Friday, January 30, 2015  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Romney speaks at Mississippi State, still undeclared for 2016
In front of a sold out Lee Hall Auditorium on Mississippi State University's campus, Gov. Mitt Romney delivered a speech to students and supporters as part of MSU's Global Lecture Series. Speculation in Washington, D.C., that the 2012 GOP presidential candidate would be announcing his intention to run again in 2016 brought a slew of national media to the event: the Associated Press, The Boston Globe, The New York Times, Bloomberg and The Washington Post. The first remarks of the night were directed at the media throng. Rhonda Keenum, a former George W. Bush staffer and wife to MSU president Mark Keenum, lambasted the national media for describing Romney's trip to "the poorest state in the nation." She encouraged outsiders to think of Mississippi as "the most religious state in the nation."
 
Romney takes aim at Hillary Clinton in new speech
Republican Mitt Romney criticized Democrat Hillary Clinton over foreign policy and the economy on Wednesday in what could be a prelude to the line of attack he takes if he decides to run for president a third time. Romney seemed to be in campaign mode in a closely watched appearance in Starkville, Mississippi, delivering a speech at Mississippi State University and stopping at a local barbecue restaurant, where he ate a pulled-pork sandwich. Applause erupted in the speaking hall when Romney said he was considering another presidential run.
 
Romney speech in Mississippi: Still trying to win 2012?
Is Mitt Romney fighting the wrong political war? That question is apropos because the 2012 GOP presidential nominee gave a substance-heavy speech in Mississippi Wednesday night that laid out themes and approaches for a Romney re-redux. Thus the US political world has some hard data on which to rely as it mulls Mitt's surprising decision to (probably) launch a third try for the presidency. The problem, of course, is that it is four years on, and Romney needs to win another primary campaign before he can face off in the general election. It's not at all clear that focusing on poverty and Mormonism will win over the GOP electorate this time.
 
Mitt Romney poverty guru: He got my research wrong
A scholar cited by Mitt Romney for producing evidence that "failed liberal policies" haven't decreased poverty says that the former presidential candidate didn't quite understand his research. While in Mississippi on Wednesday laying the groundwork for another potential campaign, Romney discussed a study by Brookings Institution scholars Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill that, in his view, suggested that government programs haven't done enough to fight poverty. "For 50 years and with trillions of dollars, Washington has fought the war on poverty with failed liberal policies. They haven't made any headway whatsoever," Romney said at Mississippi State University. But Haskins said that the former Massachusetts governor erred in suggesting that none of the policies of the past half century have worked or promoted marriage.
 
Romney speaks on global issues in lecture series
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney visited Mississippi State University Wednesday for a Global Lecture Series event. Gov. Romney spoke about his views on foreign policy, terrorism and poverty. Romney discussed many principles of the United States economy and said he believes the U.S. should work closely with Israel and treat Israel as an ally. Caleb Marshall, a student at the Mississippi School for Math and Science, said he enjoyed Romney's speech and would love for him to run for office. "I enjoyed hearing him speak," he said. "I thought there would be a lot of cat fighting but there wasn't. I like the fact that he wants us to come together to end poverty and pave our own way. He wants to make a difference. I would love to see him run for president."
 
Mitt Romney to brief supporters on 2016 plans
Mitt Romney is scheduled to update supporters Friday on his plans for the 2016 presidential race, three weeks after surprising Republicans with his desire to seek the White House again. The 2012 GOP presidential nominee will speak via conference call with advisers and key supporters today at 11 a.m. ET. Just this week, Romney took aim at potential Democratic rival Hillary Rodham Clinton. During a speech at Mississippi State University, he slammed the former secretary of State as being clueless about how to create jobs and in her dealings with Russia.
 
Stars to Shine at MSU Riley Center
From country to jazz, from acoustics to vocals, The 2015 MSU Riley Center Spring/Summer Series will have something for everyone to enjoy in this historic venue. The series will kick off on March 27 with The Fabulous Thunderbirds, featuring original lead singer Kim Wilson. "This season, we are proud to offer a mix of everything from blues, to country, to Americana, said Dennis Sankovich, the center's executive director. "We hope our ticket goers will find something for every musical taste, as well as a package to go with every budget."
 
