Tuesday, May 21, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Researchers preparing to take advantage of SMART Act
One of the centerpieces of Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann’s legislative agenda passed in the last session, and university researchers are getting ready to take advantage of it. The Strengthening Mississippi Academic Research Through (SMART) Business Act provides a 25 percent rebate to Mississippi companies that contract with Mississippi public universities and colleges for qualified research. The legislation caps the rebate at $1 million per company, and $5 million overall per fiscal year. Gerald Nelson, director of Mississippi State University’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Technology, said his office started getting the word out about the bill late in the session, when it became evident that the bill was most likely going to pass.
 
7th term up in the air for Cochran as list of possible replacements grows
The nation's journalists keep bugging U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran about whether he'll run again in 2014, but Mississippi's senior senator says he hasn't made up his mind. Cochran, 75, wouldn't have any trouble being re-elected if he decides to run. But there's already plenty of conversation about who would try to replace him if he decides not to, which has revolved around 11 possible candidates. Marty Wiseman, executive director of the John C. Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University, said if Cochran were to step down after this term or next, Mississippi would lose most of its seniority -- something the state depends on more than its larger counterparts. Wiseman said he hears from Washington types quite often who wonder whether his boss, Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum, would be interested in running for Cochran's seat. Keenum is a former Cochran chief of staff and under-secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, among other jobs.
 
Mississippi State's James Newman wins SEC faculty recognition
James C. Newman Jr., a Mississippi State University aerospace engineering professor and researcher specializing in the structural safety of aircraft, is among selections for a 2013 Southeastern Conference Faculty Achievement Award. At the university, Newman holds the rank of Giles Distinguished Professor, the institution’s highest faculty rank, and the Richard H. Johnson Chair of Aerospace Engineering in the James Worth Bagley College of Engineering. A principal investigator whose research grants currently total more than $3.6 million, he is a specialist in fatigue and fracture mechanics of materials and aircraft structures.
 
CAVS Extension's Steve Puryear earns state's first 'Black Belt' engineering certification
Analyst Steve Puryear of Mississippi State University’s Canton-based Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems Extension recently was certified as a full Innovation Engineering Black Belt. In addition to being a first for the state, the achievement makes him one of only 50 in the nation to hold the highly sought designation.
 
MSU, Churches Team Up to Help Students
A new program at Mississippi State is connecting university students in need to available food resources in the Starkville area. The university’s Food Security Network is an alliance of several food pantries and community churches created to assist any local resident in need, according to graduate student Stedmond Ware of Greenwood, AmeriCorps VISTA member and volunteer coordinator for MSU’s Maroon Volunteer Center. Sponsored by the MVC and Office of Student Leadership and Community Engagement, the program works both to increase general awareness of the network among potential clients and increase the number of volunteers who can work at the pantries.
 
Restaurant Week's effect felt in 2 percent tax returns
Starkville's 2 percent food and beverage tax returns improved in March, a sign the city's first Restaurant Week helped stimulate the local economy, organizers said. March was Starkville's highest grossing month this year in terms of 2 percent returns. The city had averaged about $132,000 per month until it collected $142,697.36 in March. It was the second highest March return ever recorded by the city. Those improved returns have a lot to do with the inaugural Starkville Restaurant Week, Greater Starkville Development Partnership CEO Jennifer Gregory said. A portion of the 2 percent tax returns to the city, while the remainder is split between various organizations, including Mississippi State University student programs.
 
Oklahoma devastated by second round of twisters
A monstrous tornado killed at least 51 people Monday as it roared through Moore and south Oklahoma City -- leaving rescue workers frantically searching into the night for missing children at the devastated Plaza Towers Elementary School in the Moore School District. At least 20 children were included among those killed, and the death toll is expected to rise, the state medical examiner reported. More than 100 were injured. Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper Betsy Randolph described the devastation as “the worst thing I have ever seen.”
 
