Monday, October 20, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
Student body presidents pushing for on-time graduation
With only 48 percent of students graduating in four years, the student body presidents of Mississippi's eight public universities have decided to encourage their fellow students to know their plan and graduate on time. The Student Body Presidents' Council launched the Finish in 4 campaign at a Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning meeting held in Hattiesburg this month. "We've seen some of our friends wait too late in their college career to make a plan so they could graduate in four years," said Brett Harris, SGA president at Mississippi State University and chair of the Student Body Presidents' Council. "We want to encourage students to develop a plan early so they can finish in four years and move to the next level of their careers."
Community prepares for disasters
Mississippi State's Community Emergency Response Team held a Preparathon Saturday. The team's goal is to prepare people for disasters. CERT invited 34 different organizations to the event, including first responders, insurance companies and organizations like the American Red Cross. "We have a responsibility to inform the public about the risks, and also to tell them about the resources that are available to them," CERT coordinator Ryan Akers said. "That's what we're doing here with this." The Preparathon started off with three different races, a half marathon, a 5k and a one mile fun run.
Mississippi State Students Package Meals for People in Need
Some Mississippi State University students are learning about nutrition, while helping others across the globe. They're packaging 10,000 meals for the organization "Stop Hunger Now," which provides needy people with meals internationally. Organizers say this project is about more than just community service. "The students are not only coming today to participate, but they're being taught by our food, science, nutrition, and health promotion faculty about what is actually in this meal packet, so they understand a little bit more about the issue," said MSU's April Heiselt. "Not just, 'I'm coming to serve today, which is also very important, but also I've learned about this, and I can go forward and tell others.'"
Competition at Mississippi State prepares students for future careers
Students from 17 schools around the state are learning more about the field of engineering. BEST Robotics held its annual competition at Mississippi State's Humphrey Coliseum Saturday. The goal of the BEST competition is to prepare the students for future careers in the engineering field. "So, what they're getting from this is the opportunity to apply what they're learning in their math and science and engineering courses," Director of K-12 Outreach for MSU's Bagley College of Engineering Eric Heiselt said. "[They get to put] it into practice in more than just a small build that they can do in the classroom."
Mississippi State to hold Freedom Summer Conference
More than 900 brave, determined and resilient volunteers flooded Mississippi in 1964 for the Freedom Summer Project, and Mississippi State University is celebrating that effort's impact on equality and human rights. "Remembering Freedom Summer: Building a Better Future" will be held at MSU through Tuesday in Colvard Student Union. While the conference is free and open to the public, participants should register Numerous Freedom Summer volunteers, students, activists and photographers will speak, as well as recognized scholars from MSU and other universities all over the country.
MSU Commemorates 50th Anniversary of Freedom Summer Project
In remembrance of the historic Freedom Summer Project of 1964, the African American Studies Department at Mississippi State is hosting a three-day event to celebrate the 50th Anniversary. The event kicked off with a dinner and performance Sunday. Recognized scholars, activists and Freedom Summer volunteers from all over the country will speak during the conference. Current MSU students participating in the stage performance say it's an honor to represent such a brave group of people. "I'm from the Delta so a lot of these things happened there. Just to be able to portray somebody that came and helped participate in those events. Knowing how serious it was and what a big decision it was for them, it's very powerful to be able to be a part of that," says actress Beth Baugh, a freshman at MSU.
Mississippi State students participate in a day of service
Mississippi State participated in Make a Difference Day Saturday. Dozens of students took to the streets of Starkville for a day of community service. Volunteers did a number of different projects, like going door-to-door to spread fire prevention awareness and collecting food for local food pantries. WTVA caught up with some students who spent the day cleaning up Odd Fellows Cemetery. "It's better to put your efforts to something that's worth it," MSU student Anna Chrestman said. "Yes, the grounds will need to be rekept again, but it helps it look better now."
MSU-Meridian announces opening of downtown career center
Meridian native Heather Richardson Woodall is the new senior coordinator in Mississippi State University-Meridian's Career Center. A 2008 West Lauderdale High School graduate, she is working from a downtown office in the Newberry Building, but also keeps office hours at the College Park campus off Highway 19 North. Woodall, who assumed her new duties Oct. 1, is helping prepare students for the job-search process, including resume development, mock interviews and cover letters, among other areas. She also is working with regional employers to identify their needs.
