Tuesday, July 15, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
Mississippi State marks record year in private fundraising
Mississippi State University topped $106 million in private support during the past fiscal year, the university's most successful fundraising year ever. The university is in the midst of the largest comprehensive campaign in school history to secure $600 million in gifts for its long-range goals. Since campaign counting began in fiscal year 2010, the multi-year endeavor has reached in excess of $434 million raised. "The visionary individuals and organizations who are investing their resources in the future of this institution and the people it serves recognize the vital role that Mississippi State plays in the life of the state and region," said President Mark E. Keenum.
Mississippi State Tops $106 Million in Private Giving
Having topped the $106 million mark in private support, Mississippi State leaders announced July 14 the university's most successful fundraising year ever. For the just-ended fiscal year, the 136 year-old land-grant institution attracted the record in private gifts and pledges of future support. "The visionary individuals and organizations who are investing their resources in the future of this institution and the people it serves recognize the vital role that Mississippi State plays in the life of the state and region," said President Mark E. Keenum. By any measure, fiscal year 2014 was a remarkable year for Mississippi State,” said John P. Rush, vice president for development and alumni who also serves as MSU Foundation CEO.
Mississippi State receives $106M in private support
Mississippi State University officials say this fundraising year has been its best yet. In fiscal year 2014, the university reached $106 million in private support, topping last year's total by $25 million. "It is with deep appreciation that we accept these contributions to benefit life on our campus and improve life for people around the globe through our endeavors as an institution," said President Mark E. Keenum.
Broyles Named Interim VP of Student Affairs at Mississippi State
Bill Broyles will assume the role of interim vice president of Mississippi State University's Division of Student Affairs. Broyles is filling the vacancy created by the departure this month of Bill Kibler, who recently was named president of Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas. In his response to the appointment, Broyles said, "It's an honor to serve the students, faculty and staff at Mississippi State. I never dreamed that in my lifetime I'd have the opportunity to use my energy and talents to help this university become the best it can be."
Mississippi State Students Take Top Honors at Miss Mississippi Pageant
Mississippi State students gave a strong representation for the university during the 2014 Miss Mississippi Pageant in Vicksburg which concluded July 12. Jasmine Murray, a sophomore communication/broadcasting major from Starkville, took the crown and will represent the Magnolia State September 14 at the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Murray, who competed as Miss Riverland, reached the Top 10 in 2013 as Miss MSU. This year's Miss MSU, Laura Lee Lewis, earned first alternate. Lewis is a junior elementary education major from Brookhaven. Four of the top five Miss Mississippi contestants are affiliated with MSU.
Miss Rodeo America Paige Nicholson demonstrates lassoing skills on hapless cameraman
This year's Miss Rodeo America, Paige Nicholson, visited Fox & Friends and lassoed both a fake steer, and a slow-moving cameraman. The Mississippi native said being a rodeo queen came easy for her. "My family owns a farm, so it was really natural for me," she said. Nicholson, a graduate of Mississippi State University with a bachelor of science degree in agricultural information science, said competing for Miss Rodeo America is a lot like a traditional beauty pageant, with one big difference.
Award-winning Artist Talks About 'Heart Behind the Music' at MSU Riley Center
Several well-known country musicians will perform in the Queen City Tuesday for the "Heart Behind the Music" concert. The MSU Riley Center in downtown Meridian will host the big show, featuring Deana Carter, Bryan White, Billy Dean and Collin Raye. The four have dozens of hit country songs between them.
Teachers Attend Summer Institute at MSU Riley Center
The Whole Schools Initiative's Summer Institute began at the MSU Riley Center Monday. Around 300 teachers from across Mississippi are attending the conference. Teachers participate in interactive workshops to learn how to use the arts to teach in their classrooms. Organizers say the main focus for this year's conference is how the arts are an integral part of the Common Core curriculum being implemented in Mississippi.
Farmers plant more row crops than originally planned
Mississippi producers planted more of the state's major row crops than they planned in March, and the majority of them are in good condition. Brian Williams, agricultural economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said most of the state's major crops set yield records over the last few years with favorable growing conditions. This encouraged producers to keep acreage high. "I think the record yields along with favorable markets this spring encouraged producers to plant even more acres of soybeans and cotton this year," Williams said.
