Friday, February 27, 2015  SUBSCRIBE   
Starkville-MSU Symphony to present final works of Mozart
The Starkville-Mississippi State University Symphony Association will host a concert feature works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with the help of several other musical entities on Saturday. The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Lee Hall's Bettersworth Auditorium on the MSU campus and is free and open to the public. The MSU Combined Choirs, Mississippi University for Women Choir and Symphony Chorus and will join the Symphony Orchestra to perform Mozart's "Symphony No. 41" (The Jupiter) and "Requiem." (Subscriber-only content.)
Author Q&A: Michael Kardos
Starkville's award-winning author Michael Kardos didn't set out to write a crime thriller when he penned his debut novel "The Three-Day Affair" in 2012 --- but when the story took on a life of its own and "became" a crime thriller, Kardos decided he liked the style of the niche genre so much that he would do it again. The result is his newly released second novel, "Before He Finds Her," another exhilarating tale of crime and high tension that has quickly received critical acclaim. Kardos, co-director of the creative writing program at Mississippi State University, has also authored "One Last Good Time," a collection of short stories which won the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for fiction, and the textbook "The Art and Craft of Fiction: A Writer's Guide."
MSU Extension Service gives inheritance seminar in Lincoln County
The Mississippi State University Extension Service in Lincoln County is hosting a three-week seminar to help inform people about non-titled inheritance. LaToya Evans, Extension agent and coordinator of the event, said most people take care of the big items, such as land or a house. However, many people don't address furniture or dishes. "I don't think a lot of people think about those items in the home or how sensitive it can be," she said.
Carrie Duncan, an MSU alum, will succeed Mike Reader as Chief Meteorologist for WLOX
WLOX television has announced that Carrie Duncan will succeed the retiring Mike Reader as the station's Chief Meteorologist. Duncan is a native of Starkville and graduated from Mississippi State University with a degree in Geosciences, with an emphasis in Broadcast Meteorology. She has been with WLOX for the past 13 years. "Carrie understands South Mississippi. She's made this area her home," said WLOX News Director Brad Kessie.
In Golden Triangle, 8 inches of snow was tops, while no area saw less than 4
For Golden Triangle residents Wednesday evening, it was a rare sight: snow. And not just a few flakes here and there, either. The white stuff accumulated. Many area businesses closed their doors, school districts canceled classes and people of all ages bundled up and had some fun, tossing snowballs and building snowmen. According to the National Weather Service in Jackson, the heaviest snow accumulation came in Caledonia with eight inches. Columbus Air Force Base recorded six inches. Five inches were recorded in West Point, with Columbus and Starkville each recording four inches. Area grocery stores began seeing high customer volume on Tuesday in advance of the winter weather. Vowell's Marketplace manager Max Stillman in Starkville said the first customer influx hit on Tuesday afternoon and a second wave hit after the sleet started Wednesday afternoon.
Workforce development main topic at MEC Regional Roundup at MSU Riley Center
Workforce development was the big topic for the Mississippi Economic Council's Meridian Regional Roundup Thursday at the MSU Riley Center in Meridian. MEC President and CEO Blake Wilson made the one-hour presentation to civic and business leaders who wanted to know how Meridian and Lauderdale County can recruit new industry to the area. Gov. Phil Bryant did not attend but addressed the audience via video message tailored to Meridian. Bryant's message focused on pending legislation to enhance workforce development efforts started by the state's community colleges.
Salter guest speaker at Decatur Chamber of Commerce banquet
The Greater Decatur Chamber of Commerce will conduct its annual banquet Saturday at Mabry Memorial Cafeteria on the campus of East Central Community College. The event will begin with a silent auction at 6 p.m. and dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m. Live entertainment will be provided throughout the evening by Chas Evans, director of Collegians and guitar instructor at ECCC. Keynote speaker for the banquet will be syndicated columnist Sid Salter. In addition to being a columnist Salter is also an award-winning journalist, author, radio host, television commentator, educator and university administrator. Salter said he has strong ties to Newton County and is looking forward to being in Decatur to speak at this year's banquet.
Lower gas prices bring relief in Mississippi
Magnolia Wilson used to spend at least $150 a month filling up her 2002 Mercury Sable -- about 12 percent of her monthly take-home pay of $1,240. But the drop in oil prices over the last few months has put real money in her pocket. In many places in Mississippi, the cost of gas is less than $2 a gallon, compared with over $3 just six months ago. Few places in the U.S. are benefiting from lower gas prices as much as Mississippi. Residents spend about 6 percent of their after-tax income on gasoline, more than any other state. Nationally, the average is less than 4 percent. One reason gas makes such a big difference in Mississippi is that the state ranks as one of the most rural in the nation. People drive a lot of miles.
