Tuesday, July 22, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
MSU sets new annual fundraising record of $106M-plus
Having topped the $106 million mark in private support, Mississippi State leaders announced 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 -- $25 million more than the prior year's $81.3 million total. "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.
Corn growers watch bear market eat profits
Who knew Mississippi corn growers should worry about bears? The bears are not in the fields eating the crop; they are in the market, eating the profits. When economists refer to a bear market, they are talking about declining stock prices over a prolonged period, usually a 20 percent or larger decline. Brian Williams, agricultural economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said several factors have pushed corn prices down in recent weeks. The prospect of a second consecutive year of record or near record production could hurt growers who did not sell a portion of their crops early in the growing season.
Falling back: Mississippi returns to last place in Kids Count report
Despite making gains in health and education, Mississippi fell back into the bottom spot in the annual Kids Count Report. The Annie E. Casey Foundation today released this year's ranking of overall child well-being. It measures data related to economic well-being, education, health and family and community. Mississippi was particularly hurt by its child poverty numbers. About 35 percent of the state's children live in poverty, compared to a national average of 23 percent. "It is really a matter of where Mississippi is starting from," said Linda Southward, Mississippi Kids Count director. "For Mississippi to improve, the gains need to be made at a faster rate."
Supervisors approve Hinds County megasite for industrial use
The Hinds County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Monday to rezone a megasite in Hinds County from agricultural to heavy industrial use. It clears the way for a project outlined in a mitigation notice Gov. Phil Bryant's office filed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. That document, filed July 9, describes the construction of a 5.2 million square-foot manufacturing facility and a 32-acre parking lot. Details since then have been scarce. After the supervisors' vote, Hinds County Economic Development Authority executive director Blake Wallace said the site is being actively marketed, but no deal has been reached. District 5 supervisor Kenneth Stokes was the lone dissenting vote. Stokes complained the county had not been adequately involved, and that communication surrounding the plans for the site had been poor.
Hearing set on Mississippi's welfare drug-testing law
The Mississippi Department of Human Services holds a hearing Tuesday to gather comments about a new welfare drug-testing law. The state law was supposed take effect July 1 but was delayed after advocacy groups chided the agency for not holding a forum about how the measure might affect the poor. Opponents say the law could punish entire families.
In D'Iberville, McDaniel pounds away on Barbours, Cochran camp
Chris McDaniel was just getting warmed up before an adoring Tea Party crowd Monday evening. He went through his usual laundry list of problems he had with the runoff election he lost to Sen. Thad Cochran on June 24. He promised to keep fighting and urged his followers to keep fighting, too. He said the entire country was watching. He even cracked a joke at the expense of newspaper columnists. "I have never received more advice from Democratic columnists than I have lately," he said. Then the Sun Herald photographer and reporter were asked to leave by the Tea Party's Paul Boudreaux, who said they weren't invited.
Committees, super PACs disclose June fundraising
The political parties, their campaign committees and super PACs faced a Sunday deadline to disclose how much donors gave and how much operatives spent in June. One of the highlights from the filings? Mississippi was good for fundraising. The anti-tax Club for Growth Action last month had its second best fundraising haul this election cycle as it raised money to pour into Chris McDaniel's bid to deny incumbent Republican Thad Cochran a seventh term in the Senate. Club for Growth Action, which demands anti-tax purity and punishes those who stray from that orthodoxy, raised $1.2 million in June as it railed against Cochran. In all, the Club for Growth Action fund spent roughly $3.5 million in Mississippi as of June 30.
Obama's West Coast tour: fundraisers, but no Jimmy Kimmel
Democratic candidates and operatives begged President Barack Obama to spend as much time as he could this year raising cash. So he's doing just that, criticism be damned. Tuesday, Obama flies to the West Coast for fundraisers in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles while tensions remain high in Ukraine and Gaza. Last week, the president went ahead with donor visits in New York after the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 17. The week before, he raised cash in Austin but refused to visit the Mexican border as the child migrant crisis continued. Republicans are holding his fundraising spree up as the latest evidence of a disaffected, incompetent president in an attack they'll be hoping weighs down Democrats in November. The White House insists the argument is ridiculous.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry orders 1,000 National Guard troops to border
Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced plans Monday to deploy as many as 1,000 National Guard troops to the state's border with Mexico, faulting federal officials for "empty promises" in dealing with an influx of Central American children and families. "There can be no national security without border security, and Texans have paid too high a price for the federal government's failure to secure our border," the Republican governor said during an Austin briefing with other state leaders. The White House dismissed Perry's plans as an attempt to "generate headlines."