Mock Excavation Held at MSU for Youngsters
October is Mississippi Archaeology Month and some local kids got to dig in the dirt for unique artifacts at Mississippi State University. It kicked off with tours of The Lois Dowdle Cobb Museum, which was opened to the public on Saturday. The museum showcases artifacts from the Middle East including reproductions of the sarcophagus, the Rosetta stone and an authentic mummy mask. Youngsters then got to dig for a variety of artifacts such as pottery, jewelry and fossils.
Mississippi State will aid community growth
A New York-based think tank has designated the Mississippi State University Extension Service an Intelligent Community Institute, the second of its kind in the country. The goal of the partnership is to help rural communities thrive in the digital economy. The Intelligent Community Forum examines best practices and researches the impact of broadband and other access technologies on job creation and economic development. Roberto Gallardo, an associate Extension professor at MSU and the MSU institute's director, said Mississippi will become a focal point for a worldwide effort designed to capitalize on the many opportunities and challenges rural communities face when transitioning to a digital economy.
Butler Snow names Crockoft new office director
Suzanne Cockroft has joined Butler Snow Advisory Services, LLC as director of the firm's Ridgeland office. She most recently was with Butler Snow LLP, parent of Butler Snow Advisory Services, in creative and website development, project management, public relations and internal communications, business development and proposal and pricing strategies. Cockroft holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Mississippi and a master of business administration degree from Mississippi State University.
Starkville, MSU officials tackling SMART route issues
Starkville aldermen will hear a proposal from engineer Edward Kemp and Mississippi State University Parking Services Director Jeremiah Dumas on how to improve the Starkville Sportsplex's city-university mass transit stop that could lead to a major infrastructure makeover at the facility. Dumas confirmed he, along with Kemp and Ward 4 Alderman Jason Walker, met with Peters to discuss not only how to alleviate possible SMART Route issues at the Sportsplex, but also the property's overall infrastructure needs. Tuesday's report to aldermen will include placing a shuttle shelter where the property connects to Lynn Lane and improving a secondary access point to the Sportsplex to help solve traffic issues.
SSD, OCSD maintain district, school grades with waivers
Both Starkville School District and Oktibbeha County School District maintained their respective "C" district-level state accountability grades based on state testing for the 2013-2014 academic year, but OCSD would have dropped to a "D" without a statewide waiver for transitioning standards. SSD delivered upon a promise by administrators to increase its graduation rates, as Starkville High School's four-year rate increased almost 10 points from 66.6 percent to 75.4 percent. "I continue to be impressed with our teachers' hard work and their students' results in an ever-changing educational environment. There are areas identified where we need to increase efforts and re-align resources to provide additional support, and we have a plan to do that," said SSD Superintendent Lewis Holloway in a release.
Mississippi hospitals, clinics receiving updates on Ebola
State health officials say Mississippi hospitals will be capable of handling any Ebola cases that may arise. State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs said some hospitals are updating procedures based on information provided by the state Department of Health and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But even now as updates are ongoing, Dobbs said Mississippi hospitals "are able to identify and isolate any cases that do occur and we have referral centers throughout the state that can provide long-term treatment." Dobbs said health officials have been talking with hospitals across the state since August. Dobbs also has been talking with media outlets across the state about Ebola.
Mississippi to Submit Four Proposals for Spill Funding
Some environmental groups say Mississippi is moving in the right direction with its proposals for the latest round of post-BP oil spill funding under the Restore Act. Mississippi plans to submit four proposals for the competitive first round of funding selected by the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council. Five states and 10 federal agencies will be competing for this first round of funding selected by the Gulf Coast Restoration Council. Robbie Kroger, who is an advisor to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, says this first round will total around $150 million to $180 million. Three of the projects Mississippi proposes are Gulf-wide, including two land conservation programs and a proposal to put dredged sediment to beneficial use. The fourth project would create a Mississippi Sound estuary program.
Failing bridges now a mainstream concern in state
Mention highway safety and people have all sorts of ideas of what that means. To the Highway Patrol, it suggests expanding the ranks of state troopers. For the Mississippi Department of Transportation, it's a well-maintained road system. For Mothers Against Drunk Driving, getting intoxicated drivers off the roads is the highest priority. And there are those against texting, tweeting or talking on cellphones. However, if you ask Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Willie Simmons and Transportation Commissioner Tom King, people want to know about bridges -- the ones that have fallen down and the ones that might -- and who is going to fix them. "There's a serious problem out there with bridges," said King.