Mississippi exports hit $11.4B in 2014
Merchandise exports from Mississippi hit $11.4 billion in 2014, new data from the U.S. Department of Commerce shows. The United States as a whole achieved a record high of $2.35 trillion for goods and services exports, according to the data released Thursday. According to data released by the Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration, Mississippi's goods exports in 2014 were led by petroleum and coal products at $3.9 billion, chemicals at $1.2 billion and transportation equipment at $968 million.
Judge grants request to silence Kemper manager
A state court judge in Alabama has granted Southern Co.'s request to keep a project manager at the Kemper County coal plant from disclosing certain information about the facility. Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Elisabeth French granted the temporary restraining order Feb. 19. Court filings do not indicate exactly what kind of information Southern Co. --- the parent of south Mississippi's Mississippi Power Co. --- is trying to prevent Brett J. Wingo from disclosing. Lawyers for the utility wrote in the petition that it would cause "substantial and irreparable injury" should it become public. This is the second dose of turmoil for the $6 billion Kemper plant in two weeks.
Judge turns hate crimes case into vision of a 'new Mississippi'
A Mississippi judge on Wednesday sentenced three white men to prison on federal hate crime charges after a 2011 intimidation campaign in Jackson, Miss., that led to the death of a black man, James Craig Anderson. The campaign mimicked the actions of Mississippi white supremacists during Jim Crow and the run-up to the civil rights era, a fact that, ironically, made the sentencing proceedings a window into what the judge called a "new Mississippi." "The court believes, but for the death of James Craig Anderson, [the defendants] would have ... continued their mission to harm, their mission to hurt," Judge Carlton Reeves said Wednesday. But Judge Reeves, who is black and has spent most of his life in Mississippi, also offered a more hopeful view of his state.
Briefs requested in same-sex case; woman seeks divorce recognition
The Mississippi Supreme Court is continuing its deliberations in the matter of a DeSoto County woman who wants the state to recognize her California same-sex marriage for the purposes of having the state grant the couple a divorce. Justices Tuesday asked attorneys for Lauren Beth Czekala-Chatham and the state of Mississippi to file supplemental briefs in the case. The order was filed Thursday. Oral arguments in the matter were heard in Jackson on Jan. 21. Attorneys have 30 days to provide the briefs. The vote requesting the briefs was 6-3. Justices David Chandler, Leslie King and James Kitchens were the three who opposed the request for further briefs.
Mississippi justices dislike delay in gay-divorce ruling
Two Mississippi Supreme Court justices said Thursday that the court should find the state's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional and not wait for a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court. Their 26-page statement, written by Justice Leslie D. King and joined by Justice James Kitchens, was attached to an order by a six-member court majority. Justice David Chandler objected to more briefs, saying there is no need to delay a ruling that the divorce cannot be granted under Mississippi's constitution. King agreed there should be no delay, but he and Kitchens said the same-sex marriage ban should be struck down and the divorce should proceed.
Prison won't interrupt ex-prison chief's retirement cash flow
As part of his guilty pleas, former Mississippi prisons chief Chris Epps must pay a $750,000 fine and could be forced to pay a hefty restitution. But he has an income source to help with the costs: the Public Employees' Retirement System of Mississippi. Epps, a Delta native and former school teacher who started his state career as a prison guard, worked for the Department of Corrections for 34 years. Mississippi Auditor Stacy Pickering persuaded legislators to consider legislation, House Bill 31, that would bar public officials convicted of a felony from drawing retirement benefits. The legislation, introduced by Rep. Greg Haney of Gulfport, failed to gain traction in the House this session, however.
More candidates announce for US House race
The field of candidates running in the May 12 1st District U.S. House special election continues to change. District Attorney Trent Kelly of Saltillo on Thursday became the latest elected official to announce his intention to seek the seat. Oxford attorney Quentin Whitwell, who previously served on the City Council in Jackson, also announced he is running. In the meantime, state Rep. Chris Brown, R-Aberdeen, who was the first elected official to announce for the special election earlier this week, has decided not to pursue the post left vacant because of the death of incumbent Alan Nunnelee, R-Tupelo, on Feb. 6 after a battle with cancer. Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert is expected to announce soon for the congressional seat.
Mississippi Gov. Bryant gets Republican primary challenger
First-term Gov. Phil Bryant picked up a GOP primary challenger Thursday, the day before candidates' deadline to qualify for statewide, regional and legislative races. Mitch Young of Lamar County filed papers with the state Republican Party to challenge Bryant. Details about Young's background were not immediately available. Though Young has not filed a campaign-finance report, Bryant had $2.4 million in campaign cash at the end of 2014. Two Democrats, attorney Vicki Slater of Madison and Robert Gray of Jackson, have filed to run for governor.