NAACP's Miss. redistricting quest a failure
The U.S. Supreme Court won’t order new legislative elections in Mississippi, despite a lawsuit that said current lawmakers were chosen in outdated districts that diluted black voting strength. The legislative map was supposed to be redrawn in early 2011, using 2010 census information. The goal was to put roughly the same number of people in each of the 122 House districts and each of the 52 Senate districts. However, the two chambers argued several weeks before ending their 2011 session without adopting new maps. Current lawmakers were elected in November 2011 in districts that were drawn after the 2000 census, and Republicans won control of both chambers for the four-year term.
 
Mississippi Power Co. withheld information, Bentz says
Mississippi Power Co. announced Monday that Ed Day, 52, retired as president and CEO, effective immediately, but the head of the Public Service Commission said his agency is responsible for Day's departure. Leonard Bentz, chairman of the PSC, said the issues started last May when Mississippi Power acknowledged the cost of the power plant it is building in Kemper County was $366 million over estimates. Tommy Anderson, vice president of generation development over the Kemper County project, abruptly left the company about two weeks ago, Bentz said. Now Day, who began his career with Southern Co. in 1983, has left abruptly.
 
Mississippi Power's leader replaced after withholding info from PSC
Mississippi Power Co. made an abrupt leadership switch Monday amid cost overruns at the Kemper County power plant it’s building, naming Ed Holland president to replace Ed Day. The subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Co. said Monday that Day was retiring and would be replaced immediately by Holland, Southern Co.’s chief lawyer. Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley said Holland told a PSC lawyer last week that Day directed or allowed Mississippi Power employees to withhold documents from regulators about a $366 million cost overrun at the Kemper plant. That increase was announced weeks after commissioners voted in 2012 to reaffirm the company’s license to build the Kemper plant, raising questions about whether executives knew they were over budget but didn’t tell the commission.
 
Stabenow, Cochran brace for full Senate vote on Farm Bill they crafted
The Senate Agriculture Committee’s 2013 Farm Bill is encountering a critical test this week on the Senate floor, where the $955billion measure is expected to draw opposition from lawmakers who wanted more money taken from farm subsidies and less from the nation’s food stamp program. However, the Senate’s bill has stirred much less regional conflict than did the one passed last year. That bill drew criticism from Southern senators and agriculture producers as being a “one-size-fits-all” measure that relied too heavily on crop insurance favored by Midwest and Northern farmers and less on the price-supports desired by their Dixie counterparts.
 
Senate debates farm bill
The Senate’s farm bill debate opened Monday with the White House pledging its support but signaling that President Barack Obama still wants Congress to find more savings from the crop insurance program before the five-year package reaches his desk. Indeed, the crop insurance title was the immediate target Monday of an amendment by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) seeking to eliminate taxpayer supported coverage for tobacco producers. Waiting in the wings are more broadly written Senate amendments, seeking to cut insurance subsidies for wealthier producers and even capping the total premium support allowed per farm.
 
American Society for Public Administration elects USM's Chad Miller
Chad R. Miller, University of Southern Mississippi assistant professor of economic development, was voted chair-elect of the American Society for Public Administration’s (ASPA) Transportation Policy & Administration section. Miller was elected at the recent national ASPA conference in New Orleans.
 
Michigan's Debbie Stabenow speaks as Delta State hosts 78th annual Delta Council
Politics, agriculture, and the economy were the hot topics on a rainy Delta morning as hundreds gathered for the 78th annual meeting of Delta Council, Friday, May 17, on the campus of Delta State University. The event kicked off in the Bologna Performing Arts Center with a presentation by political analyst Stu Rothenberg titled “Lame Duck: What’s Ahead for President Obama and the Republicans” and a salute to Delta honor graduates by Delta State President William N. LaForge and former United States Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy. Following the business session of the annual meeting, United States Senator Thad Cochran introduced United States Senator from Michigan and Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Nutrition Debbie Stabenow as the featured speaker.
 
Delta State honors Chip Morgan
Delta Council executive vice president Chip Morgan was bestowed with one of Delta State University’s highest honors -- an honorary doctor of public service degree. A native of Oxford, Morgan graduated from Oxford High School in 1969 and earned a B.A. in public administration from University of Mississippi in 1974. Morgan was named executive vice president of Delta Council in 1982 and is one of only two individuals to have served as the chief executive of the 65-year-old organization. Prior to this position, Morgan served for seven years as director of the Industrial and Community Department of Delta Council.
 