MSU Riley Center Director Discusses Big-Name Acts
The MSU Riley Center has done it again with a line-up that's so diverse, there should be something for everyone. One band many of you have probably heard of: The Beach Boys are headed to the Riley Center in May. There are plenty of other big names headed this way. Trace Adkins, Branford Barsalis and Peabo Bryson, just to name a few. A huge variety, all gifted in each unique genre. "We want to keep it diverse because Meridian is diverse. Our service area is diverse. Our audience members have a lot of different tastes, and they like a lot of different things," Riley Center Executive Director Dennis Sankovich said.
 
Kardos to release new book, hold official launch next week
Michael Kardos, co-director of creative writing and associate professor in the department of English at Mississippi State University, will hold his second book release on Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m. for his new novel, "Before He Finds Her." Kardos said there will be a reading, a question and answer session and a book signing during the event. "The book officially comes out on Feb. 3, but bookstores in town already have it," Kardos said. "I hope it will find some new readers," he said. "It's funny, you don't know who's reading it until months after."
 
Mississippi State researchers visit Brookhaven Academy with electron microscope
Representatives from Mississippi State University visited Brookhaven Academy and brought with them high-priced and high-powered equipment, a slew of insects and tons of knowledge all aimed at sharing the fun of science with students at the school. Leslie Hood teaches biology at BA and invited the researchers. Hood said she knew who to contact because of two classes -- scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy -- she took in graduate school at MSU. Operating the machine were Outreach Coordinator and Research Associate Amanda Lawrence, Research Associate I-Wei Chu and Extension Associate Lois Connington. Lawrence and Chu work at the Institute for Imaging and Analytical Technologies, and Connington works with entomology and environmental education.
 
MSU Extension sets wildlife dinner date
Mississippi chefs with a flair for cooking wild game can enter their best recipes in a contest at the Lowndes County Wildlife Tasting Buffet on Feb. 19. The competition runs from 5:30-6:15 p.m. at the Trotter Convention Center in Columbus. Ricky Flynt of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks will deliver a program about alligators in Mississippi. The dinner is sponsored by the Mississippi State University Extension Service, the Lowndes County Soil and Water Conservation District, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Mississippi Forestry Commission and the Lowndes County Forestry Association.
 
Mississippi furniture makers on rebound with more exports
A few years ago, the Chinese might not have been the kind of trade partners you wanted if you were in furniture manufacturing in Mississippi. That's because the communist nation was selling goods in this country cheaper than they could be made in the United States. From a peak of 31,600 workers in 2000, employment fell to 17,600 by 2009, according to Bill Martin, director of the Franklin Furniture Institute at Mississippi State University. Meantime, Chinese manufacturing wage earners' income has grown threefold in the past decade. And with its increase in disposable income is, among other things, a stronger demand for American-made furniture, he said. Consequently, Mississippi's furniture-making employment has stabilized. The Franklin institute estimates that by mid-2014 it had climbed to 18,700. The state's rebound is reflected in export figures.
 
Golden Triangle jobless rates increase no cause for alarm, official says
Unemployment ticked up slightly throughout the Golden Triangle in December, reversing a three-month trend in decreases, according to the latest statistics released Wednesday by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security. That's the bad news. The good news, says MDES spokesman Mary Willoughby, is that those numbers should not be cause for alarm. Willoughby said the biggest factor in the uptick in jobless rates is because college students are out of class. "Those numbers are based on the workforce," Willoughby said. "When students get out of classes in December and part of January, if they are not working but available for work, they are counted as being unemployed. That skews the numbers."
 
Starkville Community Leaders Honored by GSDP
Congratulations on a job well done. That's the message the Greater Starkville Development Partnership shared with members at Thursday's annual banquet. Held at the Hunter Henry Center on Mississippi State University's campus, the dinner allows the partnership to recognize businesses and individuals that have made a mark in the community during the year. Among those honored, the Mississippi State football team with the Crystal Pineapple Tourism Award.
 
Aldermen eye immediate savings as Starkville Parks Commission takeover approaches
Starkville aldermen are expected to amend city code and absorb the autonomous Starkville Parks Commission, save for the group's legislative mandate to approve 2 percent food and beverage tax expenditures, Tuesday at the conclusion of public hearings on the matter. City leaders are quick to redefine the move as a restructuring that could provide immediate cost savings for often financially maligned organization. Starkville's expected takeover means the city can immediately slash redundant services -- legal and auditing, specifically -- and save a combined $20,000-$30,000 annually on Parks' bottom line, Ward 5 Alderman Scott Maynard said.
 