Contentious education bills move to House floor
Two of the hot-button education measures of the 2015 legislative session are heading to the House floor for consideration. The issues, providing scholarships or vouchers for special-needs children to pursue private education options and making possible changes to the education standards adopted by the state Board of Education, were passed Thursday by the House Education Committee. The 90-day legislative session is at the point where both the House and Senate consider legislation passed by the other chamber.
Bill gives neighborhoods authority to collect taxes
A bill designed for the city of Jackson would allow neighborhood associations to create special taxing districts. House Bill 1623 would allow a municipality to collect up to six mills of taxes for a special local-improvement assessment district. "It would be just like the downtown Jackson business (partnership)," said Rep. Credell Calhoun, D-Jackson. "Only this would be for neighborhoods." The tax money could be used to improve property located within the district including parks, sidewalks, streets, curbing, medians, planting areas, walls, lighting equipment, fountains, trees, shrubs, flowers and other vegetation. Also, it could be used for security such as private patrol services, cameras, radios, monitors and related equipment.
Patrick, Younger face off again in Senate District 17 race
A rematch has formed in the race for Mississippi's District 17 senate seat and barbs are already flying along the campaign trail. Incumbent Republican Charles A. "Chuck" Younger will once again face Robert A. "Bobby" Patrick Jr., this time in a party primary. Younger defeated Patrick by less than 800 votes in a non-partisan special election runoff last November to complete the late Sen. Terry Brown's unexpired term. Patrick qualified with the state Republican party on Tuesday. District 17 includes most of Lowndes County and a portion of Monroe County.
Pritchett, who challenged gay marriage ban, runs for auditor
One of the plaintiffs who filed a federal lawsuit challenging Mississippi's ban on same-sex marriage is running for state auditor. Jocelyn Pritchett of Jackson sent an advisory Thursday saying she will announce her candidacy Friday at the state Capitol. Pritchett goes by her nickname, Joce. She is a civil engineer and owns Pritchett Engineering and Planning LLC in Flowood. Pritchett will face retired firefighter Charles Graham of Jackson in the Democratic primary.
Harrison County District 4 Supervisor William Martin commits suicide as indictment unsealed
Harrison County Supervisor and attorney William Martin for years prosecuted murderers and other criminals, but at 11 a.m. Thursday, he was scheduled to answer for his alleged crimes. His attorney was in the federal courtroom; prosecutors were there. But Martin failed to show. Martin's attorney, Jim Davis, hurried from court to find out what had happened to his client. The last time they talked, Martin was planning to plead not guilty to the charges. Authorities found Martin soon enough. He was at home, dead in his bedroom from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest, Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove told the gathered media.
FCC approves strong net neutrality rules
The Federal Communications Commission for the first time classified Internet providers as public utilities Thursday, a landmark vote that officials said will prevent cable and telecommunications companies from controlling what people see on the Web. The move, approved 3 to 2 along party lines, was part of a sweeping set of new "net neutrality" rules aimed at banning providers of high-speed Internet access such as Verizon and Time Warner Cable from blocking Web sites they don't like or auctioning off faster traffic speeds to the highest bidders. Cable and telecommunications companies, as well as GOP lawmakers, quickly condemned the move as an overreach of government intervention into their businesses, and lawsuits are expected to follow.
Cyberattacks pose growing threat to U.S., intelligence chief says
Despite the danger posed by Islamic State and other extremist groups, the nation's top intelligence official warned Thursday that sophisticated cyberattacks like the recent hack of Sony Pictures posed a greater threat to the United States. The threat comes not just from foreign spies and hackers trying to steal trade secrets, but from government-backed intrusions that siphon vast wealth and valuable data from U.S. computer systems. "Although we must be prepared for a catastrophic large-scale strike, a so-called cyber Armageddon, the reality is that we've been living with a constant and expanding barrage of cyberattacks for some time," James R. Clapper, director of national intelligence, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in a hearing on worldwide threats.
Job Market Perks Up for Recent College Graduates
The job market for fresh college graduates is improving -- as is the method for measuring the success of graduates. Just more than half of the nearly 67,000 members of the class of 2014 who responded to a survey had landed full-time jobs within six months of donning their caps and gowns. The figure isn't exactly comparable to last year's overall result, which didn't break out part- and full-time employment. However, individual schools say the numbers reflect an uptick. Preliminary results from the National Association of Colleges and Employers' First Destination Survey, being released at the group's legislative summit on Friday, show that 52.9 percent of bachelor's degree graduates were employed on a full-time basis this winter, and 7.3 percent worked part time.