Cochran, Childers not on party edges
Six-term incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran says he is running for re-election because his vast experience -- 42 years in either the U.S. Senate or House -- is needed not only for Mississippi, but also for the nation. His opponent, Travis Childers of Booneville, says he is running to help restore common sense and a willingness to compromise to the federal government. Both the Republican Cochran, 76, and the Democrat Childers, 56, to a large extent are considered closer to the center than many in their parties, though both describe themselves as conservative.
Childers: 'I am working man's candidate'
Candidate Travis Childers and a couple of staffers disembark the "Elvis mobile," his personal seven-year-old Cadillac where the XM dial stays on the Elvis channel. They head into the Hinds County courthouse and promptly get lost. Childers is nonplussed. He meets and chats up everyone he sees and hands a campaign push card to anyone who'll take one. They eventually find their contact for a courthouse tour. Then he's off to Morton and Forest, for more low-key and mostly unstructured hand-shake campaigning. There's no media horde. No cheering throngs. No fancy campaign bus or handlers. Childers, the Democratic candidate, is on a budget. He's shoe-leathering it through the aftermath of the nasty, bizarre Republican battle between incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran and tea party-backed Chris McDaniel.
Candidates differ on future of health care law
Some of the biggest applause lines for incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran on the campaign trail this year have come when he has advocated the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. But if the law is appealed, the incumbent Republican has not said what would happen to about 63,000 Mississippians who have obtained private health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, about 60,000 of whom receive federal subsides through the law to help them purchase the coverage. Cochran's Democratic opponent in the Nov. 4 general election, Travis Childers of Booneville, like Cochran, voted against the enactment of the Affordable Care Act when he was serving in Congress in 2009. "I thought we could have done a better job," he said of his vote. "Some of the things in it are good. I am going to acknowledge them."
Prison is 'college of criminality' in Mississippi
One in four white males born in Mississippi will go to college. One in three of their black male counterparts will go, instead, to prison. Both will get an education. For $18,385 a year -- which includes tuition, fees, books, room and board -- time at the University of Southern Mississippi will teach a student how to function as an adult in a society that values critical thinking. Students will network with accomplished professors and like-minded peers. They'll have internships and job prospects. If they graduate, they can expect to earn an average salary of $55,000. For about the same price as one year at USM -- $18,765 -- time at the Mississippi State Penitentiary will teach inmates how to function in a lawless society that values power through violence. "It's basically a college of criminality," an inmate at the privately run Wilkinson County Correctional Facility told The Clarion-Ledger.
Hunting rights issue before Mississippi voters
Van Allen has been processing deer meat and selling gear to hunters and anglers for 20 years in Mississippi and other parts of the South. Like many outdoors enthusiasts, he thinks hunting and fishing are birthrights that ought to be constitutionally protected. "As far as I am concerned anything that protects first our right to bear arms and second our right to hunt is a pretty good thing," Allen said. Mississippians will get the chance to decide whether hunting and fishing should be enshrined as constitutional rights on Nov. 4. The issue was placed on the ballot at the urging of hunting groups and lawmakers concerned about animal rights groups' campaigns in other parts of the country against hunting game.
In U.S., Fear of Ebola Closes Schools and Shapes Politics
In the month since a Liberian man infected with Ebola traveled to Dallas, where he later died, the nation has marinated in a murky soup of understandable concern, wild misinformation, political opportunism and garden-variety panic. A crowd of parents last week pulled their children out of a Mississippi middle school after learning that its principal had traveled to Zambia, an African nation untouched by the disease. On the eve of midterm elections with control of the United States Senate at stake, politicians from both parties are calling for the end of commercial air traffic between the United States and some African countries, even though most public health experts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a shutdown would compound rather than alleviate the risks.
Latinos, angry with Obama, may sit out midterm vote, hurting Democrats
Leaving church on a recent Sunday, Jose Trujillo paused to consider the upcoming midterm election and two of the hottest Senate and gubernatorial races in the country, blazing away right here in Georgia. Trujillo hasn't paid much attention to either contest, but it's not his flooring business that's kept him too busy to care, or his infant daughter who's taken away his interest. Rather, he cited President Obama and his failure to overhaul the nation's vexing immigration laws. "Obama promised too much and never delivered," Trujillo, 44, said. As Democrats struggle to hold the Senate, limit their losses in the House and maybe gain a few governor seats Nov. 4, they are counting on strong support from Latino voters. But Latino voting tends to drop in midterm elections and, as Trujillo's sentiment suggests, that may prove all the more so next month, given deep frustration with the president.