New pizza place opens in Starkville
Starkville's got a new pizza place. Hungry Howie's opened Wednesday. It is located inside a 1,600 square foot building at 87 Cotton Mill Drive, right beside Chick-fil-A. Hungry Howie's is a chain known for serving pizzas with flavored crusts. Hungry Howie's began in 1973 in Michigan. There are now more than 600 locations in 21 states, according to the eatery's corporate website. The Starkville location is the fourth in Mississippi. There are also Hungry Howie's in Ridgeland, Clinton and Brandon.
 
Tippah County Development Foundation names new executive director
After going without a full-time executive director for more than two years, the Tippah County Development Foundation on Wednesday named Matthew Harrison as its new leader effective Monday. Harrison has 15 years of experience in business technology, automotive and manufacturing. According to the TCDF, he has worked with several Fortune 500 companies including Toyota Motor Manufacturing and Engineering, Mercedes Benz USA and Affiliated Computer Services. Harrison will work with the TCDF's board of directors, local officials and local businesses to promote economic development in Tippah County, the organization said.
 
Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway checks himself into alcohol treatment facility
Mayor A.J. Holloway checked himself into an alcohol treatment facility in Hattiesburg on Thursday afternoon. "Mayor Holloway and his family are certainly in our thoughts and prayers at this time," Chief Administrative Officer David Nichols said in a press release posted on the city website Thursday. "This is a decision Mayor Holloway reached himself, with the support of his family, and we're certainly confident of a full and timely recovery." Holloway is in his sixth term and is the longest serving mayor in Biloxi.
 
Mississippi takes an incentives licking, keeps on ticking
If the Pew Charitable Trusts gave Mississippi the stick in 2012, it seems to be trying the carrot this time. Mississippi economic development officials thought the respected independent nonprofit organization was harsh in its assessment of how the state was tracking its incentives. "It sounded like like they were unfairly indicting the model we were using," senior state economist Bob Neal of the University Research Center said last year as the Legislature was in the process of crafting a more systematic method of evaluating the outcome of incentives. Since then, Mississippi and nine other states, as well as the District of Columbia, have passed laws that require regular, periodic evaluation, the nonprofit reports. Incentives have become an especially sensitive issue in Mississippi in the past few years.
 
Senators propose Common Core panel as House bans PARCC test
Legislators are wading deeper into determining what Mississippi students will learn and how they will be tested. The House of Representatives on Thursday passed House Bill 385, which would ban use of a Common Core-related test, end high school exit exams in biology and U.S. history and push the state Board of Education to adopt standardized tests published by the ACT organization. It now moves to the Senate for more debate. Earlier, the Senate Education Committee endorsed Senate Bill 2161, creating a commission to recommend changes to state academic standards as part of an effort to change or replace Mississippi's current Common Core-based standards.
 
Commission to look at Common Core
A 27-member advisory commission will advise the state Board of Education on developing academic standards for Mississippi school districts under legislation that passed the Senate Education Committee on Thursday. The Mississippi Commission on College and Career Readiness will have until July 1, 2016, to make its recommendations to the state Board of Education. Sen. Videt Carmichael, R-Meridian, author of the legislation, said standards should be "equal to or above" the current standards. State Superintendent Carey Wright, who attended the Education Committee meeting, said she was not sure how the Senate bill, should it become law, would impact the state Board's enactment of the new College and Career Ready Standards.
 
Common Core killer unleashed to full Senate
Senators on Thursday passed what they called the first step toward killing Common Core in Mississippi and replacing it with a new set of educational standards recommended by a yet-to-be-appointed commission. "Basically, Common Core is gone if you pass this," state Sen. Videt Carmichael, R-Meridian, told members of the Senate Education Committee while explaining his bill. State Superintendent of Education Carey Wright attended the meeting but was not allowed to speak despite a request for her comments by state Sen. David Blount, D-Jackson. Blount was among three senators who voted against the bill during the sometimes contentious meeting on the Capitol's top floor.
 
McDaniel says his closed-primary bill is being blocked
A state lawmaker who lost a contentious U.S. Senate primary last year said Thursday that he wants Mississippi to have a closed primary system that requires voters to register by party, but he thinks the lieutenant governor is blocking the way. Senate Elections Committee Chairman Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, complained that Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves had sent a closed-primary proposal to both the Appropriations Committee and the Elections Committee. The Elections Committee can't act on the bill until Appropriations does, and it's not clear whether Appropriations will debate it or let it die for lack of action. McDaniel said he thinks sending a bill to two committees is simply a way to kill it.
 