Police identify Ole Miss student killed in sledding accident
An Ole Miss student died after a sledding accident on Wednesday night in Oxford, Mississippi. Oxford Police Department responded to reports that a young man slid into a street sign in the Highland Square neighborhood. Cell phone video captured the moments before Fenton Kottkamp was thrown from a kayak he was riding on during the accident. Marks show several tracks down the steep hill, and video shows several students watching and two riding in the kayak. However, police say Kottkamp was alone when he slammed into a street sign. Kottkamp is from Kentucky and leaves behind two brothers and his parents. Ole Miss students and the Oxford community are stunned that an otherwise scenic snow day came to a deadly end.
Annual science meeting at USM promotes new ideas
The 79th annual Mississippi Academy of Sciences meeting at the University of Southern Mississippi had nearly 700 educators, researchers and students in attendance Thursday. The meeting provided a broad forum for members to exchange ideas and information, encompassing everything from agriculture to zoology. "One person only has so many ideas but when you are able to hear the ideas of other people that expands your research and your knowledge as well, so you are going to be able to do better research and find cures for different diseases that you wouldn't be able to find those cures by yourself," said Jamie Allen of Mississippi INBRE.
Miss USM shares love of reading, books with children
Books have always been an important part of Hannah Roberts' life. As a child with asthma and other chronic respiratory illnesses, the pages of books transported her to magical places during many doctor's office visits. Academically, her exceptional reading and comprehension skills helped her excel in the classroom. Roberts, a biochemistry major at the University of Southern Mississippi, has maintained a perfect 4.0 grade-point average. And this August, the Mount Olive resident will start classes at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine in Jackson.
Meridian Community College helping promote healthy teeth
Each February, the National Children's Dental Health Month is spotlighted with the goal to raise awareness about the importance of oral health. Each year in February, too, Meridian Community College's Dental Hygiene Program students visit local schools to share the importance of good oral hygiene. On Thursday, a group of five Dental Hygiene students addressed youngsters at Charles L. Young Head Start Center in Meridian. Developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits helps children to get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.
U. of Alabama survey: Education is top issue in Alabama
Education, including workforce training, is the top issue facing the state, according to a newly released survey of state business executives conducted by University of Alabama researchers. UA's Center for Business and Economic Research said Thursday that those responding also identified competence in government, economic and business development, job growth, health care costs and infrastructure improvements as issues. The Alabama business leaders surveyed perceived company finances and development as the top issue facing their companies.
U. of Alabama symposium to feature Japanese delegation
A Japanese delegation will visit the University of Alabama on Tuesday for a free public symposium on Japanese society, business, technology and culture as part of a tour across the Southeast organized by the Prime Minister's Office of Japan. The symposium, "Walk in U.S., Talk on Japan," will be held from 12:30 to 4 p.m. at the Center for Materials for Information Technology, Room 1000, of the Bevill Building on the UA campus. The southeast tour is part of an effort to deepen Americans' understanding of Japan and to strengthen the relationship between the two countries.
Senate budget panel signs off on borrowing $132.5M for U. of Kentucky research center
The University of Kentucky's request for $132.5 million in state bonds for a medical research center won unanimous approval Thursday from the Senate budget committee. House Bill 298 proceeds to the full Senate, which is expected to be its final stop in the legislative process before being sent to Gov. Steve Beshear for his signature or veto. The measure would authorize bonds to pay for half of a $265 million research center that would be built on the UK campus near South Limestone and Virginia Avenue. UK would raise the other half of the money through donations and research funding. If the General Assembly gives final approval to bonds this winter, construction is expected to start within a year, UK President Eli Capilouto said Thursday.
U. of South Carolina is first client in $25M public-private building to open on campus next spring
Atlanta developer Holder Properties broke ground Thursday on a $25 million office and research center at USC where students will work beside professional researchers to improve data analytics and education. The five-story, 110,000-square-foot building going up at the corner of Blossom and Assembly streets will house the IBM Center for Applied Innovation at USC, and is slated to open in the spring of 2016. The IBM Center for Applied Innovation is a partnership between USC, IBM and Fluor, and is designed to handle a range of services, USC officials said Thursday.
Shakespeare's First Folio coming to U. of South Carolina in 2016 in rare tour
The University of South Carolina will host a traveling exhibit of Shakespeare's First Folio, a 1623 collection of 36 of his plays, including some of his most famous. The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington has selected USC as one the sites for its most ambitious exhibition ever: a traveling tour of First Folios that will stop in every state, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death (#SHX400), the 2016 tour has been designed in partnership with the Cincinnati Museum Center and the American Library Association.