Syngenta Faces More Suits Over Viptera Corn Seeds
Syngenta AG faces escalating legal battles over its sale of genetically engineered corn seeds that some farmers and agricultural companies say have roiled international grain markets this year. U.S. farmers in 11 states have sued Syngenta in federal courts during the past few weeks, alleging losses they say arose from the Swiss seed-and-chemical company's move to sell biotech seeds before the corn was approved by Chinese authorities for import there. China's rejections of U.S. corn shipments found to contain the Syngenta strain starting last November allegedly depressed overall market prices for the grain, driving more than $1 billion in losses for U.S. farmers. On Friday, farmers filed complaints against Syngenta in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana after earlier lawsuits spanning other farm states. The lawsuits come as the agricultural sector faces growing questions over its management of genetically modified seeds.
MUW to host provocative exhibition of contemporary art
The Mississippi University for Women Eugenia Summer Art Gallery is exhibiting a five-person group show, part of its "Intersections of Gender and Place" project. The exhibition runs through Nov. 6. The opening reception is Friday from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Art and Design Building on campus. A panel discussion with the artists is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. in the gallery. Both events are open to the public. "Intersections of Gender and Place" is both the title of the exhibition as well as the name of the larger project, which includes group exhibitions and will ultimately produce a 30-person invitational exhibition, a catalogue and a traveling exhibition. The project artists make work that is in part an exploration of gender, or of place, or of the interaction of gender and location.
National spotlight sparks prospective student interest
With the recent success of the Ole Miss football team and accompanying publicity, the University of Mississippi is becoming a place of interest for prospective students. Amanda Barr, program coordinator for the office of admissions, said before the Alabama football game there was a total of 148 students who came to visit the university, 118 of whom toured Friday before the game. In the two weeks following the Alabama game, 584 students visited the university. The numbers of visiting students have increased from the same time last year, and Barr expects the numbers to continue to increase. Danny Blanton, director of public relations for the university, said the publicity from ESPN's College GameDay coming for the first time to campus gave a national audience a chance to see the beauty of the Grove and the university.
Bynum inaugurated as president at Mississippi Valley State
William Bynum has been inaugurated as the seventh president of Mississippi Valley State University. The ceremony, held Friday on the university's campus, came more than a year after Bynum was named to head the 2,300-student university on Oct. 8, 2013. The Greenwood Commonwealth reports that speakers included Higher Education Chancellor Hank Bounds and Democratic U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson. Aubrey Patterson of Tupelo, the president of the state College Board, placed the gold medallion of office around Bynum's neck.
Southern college towns not tired for retirees
When Harold and Debbie Bruner moved from Fort Meyers, Florida, to Auburn this past June, two things happened. They became retirees, and they went from living in a quiet, elderly community to a dynamic, upbeat town that introduced new activities into their lives. "The thing I can comment on is, it's nice to be around young people," said Debbie Bruner, 66. Harold Bruner, 65, agreed with his wife and added that there are several enticing qualities about university towns like Auburn that influenced the couple to move there. "It's culture," he said. "It's sports. It's the continuing education opportunities." The Bruners' move to Auburn is one example that the cultural and educational prospects, low cost of living, and general vibrancy associated with college towns is attractive to more than just students.
Capilouto and U. of Kentucky trustees focus on research during board retreat
President Eli Capilouto spent his first three years at the University of Kentucky focused on undergraduates, increasing both the number of students and the number of new residential halls across campus. Now he's ready to look at graduate education and research, particularly as it pertains to helping Kentucky's health and economic woes. At a retreat Friday for the university's board of trustees, some of UK's top researchers explained how their research works and how much more funding and infrastructure is needed to improve their work. Research projects that get the most funding and the best results are multidisciplinary. Trustees spent the afternoon trying to hone their priorities about how to improve research, possibly starting with one important and large multidisciplinary research building.
Grant will allow Kentucky researchers to help students with autism build a life after high school
Jay Tyner-Wilson, a 21-year-old with autism, aged out of Fayette County Public Schools in May but has not yet landed his first paying job. His mother, Melanie Tyner-Wilson, is concerned because she says many people with similar disabilities end up living in poverty. The mother and son have been part of a focus group in a new three-year study at the University of Kentucky College of Education addressing the transition from school to work for people with autism spectrum disorder, marked by social communication impairment and repetitive patterns of behavior. UK researchers are looking at what those students -- and their families -- can do to build a life after high school.