McDaniel's New PAC: The Next Generation
With hopes of bringing together multiple factions throughout the state in the wake of a divisive Senate race, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, recently announced his new political action committee, the United Conservatives Fund. In this new organization, McDaniel is working alongside state Sen. Melanie Sojourner, a Natchez Republican who managed his campaign for U.S. Senate, and another former campaign staffer, Keith Plunkett, to handle communications. Although the announcement of the PAC's formation came last week, the roots of the current revival of Mississippi tea-party PACs stretches back two years with the formation of another organization, Generation Mississippi, which Plunkett founded in 2012. Since the formation of UCF, it appears to some members of the conservative community that Plunkett's organization has all but vanished.
 
Contact lenses create debate in Legislature
A major online seller of contact lenses wants Mississippi to adopt a law to prevent suppliers and manufacturers from setting a minimum price for them. 1-800-Contacts, a supporter of Senate Bill 2016, says Johnson & Johnson Vision Care implemented a new pricing strategy last year that requires a minimum price for some of their contact lenses. The Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee conducted a public hearing today on the bill, hearing from both 1-800-Contacts officials and officials of Johnson & Johnson.
 
Which states are the best (and worst) at vaccinating their kids
"Thank God for Mississippi," the old saying goes. The idea here being that no matter how badly things are in your state -- when it comes to health, or income, or education -- there's a good chance that you're still doing better than Mississippi, which holds the dubious distinction of ranking dead last among the states on a variety of well-being indicators. But there is one health metric on which Mississippi does surprisingly well: vaccination rates. That's right: 74.6 percent of Mississippi toddlers have received the full complement of CDC-recommended vaccinations, putting it at number 12 among the states and well above the national average of 70.4 percent.
 
U.S. economy grew at 2.6% rate at 2014's end
The U.S. economy slowed and grew at an annualized rate of 2.6 percent over the final three months of 2014, the Commerce Department said Friday in a report that fell short of analyst expectations. Coming on the heels of a prior quarter that saw growth revised up to 5 percent, the latest reading from the Bureau of Economic Analysis seemed sure to be also be revised upwards in late February. A trove of positive economic data from consumer confidence to hiring, along with falling oil and gasoline prices, had economists expecting growth above 3 percent for the final quarter.
 
Loan debt an increasing issue for UM students
The average student loan debt for The University of Mississippi graduates was $25,613, compared to the state average of $27,571 and national average of $25,550 in the 2013-2014 school year, according to the recent Mississippi Comprehensive Annual Financial Report Average. With a full-time undergraduate enrollment of 16,677 students, the proportion of University of Mississippi graduates with federal loan debt was 49 percent and 14 percent for private loan debt. Lauren Diven-Brown has been director of financial aid at Ole Miss since 2001 and an employee of the office since 1995. In that time, she said she has seen the cost of education rise while the amount of grants awarded has remained largely the same.
 
Crews hired as UM education development officer
Former Daily Journal publisher and public education proponent Billy Crews has joined the University of Mississippi as the new development officer for its School of Education. Crews' position is a new one, in which he will head fundraising efforts from within the school in collaboration with the UM Foundation. "I believe the School of Education is one of the most important units at the university in terms of potential impact on our state," said Crews, an Oxford native. "After 35 years in business, I am committed to a new career focused on supporting public education in Mississippi." Crews joins the university after more than two years working for Teach for America's Mississippi region, where he served as vice president for strategic partnerships.
 
U. of Southern Mississippi to hold social justice movie night on Tuesday
The University of Southern Mississippi's Research Initiative on Social Justice and Equity (RISE), Office of Multicultural Programs and Services, and Student Association of Social Workers will sponsor Social Justice Movie Night at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in Gonzales Auditorium (room 108) of the Liberal Arts Building on the Hattiesburg campus. The featured movie is "Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek," which centers around the Mississippi community of Turkey Creek, which was settled by freed slaves just after the Civil War.
 
JSU parts ways with embattled communications director
Jackson State University parted ways with its executive director of communications Thursday morning. JSU officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly confirmed that Eric Stringfellow is no longer employed by the university. The reason for the departure is not known. In recent months, many of the long-time communications staff have left the university leading some to question Stringfellow's leadership. Rob Jay, who has served as the university's director of broadcast media, will take over as interim director of communications.
 