Arkansas House Committee Endorses Guns on Campus Bill
Public colleges and universities in Arkansas would be required to allow staff and faculty with concealed carry licenses to carry their guns onto campus under a bill approved by a House committee. The House Education Committee voted Thursday for the reworked measure that was narrowly defeated earlier this month.
U. of Arkansas to Host Alley Scholars Business Plan Challenge
Undergraduate teams of minority students will compete in the Alley Scholars Shark Tank Business Plan Challenge on Saturday at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. The competition is part of the fourth-annual Alley Scholars Summit and will run from 1:30-2:30 p.m. at the Donald W. Reynolds Center for Enterprise Development on the UA campus. The summit is hosted by the UA's Sam M. Walton College of Business, the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering. Competing teams represent Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas.
UGA student remembered as gifted musician, caring person
The University of Georgia student found dead in his downtown Athens apartment Wednesday afternoon has been identified as 23-year-old Philip Hayes Carpenter. Authorities said the student's death was not suspicious and that a determination of its cause was pending the results of an autopsy, which had yet to be scheduled as of Thursday afternoon. Friends and loved ones have taken Carpenter's death extremely hard.
New U. of Missouri provost Garnett Stokes addresses Title IX issues
The University of Missouri's new provost, Garnett Stokes, is "delighted" to bring on a permanent Title IX administrator to build on MU's efforts to address gender discrimination and sexual violence reporting and education. Title IX was among the topics Stokes discussed at her first-ever session with reporters on Wednesday morning, more than three weeks after she started in her role. Stokes is no stranger to Title IX, coming to MU after being interim president at Florida State University for much of 2014. She was the campus leader during a series of controversial issues, including sexual assault allegations made against FSU quarterback Jameis Winston.
Unfavorable report of School of Medicine presented at U. of Missouri Faculty Council
A unfavorable report examining the organizational culture of the MU School of Medicine was presented to the MU Faculty Council on Thursday afternoon. A committee of four faculty members started their investigation of the school last September with a goal of determining the factors that may have had a negative effect on shared governance, research productivity and work environment within the school, according to the report. After receiving several reports of perceived imbalances in the priorities of the School of Medicine, the faculty council appointed the committee to examine the school's work environment for tenured and tenure-track faculty.
Barnes & Noble is spinning off its college store business
Barnes & Noble has unveiled plans to raise up to $775 million in a spinoff of the company's college bookstore assets in a move that will create a separate, publicly traded company. The plan will separate Barnes & Noble Education from the legacy Barnes & Noble retail and Nook digital businesses. As of November 1, Barnes & Noble operated 714 stores nationwide on college and university campuses, reaching 23% of the total U.S. college student enrollment population. Total sales for fiscal 2014 were $1.75 billion, while same-store sales for the business slipped 2.7 percent. Net earnings for the latest year totaled $35.1 million, up from $30.2 million the prior year.
Senate's Revamped Sexual-Assault Bill Puts More Pressure on Colleges
A bipartisan group of 12 U.S. senators introduced legislation on Thursday that is aimed at curbing sexual violence on campuses in ways that protect both victims and accused students. The changes reflect heightened attention over the past six months to the due-process rights of accused students. The Campus Safety and Accountability Act, sponsored by six Democrats and six Republicans, builds on legislation that was introduced over the summer but never came to a vote. The new version was strengthened with additional input from sexual-assault survivors, students, colleges, law enforcement, and advocacy groups, according to one of its main sponsors, Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat. A companion bill is expected to be introduced soon in the House of Representatives.
Senator McCaskill and others renew push on campus sex assault, make changes to bill
The bipartisan group of U.S. senators that has been pushing legislation to curb campus sexual assaults is making some changes to their proposal as they look to advance the measure in the new Congress. The sponsors of the legislation, who now include five Democrats and five Republicans, on Thursday unveiled a new version of their bill aimed at holding colleges more accountable for addressing sexual violence. Those lawmakers said at a press conference that the revised proposal was a response to feedback from victims of sexual assault, advocates for the rights of accused students, law enforcement and college and university administrators.
Sex, Lies and Espionage: Did a Professor Spy for the FBI?
When Dianne Mercurio first knocked on Dajin Peng's door, he was searching the Internet for the best way to kill himself. Mercurio, an FBI agent, had other ideas. Mercurio knew Peng was in trouble with the University of South Florida, where he taught international business and ran the Confucius Institute, a cultural program funded by a Chinese government affiliate. USF had placed him on leave for alleged mismanagement there. As they strolled outside his apartment, she asked Peng, a Chinese-born U.S. citizen, to serve his adopted country. The encounter, in April 2009, started Peng's recruitment. His story, winding from China to Princeton University to Tampa, shows how worried the U.S. government has been about growing Chinese involvement in American higher education. It also reveals the rise of another sometimes-unwanted influence on campus -- that of U.S. intelligence agencies keeping tabs on the rapidly growing ranks of foreign students and professors.