Tuition bills poised for votes in Louisiana
Higher education leaders around Louisiana will have their eyes on the State Capitol this week as legislators are set to debate two bills that would take tuition-setting control away from the Legislature and give it to the boards that manage Louisiana’s public colleges and universities. Should either House Bill 194 or House Bill 87 become law, it would reverse the nearly two-decade vice grip legislators have had on college tuition. Louisiana is the only state in the country that requires two-thirds of the Legislature to approve a tuition or fee increase. Higher education leaders have said that without being granted greater control over tuition, their hands have all but been tied in a state that has reduced funding for colleges and universities nearly $650 million since 2008.
 
U. of Georgia OKs 'soft benefits' for domestic partners; needs 'further study' for full health care
The University of Georgia will move forward with setting up privately funded “soft benefits” for registered domestic partners of its benefits-eligible employees, according to a statement by UGA President Michael Adams. Adams’ response follows a letter dated May 1 from University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby questioning what role the Board of Regents or his office would play in a plan that’s privately funded. State money is prohibited from being used to pay for benefits of non-recognized partners, such as those in same sex relationships. Huckaby wrote that it appears the UGA Foundation would be the only mechanism to administer that plan as no money would be allowed to pass through the institution.
 
State gives U. of Tennessee OK to buy, demolish three historic homes
The state granted the University of Tennessee approval Monday to purchase and demolish three historic Queen Anne-style Victorians on White Avenue as part of the school’s plan for a science building. UT is in talks with two of the three homeowners but has not decided whether to raze the late 19th-century houses once they are purchased, said Chris Cimino, vice chancellor for finance and administration. Cimino insisted the university did not want to use its power of eminent domain and would do so only as a last resort. The State Building Commission approved the proposal at its meeting in Nashville. The demolitions were estimated at $60,000 each, but the university may try to incorporate the houses into its design. One option is to use the homes for student dining or study space, said Dave Irvin, vice chancellor for facilities services.
 
U. of Florida fares well in Scott's budget, Machen says
After years of budget cuts, the University of Florida now will have enough money to fix neglected buildings and give faculty and staff raises. Gov. Rick Scott signed a $74.1 billion state budget Monday that restores $300 million in statewide higher education spending cuts and adds hundreds of millions of dollars in new education spending. The governor's budget includes $615 million for UF, and excludes money from tuition. For UF President Bernie Machen, the news came as vindication for tough budget decisions made in recent years.
 
UF&Shands changes its name to University of Florida Health
UF&Shands assumed a different name Monday afternoon and will now go by the name University of Florida Health. The change is the culmination of a strategic plan dubbed “Forward Together” that began three years ago to underline the collaboration between the University of Florida Health Science Center and Shands Hospital, said Dr. David Guzick, president of UF Health and senior vice president for health affairs, at a news conference Monday to announce the name change. Calling the collaboration one of “unstoppable momentum,” Guzick said that the name recognizes the “tipping point” of the collaboration that now enters a new era.
 
Texas A&M grad in critical condition in Mississippi after rollover accident
An Aggie who walked the stage one week ago is in critical condition in a Jackson, Miss., hospital after a rollover wreck early Friday. Three athletes on the Texas A&M Waterski team, Amanda Hoffman, Scott McCormick and Will Stevenson, were driving through Jackson around 6:30 a.m. on their way to the Collegiate All Stars Water Ski tournament in North Carolina when the vehicle they were in veered off the road and flipped two and a half times. Hoffman, who was asleep and unrestrained in the back seat at the time of the crash, was ejected from the vehicle. She was taken to the University of Mississippi Medical Center, where she remains in the neurology critical care unit, officials said.
 
Kristofer Hagglund named dean of U. of Missouri School of Health Professions
In his 12 years as associate dean of the University of Missouri’s School of Health Professions, Kristofer Hagglund has witnessed the school quadruple in enrollment. The school announced Monday that Hagglund had been selected as dean, effective July 1. He will replace Richard Oliver, the founding dean who had been with the school since it separated from the MU School of Medicine in 2000. In 2001, when Hagglund started as associate dean, the school had fewer than 600 students, Oliver said. Since then, enrollment has grown to 2,500. “I recruited him here, and I think he’s done a stellar job,” Oliver said.
 
