Tuesday, May 20, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
C Spire to show construction progress on Starkville data center
Representatives of C Spire will brief business executives and economic developers at 10 a.m. Tuesday on progress the company has made on the first phase of its $23 million data center in Starkville. The 23,800-square-foot regional center will offer businesses a wide range of colocation, cloud-based computing, storage and enterprise solutions. The event will be at the Thad Cochran Research Park in Starkville.
Panda Restoration Efforts Look at Digestive Systems
Mississippi State University researchers were part of the team that learned that giant and red pandas have different digestive microbes, a finding with important implications for conservation efforts and captive animal rearing. Gastrointestinal diseases are the major cause of mortality in wild and captive pandas, but little is known about their digestive process. Candace Williams, an MSU doctoral student in biochemistry, conducted the research in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Memphis Zoo and the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Williams presented her findings at the American Society for Microbiology in Boston in May. Under the direction of biochemist Ashli Brown Johnson, MSU scientists set out to determine if there were similarities in the microbes that digest this plant-based diet.
Dutschke changes again, gets 25 years
Less than a week after dramatically stating his intent to withdraw his plea of guilty to charges of making and mailing ricin to elected officials, James Everett Dutschke on Monday reaffirmed that plea. U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock then sentenced him to 25 years in federal prison. During a sentencing hearing last Tuesday, Dutschke asserted many things contrary to his guilty plea, among them that Kevin Curtis -- the man originally charged with mailing the ricin-laced letters -- framed him as the person who framed Curtis.
McDaniel tells Gallo his campaign not involved with Cochran video
State Sen. Chris McDaniel went on the offensive Tuesday morning accusing U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran's campaign of playing politics with the timing of their report of someone taking allegedly illegal photographs of the U.S. senator's wife. McDaniel appeared on the Paul Gallo's morning show on SuperTalkMS for a 7:30 a.m. interview, a day after canceling an editorial board meeting with The Clarion-Ledger that had been scheduled for weeks. McDaniel campaign spokesman Noel Fritsch gave multiple reasons for canceling the editorial board meeting. If he was expecting a free pass on tough questions from the station where he once guest hosted, he undoubtedly was disappointed. Gallo grilled McDaniel on his knowledge of the video that showed a photograph taken of Rose Cochran bedridden in a Madison nursing home.
Wife, attorney say blogger was pawn
It's still unclear how a political blogger gained access to the bedridden wife of U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran in her nursing home, but the man's wife and his attorney said he didn't sneak into the facility, and that he appears to be a pawn in a big political game. Clayton Kelly's wife, Tara, and his attorney, Kevin Camp, said Kelly was ambitious to make a name for himself as a political blogger, was egged on by anonymous sources on the Internet to chase a story about Cochran but took it too far.
McDaniel Distances Himself From Arrested Blogger
Mississippi Senate candidate Chris McDaniel is denying any connection to a political blogger accused of sneaking into the nursing home of U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran's wife. The revelation about the photo, and the confusing time line about when each side knew about it, are upsetting the final days of the primary. Longtime political observer Marty Wiseman says the issue does severe damage McDaniel's challenge to unseat the six-term incumbent. "He is having to spend a whole lot of time denying that he had anything to do with that. Which does a couple of things. It keeps it as an issue right in front of the public. Then you have to start wondering was that his intent? Was he or was he not involved? And those may be questions that are not answered," Wiseman said.
Sen. Thad Cochran's children shocked mom's photo posted by political blogger
U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran's adult children said Monday they were shocked someone apparently tried to use their mother's debilitating dementia for political purposes as their father seeks re-election in Mississippi. "It is amazing and humbling to see how devoted our dad has been as mother has progressed from early dementia, to complete loss of language to her current state of hospice care," they said. Conservative blogger Clayton Thomas Kelly was arrested Friday and charged with a felony, exploiting a vulnerable adult. Authorities said he photographed bedridden Rose Cochran, 72, in a Mississippi nursing home and posted the photo online as part of an anti-Cochran video.
Barbour opens up to 16 WAPT's Bert Case
16 WAPT's Bert Case sits down for a no-holds-barred, one-on-one interview with former Gov. Haley Barbour. Case found the former governor has some strong feelings about the June Republican primary for the U.S. Senate race in Mississippi. "So you think Cochran will be re-elected?" Case asked. "I believe he will be re-elected for good reason. The people of Mississippi don't want out-of-state special-interest groups to come in here spending millions of dollars to tell them what they aren't doing, particularly when we have got a senator like Thad Cochran, serving them so well. Sen. Cochran knows he has got a serious race. In politics there is an old adage: There are two ways to run: Scared or unopposed," Barbour said.