Ebola concerns prompt UGA to postpone Liberian journalist's lecture
Ebola concerns have prompted the University of Georgia to postpone a guest lecture by a Liberian journalist. Officials said in a release that Washington Post reporter Todd Frankel will replace Wade C.L. Williams as a guest speaker during a lecture on the crisis at the university on Thursday. Williams is editor of the news site FrontPage Africa and is a New Narratives fellow, which is a project to support African journalists. Frankel spent 10 days in Sierra Leone and returned to the U.S. on Sept. 1, UGA officials said in a statement. Williams' visit was postponed because she's within a 21-day incubation period for the virus "and we didn't feel like that was safe for our students," UGA spokeswoman Sarah Freeman said.
Senior golfers rally to keep LSU course open
Pacing back and forth, Mike Johnson shouted out four names at a time as the sun rose above him. More than 100 people wearing variations of khaki pants and polo shirts circled around him, knowing this ritual at 7:30 a.m. on a Thursday could soon end. Two by two, the men paired up and jumped into golf carts. They drove tracks through the dew-kissed grass of the LSU Golf Course on one of the first chilly mornings in Baton Rouge this fall. "A lot of older people, this is their life," said Randy Ellis, 68, who has been playing at the LSU Golf Course since he attended the university. "And you can't take that away from them." But there is a possibility, in fact, that LSU could take away the tradition for the course's more than 100-member Senior Group. The course is being examined by an LSU review committee right now, as a group of faculty and staff members consider whether the self-supporting entity is the best use of university land.
U. of Florida's next president: A look at Kent Fuchs
Higher education is like a flower, Kent Fuchs told the search committee when he was interviewing for the presidency of the University of Florida, paraphrasing from a film produced by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. It has a stem -- the science, technology, engineering and math disciplines that have been the focus of higher education debates for the past five years, said Fuchs, 59, who was recently made a fellow of the academy. It also has a blossom, Fuchs said. And that blossom is the humanities, which the stem exists to support. "A great comprehensive university such as the University of Florida needs exceptionally strong arts, humanities and the social sciences, as well as my area, the stem of the flower," Fuchs said.
UF researchers using stem cells to try to aid dogs with arthritis
University of Florida researchers are using stem cells in a new study that aims to alleviate arthritis symptoms in dogs --- and eventually cure the condition altogether. "We use the umbilical cords of full-grown puppies that have been delivered by c-section," said Kathy Petrucci, founder and CEO of Animal Cell Therapies, the company partnering with UF in this endeavor. "We don't breed dogs for (the stem cells). We only use already available cords." UF veterinarians insert umbilical cord stem cells into an affected dog's elbow joints, then monitor for mobility and pain improvement over the next six months at checks one month, three months and six months out.
Man says he was sexually assaulted at U. of Florida
A man was sexually assaulted by another man on the University of Florida campus Saturday night, according to the UF Police Department. UPD issued what it called a "timely warning" about the attack on Sunday, noting that the victim did not wish to pursue a continuing law enforcement investigation. The victim claimed that he was attacked at about 7:50 p.m. on Saturday while walking along McCarty Drive between Newins-Ziegler Hall and the McCarty Hall parking lot, police said. While the victim was walking, a man walked up behind him, grabbed him by the arm and led him into nearby woods, police said. The man then sexually battered the victim and left the area on foot, UPD said.
U. of Arkansas Confronts Old Infrastructure to Make Campus Wireless
The unobtrusive white box in the center of the break room's ceiling is all but unnoticeable unless you're specifically looking for it. It's doubtful that University of Arkansas students even look up when they pop into the second-floor room to grab a soft drink or a bag of chips from one of the vending machines. A green light signifies it's working but not in use, while a red light means it's being used. During the past two years, Arkansas has installed nearly 1,000 wireless access points in residence halls and academic buildings, and officials said that is just the halfway point of getting the university tuned in -- wirelessly -- to the Internet. "We're running to catch up now," said Dennis Brewer, the university's associate vice chancellor for information technology.
Top College Officials in Arkansas See Sizable Pay Raises
Don Bobbitt, president of the University of Arkansas System, had a total compensation package of $506,000 for the fiscal year that ended June 30. That's an eye-popping 42.6 percent higher than predecessor B. Alan Sugg's just four years ago. And he's not the only university executive at Arkansas' public four-year schools who saw his compensation package rise. Bobbitt said in an email to Arkansas Business that the UA system hopes to "measure up to our peers both regionally and nationally. A big part of that is keeping our compensation packages competitive so we can attract top-tier talent to the state to help us fulfill and advance our mission to Arkansas."