Obama Calls for a Ban on Job Bias Against Gays
President Obama, declaring himself on "the right side of history," called on Congress on Monday to ban job discrimination against gay Americans as he signed an executive order doing so for workers of federal contractors. In a ceremony at the White House, Mr. Obama noted that in much of the country, companies can fire employees based on their sexual orientation. "That's wrong," he said to an audience of supporters. "We're here to do what we can to make it right -- to bend that arc of justice just a little bit in a better direction." Mr. Obama rebuffed requests by religious groups to exempt them. Religious groups argued that they should not be forced to go against their beliefs in order to win or keep federal contracts available to others.
MUW Again Ranked Among Best to Work For
For the second year in a row, The W has been named one of the best colleges in the nation to work for, according to a survey by The Chronicle of Higher Education. "This recognition is a credit to our faculty and staff and the supportive culture they have helped create at The W," said President Jim Borsig. "I am very appreciative of the work our W family does on behalf of the institution and the students we serve."
Alcorn State begins construction of product development center
Alcorn State University is adding a new facility on the main campus. Alcorn's School of Agriculture, Research, Extension, and Applied Sciences began the construction of its product development center, which will provide support, guidance and equipment for developing the ideas of some of Mississippi's most creative minds. The upcoming facility will be used to cultivate the products of both the university and the surrounding communities, preparing them for mass production and launching into the public eye. Dr. Barry L. Bequette, who is the dean and director of land-grant programs in the School of Agriculture, Research, Extension, and Applied Sciences, expects the center to serve two main purposes.
Blood drive offers chance to view U. of Alabama facility, see red blood cells under electron microscope
Organizers of a blood drive at the University of Alabama on Thursday hope to attract donors by giving them an opportunity to observe red blood cells with an electron microscope. "I just thought it would be a cool correlation," said Rich Martens, manager of UA's Central Analytical Facility. Martens is community service chairman for the Tuscaloosa Morning Rotary Club, which organized the blood drive at the Central Analytical Facility to benefit the American Red Cross. The drive will be in Room 1013 of the Tom Bevill Energy, Mineral, and Material Science Research Building. The demonstration will give donors a glimpse of the microstructures of red blood cells. Martens believes the images illustrate the research facility's capabilities to analyze and observe the material's micro structure while making it relative to the drive.
U. of Florida Tech Connect Program continuing to reap investments, add jobs
The University of Florida's Tech Connect Program has racked up an impressive list of accomplishments in its first 12 years. The program helped spin off 157 companies using technology created by UF researchers, the UF Office of Technology Licensing reported Monday. Those companies have drawn more than $1 billion in private investments and $530 million in public grants, and helped create 2,000 new jobs, the OTL reported. In the past 12 months alone, companies associated with Tech Connect helped create 345 new jobs and raised more than $200 million in private and public dollars for the year ending June 30, the OTL reported.
UF's Green Building Program paying off
UF's Green Building Program is showing some green. The University of Florida announced last week that it had received $37,000 under a special tax benefit program for businesses, architects and contractors that build new buildings or retrofit existing ones to be more energy efficient. "UF has secured more than $135,000 of savings, including (the) announcement, and we expect additional savings to be announced in the coming months," Curtis Reynolds, vice president of business affairs at UF, said about the tax benefit. UF has made energy savings one of its top priorities, Reynolds said.
Former UGA employee, undergrad charged with stealing hundreds of textbooks for re-sale
A former University of Georgia employee and a student have been charged with stealing hundreds of textbooks. UGA Police Chief Jimmy Williamson said that in the unrelated cases the suspects stole a total of 950 textbooks and re-sold them to book stores on and off campus for nearly $28,000. Williamson called the charges "huge," not just because of the amount of stolen property involved, but because they shed light on a thriving textbook black market. "Textbooks (are) just like having cash, because they are so easily re-sold," Williamson said. "And no way is this unique to UGA because it's happening all across the country."
U. of Arkansas to Cut PMC Solutions Offset Printing, 16 Jobs in 2016
Print-Mail-Copy Solutions at the University of Arkansas says it will cut 16 positions from its operations, effective July 1, 2016, doing away with offset printing. PMC Solutions will keep 23 positions to complete digital printing, mailing and photocopying needs of the campus. The university says it will work with those affected by the cuts, whether it be through other job openings or training for other positions. "While most people don't want to hear their position is being phased out, our plan is to give ample notice to the 16 affected employees, giving them approximately two years to make an orderly transition to other employment or to plan for retirement," Tim O'Donnell, interim vice chancellor for finance and administration, said. The move to end its offset printing operations is hoped to save the university hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
U. of Kentucky scientists use mosquito sex to foil backyard pests
Consider mosquito sex as the on-ramp to the road less bitten. University of Kentucky scientists are testing a method to foil those winged wretches, the mosquitoes that seem to line every corner of your outdoors waiting to leave you with itchy welts. The research involves releasing a bunch of male mosquitoes and letting them do what they do naturally; seek out female mosquitoes. But MosquitoMate mosquitoes leave their female companions infertile. Eventually, the population of female mosquitoes will diminish. And since it's only female mosquitoes who bite and transmit disease, the area can be rendered bite-free without chemicals and without potential risk to humans, pets and pollinators.
