Thursday, June 12, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
Mississippi Writing and Thinking Institute relocates from Mill project development area
For decades, Mississippi State University's branch of the Mississippi Writing and Thinking Institute was housed between the Cotton Crossing shopping center and the E.E. Cooley Building. Founded in 1985, MWTI is a network of seven National Writing Project sites in Mississippi that aim to improve teaching of writing throughout the state. But this week, the local MWTI building is being torn down to make way for The Mill at MSU, a 10.89-acre, $40-million development that will convert the E.E. Cooley Building into a conference center with office space, a Courtyard By Marriott Hotel and a 450-car parking garage.
New life form discovered at Mississippi State, named after Bully
Some Mississippi State University students have discovered -- and named -- a new life form, a previously unknown organism discovered on campus in a mud puddle last September. The newly classified organism -- Ptolemeba bulliensis, a unicellular microscopic protest -- was scooped from a courtyard between Harned Hall and its adjoining annex, and then collected, isolated and classified by three undergraduates under the leadership of Matthew Brown, an authority on the evolution of amoeboid microbes. The organisms' genus -- Ptolemeba -- honors MSU's first bulldog mascot, said Pam Watson of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The junior microbiology major was lead author of the scientific paper about the discovery of the protists recently published in the Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology.
New Organism Discovered at MSU
A previously unknown organism was recently discovered at Mississippi State University. Ptolemeba bulliensis, a unicellular microscopic protist, was scooped from a courtyard mud puddle located between Harned Hall and its adjoining annex in September 2013. It was collected, isolated and classified by three undergraduates under the leadership of Matthew Brown, an authority on the evolution of amoeboid microbes.
Deadly bat disease fungus found in Mississippi
The fungus that causes a deadly bat disease has been found for the first time in Mississippi, though the disease itself has not been found there. The fungus was in samples collected during the winter from both hibernating bats and their roosts in three caves and one box culvert, Kathy Shelton, the state conservation biologist for South Mississippi, said Wednesday. Shelton said the fungus was found in a box culvert near Louisville, Mississippi, the city slammed by tornadoes in April, and in caves on private land in Neshoba, Smith and Jasper counties.
Economic growth slowed in Mississippi in 2013
New figures show that Mississippi's economy grew by 1.6 percent in 2013. Gross domestic product numbers released Wednesday by the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis try to measure all of the economic output of each state. Mississippi's 2013 growth rate was below the national average of 1.8 percent, and ranked 29th among the 50 states. Growth slowed markedly from 2012, when Mississippi's economy expanded by 3.5 percent, the best in the Southeast and one of the best in the nation.
MDA to lead trade delegation to Southeast Asia
The Mississippi Development Authority will lead a delegation of Mississippi companies on a business development mission to Southeast Asia from Aug. 25-29. MDA officials say in a news release that the trip will include stops in the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam. MDA executive director Brent Christensen says opportunities exist in the region for Mississippi businesses in a variety of sectors, including information technology, agricultural products, medical equipment and more.
Davis guilty: Sentencing for Southaven's ex-mayor July 10
Ex-Southaven Mayor Greg Davis was found guilty on two felony counts -- one of making false representations to a government entity and the other, a count of embezzlement -- in DeSoto County Circuit Court Wednesday. The jury deliberated for just over two hours Wednesday afternoon before reaching the unanimous 12-0 verdict. Sentencing for Davis is set for July 10. Davis' attorney Steve Farese said his client will appeal. Davis is free on bond awaiting his sentencing. The dramatic ending to three days of testimony capped nearly two years of legal wrangling over the actions of Davis during his last several remaining years in office.
Hosemann: Only 513 voters lacked ID
In the June 3 party primaries, 513 Mississippians voted by affidavit ballot because they did not have government-issued photo identification. Of that number, 177 returned by the Tuesday deadline with a photo ID so that their vote would count, according to Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, who oversees Mississippi elections. Hosemann said 13 had their ballots rejected for other reasons, such as not being a registered voter. And he said he did not have results from three counties on the numbers who returned by the Tuesday deadline.
Mississippi schools superintendent alarmed by campaign comments
Thousands of Mississippi teachers heard from their boss in Biloxi on Wednesday. That's where State School Superintendent Dr. Carey Wright spoke at an education conference. She encouraged the teachers to be leaders and also had some strong words about a certain campaign message. Without mentioning any names, Wright had some strong words for a Senate candidate who has questioned the federal government's role in education, including federal funding, of which Mississippi receives $800 million per year. "$800 million, that's 24 percent of the state's education budget. Yet, when I read comments by folks that are running for office that talk about I want to eliminate the U.S. Department of Ed and eliminate the $800 million to Mississippi, that alarms me," Wright said. Wright emphasized, it's not about politics.
