA contends that unionization by college athletes could lead to fewer scholarships and championships as well as a drop in academic support and career counseling. In a set of talking points issued to school leaders late last week, college sports' largest governing body urged school leaders to speak with a unified voice on the topic that could dramatically alter college athletics. This document includes traditional points of emphasis for the NCAA – that school leaders want athletes to focus on their classwork, the NCAA has liberalized rules to allow athletic departments to purchase items such as suits and members continue to work on legislation to provide money to cover the full cost-of-attendance. But the NCAA also warned that "scholarships would be cut or eliminated. The number of championship experiences would be dramatically reduced. Smaller sports would lose funding."
NCAA May Revise Rules on Feeding Athletes
There is one topic on which Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari and Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier agree: The NCAA's rules on feeding players are nuts. Schools are allowed to provide athletes with one specially prepared training-table meal per day, plus meals surrounding competition, travel and vacation during the season. But partial-scholarship athletes, walk-ons and players who live off campus are often on their own. That could change Tuesday, when the NCAA Division I Legislative Council considers a proposal that would permit schools to feed athletes pretty much whenever and however they want. The legislation would take effect Aug. 1. The current rules have made Calipari's players lose weight, he said. Napier -- star of the NCAA-champion Huskies -- said he sometimes goes to bed hungry.
For athletes, a different kind of helicopter parent
Choosing a major is difficult for many students. But for athletes, especially those on scholarship who never planned to (as the National Collegiate Athletic Association says) "go pro in something other than sports," the decision is often complicated by the hard truth that they'll have to. And it's not hard only for them. Presenting a study of athletes' career goals and how they were formed, Kristina M. Navarro, an assistant professor of education at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater, talked with attendees in Indianapolis at the annual American College Personnel Association conference about how parents can help or hurt their kids' scholarly pursuits. As athletes explore and choose career paths, Navarro said, they're struggling to balance their roles as both students and players.

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