U. of South Carolina School of Law alumni donates $1.1 million to help future students
Jim Konduros believes "the stars are aligning" for the University of South Carolina School of Law to be recognized among the top in the nation, he said in a news release. With construction set to begin on a new building, the school needs alumni support to push it to the next level, he said. Konduros threw out the challenge as he stepped up with a $1.1 million gift announced Monday to provide students with scholarships, fellowships and leadership development. The gift was made possible through the Konduros Fishermen Fund. A 1954 alumnus, the Anderson native credits the school for helping him develop strategic thinking and counseling skills that guided him throughout his career. The state's flagship law school is in the midst of hiring new faculty, expanding its curriculum and refining its focus. It will break ground in September on a new building that is projected to open during the school's 150th anniversary year in 2017.
With Scrim and Rolling Desks, a Journalism School Seeks a Tech Edge
A little over a century after his death, Joseph Pulitzer still looms large at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. The building that houses the school bears his name. Every year the school announces the Pulitzer Prizes from the World Room, a reference to The World, his New York newspaper. A bust of the publishing tycoon and school founder peers across the first-floor lobby and into what has been a construction zone for the past nine months. But on Monday, professors are to move into the space, the new headquarters of the David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation. In its sleek design and open layout, it feels like a cross between a newsroom and a start-up.
A More Nuanced Bill Gates on Higher Education
It is ironic, says Bill Gates, that academic institutions are so good at studying the world around them but not themselves. Gates, the Microsoft founder whose Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has spent roughly a half billion dollars on higher education, made his case to college business officers Monday that colleges must hold themselves more accountable -- or someone else will bring them to account. "The sooner you drive this the better it is than having it brought down from on high in a way that is not appropriate," Gates told members of the National Association of College and University Business Officers during the group's annual conference in Seattle, which is also home to "the foundation," as those here call it. It will surprise few that Gates said more than a few things that would rile many a faculty member.
Colleges Must Help Further the Goals of Common Core Standards, Report Says
Higher education cannot afford to sit on the sidelines as states and secondary schools devise common standards that seek to define who's ready for college, according to a report released on Tuesday by the New America Foundation. The report, "Common Core Goes to College: Building Better Connections Between High School and Higher Education," calls on colleges and public schools to work together to agree on what it means to be college-ready. One of the biggest barriers to carrying out the standards, according to the report, is that colleges have not adjusted their admissions, financial-aid, and remedial-education policies to line up with the standards. As a result, the report says, "The Common Core standards appear at the moment to end at the college gate."
OUR OPINION: Cochran-Childers debate could help elevate tone
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal editorializes: "Republican Sen. Thad Cochran and Democratic senatorial nominee Travis Childers will speak in succession on July 31 at the Neshoba County Fair, the state's premier political event. It will serve as a good jumping off point for the fall Senate campaign. But it also will underscore the fact that so far, Cochran has not responded to Childers' proposal for a series of debates around the state in advance of the Nov. 4 general election. ...Both Cochran and Childers are reasonable men who are well-versed on public policy and would likely produce a better-than-average political debate. While they share some similarities, they also differ on important policy matters that a debate or debates would help illuminate. ...Both candidates are capable of elevating the tone and redeeming the nature of this campaign."

MetroCast 'working' to add SEC Network
MetroCast Communications, a TV provider for some households in Oxford, Starkville, Baldwyn, New Albany and other Northeast Mississippi towns, says it plans to offer the SEC Network. But there are details yet to be worked out. A MetroCast spokesman told the Daily Journal on Monday that his company expects to add the SEC Network to the expanded basic package in time for its Aug. 14 launch. "We are working toward an agreement now with the expectation that we will launch on August 14," Andy Walton said in an e-mail. A big draw for regional viewers: the SEC Network will broadcast at least 45 football games this season, including Mississippi State's season-opener at home against Southern Miss on Aug. 30.