McDaniel responds to Cochran attacks on 'extremism'
Campaigning in his backyard of Jones County on Wednesday, tea party backed U.S. Sen. candidate Chris McDaniel appeared buoyed by establishment Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor's defeat in Virginia on Tuesday. McDaniel, a two-term state senator, hopes to score the second major national upset of the mid-term elections by defeating six-term incumbent Republican Sen. Thad Cochran in a June 24 runoff.
Messy G.O.P. Race in Mississippi Underscores a Cultural Rift
It is still not entirely clear what three supporters of the Tea Party favorite Chris McDaniel were doing locked in at 3 a.m. in a darkened courthouse where votes had been tabulated on the night of the state's contentious primary election last week. For that matter, details remain murky about another incident, involving the wife of Mr. McDaniel's opponent, Senator Thad Cochran. A conservative blogger, who posted at least one photo taken of Mrs. Cochran in her nursing home without her permission, faces criminal charges along with three other McDaniel supporters. What is clear is that the mix of enthusiastic amateurs, Christian conservatives and Tea Party activists involved in the incidents has lent an unconventional, outsider quality to the movement animating Mr. McDaniel's campaign, underscoring the cultural rift dividing the supporters of the two candidates.
GOP establishment backs Thad Cochran
A thousand miles from Mississippi, Republican lobbyists, long-time senators and fundraisers are raising a glass -- and raising money -- to save their man Thad Cochran from the tea party. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell bragged at an event Tuesday night that it was the "biggest fundraiser ever in this building" -- a feat considering the building is the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Washington is coming out in force to help Cochran stare down insurgent tea partier Chris McDaniel. The fundraiser raised $820,000 for Cochran's political war chest, according to a senior Republican official.
Mississippi Senate campaigns disagree about Cantor fallout
State Sen. Chris McDaniel is convinced Tuesday's stunning upset of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor by a barely known insurgent gives his own campaign fresh momentum. Sen. Thad Cochran has a very different view. Cochran, at a stop in Ridgeland, seemed incredulous anyone could make the connection. It was difficult Wednesday to gauge how the Virginia result would play as McDaniel and Cochran battle to win the Republican Senate nomination in a June 24 runoff election.
Cochran, McDaniel: Is One Better for Jackson?
"If the people of Mississippi are dumb enough to get rid of" the senior senator on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee for a freshman senator with no power, "this is going to be dead, dead, dead," Gary Rhoads, Flowood's Republican mayor, fumed at a recent meeting of the Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District. Rhoads' rant came in response to a question from fellow Levee Board member Socrates Garrett, a prominent Jackson contractor, about which candidate in the upcoming Republican primary runoff would be better for "One Lake," the metro area's long-running flood-control/development effort, which will need federal funds to get off the ground. The bluest of the state's Democratic strongholds, the capital city and surrounding communities have reaped millions of dollars from Republican Cochran and the erstwhile congressional earmark program.
Are public buildings off limits if closed?
Both the Hinds County Sheriff's Department and the district attorney's office have concluded there was no criminal activity at play when a staffer for state Sen. Chris McDaniel's U.S. Senate campaign and two other McDaniel supporters ended up locked inside the county courthouse the night of the June 3 primary election But it's unclear whether it is illegal to be inside a county building after hours. Can anyone find his or her way into a locked, dark public building with no cars in the parking lot without worrying about charges?
Catholic bishops renew focus on social issues
The nation's Roman Catholic bishops meeting Wednesday in New Orleans renewed their focus on abortion and gay marriage under Pope Francis. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted to make only limited revisions to a guide they publish every presidential election year on church teaching, voting and public policy. The bishops also reaffirmed their fight for broader religious exemptions to laws recognizing gay marriage and a requirement in the Affordable Care Act that employers provide health insurance covering birth control. Francis has said the church has been alienating Catholics by focusing more on divisive social issues than on mercy and compassion.
Anderson named dean of Arts and Sciences at MUW
Dr. Brian Anderson will become the new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Mississippi University for Women. Anderson is currently professor of political science and chair of the Department of History, Political Science and Geography. He will assume his new duties July 1, pending approval by the state Board of Trustees, Institutions of Higher Learning, according to MUW. Anderson is succeeding Dr. Thomas Richardson, who is now interim provost and vice president for academic affairs. "Dr. Anderson brings outstanding academic and administrative credentials and a record of distinguished scholarship and teaching to his new role," MUW President Jim Borsig said.