Starkville, Oktibbeha school districts set budgets
Oktibbeha County School District and Starkville School District officials have approved separate operating budgets for the 2014-2015 school year that, on paper, constitute $65.69 million in combined expenses. SSD Superintendent Lewis Holloway is hopeful aldermen will allow the school system to use almost $500,000 in over-collected school taxes from a 1986 bond referendum to fund repairs to the Greensboro Center.
Starkville's Cotton Mill Market Place hotel breaks ground Wednesday
Groundbreaking is scheduled for noon Wednesday in Starkville for a 117-room Holiday Inn hotel, part of the of the Cotton Mill Market Place project now under way at the intersection of Spring Street and Highway 12. The $20-million investment in the hotel and 15,000-square-foot retail center now under construction should create more than 150 jobs, said developer Mark Nicholas, president of Nicholas Properties. He said the Market Place should be open in September, and the Hotel will take 12-14 months to build.
Megasite zoning request heads to Hinds supervisors
Hinds County's megasite could soon be legally cleared to host a large industrial project. The Hinds County Planning and Zoning Commission, acting on a request from Clinton Public Schools, recommended July 1 that the zoning for the 640-acre tract be switched from agricultural use to heavy industrial use. That recommendation now heads to the Hinds County Board of Supervisors for final approval. The item is included on the agenda for supervisors' July 21 meeting. It's the latest clue that the site on Norrell Road is in the running for a mega-project.
Two more Mississippi malls approved for sales tax subsidy
Mississippi taxpayers could help pay for two more malls that squeezed in approvals before a law allowing sales tax subsidies expired June 30. The Mississippi Development Authority approved applications in June for $29.6 million in tax money to expand Renaissance at Colony Park in Ridgeland and $48.8 million to build Pinelands Lifestyle Center in Flowood. That brings to five the number of qualified malls. It's unclear if either development will be built, at least at the scale required to obtain subsidies. If they are, it could push the subsidy tab across the state to $233 million for the one year the tourism-promotion law covered shopping centers with Mississippi-themed amenities. The rapidly mounting costs of the incentive originally aimed at one mall in Pearl helps explain why lawmakers declined to extend it earlier this year.
Judge: Sanctions against Pickering, Hood and state attorneys warranted
Chancery Judge Jennifer Schloegel on Monday denied Attorney General Jim Hood's request to set aside her May ruling that the DMR and State Auditor's Office willfully violated the Public Records Act, warranting sanctions against Hood, Auditor Stacey Pickering and assistant attorneys general involved. The State Auditor's Office is appealing Schloegel's ruling to the Mississippi Supreme Court. On behalf of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, Attorney General Jim Hood asked Schloegel to reconsider. Schloegel also noted that Hood, Pickering and the state agency attorneys were not sanctioned for criminal contempt "although some of their actions may have caused them to be complicit in both criminal and civil contempt."
McDaniel asks state high court to open records
U.S. Senate challenger Chris McDaniel is taking his quest to view original voting records to the Mississippi Supreme Court. McDaniel asked Monday for an emergency order forcing Harrison County Circuit Clerk Gayle Parker to let him see original copies of poll books. He's trying to prove people who voted in the June 3 Democratic primary illegally voted in the June 24 Republican runoff won by incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and some circuit clerks cite a different portion of state election law that bans release of birthdates, and said McDaniel must accept access to the books with that information redacted.
McDaniel volunteer says he saw absentee records dumped
The man at the center of the Harrison County controversy over access to records from the June 24 Republican runoff for U.S. Senate was a GOP election worker in one of the key counties in the dispute. Phil Harding, who had identified himself as "just a volunteer" when talking about examination of Harrison County poll books, was also the District 4 Coordinator in the runoff. He said that on July 1 as he and other workers were cleaning out supply bins at the Election Commission office in Gulfport, they found some absentee ballot bags. He said some of them were empty but some of them had absentee applications, which should have been kept as part of the record of the vote. "I did see some go in the trash," he said. "I'd rather not name names."
More Evidence That Thad Cochran Owes Runoff Win to Black Voters
The precinct-level results for the entire state of Mississippi are now public, and they all but prove that Senator Thad Cochran defeated Chris McDaniel, a Tea Party-backed state senator, through a surge in black, Democratic turnout in last month's Republican primary runoff. Mr. Cochran won by 7,682 votes in the state's 286 most Democratic precincts, where President Obama won a combined 93 percent of the vote in 2012. That tally slightly exceeds Mr. Cochran's overall margin of victory, 7,667 votes. Mr. Cochran won Democratic voters by a huge margin.