Mississippi State welcomes chance to host state championship football games
When Mississippi State opens the 2014 football season, the Bulldogs will do so in the state's biggest football stadium. Renovations and an expansion to MSU's Davis Wade Stadium are ongoing, and will be unveiled when the Bulldogs open the season against Southern Mississippi on Aug. 30. And in December, the state's top high school teams will enjoy the same stage as the Bulldogs and Eagles, as Davis Wade Stadium will serve as host to the 2014 Mississippi High School Activities Association state championship games. "This is a wonderful opportunity for the city of Starkville and Mississippi State University to showcase the newly renovated and expanded Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field," said MSU Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin.
MHSAA football championships to move to college campuses
The Mississippi High School Activities Association announced several changes to its postseason venues, including moving the football championships from Jackson to the campus stadiums at Mississippi State and Ole Miss. MHSAA executive director Don Hinton said Monday that the football championships will be played at Mississippi State's Davis Wade Stadium in 2014 and 2016 and at Ole Miss' Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in 2015 and 2017. The football championships have been played at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson since 1992.
Mississippi State, Ole Miss will alternate as sites for MHSAA's football title games
The state's high school football championship games are moving out of Jackson to campus sites in the northern part of the state starting this season, the Mississippi High School Activities Association announced Monday. The games in six classifications -- 1A through 6A – will be played Dec. 5-6 at Mississippi State's Davis Wade Stadium. The Bulldogs will also host in 2016. "We want to take our student athletes to the very best venues in the state," MHSAA executive director Don Hinton said. Mississippi State athletics director Scott Stricklin praised Hinton for his vision and tweeted: "Great opportunity for MSU and OM to host participating teams and fans. Plus, it gives those young men a chance to participate in an SEC venue."
Mississippi State, Ole Miss excited to show off facilities at MHSAA state football
Whether or not hosting the state high school football championships is going to sway a recruit has yet to be determined. But Ole Miss and Mississippi State are ready for the opportunity anyway. "This is a wonderful opportunity for the city of Starkville and Mississippi State University to showcase the newly renovated and expanded Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field," Mississippi State athletics director Scott Stricklin said. The biggest impact may come from hosting the all-star game because it puts the players and their families in town for multiple days.
Stuedeman finalizes softball staff at Mississippi State with addition of Ricketts
Vann Stuedeman has finalized her coaching staff for the 2015 season. On Monday, the fourth-year Bulldog head coach announced the hiring of Samantha Ricketts as the new hitting coach. She will also have game management and recruiting responsibilities. Ricketts has spent the last three seasons at Wichita State. "Coach Ricketts is a perfect fit for our softball family," Stuedeman said in a school release. "A prolific hitter in her own right, she made a profound impact at Wichita State and its batting average went from .231 to .314 in just three years with the Shockers. "We are excited and optimistic about Samantha's arrival to MSU as she is a proven winner. She possesses the characteristics of a champion." Ricketts played college softball at the high-power Oklahoma University. She ended her career with the Sooners as the record holder in career home runs (48) and runs batted in (239). (Subscriber-only content.)
Columbia homeowners getting in the rental game for South Carolina football weekends
What would it take to get Columbia-area homeowners to rent out their houses for a weekend during USC home football games? A group of young businessmen are betting the answer is, "a good offer." The five have put up a website, ColumbiaFootballRentals.com, where homeowners can post their houses for any or all of the seven football games the University of South Carolina will play at home this year. The concept bets that -- like football fans elsewhere in the country -- some USC fans will trade traditional accommodations for homes with spacious kitchens, nice backyards for grilling and close access to the stadium.
Lutzenkirchen's father remains strong, carries on son's charitable work with FCA event
Mike Lutzenkirchen still wakes some mornings expecting to see his smiling son, Philip, walk through the front door of his childhood home. Instead, Mike looks at the closed door and continues to be reminded the last four weeks have been an agonizing nightmare. Beloved former Auburn tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen, 23, was one of two passengers killed in a single-car accident in the early hours of June 29 in Troup County, Georgia. Mike has attempted to maintain a strength he often saw in his 6-foot-5 son. It's that reason Mike has decided to take over as master of ceremonies at Auburn University's Fellowship of Christian Athletes' 50th anniversary dinner Thursday evening, taking over a duty his son originally agreed to handle before his untimely death.
UGA football recruit suspected in dormitory burglary
UGA Police are investigating a dormitory burglary allegedly involving a football recruit who was attending a prospect camp over the weekend. Police are withholding the identity of the alleged offender -- described only as an "out-of-state visitor" -- pending further investigation and/or legal action. "We do have the person identified," UGA Police Chief Jimmy Williamson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "We know them to be visiting our campus as a football recruit. How he got access to the residence hall, an access-controlled facility, was he was spending the night with two other football players. He was bunked out with these two other football players for the night."

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