Tuesday is biggest 2014 test yet for tea party
The biggest primary day of the 2014 election year so far features important, perhaps telling battles, in the war between tea party and establishment Republicans as voters head to the polls Tuesday in six states. Turnout in midterm elections is historically low, and this year it promises to be dismal. Voters are largely disgusted with Washington and the political process. More big primaries are coming. Eight states vote June 3, with the highlight being the Mississippi battle between veteran Sen. Thad Cochran and state Sen. Chris McDaniel, another tea party insurgent.
Lafayette legislators: Session successful
Lafayette County's legislative delegation agreed the 2014 Mississippi State Legislature session was a good one for education. Their comments came at Monday's "Lunch with Legislators," sponsored by the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Foundation. "The tax collections are beginning to recover," said Rep. Tommy Reynolds. One result was a long-awaited pay hike for teachers. Reynolds credited the "preachers' kid caucus" -- Andy Gipson, Bob Evans and himself -- with getting penal reform passed, promising lower costs and more equitable sentencing. Rep. Brad Mayo touted consolidation of school districts and said a pilot program using the ACT as a high school exit exam could save millions of dollars and urge more students to continue their educations.
State port celebrates new tenant
With much fanfare, state port commissioners voted unanimously Monday to approve a lease with McDermott Inc., a 90-year-old business that serves offshore oil and gas companies worldwide. McDermott plans to make the state port its base of operations for the Gulf of Mexico. The company will barge in pipe that will be fabricated at the port, then loaded on specialized vessels for shipment to customers. McDermott signed a 10-year lease, with three options for 10-year renewals. Commissioners approved the lease outside, in front of the port's new gate. Gov. Phil Bryant, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo sat on a riser with port officials for the vote and announcement.
People on the Move: Mississippi College
Suzanne McDonough has been promoted to associate professor with tenure at MC's Department of Kinesiology. She has a doctorate in exercise science and health promotion from the University of Mississippi, a master's degree from Mississippi State University and bachelor of business administration degree from Millsaps College. She is also the director of the Applied Exercise Physiology Laboratory at Mississippi College.
William Carey expanding into campus neighborhood
William Carey University is expanding its footprint in the neighborhoods around its campus, and city officials say they are supportive of the initiatives. The Hattiesburg City Council is expected to vote on zoning changes and a request for use permits on review on eight nearby properties that the university has purchased with plans to use renovated houses as classrooms or offices while incorporating other properties as green space. "To have the expansion of an educational institution in an area that needs life, that's great," Ward 2 Councilwoman Deborah Delgado said. "It's going to be wonderful."
New tax credit expected to increase funding for Alabama's career technical dual enrollment program
State lawmakers and representatives with the Alabama Community College System predict a new tax credit will help boost funding and enrollment in the state's career technical dual enrollment program for high school students. Legislators and officials with Shelton State Community College, the Department of Postsecondary Education, and Mercedes-Benz U.S. International discussed the dual enrollment program Monday, using a lab filled with mills and other precision machining equipment at Shelton as a background. The bill enacted during the regular legislative session earlier this year would give an income tax credit beginning in 2015 to individuals and businesses that make contributions to cover tuition, fees, books and other costs associated with participation in the Career Technical Dual enrollment program.
Funding for UGA Science Learning Center on Regents agenda
The State Board of Regents might approve agenda items today that earmark millions of dollars for University of Georgia projects. The Board of Regents, appointed by governors, sets policy and allocates funds for UGA and other public colleges and universities in Georgia. It's monthly board meeting was scheduled for today in Atlanta. At the top of the list of UGA-related agenda items is funding for the university's planned Science Learning Center to be built on the UGA south campus near Stegeman Coliseum. UGA president Jere Morehead has called the 125,000-square-foot building critical for the future of research at the university. In addition to classrooms, offices and meeting spaces, the building will contain teaching laboratories.
Former UGA leader Adams ranked among highest paid college presidents
Former University of Georgia president Michael Adams was the seventh-highest paid college president in the United States in the 2012-13 fiscal year, according a survey just released by the Chronicle of Higher Education. Adams got just under $1.1 million, but there's an anomaly in the statistics, according to the Chronicle, a newspaper that covers higher education. Like some others high on the list, Adams got a bigger paycheck in his last year because he was stepping down as president. His compensation included base pay of about $259,000 and $800,000 in deferred and other compensation after leading the university for 16 years. Even at $1.1 million, Adams' pay was not at the top of the Southeastern Conference, the sports league in which UGA competes.
U. of Florida ponders future growth as money for infrastructure burden sunsets
The state of Florida has paid out $35 million to Gainesville and Alachua County since 1998 to help pay for roads, buses, and bike and pedestrian lanes stressed out by a growing University of Florida campus. The source of that money is now gone, raising questions about whether UF can continue to grow beyond what has already been planned and paid for without finding another way to pay for the burden of its growth on the surrounding community. That isn't likely to happen, given UF's cap on enrollment and a slowdown in construction projects over the past few years, say officials working on updating the university's development plans for the next decade.