April 16 investiture for 12th Sul Ross President Dr. Bill Kibler
Investiture ceremonies have been scheduled Thursday, April 16 for Dr. Bill Kibler, 12th President of Sul Ross State University. Ceremonies will be held at 2 pm in the Pete P. Gallego Center. Kibler was confirmed as Sul Ross' President by the Board of Regents of the Texas State University System on July 9, 2014. He brings nearly 40 years' experience in higher education. Prior to coming to Sul Ross, Kibler served the past 10 years as Vice President for Student Affairs at Mississippi State University.
 
U. of Alabama presidential search committee meets
A committee tasked with recommending candidates to replace University of Alabama President Judy Bonner met Thursday to discuss attributes sought in the next leader and timelines for the search. The 24-person committee was formed after Bonner announced plans in December to step down by the end of September and return to teaching after a yearlong sabbatical. The committee would like to see a charismatic, student-focused leader capable of continuing the growth of the last decade, said UA board of trustees President Pro tem Karen Brooks, who is the committee chairwoman. Brooks addressed the discussion generally after the committee's first public meeting Thursday at the Bryant Conference Center.
 
Birmingham couple gives $3 million gift to U. of Alabama business college
University of Alabama administrators say a $3 million gift by an alumnus positions the Culverhouse College of Commerce to be a leader nationally in the field of value investing both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. he gift by Birmingham-based businessman C.T. Fitzpatrick and his wife, Kelley Fitzpatrick, will be used to fund new endowed faculty positions and a trading floor and research library, facilities that will allow students to gain real-world experience on campus. During a reception on campus Thursday, Fitzpatrick, joined by his wife, called value investing a unique skill set in high demand across many industries.
 
Auburn students talk rape culture, 'enthusiastic consent' at forum
As criticism of U.S. colleges and universities' handling of sexual assaults thickens nationwide, Auburn University's Women's Studies Program hosted an open forum where students dug into rape culture and the nature of on-campus sexual assault Wednesday. "This is an open forum. It only works if you talk," Women's Studies Program Director Joyce de Vries, Ph.D., told a large group of university women, along with a few men, at Langdon Hall. What was originally scheduled as a lecture by feminist author Jessica Valenti, who was prevented from attending by severe winter weather in the North East, became a group discussion on gender and sexuality.
 
Louisiana higher education puts forward suggestions for helping with budget cuts
Louisiana's higher education leaders are floating several suggestions to help mitigate the nearly $400 million in budget cuts that could come to the state's public universities and colleges next year. Ideas include redirecting dollars used for business tax exemptions toward higher education, charging different amounts of tuition for different programs and using more private contractors to perform services at public universities and colleges.
 
Maps released Thursday detail proposed upgrades to Baton Rouge lakes at LSU
Ideas to turn the ailing LSU lakes into a showcase for Baton Rouge range from dredging the sediment that's been choking the water bodies to building boardwalks and parks and restricting traffic. But first, the public has to weigh in. And that was the purpose of an exercise Thursday night at the Lod Cook Alumni Center at LSU, where hundreds of residents pored over maps of potential traffic changes, ecological features and where dredge material from the lakes could be placed. Thursday's meeting was the latest step in a process the foundation started last year to address environmental problems in the six lakes, which are located between City Park and LSU.
 
U. of Arkansas Names Kellie Knight Director of Fundraising Position
The University of Arkansas has named a new administrator to identify fundraising priorities. Officials say Kellie Knight of Springdale is the new senior director of development for campaign priorities at the university. Knight will provide oversight for key fundraising priorities related to Campaign Arkansas, the university's capital campaign, which is still in the organizational phase.
 
UGA audience hears from Cambodian rights activists who has seen best, worst of humanity
Loung Ung has seen the worst humanity has to offer. But because of that, she has also seen the best, the author and human rights activist told a University of Georgia audience Thursday. "For the rest of my life, I will never forget the day the soldiers came for my father," said Ung, the first speaker in a new annual lecture series named for Betty Jean Craige, a retired professor of comparative literature and former director of the Willson Center for the Humanities and Arts at UGA.
 