At Conservative Confab, Colleges and Activist Groups Seek to Connect With Students
The Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual right-wing bonanza just outside Washington, attracts all kinds of people. Serious contenders for the U.S. presidency walk the same carpeted hallways as a couple of bikers dressed head to toe in American flags and a pro-pot ex-cop wearing a Stetson. But among that spectrum of figures, a more common type roams the convention center, well dressed and often laden with swag: college students. Where there are college students, there are people trying to recruit them for something. In the conference's exhibit hall, those people included graduate-school representatives.
Monitoring student behavior on Snapchat 'next to impossible,' administrators say
Keeping an eye on students on Snapchat and other online platforms presents a "moving target" for colleges and universities, administrators say -- shut down one account, and another will appear in its place. To avoid wasting time on combing through the Internet for student code violators, some institutions are instead focusing their efforts on educating the campus about responsible social media use and giving students a say in how their institution should be portrayed online. "You try to be proactive as an institution," said Chris Stansbury, executive director of marketing and communications for student affairs at East Carolina University. "The challenge is there are so many different options out there."
Financial Aid for Undocumented Students Is Losing Its Stigma
For years, it was information shared only in whispers. Undocumented students, bright and educated, wanted to go to college, and a precious few universities were willing, very quietly, to help them pay for it. But as ferocious battles rage in Congress, statehouses and courtrooms over the legal status of undocumented immigrants, an evolution has been underway at some colleges and universities. They are taking it upon themselves to more freely, sometimes openly, make college more affordable for these students, for whom all federal and most state forms of financial aid remain off limits.
The Benefits of a Better Town-and-Gown Relationship
A pervasive trend in city government is the creation of the position of chief innovation officer. The establishment of these offices is a recognition by city leaders that institutionalizing a focus on cultivating new approaches to improving performance will likely produce more and better ones than if it were simply left to chance. Some innovation offices will perform better than others, but I'll bet that they prove to be more than a fad. In that vein, perhaps the next cool thing in city halls ought to be the "HERO" -- the higher education relations officer, who leverages universities' assets to benefit the cities they're in.

Bulldogs put perfect record on the line this weekend
Mississippi State opened the season with Cincinnati, who struggled to throw a strike. The Bearcats issued 23 walks and hit nine batters in its threes games against the Bulldogs at Dudy Noble Field. The second weekend's opponents didn't fare much better. Marshall walked 12 batters in a game. Alabama A&M surrender 18 runs on 13 hits in another. This weekend, the level of play increases with the arrival of Arizona. "I don't necessarily think we've played against competition that's subpar in anyway," MSU coach John Cohen said. "But when you talk about Arizona, they are another level. They've won national championships."
Mississippi State baseball teams faces huge challenge in Arizona, Samford
It has been nine up, nine down for Mississippi State's baseball team, as the Bulldogs have been perfect through the season's first two weeks. But this weekend, that flawless start will get tested, as the Bulldogs will welcome Arizona and Samford into Dudy Noble Field for a total of four games from Friday until Sunday. While some outside the program view MSU's hosting of Arizona as a step up in competition level from the first nine games of the year, MSU coach John Cohen agrees. And he disagrees. "Well first, I think these are two really good clubs," said Cohen of Arizona and Samford. "But right after Alabama A&M left us, they went to UAB and knocked off a good undefeated team. And all Cincinnati has going is maybe the best hitter in Division-I, a projected first round draft pick. I don't necessarily think we've played competition that is subpar in any way, but you talk about Arizona, they are on another level."
Schedule changes at Dudy Noble Field this weekend
Mississippi State adjusted the start times of games this weekend at Dudy Noble Field. Game one of Friday's doubleheader between Samford and Arizona will begin at noon, followed by MSU's first game of the weekend at 4 p.m. against Arizona. Saturday's doubleheader begins at 11 a.m. between MSU and Arizona on the SEC Network. Mississippi State and Samford play 35 minutes following the conclusion of game one.
