Thursday, May 1, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
MSU Campus Turning into a Tent City for Relief Workers
They need to take a moment to rest and recover. Mississippi State University is hosting the staging area for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. That's what's up with all of those tents you may have seen if you drive by the Palmeiro Center. This is where emergency crews are being fed and can take a break before heading back into the tornado zones throughout our area. Student athletes have also hosted victims of the storms on campus with meals and shower facilities. Faculty and students are part of an army of volunteers spread out across the counties in need.
Staff, Professors, Students Receive MSU Research Honors
Fifty Mississippi State students, faculty and staff are 2014 selections for exceptional research and leadership honors. Honorees, their guests and senior administrators were in attendance at a campus awards luncheon April 30. "I personally appreciate your contributions to our university, our state and the nation," said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. As a major student-oriented research university, Mississippi State helps "move our state forward," he emphasized. Before an audience of friends and colleagues gathered at the Hunter Henry Center, associate professor of anthropology Nicholas Herrmann received the afternoon's top honor: the 2014 Ralph E. Powe Research Excellence Award.
Learning in the 'Dawg House'; FCAHS forms partnership with Mississippi State
Fifteen students sit quietly in a room dubbed the "Dawg House," as they listen to Jamie Varner, a teacher with Mississippi State's Extension Service. The Forrest County Agricultural High School students are watching Varner as she talks to them through an interactive audio-video hook-up. She's on a television screen, coming through from Starkville to the students in their classroom in Brooklyn. "Miss Jamie can see you, just like you can see her," says Sherri McCain, the school's technology coordinator. Varner is giving a lecture on cyberbullying -- the first class to take place in the "Dawg House," named after Mississippi State's mascot, the bulldog.
MSU Student Gets Quite a Surprise
The "prize Patrol" was out on Mississippi State's Campus Monday. No, it wasn't Publishers Clearinghouse, but they did make one student's day. The Mississippi State Alumni Delegates held a raffle for one semester of tuition, and Monday they made the presentation to the winner -- in a big way. The Alumni Delegates "Prize Patrol" armed with balloons and a big check, surprised Harris Ward as he came out of class. "I honestly did not know I that I was in line for the raffle. It was something my Mom did, so she definitely surprised me on this one," he said.
Obama OKs 7-county disaster declaration
Late Wednesday, President Barack Obama signed an order declaring a major disaster in the state of Mississippi, clearing the way for federal assistance. The declaration applies to areas affected by severe storms, tornadoes and flooding that struck Monday. Gov. Phil Bryant and the state's congressional delegation had pushed for an "expedited" federal disaster declaration after Monday's devastating storms. Such a declaration allows federal money from several relief programs to flow to individuals and local governments.
U.S. Congressional delegation tours Tupelo damage
Mississippi's two U.S. Senators and two Congressman touring tornado destruction in Tupelo and Lee County assured the region and state that federal resources will flow into the state as soon as possible to assist with recovery efforts. U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran and U.S. Reps. Alan Nunnelee and Greg Harper surveyed neighborhoods, business areas and rural parts damaged from Monday's powerful tornado thought to have had wind speed of 150 mph. Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton accompanied the federal elected leaders and a representative of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.
Twister: Scores of dead chickens on one Mississippi farm
There's nothing left of the poultry farm owned by Charlie and Cindy Wilkes save for splintered wood, twisted metal and scores of dead chickens pungently rotting on the land. A large tornado that tore through the East Mississippi community of Noxapater on Monday made a direct hit on Wilkes Farm. In minutes, the howling winds blew away eight aluminum- and wood-framed poultry houses, each holding 28,500 broilers apiece. Few of the roughly 220,000 birds survived the storm, which struck down other chicken farms around this region of pine and oak forests and lone country roads. Ray Ables, a production manager for Tyson, said he has never seen a farm as large as the Wilkes' suffer so much damage.
Teacher credits God, meteorologist for survival
Alicia Jenkins fixed her eyes on television, hoping tornadoes would miss Madison, where her parents lived. The 33-year-old teacher at Brandon Elementary School got a text over her iPhone: "Large tornado near Richland!" It was from Derek Beasley, a friend and fellow alum from Mississippi State University who is now a chief meteorologist for WPMI-TV in Mobile. He had always been good to warn her when terrible weather came close.
Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson stands by remarks about race
Facing an icy silence from the conservative targets of his racism charges, veteran Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi on Wednesday refused to back down from highly charged remarks in a weekend radio interview. Thompson, a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus, first let fly with the comments in an interview last weekend on a New Nation of Islam radio show. In a matter of minutes during his call-in chat, he accused Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky of making a "racist statement" and said conservative opposition to Obamacare is rooted in racism. He alleged Republican Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi turned down $426 million in Medicaid funding as part of Obamacare "just because a black man created it."
FAA under pressure as clamor for small commercial drones grows
It seems like a perfect time to get into the drone business. With easy access to technology and patchy regulation, small commercial drones already have been used to film box-office hits and market expensive real estate. There's only one catch: Commercial drones are illegal. In a 2007 policy statement, the Federal Aviation Administration essentially declared a ban on operating drones for commercial purposes. The agency doubled down on that position in early April, appealing an administrative order that tossed out the legal foundation for its policy. The ongoing case and mounting pressure to tap into the potentially lucrative industry puts the FAA in a tough spot.
UMMC's Hall named SEC professor of the year
John Hall, director of the Mississippi Center for Obesity Research at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, has been named professor of the year by the Southeastern Conference. Hall received the honor Wednesday during an event in Jackson. Hall is the third professor of the year honoree by the SEC. It is considered the conference's highest academic honor. Hall will receive a $20,000 honorarium and be recognized at the conference's spring meeting.
Wagnon hired as marketing and communications director at UAFS
The University of Arkansas at Fort Smith has hired Bill Wagnon as marketing and communications director, effective June 2. His background includes nearly 30 years of experience in higher education, including work as the vice president for communications at Birmingham-Southern College and associate director of university relations at Mississippi State University. Wagnon holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and public relations from Auburn University and a master's degree in higher education administration from Mississippi State.
Federal fugitive sought in heroin death of U. of Alabama student now in custody
A Birmingham man who has been a federal fugitive for seven months is in custody in connection with the heroin overdose death of a University of Alabama student. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Birmingham on Wednesday said Patropius Foster, 34, was arrested April 15 in Atlanta. Foster is charged with selling heroin that resulted in the March 2013 death of 20-year-old Baker Mims, a Vestavia Hills High School graduate.
U. of Florida fares well in proposed state budget
For the second year in a row, it looks as though the State University System is poised to get an increase in funding after sustaining five years of budget cuts -- and the University of Florida is slated to get a large share of that new money. While all the details haven't been finalized and the budget has not been approved, the recommendations agreed on by both the Senate and House look good for higher education and for UF in particular.
Grand jury indicts theft ring members who targeted vehicles at UGA
A Clarke County grand jury this week indicted a trio of teens who University of Georgia Police said was responsible for stealing belongings from dozens of vehicles on and off campus. The three-member ring mostly targeted unlocked cars and trucks in late June and early July, but also smashed windows to get into vehicles, police said. All three suspects were 18 years old when arrested by UGA police last summer. UGA Police Chief Jimmy Williamson estimated the arrests helped UGA and Athens-Clarke police clear a total of more than 30 cases.
Texas A&M celebrates new vet center, equine complex
An "extraordinary day" on the Texas A&M campus saw the grand opening of the Thomas G. Hildebrand, DVM '56 Equine Complex and the announcement of a new $120 million facility for the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. "Now we will have a building that truly matches the excellence of our faculty and students," Eleanor Green, dean of veterinary medicine, told a crowd gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences Education Complex on Tuesday afternoon. "How overdue that is. How long wanted that is. At the very least, it's the building that our outstanding faculty deserve."
Worried by FCC Plan, Net-Neutrality Advocates at Colleges Gauge Next Steps
Some members of the higher--education community, including major professional associations and individual scholars, say they will fight proposed rules from the Federal Communications Commission that would reportedly allow Internet-service providers to charge a premium for faster connection speeds. "The implications for universities are profound in terms of restricting the ability to perform research, to share research, to collaborate, to provide our students with the best access to information and the best opportunities to learn," says Barbara Stripling, president of the American Library Association and an assistant professor of practice at the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University.