Texas A&M student who reportedly ingested sodium cyanide has died
The 20-year-old Texas A&M student who reportedly ingested sodium cyanide Wednesday afternoon has died, hospital officials said. Emergency responders in hazardous materials suits responded to Rudder Plaza on the Texas A&M campus about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday and took Christian Amadeus Taylor of Killeen to St. Joseph hospital in Bryan. Taylor was admitted into the hospital emergency room after going through a decontamination process Wednesday afternoon. St. Joseph officials said Taylor died at 12:40 p.m. Friday. Authorities believe Taylor may have ingested sodium cyanide Wednesday afternoon." Taylor was a senior biochemistry major at A&M.
EPA funds U. of Missouri study on food waste
In a perfect world, there would be no edible food wasted. But in reality, food waste is a constant problem. Edible food waste means misspent resources -- from the fertilizer used to grow it to the transportation costs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated 31 percent of retail and consumer-level food in 2010 was wasted. That's 133 billion pounds of uneaten food. Four MU Bioengineering seniors are now being funded by the Environmental Protection Agency to research treatment of organic waste. The students are Jeremy Davis, Austin Davis, Sami Tellatin and Amanda Prescott. The team will receive nearly $15,000 for the study, according to a release. The focus will be on the anaerobic digestion of food waste mixed with pig manure. Anaerobic digestion is a process microorganisms use to break down organic materials.
College Brings Opportunity, but Paying for It Offers Challenges, Fed Chair Says
Higher education is one of the "cornerstones" of economic opportunity, Janet L. Yellen, chair of the Federal Reserve Board, said on Friday in an unusual and closely watched speech about growing inequality. But her remarks, given at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, did not cast higher education's role in an entirely favorable light. The earnings premium of a college degree has grown, Ms. Yellen said in her prepared remarks, and the "net returns for a degree are high enough that college still offers a considerable economic opportunity to most people." But college prices have risen much faster than family incomes, she added. College affordability and growing student debt present challenges, especially for the less-well-off.
In Rules on Campus Sexual Violence, Education Department Emphasizes Training
New federal rules issued on Monday aim to make campuses safer by requiring colleges to train students and employees on preventing sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. The rules also include new categories for identifying hate crimes (gender identity and national origin) and specify that students can choose advisers, including lawyers, to accompany them in campus disciplinary proceedings. "These regulatory changes provide new tools to improve campus safety," Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, told reporters on Friday. One advocate called the new rules momentous.
Advanced Course in Diversity: 'Dear White People,' About Racial Hypocrisy at a College
Film critic A.O. Scott writes: "'Dear White People' is the name of Justin Simien's first feature film, and I'll say right away that it is as smart and fearless a debut as I have seen from an American filmmaker in quite some time: knowing but not snarky, self-aware but not solipsistic, open to influence and confident in its own originality. It's a clever campus comedy that juggles a handful of hot potatoes -- race, sex, privilege, power -- with elegant agility and only an occasional fumble. You want to see this movie, and you will want to talk about it afterward, even if the conversation feels a little awkward. If it doesn't, you're doing it wrong. There is great enjoyment to be found here, and very little comfort."
GEOFF PENDER (OPINION): Rough road ahead for motorists, politics
The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender writes: "Mississippians are in for a bumpy ride, literally and politically, with state roadways for at least the next few years. It's going to be up to the state's business leaders to pave the way for a solution. Many of our roads and bridges are in poor shape and expected to get worse from lack of maintenance. On present course, experts predict more than half the state's roads will be un-travelable by 2030. ...Mississippi's business leaders could potentially provide enough political cover for its politicians to approve a tax for road work. But I believe it more likely voters would have to sign off on it through a referendum. That would require a monumental political effort, starting with business leaders, to convince politicians and, more importantly, the commonwealth."
SID SALTER (OPINION): Cruising toward the end of a long strange trip
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "Let's step back a bit from normal prognostication in what has now supplanted the 1983 Mississippi gubernatorial campaign as the strangest political campaign in the state's long and bewildering political history. The 1983 campaign merely generated still legally unproven and still legally unchallenged allegations of sexual misconduct. It set off media fistfights, a small parade of transvestite prostitutes, lie detector tests and resulting gubernatorial campaign that saw the winner basically cloistered in the Governor's Mansion for four years. ...The 2014 Mississippi Republican U.S. Senate primary has far surpassed that 1983 campaign in terms of weird developments, outlandish strategies, and sheer length. If the 1983 campaign was a bizarre sprint, the 2014 Senate race in Mississippi has been an interminable marathon."