Drone films Ole Miss fraternity party
The University of Mississippi fraternity Sigma Nu took their parties to a new level. The brothers of Sigma Nu hired a drone photographer, Jenner Jordan of SkyMasters Photography, to film their "Woodstock" theme party at the fraternity house this year during Double Decker weekend. The party is the same time every year during the popular Double Decker weekend, which is April 25.
Delta State alum Abney credits 'willingness to do more than asked' for his rise to CEO at UPS
It takes a lot of right turns to go from the Mississippi Delta to the top executive suite at United Parcel Service's Sandy Springs, Ga., headquarters. David Abney started his right turns as a UPS delivery driver in Pascagoula after graduating from Delta State University with a business degree. Elevation to driver came after working nights on a UPS loading dock in his hometown of Greenwood while in college. He followed his stint as a driver with five years in the packing end of the operation. Abney does not have a lengthy list of things he thinks led to the increasingly important roles he took on at UPS. In short, the executive rise came through "a willingness to do much more than I was asked to do," Abney said in an interview just before catching a flight out of Atlanta Tuesday morning.
East Mississippi Community College official named Shelton State president
An East Mississippi Community College administrator has been named the next president of Shelton State Community College. Alabama Community College System Chancellor Mark Heinrich appointed Andrea Scott Mayfield to lead the Tuscaloosa campus. She was approved by the Alabama Board of Education on Wednesday and will begin July 1. Mayfield, vice president for the Scooba, Miss., campus of the East Mississippi Community College, was one of four finalists for the position. She has a doctorate in educational leadership with a special emphasis in the administration of higher education from Mississippi State University.
Childhood ed building in progress at Co-Lin Community College
Copiah-Lincoln Community College has broken ground for a new Early Childhood Education Technology Building. The school just demolished the vacant faculty housing on campus, freeing up the land for the new construction. "This new facility provides the program with state-of-the-art instructional space which brings the programs and services under one roof," said Jane Hulon, Co-Lin's vice president of instructional services. The new facility will be a single-story, 8,046-square-foot structure on the perimeter of the campus containing classrooms, computer lab, two faculty offices, workrooms, kitchen, dining/activity space and two outdoor playgrounds.
Northeast hosts conference on technology in education
Educators gathered this week for ideas on ways to better use technology in their classrooms. Northeast Mississippi Community College hosted its sixth annual Mobile Learning Conference for kindergarten to 12th-grade teachers, higher education instructors and information technology professionals. It attracted about 60 participants, including vendors, to Northeast's Corinth campus. "I want to learn more about the possibilities for my classroom," said Amanda Garvin, who teaches writing and literature at Northeast.
How much will U. of Alabama tuition climb this year?
The University of Alabama Board of Trustees will once again consider a tuition and fees increase on all three of its campuses for the 2014-15 school year. The tuition raise has come to be expected annually, as higher education prices have risen steadily over the past decade. Though the UA System Office released agendas and other proposals for the upcoming meeting, no specifics on the possible tuition increase have been made available. The board's Finance Committee is expected to meet to discuss the increase Thursday.
U. of Alabama names Mark Nelson as new dean of communication, information sciences
Mark Nelson has been named the next dean of the University of Alabama's College of Communication and Information Sciences. Nelson's appointment begins on July 1. He was selected following a national search. Nelson is currently UA's vice president for student affairs and vice provost, roles he has served in since 2008. Jennifer Greer, professor and journalism department chair, has served as the interim dean since September 2013. Greer followed Dean Loy Singleton, who retired last fall.
Tuition hike proposed for Louisiana's two-year schools
Community and technical college students in Louisiana likely will have to pay more for school this fall. The state Board of Regents is set to take up a proposed 10 percent increase in tuition and fees later this month. The hike would mean an estimated $163 a semester for a full-time student at Baton Rouge Community College, $161 a semester at one of the state's other community colleges and $114 a semester at one of the technical colleges. The Louisiana Community and Technical College Board signed off on the plan, with little discussion and without dissent, during a meeting Wednesday.