No. 11 MSU women fall at No. 2 South Carolina
Tiffany Mitchell had another player-of-the-year performance to bring No. 2 South Carolina another Southeastern Conference title. The Gamecocks, behind Mitchell's 16 points, ran past No. 11 Mississippi State 69-50 on Thursday night to remain perfect in the SEC and clinch a share of the crown they won for the first time a year ago. Bulldogs coach Vic Schaefer was disappointed by his team's shortcoming, but admired South Carolina's physical style. "That's my kind of team," he said. "I told the referees, 'I wish you didn't have to call'" any fouls. South Carolina's A'ja Wilson, the 6-foot-5 forward contending with Mississippi State's Victoria Vivians for SEC freshman of the year, had 13 points and seven rebounds.
ADAM MINICHINO (OPINION): Madness begins in February for bracket expert Creme
The Dispatch's Adam Minichino writes: "Mississippi State figures to hear its name called March 16 when the 64-team field for the NCAA Division I women's basketball tournament is announced on ESPN. Where MSU and a number of other teams will wind up, though, is anyone's guess. That's why Charlie Creme will have plenty of pencils ready to chart the shifting landscape in space lovingly known as Bracketology on On Thursday, Creme kicked off a two-day set of interviews designed to educate members of the media on the thinking of the NCAA tournament selection committee."
Basketball Bulldogs look for strong finish to regular season
The end is in sight, and that may bring light at the end of the tunnel for Mississippi State's basketball team. With a brutal three-game home stretch that included games against Ole Miss, No. 16 Arkansas and No. 1 Kentucky now behind them, the Bulldogs now enter the final week of the regular season at 12-16 overall, a losing regular season assured for the third straight season. But with the final three games including a trio of teams with losing records, including two that MSU has already beaten, the chance at a strong finish for coach Rick Ray and the Bulldogs is still in play. For the Bulldogs, moving on begins Saturday, when MSU will travel to face South Carolina in a 5 p.m. showdown.
Ndoye growing into an asset for Bulldogs
At 6-foot-11, 215-pounds, Fallou Ndoye already had the size to play in the SEC when he signed with Mississippi State in the fall of 2012. However, the strides that Ndoye has made in his overall game the past two years have made the Senegal native a valuable asset for the Bulldogs. "He's made a lot of progression," said MSU coach Rick Ray. "I know you don't see it at times looking at his statistics, but he's done a good job of working on his own individual game and do some of the things we want him to do. He's a really, really good defender."
Mississippi State's final three games hold a reason to finish strong
Mississippi State worked to pull within one game of a .500 record in the Southeastern Conference. A three-game homestand against the league's top teams dropped the Bulldogs' SEC record to 5-10. Mississippi State lost by single-digits to Ole Miss and Arkansas before an 18-point defeat Wednesday to No. 1 Kentucky. The three-game losing streak is part of a larger slump where MSU has lost five of six. The Bulldogs sit at 11th in conference with three games remaining. If the season ended today, Mississippi State would play on the first day of the SEC Tournament for the third time in as many years under Rick Ray. MSU can change that in its final three games though.
Mississippi State softball set for Citrus Classic
Pardon Mississippi State softball coach Vann Stuedeman if she goes around looking for a night light or two this weekend. Her young Bulldogs squad is on a road trip for the first time. Playing this weekend in Orlando Florida, MSU is part of a 12-team field for the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic. Play begins today when MSU faces No. 13 Minnesota (13-1) at 12:15 p.m. and Maryland (10-5) at 2:30 p.m. at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. "This tournament has been very good to us," Stuedeman said. "We came home in 5-0 in 2013. The venue is magical. It's Disney where dreams come true. We are looking forward to great weather and softball."
Dan Mullen, Mississippi State agree to an extension
More than three months ago, Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin said a contract extension for football coach Dan Mullen was "close." On Thursday night, the two parties officially agreed to terms. Stricklin announced the contract extension through the 2018 season for Mullen at the Central Mississippi Alumni Chapter's "Evening in Maroon." The deal falls in line with the yearly salaries of fellow Southeastern Conference coaches such as LSU's Les Miles, Georgia's Mark Richt and Ole Miss' Hugh Freeze. The two parties began negotiations after the regular season. Preparation for the Orange Bowl, National Signing Day and then postseason vacations all interrupted talks. The two sides remained confident throughout the discussion that a deal would get done.
Mullen signs extension, gets pay bump
Dan Mullen was handsomely rewarded for his part in one of the most memorable seasons in Mississippi State football history. Director of athletics Scott Stricklin announced Thursday evening that Mullen had signed a contract extension through 2018, which contained a substantial raise. Mullen, who made around $3 million in 2014, will make $4 million this season and average $4.275 million over the next four years. Mullen's initial contract at MSU was for $1.2 million in 2009. Mullen became the first coach in the program's history to take the Bulldogs to a No. 1 ranking and spent five weeks atop the polls in 2014.