Addressing chamber, U. of Florida president Fuchs praises Gainesville's innovation
University of Florida President Kent Fuchs challenged the community to show the same unity of purpose that allowed Cornell University to win its underdog bid under his leadership to build a tech campus in New York City against more than a dozen competitors. "I know that this community is bent on reaching the next stage in its tech evolution, the stage when Gainesville joins or even eclipses the likes of Austin or Research Triangle Park, the stage when ... people who can live anywhere choose to live here. I believe we have the strongest chance of achieving this goal if we, like Cornell and Cornell Tech, make it our top priority to unify both of these dreams." Fuchs was keynote speaker at the 2015 Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce meeting.
 
Vanderbilt to have sex workshop week after verdict
Students at Vanderbilt University are using provocative words and imagery to encourage their peers to talk about sex on campus. The students, who are working as peer sex educators in the Vandy SexEd program, are sponsoring a workshop next week called "How to be Brilliant in Bed." Posters advertising the event show a woman wielding a large ruler and promise "a crash course in sexy sex ed" that is "great for everyone from sexual novices to full-blown sexperts." But Molly Corn, a Vanderbilt senior and peer sex educator who is helping to plan the event, said the racy poster is meant to draw students into a discussion on hooking up, consent and alcohol. Corn hopes talking about sex will make her peers "comfortable with making their own decisions as they see fit."
 
Former First Lady Barbara Bush pushes importance of literacy at annual event at Texas A&M
Former First Lady Barbara Bush read to hundreds of students from Bryan, Austin, Houston and nearly 60,000 students virtually from around the nation via video conference at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center at Texas A&M University on Thursday. Bush read experts from Lynn Curlee's award-winning book on Mount Rushmore, which explores the engineering of the structure and the social and historical issues of the time. She later fielded questions from students who were watching online in all 50 states, Ghana and Canada.
 
Fantasies collide: 'Game of Thrones' creator donating first-edition volume of 'The Hobbit' to Texas A&M
The fantasy worlds of Middle Earth and Westeros will collide in College Station next month when the Texas A&M University Libraries welcome the 5 millionth volume to its collection. George R.R. Martin, the author of the acclaimed A Song of Ice and Fire book series, will visit A&M's campus on Feb. 27 to gift a rare first-edition volume of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Research Collection in the Cushing Memorial Library and Archives. Martin will read excerpts from the volume, which features original Tolkien illustrations, for audiences at Rudder Auditorium before formally presenting it. For Kevin O'Sullivan, Cushing Library's outreach and public services curator, it makes sense the gift comes at the hands of one of Tolkien's sci-fi disciples.
 
Public and scientists express strikingly different views about science-related issues
Despite similar views about the overall place of science in America, the general public and scientists often see science-related issues through a different lens, according to a new pair of surveys by the Pew Research Center in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). "Science is a huge, sprawling cluster of subjects. We knew from the 2009 Pew Research Center study that there could be differences between the public and scientists on at least some issues. But we were surprised by the size of those differences and how often they occur," said Cary Funk, lead author of the report and associate director of science research at Pew Research Center. There is agreement between the public and scientists on one core issue: Both groups believe that science, technology, engineering and math education (STEM) in America's elementary and secondary schools is not performing well.
 
Ed Department ratings framework ignites new questions over adjusting student outcomes
A core premise of the Obama administration's college ratings plan -- and one that makes it controversial -- is that colleges and universities need to be held more accountable for student outcomes. College presidents have repeatedly argued that those outcomes, like completion rates and graduates' earnings, are largely a reflection of the student population they serve, and therefore not necessarily a good benchmark of their institution's success. U.S. Department of Education officials working on the ratings have long said they're going to overcome that problem. But in the 17-page ratings framework released last month, officials also said they're eyeing an additional strategy to make fair comparisons: adjusting a college's outcomes based on the demographics of the students it enrolls.
 
Poverty Data Signal Urgency for Schools
Students from low-income households have made up a rising share of the public school population for years, but their recent shift into the majority serves as an urgent signal to policymakers and schools to address the needs of poor children, and the challenges of educating them, researchers and educators say. An analysis released last week by the Southern Education Foundation showed that public schools crossed a new, significant threshold in 2013, when a majority of the nation's nearly 50 million students qualified for free or reduced-price lunches. Research shows that poor children often enter school behind other students academically, they often struggle to catch up, and they tend to lag behind their higher-income peers in areas like attendance.
 