U. of Arkansas Board of Trustees to Consider Tuition, Fees Hike
Tuition and fees seem to be on the rise again in Arkansas. Last week, Arkansas Tech University and Arkansas State University approved hikes in both for the 2014-15 academic year. This week, the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees will consider the same. In a two-day meeting at the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope, the board will look at "modest tuition and fee increases," the university says, to help fund faculty salaries and efforts to improve retention and graduation rates. If the proposal is approved, tuition and fees for undergraduates at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville would increase from $7,818 to $8,209, a 5 percent increase or $13.03 per credit hour.
Former coach James Franklin was Vanderbilt's top earner
Former Vanderbilt head football coach James Franklin easily outearned all others at the university during the last fiscal year, according to recently filed tax returns. Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos earned $1.33 million, according to the return, while the vice chancellor for health, Jeffrey Balser earned $1.5 million. Zeppos' total included a $72,900 incentive bonus, while Balser, head of the university's medical school, got a $27,891 bonus. The second-highest total at Vanderbilt went to woman's head basketball coach Melanie Balcomb, at a little over $2.2 million. Men's basketball coach Kevin Stallings had $2.2 million in salary and benefits.
Former Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin releasing book on university's move to SEC
Former Texas A&M University President R. Bowen Loftin is ready to tell his side of the historic move to the Southeastern Conference. Loftin, the chancellor of the University of Missouri, has written a book titled The 100-Year Decision: Texas A&M and the SEC, which will hit shelves this fall. The 224-page book will take readers behind the scenes of Texas A&M's breakup with the Big 12 conference and longtime rival The University of Texas. Loftin declined to comment on the book Monday. Jason Cook, senior associate athletics director for external affairs for A&M athletics, said he helped fill in timeline gaps for the book, but was not formally interviewed. Cook served as Loftin's vice president of marketing and communications during the university's move to the SEC.
U. of Missouri's Loftin lands on million-dollar list
The new chancellor of the University of Missouri was among nine public college leaders who raked in more than $1 million in 2013. The number of public college presidents earning more than $1 million more than doubled from the year before, according to a Chronicle of Higher Education study. Nine college presidents earned more than $1 million in total compensation in 2013, compared to just four in 2012, the study reported. R. Bowen Loftin, who took over as the top administrator at MU in February, earned $1.6 million in 2013 at Texas A&M University according to the study, making him the second-highest-paid president. Much of that -- $950,000 -- was from severance and retirement when he resigned after three years as president of the school.
Study suggests research plays bigger role in faculty evaluations, student evaluations could matter less
To the many professors who say that student course evaluation data play too big a role in promotion and tenure decisions, a new study might come as both good news and bad. On the one hand, faculty evaluations seem to be getting more holistic, with deans gathering data from an increasing number of sources to assess professor performance. On the other hand, student evaluation results are playing a role in promotion and tenure decisions at more and more colleges. The study, out in the American Association of University Professors' journal Academe, also suggests that collegiality as a criterion for tenure and promotion is on the decline, and that value increasingly is being placed on research and publication -- even for professors at teaching-oriented liberal arts institutions. Service work and student advising matter more, too.
Hotels Embrace the Campus Nearby
College pennant over your bed? Recent graduate available to answer questions? Rooms decorated in the school colors? Hotels near college campuses are gearing up to attract graduation weekend crowds, just as they compete throughout the year to attract visiting high-school families, graduates attending reunions and parents dropping off freshmen. Large chains are increasingly joining established independent hotels by tailoring their decorations and amenities to the college calendar. "The hospitality industry is focused on the customer experience right now," said Michael Giebelhausen, assistant professor of marketing at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. "Hotel managers are integrating local elements and upping their games on unique offerings." This includes syncing those offerings with the rhythms of the local college.

Mississippi State begins postseason run tonight against Georgia
Mississippi State began the season in the fall carrying high expectations. It now nears the finish line, with the start of the Southeastern Conference tournament today. So far the Bulldogs have fallen short of some extremely lofty expectations. MSU slipped into the top 20 with two wins in the final weekend of the regular season. It lost home games to the likes of Holy Cross (twice), Western Carolina and Jacksonville State. It all likely results in an NCAA regional that will be played on the road after preseason expectations had the Bulldogs pegged as a national seed. But today's start of the SEC tournament in Hoover, Ala., against Georgia is the first step in realizing MSU's ultimate goal -- returning to Omaha, Neb.
Battle of Bulldogs: Win or go home quickly
Mississippi State understands the arduous process to advance to the SEC baseball tournament championship. The Bulldogs hoisted the 2012 SEC Tournament title by playing six games in six days. It's the same path MSU hopes to follow this year -- and the first step comes tonight, as the fifth-seeded Bulldogs take on 12th-seeded Georgia in a single-elimination contest at approximately 8 p.m. on CSS. "Certainly our kids are excited about playing in Hoover," said MSU coach John Cohen. "We feel like we've had some recent success there. We'd love to have the bye and the one extra day but our kids feel good about playing a real good Georgia team."