Shaun McCutcheon wades into Mississippi race
The plaintiff in a landmark campaign finance case is asking Mississippi to investigate allegations of election fraud in that state's Republican primary between Sen. Thad Cochran and Chris McDaniel. Shaun McCutcheon -- an Alabama GOP donor, tea party activist and the victorious original plaintiff in the 2014 Supreme Court case that bears his name -- has filed a complaint with the Mississippi secretary of state arguing that Democratic crossover voters in the June primary are guilty of a misdemeanor under state law. Tea party activists and grass-roots conservative forces have been loudly complaining about Cochran's close runoff victory over McDaniel. McCutcheon was at the center of a lawsuit earlier this year that struck down the federal aggregate contribution limit -- the rule capping the total amount of money that a donor could give to all federal candidates.
Laura Bush gets her wish: a cover story in Architectural Digest
While George W. Bush was at his easel, searching for his inner Rembrandt as he and his wife settled into their post-presidency years, Laura Bush was nurturing her own artistic dream -- perfecting a home worthy of a cover story in Architectural Digest. The Bush family's 1,600-acre Prairie Chapel Ranch on the outskirts of Crawford, Texas, graces the front of Architectural Digest's August issue. As the daughter of a Midland, Texas, builder who built spec houses, Laura Bush had an eye for design and clear vision for what the couple wanted when they chose architect David Heymann, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin's School of Architecture. Heymann told the magazine that the former first lady has "a very, very good eye," after watching her father build "carefully organized houses."
GE Aviation selects Auburn for $50-million 3D printing facility
GE Aviation plans to bring high volume 3D printing, also called additive manufacturing, to its facility in Auburn. Company officials joined Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and members of the Alabama delegation at the Farnborough Air Show in England to celebrate the announcement. To prepare for this new work, GE will partner with local universities and community colleges. "We're excited to expand our partnership with a global aviation leader to help enable the potential of additive manufacturing in advanced jet engine production. We look forward to working with GE Aviation experts on the workforce, research and technology requirements for high-volume production of this critical engine component," Auburn University President Dr. Jay Gogue said.
Police accuse man of faking residency for daughter to attend UGA
Pierre Mortemousque's daughter apparently really wanted to attend UGA; he really didn't want to pay for it -- at least full price. That is what the University of Georgia police say they found after they got a tip the Virginia man was passing himself off as an in-state resident while his daughter was on Greek Row. Now the Lynchburg, Va., resident is facing four felony charges of theft -- totaling nearly $40,000 -- for the two years his daughter got her education subsidized by Georgia taxpayers, said UGA Chief Jimmy Williamson. Mortemousque has since paid his financial debt in the form of a check for full restitution, somewhere around $37,000, Williamson said.
Engineering students from Saudi Arabia participate in internship's first year at U. of Missouri
Crowded around a 3-D printer's small viewing window, students from Saudi Arabia watched as the design they made virtually in a lab next door became tangible. Their impression is that 3-D printing is all the rage in the United States, and they joked that all the buildings at the University of Missouri were made that way. The 22 students from Saudi Arabia are interning with MU's College of Engineering for its inaugural partnership program with King Abdulaziz University. The six-week program trains the visiting students in a series of hands-on labs and projects. It is one of three international programs that the college launched this year. Both the program and the students are a reminder that math and engineering skills cross all barriers.
Moody's Issues Negative Outlook for Higher Education
On the heels of a similarly downcast assessment by Standard & Poor's, Moody's Investors Service has issued a negative outlook for the higher-education sector in the United States. The credit-rating agency also issued individual reports on median benchmarks for the finances of public and nonprofit private colleges, noting significant tuition-revenue declines at both types of institutions. While American higher education faces limited growth prospects over the next 12 to 18 months, Moody's says, positive trends like strong long-term demand for higher education and reduced household debt could help create conditions for colleges to stabilize over the next year. But Moody's cautions that the institutions will face continued financial pressures in the near term.
College Sexual Assault Summit Talks Apologies, Toxic Climate
A leading forensic consultant urged representatives from more than 60 colleges and universities gathered in New Hampshire on Monday to acknowledge that they've made mistakes in handling campus sexual assaults and to apologize publicly to student survivors. "We must apologize for causing that harm," David Lisak, the consultant and clinical psychologist, said. "And that apology must mean something." Lisak is one of the many speakers discussing sexual assault this week at a summit hosted and organized by Dartmouth College -- an institution that is no stranger to criticism about how it has addressed sexual violence. The college is one of 67 institutions under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights for possible Title IX violations related to sexual assaults.