Dartmouth bans hard alcohol in effort to curb 'extreme behaviors' on campus
As part of a major new plan to excise "extreme behaviors" on its campus, Dartmouth College announced Thursday that it will ban hard alcohol, create a new student housing system and adopt a sexual violence prevention program that will be part of all four years of an undergraduate education. During a speech announcing the new plan, Philip Hanlon, Dartmouth's president, also urged faculty to help curb grade inflation and to consider scheduling classes earlier in the morning. The plan -- created after nearly a year of research and soul-searching -- was met with mixed reaction Thursday. Some observers praised its scope and others dismissed it as little more than "window dressing."
 
University Re-Imagines Town And Gown Relationship In Philadelphia
Dinner is served in the West Philadelphia neighborhood of Mantua. "You look like you're ready to have a great Dornsife neighborhood partnership meal! Am I right about it?" Rose Samuel-Evans asks the crowd at a free community dinner of chicken marsala and stuffed flounder hosted by Drexel University. Samuel-Evans works in this two-story, orange-brick schoolhouse; it's one of three refurbished buildings that opened last summer north of campus as part of Drexel's Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships. Like many expanding colleges and universities, Drexel has put real estate pressure on its surrounding neighborhoods including Mantua, a predominantly black community and one of Philadelphia's poorest neighborhoods. The school is now trying to counteract that pressure with a center designed to serve not just faculty and students but mainly local residents.
 
SID SALTER (OPINION): Phillips changed state's culture of corruption
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "Can it be that the 'Pretense' scandal is now 30 years in Mississippi's political rear-view mirror? During the 1980s, 57 of Mississippi's 410 county supervisors from 26 of the state's 82 counties were charged with corruption. The FBI's ploy to catch the criminals was code-named 'Operation Pretense.' ...The groundbreaking prosecutions of the cases developed by that FBI sting operation came under the directions of a slow-talking, no-nonsense lawyer named George Phillips. Phillips served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi from 1980 to 1994. George would become a friend and was a trusted and reliable source. ...I greatly admired Phillips for his courage and tenacity in taking on public corruption cases in an era when that rarely happened in Mississippi. I also truly enjoyed his dry sense of humor and the fact that while he took his work very seriously, he never took himself seriously."


SPORTS
 
Mississippi State women move to 22-2 by routing Vanderbilt
Forty-one points. If that's the amount of ground the No. 18 Mississippi State women's basketball team can make up in 18 days, there's no telling what it can accomplish this season. Maybe that's why MSU coach Vic Schaefer used phrases like "live where we are" and "embrace the opportunity" to talk about how his young team is maturing before his eyes. The latest step came Thursday night in MSU's 69-44 victory against Vanderbilt before a season-high crowd of 5,056 at Humphrey Coliseum. Freshman Victoria Vivians scored a game-high 20 points to lead three players in double figures for MSU (22-2, 7-2 Southeastern Conference), which matched its win total from last season with seven regular-season games and postseason play remaining.
 
Bulldogs avenge earlier defeat
Mississippi State saw its 18-game winning streak come to an end in a 16-point loss at Vanderbilt on Jan. 11. The 18th-ranked Bulldogs were able to get some retribution Thursday night sinking the Commodores 69-44 in front of 5,056 at Humphrey Coliseum. It was the sixth largest crowd in school history. "I can see us getting better," said MSU coach Vic Schaefer. "It's a good time to get better because the buzzsaw is in front of us. We talk about playing with a passion and a purpose and entertaining people. I don't think any of the 5,000-plus weren't entertained tonight. That place was loud and electric."
 
Mississippi State gets revenge win on Vanderbilt
A line of fans formed outside Humphrey Coliseum an hour before Thursday's matchup between Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. When fans found their seats, they watched the Bulldogs get revenge with a 69-44 win. "I don't think there's anybody in the building that couldn't see a team that's really starting to play well," MSU coach Vic Schaefer said. Nearly three weeks ago, the Commodores spoiled MSU's perfect record. The rematch took place in front of 5,056, which pushed the program to a new single-season record (50,438).
 
Vanderbilt women suffer big road defeat
Victoria Vivians scored 16 of her 20 points in the first half, and No. 18 Mississippi State rolled to a 69-44 victory over Vanderbilt on Thursday night. Vivians was 5-of-8 from 3-point range and the Bulldogs (22-2, 7-2 SEC) were 8-of-15. Martha Alwal added 14 points and Kendra Grant was 2-of-3 from the arc, finishing with 12 points. The Bulldogs used a 14-6 run to take an 11-point halftime lead as they held the Commodores (12-9, 3-5) to just 19 first-half points.
 