U.S. Says 3 N.Y.U. Scientists Took Bribes to Reveal Work to China
It was, the chief federal prosecutor in Manhattan said on Monday, “a case of inviting and paying for foxes in the henhouse.” Three researchers at the New York University School of Medicine who specialized in magnetic resonance imaging technology had been working on research sponsored by a grant from the National Institutes of Health. But, prosecutors charged on Monday, the three had their eyes on other business as well. They conspired to take bribes from a Chinese medical imaging company and a Chinese-sponsored research institute to share nonpublic information about their N.Y.U. work, according to the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan.
 
High tech will never make teachers obsolete, educational visionary tells UNO audience
In the idealistic educational strategy that Salman Khan spelled out Monday evening to an enthralled audience at the University of New Orleans, students learn at their own pace from the thousands of YouTube videos his enterprise has turned out for a worldwide audience on everything from art history to organic chemistry to differential calculus. But, he said, all this interconnected electronic gadgetry will never make good classroom teachers obsolete. Teachers are "super-duper important," said Kahn, 36, the Metairie-born founder of Khan Academy, which, he said, has reached about 50 million students in 216 countries.
 
Latinos head to college at a record rate, now on par with white students
Latino high school graduates are enrolling in college at an all-time high and, for the first time, at a rate comparable to that of their white peers. A record 69 percent of Latino students enrolled in college after their 2012 high school graduation, according to a new report by the Pew Hispanic Center. Overall, 66 percent of all 2012 high school graduates immediately enrolled in college, but Latinos did so at higher rates than whites (67 percent) and blacks (63 percent), according to preliminary data. Latinos are the fastest-growing minority population in the US, but the increased rate of Latino students enrolling in college is more than just a demographic trend, says Pew senior research associate Richard Fry. It’s a sign that the education gap is narrowing,
 
Relief and Confusion Mingle as State-Authorization Rules Are Delayed
The U.S. Department of Education will delay the deadline for compliance with rules requiring colleges to be properly authorized by state governments. That's a good thing, said some higher-education leaders on Monday, because many states and colleges have little idea of what the Education Department expects them to do. The rules set minimum standards for states to regulate colleges with campuses within their borders, including a process to handle complaints about higher education and a licensing process for colleges that are not established "by name" in the laws or constitution of a state.
 
Some philosophy scholars raise concerns about Templeton funding
Unlike many of their colleagues in the sciences, philosophy faculty and researchers can go an entire year, or multiple years, without receiving a grant. A six-figure grant that would be unremarkable for a medical researcher could transform a philosopher’s entire career. In recent years, though, a lot more of that life-changing money has flowed into the discipline as the John Templeton Foundation -- and its $2.5 billion endowment -- began making philosophy grants. The foundation is dedicated to exploring, as it puts it, “the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality,” and its earlier grant-making efforts in science had drawn criticism from some scientists. Now they’re raising the same discussions among philosophers.


SPORTS
 
Rival skippers well-acquainted in Mississippi State vs. Missouri clash
John Cohen is very familiar with Missouri’s coach, just not with his team. Cohen’s Mississippi State squad, the No. 5 seed, will open its SEC Tournament title defense tonight against 12th-seeded Missouri at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. The game will start 30 minutes after the conclusion of the 4:30 p.m. game between Florida and Texas A&M. The winner plays No. 4 seed South Carolina on Wednesday, while the loser goes home. Ever since learning who his No. 16-ranked Bulldogs (40-16) would play today, Cohen has been cramming to learn about Missouri (18-31). The Tigers, who are in their first year in the SEC, did not play MSU this season. But Cohen knows all about Mizzou coach Tim Jamieson, because he worked for him. Cohen was an assistant in Columbia from 1992-97, the last three years under Jamieson, who’s in his 19th season at the helm.
 