OUR OPINION: Education fund requires larger share of revenue
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal editorializes: "Mississippi's state tax revenue growth for the past three budget years places our state in the enviable position of being able to plan for bolder investment in vital programs like public education without anticipating a tax rate increase. ...The weak link in the revenue growth's benefits is public education, whose Mississippi Adequate Education Program formula remains badly underfunded. ...House Appropriations Chairman Herb Frierson said the Legislature has been working toward full MAEP funding, a priority seldom achieved. It is long past time to make full funding the rule, not the exception."
CHARLIE MITCHELL (OPINION): So, how's this national do-gooder health care thing working?
Longtime Mississippi journalist Charlie Mitchell writes: "More Mississippians may not have health insurance in the aftermath of the Affordable Care Act than had it before the federal law -- designed to increase coverage -- was passed in 2010. No one knows for sure. But uncertainty has been a problem all along. There were no dead-on numbers while the law was being debated, and while there are better numbers today, those who like the idea of national health insurance skew the figures one way and those opposed skew them the other. ...The political reality is that the president and Congress are simply not going to talk about major changes or even tweaks until after the 2016 presidential election. Until then, Obamacare is adrift. A lot of lawmaking with a very limited impact."

Mississippi State's Prescott steps to centerstage at SEC Media Days
The unofficial start to the 2014 Mississippi State season begins today. It's the Bulldogs' turn to take the podium at SEC Media Days and answer questions. In addition to coach Dan Mullen, MSU brings quarterback Dak Prescott, linebacker Benardrick McKinney and safety Jay Hughes to Hoover, Alabama. Here's what to expect heading into day two of SEC Media Days.
Mississippi State, Tulane to meet in basketball Dec. 6
Mississippi State and Tulane finalized a two-game basketball deal, beginning this year as the two teams meet in a game in New Orleans on Dec. 6. The announcement comes a month after Mississippi State announced it will play Florida State and Oregon State this season in basketball. "Tulane provides yet another high major opponent for us with their move to the American Athletic Conference," MSU coach Rick Ray said. "The Green Wave will prove to be a great opponent for us and our fan base. Bulldog fans on the Coast and in the New Orleans area will get a chance to see us play and hopefully provide a nice environment for us on the road."
World Cup final draws eclectic mix to Starkville restaurant
It was packed Sunday at Buffalo Wild Wings in Starkville. There were people waiting for tables at 2 p.m. as the World Cup Final match began. Eyes were fixed on televisions. There were gasps at near misses, cringes with collisions, playful banter between tables. The Major League Soccer season may still be going strong, but Germany's 1-0 victory over Argentina may be the last soccer match many in this part of the country will watch for some time. At a table in the bar, a group of friends from Mississippi State University were an eclectic mix. They came from Brazil, Mexico, Cameroon, Indonesia, El Salvador, Czech Republic and the United States.
In Mike Slive's 'state of the SEC' address, autonomy remains a focus
A change in the way the NCAA governs schools from the big five conferences, like the Southeastern Conference, appears likely, but SEC Commissioner Mike Slive isn't ready to step away from the campaign podium just yet. Slive on Monday used his annual "state of the SEC" address to kick off SEC football media days to again call for greater autonomy for schools from college athletics' five power conferences. If not, he suggested those conferences could demand even greater changes in the NCAA's structure. Widely regarded as one of the most powerful opinion-makers in college athletics, Slive said he understands the opposition within the NCAA to autonomy for the big five conferences.
Carolina Coliseum to be converted for use by U. of South Carolina hoops teams
The Carolina Coliseum -- where University of South Carolina basketball enjoyed its heyday, Elvis Presley performed before a sold-out crowd and thousands of high school graduates clutched diplomas -- will end an era this fall. The floor of the 12,000-seat, 46-year-old arena will become two permanent practice courts for the men's and women's Gamecocks basketball teams in October, university officials told The State Monday. The practice courts do not mean USC is ready to go ahead with a $125 million proposal introduced last year to make over the coliseum into classrooms and a student union, university spokesman Wes Hickman said. However, the new basketball courts were part of the plan that the university withdrew from that state budget request, pending a feasibility study.

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