No. 1 Mississippi State begins preparations for Kentucky
It has been a season of firsts for the Mississippi State football team. In Week 6, MSU used a 48-31 victory against Texas A&M to jump into The Associated Press top five for the first time in school history. A week later, it defeated No. 2 Auburn to complete a stretch of three-consecutive wins against top-10 opponents, another first in the program's 120-year existence. Less than 24 hours after that win, MSU climbed atop The AP Top 25 and the Amway Coaches Poll (USA Today) for the first time. Now, after a bye week, MSU is six days from another program milestone. At 2:30 p.m. Saturday (WCBI), MSU will take the field for the first time as the nation's No. 1 team when it plays Southeastern Conference Eastern Division opponent Kentucky.
Mississippi State remains No. 1 despite open date
Even a bye week can't stop Mississippi State's momentum. MSU stayed atop the AP Poll for the second consecutive week. The Bulldogs received more points in the Amway Coaches Poll on Sunday, than it did a week ago. MSU remained No. 1 despite having a bye this week. It's the second straight week MSU sits at No. 1. This is the first season the Bulldogs have ever sat atop the polls in program history.
SEC is 1st league to go 4 for 5 at top of AP poll
The first season of the College Football Playoff is a little more than halfway in the books and there are just four unbeaten teams left in FBS. Two play each other (No. 1 Mississippi State and No. 3 Ole Miss on Nov. 29). One is No. 2 Florida State, which has spent a good chunk of this season dancing around trap doors. The other is No. 23 Marshall, which plays one of the weakest schedules in the country and realistically has little chance of being part of the football final four. For now the Southeastern Conference is dominating the top of The Associated Press college football poll. The SEC on Sunday became the first conference to hold four of the top five spots in the rankings -- all from the western division. Top-ranked Mississippi State held its spot in an off week.
Daktoberfest: 'Work ethic, desire to be great' drives Bulldogs' quarterback
It's hard to put a finger on exactly what makes Dak Prescott so successful. Mississippi State's quarterback wasn't highly recruited, isn't the most accurate passer and was not blessed with blazing speed. But Prescott possesses intangibles that extend beyond the football field which have helped him skyrocket into national stardom. "The thing I really like about Dak is that there's something more about him when you get a chance to be around him and watch him," former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow said in a recent visit to campus "It's not just that he's the quarterback at Mississippi State. He believes in this program, believes in his guys and wants to lead them."
Bulldogs put together impressive start to season
As the 2014 college football season turned the corner and began to head for the home stretch Saturday, it did so with the Mississippi State Bulldogs watching from home due to the team's second open date in three weeks. For the first time in school history, the Bulldogs watched as the No. 1 team in the country. Time will ultimately tell if MSU's 2014 season goes down as the best in school history, but right now, one point can not be debated: The Bulldogs just turned in their best start in the history of the program. But MSU coach Dan Mullen knows the Bulldogs have unfinished business.
Bulldogs embrace red zone defense
Although Mississippi State ranks No. 1 in both national polls, its defense is currently 13th in the Southeastern Conference. But that stat can be deceiving, especially considering the Bulldogs boast the top red zone defense in the league allowing opponents to score just 57.9 percent of the time inside the 20-yard line. "That was a big point of emphasis in the offseason because I don't think red zone defense was one of our strengths last year," said MSU defensive coordinator Geoff Collins. "We really spent a lot of time in the offseason investing in the things we wanted to do down there with our mindset and our calls."
Beniquez Brown the brain of Mississippi State's defense
Mississippi State didn't practice Friday, Saturday or Sunday. The MSU coaches gave their players a football-free weekend. But for Beniquez Brown, it wasn't that easy to take his mind off the game. The sophomore linebacker spent the last two seasons training his brain to look at football differently. So even during No. 1 MSU's bye week, he caught himself breaking down other college games as if he was doing film study with his team. While MSU linebacker Benardrick McKinney is the heart of the defense, Brown is the brain. Defensive coordinator Geoff Collins compares Brown to former Bulldog and current Dallas Cowboy Cam Lawrence. Like Lawrence, Brown's assignment is to call the opponent's offensive play.