Mississippi State announces extension, raise for Mullen
What does being No. 1 mean for a football coach at Mississippi State? For Dan Mullen, it means more than $4 million dollars per year. That's exactly what happened for Mullen on Thursday, when MSU Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin announced that the school and the sixth-year head coach had come to an agreement on a contract extension, a deal that will pay Mullen $4 million in 2015 and average $4.275 million until 2018. Stricklin made the announcement Thursday night in Jackson at the Central Mississippi Alumni Chapter's "Evening in Maroon."
Mississippi State's Dan Mullen joins SEC's $4 million club with raise, contract extension
Mississippi State's Dan Mullen is the latest SEC football coach to join the $4 million salary club, as the school announced a raise and contract extension Thursday night. Mullen, who led the Bulldogs to a 10-3 record and the school's first-ever No. 1 national ranking this past season, will earn $4 million in 2015 and an average of $4.275 million through 2018. Mullen is 46-31 in six seasons at MSU. "It's a privilege to represent our university, our program and our fans here at Mississippi State," Mullen said. "I appreciate Scott Stricklin and our administration who have given us the tools and resources to be successful and develop Bulldog football into a national brand over the last six years."
Mississippi State, Dan Mullen announce contract extension
Mississippi State Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin announced a contract extension through the 2018 season for head football coach Dan Mullen on Thursday evening at the Central Mississippi Alumni Chapter's 'Evening in Maroon." No coach in college football history has led a squad from unranked to No. 1 quicker than Mullen as the Bulldogs ascended to the top spot in five weeks. Mullen, the 2014 Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year, spearheaded MSU to its first 10-win regular season and its first Orange Bowl appearance since 1941. In the process, the 2014 Bulldogs shattered 29 individual and team single-season records.
Mississippi State's Mullen gets $4M-plus per year for 4 seasons
Mississippi State has announced a contract extension for coach Dan Mullen that will pay him more than $4 million per season for the next four years. The school announced the extension on Thursday night. The four-year contract, which runs through 2018, is the longest allowed by state law. In the school's release, Mullen thanked the administration for providing "the tools and resources to be successful and develop Bulldog football into a national brand."
Mossy Oak, Bryan family join to create Nature's Golf
The George Bryan family, founders of Old Waverly Golf Club, has joined golf course architect Gil Hanse and outdoor brand Mossy Oak to create a golf experience aimed at preserving natural habitat. Mossy Oak Golf Club, set to open in 2017 in West Point, will feature a 7,400-yard, par-72 golf course, a clubhouse and guest cabins. In addition to the new golf club, Hanse has designed the practice facility to serve as the official home for the Mississippi State University men's and women's golf teams. The facility includes a five-green driving range, short-game training areas and a 16,000-square-foot putting green formed into the shape of the state of Mississippi.
Records: LSU slapped with recruiting sanctions after prospect backs out of commitment
A recruit's decision not to enroll at LSU after signing a financial aid agreement has the football program in some hot water. LSU is banned from signing early enrollee recruits to financial aid agreements for the next two years, and the program will be stripped of 10 percent of its recruiting evaluation days in 2015, according to public records obtained by The Advocate. The penalties, handed down by the Southeastern Conference and reported by the school Feb. 3, stem from a violation that occurred this fall involving an unnamed recruit. The recruit signed a financial aid agreement with LSU, intending to enroll early in January and giving the school unlimited contact with him. But he decided not to enroll at the school. That makes at least some of LSU's unlimited contact with the prospect illegal.
Vanderbilt's Kevin Stallings apologizes for profane comment to player
Vanderbilt basketball coach Kevin Stallings issued a public apology through his team's official twitter account late Thursday night for a profane comment he made toward Vanderbilt freshman guard Wade Baldwin in the aftermath of the Commodores' 73-65 win over Tennessee at Thompson-Boling Arena. "After the game, an incident occurred in which I need to apologize for," Stallings said. "One of our players acted inappropriately and violated what we believe is good sportsmanship following the game." Baldwin, who scored 13 points in the Vanderbilt victory, initiated his coach's wrath when he clapped in the face of UT junior forward Armani Moore after the final buzzer.
Vandy's Stallings apologizes for profane postgame incident
Vanderbilt men's basketball coach Kevin Stallings apologized in a statement late Thursday after television cameras caught him lashing out profanely at point guard Wade Baldwin moments after the Commodores completed a 73-65 win at Tennessee. While proceeding through the postgame handshake line, Stallings screamed "I'm going to (expletive) kill you" at Baldwin, who had clapped gleefully on the court as the final seconds ticked off the clock. Stallings said a Tennessee assistant coach informed him that Baldwin had clapped in the face of Vols forward Armani Moore.

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