Mississippi State enters SEC tournament with desire to win
It's almost become a tradition at the Southeastern Conference baseball tournament to try and find the schools with something to play for and the teams wanting to go home immediately. Consider Mississippi State one of those teams in it to win the whole thing for no other reason than to put up another banner/flag at Dudy Noble Field. "The way we look at it, you never know what game will be your last so you have to maintain the idea of trying to win every game that you play," MSU closer Jonathan Holder said. MSU will turn to junior left-hander Lucas Laster (0-0, 0.73) as they open up the SEC tournament against Georgia in the final game of the single-elimination format tonight.
Mississippi State opens SEC Tournament action Tuesday against Georgia
Fifth-seeded Mississippi State swings into action today at approximately 7:30 p.m. in the Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament, taking on No. 12 seed Georgia at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. If the Bulldogs win their single-elimination game against Georgia, they would face South Carolina in the late game Wednesday. "We've done so well on the mound in the second half this season," Mississippi State coach John Cohen said. "I like our bullpen. It helps in tournament play. Jonathan Holder in the second half has come back strong."
2014 SEC Baseball Tournament kicks off today at Hoover Met
The first pitch of the 2014 SEC Baseball Tournament is set for 9:30 a.m. this morning as the Vanderbilt Commodores take on the Tennessee Vols at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. It's the first of 17 games scheduled over the next six days. Alabama is looking forward to it, coach Mitch Gaspard said. "It's always special for us, being just an hour up the road," he said. "I have a great respect for all the teams that made it to Hoover." Mississippi State coach John Cohen said his team is looking forward to the opportunity as well. "We're excited about playing in a big ballpark for sure," Cohen said. "We feel like we've had some real success there." The bigger ballpark means fewer home runs and more line drives and ground balls. Mississippi State's speed on defense helps in situations like that, he said.
SEC testing instant replay in baseball tournament
The crack of a bat, and a ball sails high and long down the left-field line at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. It carves toward the grassy berm somewhere in the vicinity of the foul pole, but the third-base umpire doesn't signal a quick call, unsure of whether it's a home run or not. In years past, it would have been a controversial decision based on an eyewitness account from hundreds of feet away. But at this week's Southeastern Conference tournament, the decision to rule the ball fair or foul could come from a high-definition close up. For the first time, the SEC will take advantage of an NCAA decision to allow instant replay on an experimental basis this season.
Mississippi State women's golf tees off today in national championship
Mississippi State women's golf coach Ginger Brown-Lemm was asked what she thought it would mean to the program by making back-to-back NCAA Championships. She didn't need it phrased in a future tense situation. "We are already starting to go on the recruiting trail and get access to players that Mississippi State wasn't in play for when we started to turn this program around," Brown-Lemm said. "We are so excited about the idea of where this is going." The Bulldogs finished third in the NCAA Regional at Karstens Creek Golf Club to qualify for the national championship starting today.
Future SEC schedules released for Ole Miss, Mississippi State
The announcement Monday of Southeastern Conference football schedules through 2025 created a handful of startling realizations. Ole Miss went to Georgia in 2012 in Year 1 under coach Hugh Freeze. When it next goes back, Freeze would be in his 12th season in Oxford. And remember when Dan Mullen led Mississippi State to Florida in 2010 and won, a highlight in a nine-win season? Well the Bulldogs do not go back to Gainesville until 2025. The double-down effect of expansion to 14 teams in 2012 along with the agreement earlier this month to continue an eight-game conference schedule has created a system in which SEC teams will go long periods before going to certain venues.
Massive sinkhole opens up at NCAA football stadium
A giant sinkhole opened up at the football stadium for Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn. on Monday. Luckily, no injuries were reported. Apparently the sinkhole opened up during some construction on the 10,000-seat stadium.
A Power Struggle Gets Ugly at Kansas State
With the NCAA under legal attack, now facing increased pressure to allow its student-athletes a broader set of rights, critics of its policies are focusing on a new case that, they say, illustrates how little power college athletes have in controlling their own destinies. In March, Spanish-born basketball player Leticia Romero finished her freshman season at Kansas State as the Wildcats' leader in points, assists and rebounds. But after an 11-19 season, the school fired the team's coaching staff and Romero decided to transfer, preferring to take her three years of remaining college eligibility elsewhere. But when Romero notified Kansas State of her desire to transfer, the school denied her request, refusing to release her from her scholarship. On Monday, Romero's attorney, Donald Jackson, contacted Kansas State president Kirk Schulz and urged him to reconsider the decision.

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