Privacy or pretense? Google ends automatic ad keyword scanning of university email accounts
Google, pressured by privacy advocates and looming legal challenges, on Wednesday announced it will no longer scan student and faculty emails for advertising keywords, seeking to end a seven-year-long conflict that some university technology officers have said violates federal law. Google makes its living on the information it can learn about its users, which can then be served back to them in the form of targeted ads. In Google Apps for Education, which includes the email service Gmail and its suite of productivity software, ads are turned off by default -- but Google automatically scanned students' emails anyway. One university IT official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described negotiating with Google over Apps for Education as "an incredible contract experience."

Dan Mullen leads off SEC teleconference with condolences for storm victims
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen led off Wednesday's SEC teleconference by expressing his condolences for victims of this week's storms. "All our prayers here at Mississippi State go out to all the families that lost homes in these storms that ravaged our state," Mullen said. "... My wife and I are going to be involved in getting to the relief efforts, and getting down there to help those in need out." A tent city has been erected on Mississippi State's campus, outside the Palmeiro Center, to house those working in Louisville.
Mississippi State athletes, coaches assist in tornado relief effort
Sports is being put on the back burner at Mississippi State University this week. The MSU athletic department has channeled all of its thoughts, prayers and physical skills into tornado relief efforts. A string of tornadoes struck Mississippi, including Louisville in Winston County and Tupelo in Lee County on Monday and left a good amount of devastation in its path. Athletic department staff, head coaches and student athletes have all volunteered their time to help those in need during this time around the state.
MSU Renames Coliseum Drive as 'Bailey Howell Drive'
Mississippi State University's east-west street near the Humphrey Coliseum basketball venue has been officially renamed in honor of MSU and NBA basketball great Bailey Howell. he honor was presented to the MSU Executive Council by MSU President Mark E. Keenum and unanimously approved. "I can think of nothing more fitting than to name the street which runs in front of our basketball coliseum in honor of one of the very best ever to play the game at Mississippi State, indeed one of the very best ever to play the game of college basketball, Bailey Howell," said Keenum.
Dan Mullen says Mississippi State has had trouble scheduling teams
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said the school will have to keep plugging away on finding major conference opponents willing to schedule the school. The Southeastern Conference announced Sunday a shift to a scheduling format that requires every school to play at least one team from one of the four other major conferences. That traditionally has not happened as much at Mississippi State, though the Bulldogs did lead off the 2013 season in a neutral site game against Oklahoma State. "We never got a lot of interest in teams wanting to play home-and-homes with us, but we're going to continue to try to do so," Mullen said.
Bulldogs selected to NCAA Individual Tennis Championships
A day after the 17th-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs learned they were heading to Austin, Texas, for the 2014 NCAA Team Championship's First & Second Rounds, MSU's top doubles squad earned a spot in the doubles field of the NCAA Individual Championships in Athens, Ga. The 18th-ranked duo of Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp will be making their second-straight appearance in the NCAA Doubles Championship, reaching the round of 16 in the doubles field last season. The at-large bid into the field of 32 puts gives State its fourth doubles selection in the last five years.
MSU's Patrasc earns berth in NCAA Singles Championship
Mississippi State women's tennis standout Georgiana Patrasc has been selected to compete in the 2014 NCAA Singles Championship May 21-26 in Athens, Ga., as announced by the NCAA Division I Selection Committee Wednesday. Currently ranked 56th nationally, Patrasc has notched a 23-9 overall record this year including a 13-5 mark in dual match competition, playing all of her contests at the No. 1 and No. 2 positions in State's lineup. The Bacau, Romania, native was 6-2 in Southeastern Conference matches.
Southern Miss hires Sadler as new basketball coach
Southern Miss has hired former Nebraska and Iowa State coach Doc Sadler to be the program's next head basketball coach. USM athletic director Bill McGillis spoke glowingly Wednesday of Sadler, his first prominent hire at the school. "He has tremendous experience," McGillis said. Sadler will be introduced as the new Southern Miss basketball at coach at noon today in a press conference at the Trent Lott Center on USM's Hattiesburg campus.

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