U. of Florida Liberal Arts and Sciences dean heading to California
Paul D'anieri, the dean of UF's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has accepted a position as provost and vice chancellor of University of California Riverside. He informed the university of his decision on Friday. His last day is June 19. David E. Richardson, a chemistry professor who is also senior associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will assume the role as interim dean on June 20. Paul Ortiz, director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, said Wednesday that D'Anieri was a respected intellectual and academic scholar who continued to teach in the classroom even as an administrator.
NSF grant to fund physics, engineering scholarships at UGA
The University of Georgia recently received a $638,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to support select incoming freshmen interested in the study of engineering or physics. The program, Developing Excellence in Engineering and Physics, or DEEP, will provide approximately 20 scholarships to academically talented students with demonstrated financial need so they may pursue degrees in physics or a variety of engineering tracks, including agricultural, biochemical, biological, computer systems or environmental engineering. "We need more students and professionals in these fields both here in Georgia and throughout the country," said Steven Lewis, principal investigator for the grant and associate professor of physics in UGA's Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.
U. of Missouri System chief of staff to be interim engineering dean
The University of Missouri will tap the UM System's chief of staff as the replacement for outgoing engineering Dean Jim Thompson. MU announced Bob Schwartz, UM System chief of staff and custodian of records, as the interim dean of the College of Engineering in a news release Thursday. Thompson told colleagues via email earlier this week that he's stepping down Sept. 1 after a nearly 20-year tenure marked by growing enrollment and controversy over the fate of nuclear engineering program.
Julia Gaines, new U. of Missouri Music School director: Facility is priority
Julia Gaines, a percussion professor at the MU School of Music, usually spends her time teaching students how to hit things. But now, she will take on a more administrative role. The School of Music announced May 30 that Gaines will be its new director. Gaines, who has taught at MU for 18 years, was one of several people who went in for interviews for the position, said Michael O'Brien, dean of the College of Arts and Science. "She has been here a long time, and she has a great understanding of the School of Music," O'Brien said.
Loan Bill Blocked
Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked legislation that would allow existing student loan borrowers to lower the interest rate on their debt. The loan refinancing bill, championed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and backed by President Obama, failed to clear the 60-vote threshold needed to advance. It was defeated on a 56-38 vote. The measure would allow borrowers of both federal and private loans to refinance their debt at the interest rate currently offered to new federal borrowers. It is part of a package of bills that Senate Democrats are promoting as part of their "fair shot" agenda, essentially a platform for the 2014 elections.
Higher Ed, the Tea Party's Unlikely Farm Team
College campuses may seem to be unlikely laboratories for producing viable Tea Party candidates, but this election season the record is surprisingly good. A Randolph-Macon College professor's unexpected primary-election victory over Rep. Eric I. Cantor, a Republican and majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, this week came less than a month after Midland University's president won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Nebraska. Both David A. Brat, an economist at Randolph-Macon, and Benjamin E. Sasse, the departing president of Midland, ran anti-establishment campaigns that found favor with Tea Party voters. Neil L. Gross, a co-editor of Professors and Their Politics, said there may be some good reasons that the Tea Party has gotten cozy with men from academe.

Mississippi State's Cohen says MLB Draft makes it difficult on college coaches
After each season, John Cohen watches as Major League Baseball teams raid his roster. He knows it comes with the territory, especially for top-level teams. "You can't compete in this league without top 10-round picks," the Mississippi State coach said. But the timing of the MLB First-Year Player Draft rankles the veteran skipper. The draft coincides with postseason play. Mississippi State saw seven players drafted last year in the lead-up to the College World Series. Ole Miss dealt with the same distractions this year in Lafayette, Louisiana, with nine players drafted as the team prepared for super regional play. "It's crazy. ... Can you imagine the draft being during the Final Four or in the field of 64 during basketball?" Cohen said. "Some easy adjustments can be made."
Mississippi State's Lindgren named All-American
Mississippi State junior left-handed pitcher Jacob Lindgren earned first-team All-America honors by Baseball America and second-team All-America accolades by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, the organizations announced Wednesday. Lindgren is the 40th Bulldog in school history to be named an All-American (47 total honors).
Mississippi State's McBride advances to NCAA 800 meter final
No one has been able to keep up with Brandon McBride all year, and Wednesday was no different at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. In the semifinals of the 800m run at Oregon's Hayward Field, the sophomore from Windsor, Ontario, ran a top time of 1:48.09 to advance to Friday's finals. "The best thing for Brandon is that he gets to do it all over again on Friday," MSU coach Steve Dudley. "He didn't come here to just do good. He came here to win."

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