Bulldogs fight for results on court
Craig Sword was visibly upset. Moments after delivering his finest performance of the season for Mississippi State's basketball team, the junior sullenly appeared outside of the visiting locker room at the University of Mississippi's Tad Smith Coliseum Wednesday night. With a towel draped over his shoulder and his bare feet still appearing to hurt from the 40-minute grind that was MSU's 79-73 loss to Ole Miss, Sword was despondent after the Bulldogs came close before falling short. "It's not a good night," said Sword, who scored a season-high 27 points. "It was the game I needed, personally, because I finally had a big night. But it wasn't what we needed as a team, because we lost. "It's frustrating to get so close and to keep losing." That's the challenge now for MSU coach Rick Ray, as his team begins to battle mounting frustrations amid a brutal Southeastern Conference schedule.
 
Ray emphasizes free-throw disparity in loss to Ole Miss
Rick Ray interrupted the postgame questioning Wednesday night after Mississippi Sate's 79-73 loss to Ole Miss. Once Ray sat down, a reporter sent a question to the third-year coach. His response, "Do I get an opening statement?" There's a reason Ray wanted one. While he toed a Marshawn Lynch-like line of avoiding a fine, Ray made his thoughts be known regarding the officiating at Tad Smith Coliseum. "I really need to sit down and evaluate film tonight and first thing tomorrow morning," Ray said to begin his statement. "We need to evaluate how we can get to the free-throw line because we only got to the free-throw line 11 times and fouled 27 times."
 
Mississippi State on edge of preseason Coaches Poll
Another preseason baseball poll included Mississippi State on Thursday. MSU ranked No. 25 in the Coaches Poll. Analysts from around the college baseball community haven't been able to pinpoint the Bulldogs' 2015 season. The Coaches Poll is the fourth that includes MSU. None have featured the same ranking.
 
Southern Miss unveils Reed Green Coliseum renovation options
The first Southern Miss basketball game played inside Reed Green Coliseum was in 1965. Aside from a few upgrades and renovations, the building has largely gone unchanged in the last half-century. That will soon be remedied. Golden Eagle athletic director Bill McGillis outlined in detail Thursday his plans for a complete overhaul of the building in an effort to make it a more attractive venue on many levels. The hope is it will assist with basketball and volleyball recruiting as well as make it a more enticing setting for other events. The renderings, along with a feasibility study, were done by the architecture firm Populous.
 
Two Tyndall signees now ineligible at Southern Miss as NCAA investigation continues
Two Southern Miss basketball players who were recruited and signed by Tennessee coach Donnie Tyndall are now ineligible in accordance with NCAA rules, Southern Miss announced Thursday. ESPN, citing an anonymous source, first reported that junior guard Rasham Suarez and senior forward Jeremiah Eason, former junior-college teammates at the College of Central Florida in Ocala, had been ruled ineligible. Tyndall cut off a question about the latest fallout from the ongoing NCAA investigation into his former program during a media availability scheduled by UT before the news. "Not going to comment," Tyndall said, interrupting a reporter's question before it was complete.
 
Missouri Athletic Director Mike Alden resigning effective Aug. 31
Missouri Athletic Director Mike Alden will resign the job he's held since 1998, effective Aug. 31. Alden, whose tenure was marked with huge budgetary expansion and facilities improvements and who oversaw the school's move to the Southeastern Conference, broke the news to athletic department staffers in a meeting held at 4 p.m. Thursday at Mizzou Arena. Alden plans to take a position as an instructor with the MU College of Education where he will participate in the Positive Coaching Program and higher education leadership courses, and he said the College of Education, in concert with other campus partners, will be launching a Center for Global Service Learning Leadership.
 
Drones Spotted, but Not Halted, Raise Concerns
The National Football League will not say what type of system, if any, it will have in place at the Super Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday, though the Federal Aviation Administration issued a warning this week that anyone flying drones over an N.F.L. game could be "intercepted, detained and interviewed." While drones have not been used in a terrorist attack on American soil, thwarting them is increasingly becoming a challenge for law enforcement and security officials who are charged with protecting large-scale events like the Super Bowl and high-profile public buildings like the White House. The officials have warned that the low-flying devices could be modified to carry explosives, chemicals, biological agents, guns or cameras.



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