Mississippi State AD says Dan Mullen will have 'opportunity to be here as long as he wants to be'
Dan Mullen is a hot commodity these days. Mullen, in his sixth year in Starkville, has built Mississippi State into the nation's top-rated team. For his efforts, he is now mentioned as a possible candidate for every conceivable coaching vacancy out there. Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin knows that coaching rumors are part of the business and even the biggest schools in the country have to deal with them. But the athletic director is also committed to keeping Mullen in Starkville. "Dan has built us a great program. We have great facilities, we have the right people, we've got resources and we want to make sure Mississippi State is successful going forward. Dan is going to have an opportunity to be here as long as he wants to be," Stricklin said.
A ride down Paradise Road with Mississippi State and Ole Miss
Ole Miss and State are undefeated, and Mississippi is struggling to explain what it all means, Wright Thompson writes: "This week, the editors told me to drop everything else and write about my home state, so I've been talking to Rebels and Bulldogs. I tried to say no to this assignment, honestly unsure how to write in a very public forum about things I cannot fully articulate in private. What follows, then, is an act of faith."
Sylvester Croom looks back with pride as Mississippi State ascends
Sylvester Croom was exhausted. The running backs coach for the Tennessee Titans had spent the majority of the October day on at the team's football facility, studying film and preparing his players to take on the Cleveland Browns the following afternoon. Now, after driving through the dark streets of Nashville to his apartment, he collapsed onto his living room couch and turned on the television. He wanted to check on his old team. Flipping the channels, he finally found what he was looking for: highlights of Mississippi State vs. Texas A&M, played earlier that day. What he saw caused him to go bug-eyed and gave him a full-body shiver of excitement: The Bulldogs, the team he coached from 2004 to '08, beat the Aggies 48-31 in a game that -- at the time -- was the most significant in school history. Watching his old school lay the wood to A&M left the 60-year-old overwhelmed with one feeling: pride.
LSU notebook: 'College GameDay' is Baton-Rouge bound for Ole Miss game
ESPN's "College GameDay" is coming back to Baton Rouge. The network's Saturday morning pregame show will broadcast live from LSU's campus before the Tigers meet No. 3 Ole Miss at 6:15 p.m. on ESPN. The show will set up on the LSU Parade Grounds. GameDay is making its 10th trip to Baton Rouge in its history. That's the most of any Southeastern Conference team outside of Florida (12). This will be the show's first trip to Baton Rouge since coming before LSU's 2012 game against then-No. 1 Alabama. The Tigers have lost the last three times "GameDay" has been in Baton Rouge
Archie Manning will take a leave of absence from College Football Playoff selection committee
Archie Manning will take a leave of absence from the 13-member College Football Playoff selection committee, CFP executive director Bill Hancock announced. Manning made the decision because of health issues relating to knee surgery he had earlier this year. Hancock said the committee will not replace Manning for 2014 season, leaving the door open for him to return in 2015. The committee will function with 12 members for this season. Manning, who had knee surgery during the spring, is having complications from that and will need additional surgery next month, forcing him to leave the committee.
Birmingham's Greg Sankey may be man who leads the SEC, NCAA into future
The guy many consider to be the heir apparent to take the wheel of the most well-oiled machine in college sports is a 21st century Renaissance Man who is a voracious reader, prolific marathon runner, and, who, for his birthday, helped build a clean-water well for impoverished people in India. He is also an Ordinary Joe who fights U.S. 280 traffic, listens to U2, and whose idea of a big Friday night is a pizza at Post Office Pies and a frozen pop at Steel City Pops -- or even better, staying home and playing board games with his wife and two daughters. Birmingham-area resident Greg Sankey is all of the above, as well as the current frontrunner to become the next commissioner of the Southeastern Conference. "Greg who?," you may be asking.
A Paycheck for College Athletes? Join the Fishing Team
As the N.C.A.A. works to reform its rules amid severe criticism that they are outdated and exploit the players who play the games, it has taken steps small and large to loosen its grip on the administering of athletics. In August it voted overwhelmingly to give its five most powerful conferences greater autonomy to make their own rules, a move that could pave the way for amateur athletes to receive a portion of the enormous revenue that college programs take in. But for those wanting a glimpse of what the future of college athletics might hold, one possible template has emerged -- not on fields or courts, but on rivers and streams. The college fishing circuit --- outside the N.C.A.A. umbrella and administered by various fishing-tournament organizations --- has grown to include over 600 registered clubs, from about 90 in 2009, and these clubs have gotten serious.

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