Mississippi State's Renfroe looks to regain hitting form in SEC Tournament
Hunter Renfroe walked to the plate during batting practice at Dudy Noble Field on Monday with a wager. If he hit the next pitch out of the park, the team wouldn’t have to run. The junior took a thunderous cut, the ball sailed up and then fell in short center field to the echo of despondent roars from his Mississippi State teammates. It may have been just batting practice, but the result was a little too reminiscent of how Renfroe concluded the 2013 regular season. As the Bulldogs head into postseason play, the C Spire Ferriss Trophy winner hopes to return to the form that earned him the award.
 
Bulldogs, Tigers begin new rivalry at SEC tournament
For the first time in the history of the event, two schools will meet in the Southeastern Conference tournament knowing what its like to win such an event the previous season. As the SEC opens up a new 12-team, three-stage format for the conference baseball tournament, Mississippi State University and the University of Missouri will meet in tonight's first round hoping to make it back to back conference tournament championships. While No. 16 MSU (40-16, 16-14 in SEC) is the defending champion of this event, Missouri arrives in Hoover, Ala., for the first time in program history as winners of the 2012 Big 12 Conference tournament. Both programs will attempt to try and replicate that same playoff magic starting with the final single elimination first round game at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. The contest will be following the 4:30 p.m. game, and will likely get underway around 8 p.m.
 
MSU's Renfroe wins Ferriss award
In time the 2013 C Spire Ferriss Trophy presentation may be remembered as the first of many honors for Hunter Renfroe. The Mississippi State University junior right fielder took home the trophy awarded to the top collegiate baseball player in the state Monday. Immediately after winning the award, Renfroe learned the actual weight of the 10-year-old trophy. "It's heavy that's for sure," Renfroe said with a laugh. "It was an honor to receive it with all the great players there from Ole Miss, Southern Miss and Delta State in Jackson (Monday). I had to haul that thing all day and my forearms were trembling at the end of it." The Crystal Springs native, one of five finalists for the award, was presented the award during ceremonies at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in Jackson.
 
Mississippi State's Renfroe wins Ferriss Trophy
The first time Mississippi State coach John Cohen saw Hunter Renfroe play baseball, he marveled at his natural ability. Three years later, he's also in awe of his work ethic. The two traits helped Renfroe have a breakout season. On Monday afternoon, he was named the winner of the C Spire Ferriss Trophy during a ceremony at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. The award, voted on by a panel of professional scouts, college coaches and a media member, is given to Mississippi's top college baseball player. The 6-foot-1, 216-pound Renfroe leads the Bulldogs with a .362 batting average, 15 homers, 51 RBIs and nine stolen bases.
 
Mississippi State's Renfroe wins Ferriss Trophy
John Cohen had heard about a supposed five-tool talent out of Crystal Springs, but couldn’t believe all the hype. Was there really a kid that had legitimate speed, could hit home runs with ease and throw a 98 mile-per-hour fastball? And if so, why was that player planning on heading to Meridian Community College and not an SEC school? But after a visit to Copiah Academy, the Mississippi State coach was sold on the prowess of the under-recruited prospect. Now more than three years later, Cohen looks like a genius after Hunter Renfroe won the C Spire Ferriss Trophy, which honors Mississippi’s best collegiate baseball player, at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum on Monday.
 
Bulldogs rise in new poll, Rebels drop out
Mississippi State made an eight-spot jump in this week’s Baseball America poll, checking in at No. 16. The Bulldogs (40-16), who open SEC Tournament play today against Missouri, are coming off a series victory over South Carolina, which fell three spots to No. 17. The two wins against the Gamecocks gave MSU its first 40-win regular season in 16 years. Ole Miss (36-20), which was ranked 23rd last week, fell out of the BA poll. The Rebels lost to Southern Miss and then dropped two of three at LSU.
 
Brazos County entities near deal on contributing to redevelopment of Texas A&M's Kyle Field
The city of College Station, Brazos County and Texas A&M are close to a deal to spend at least $36 million of taxpayer money on the redevelopment of Kyle Field in exchange for the use of university meeting spaces. Hunter Goodwin, chairman of the Bryan-College Station Convention & Visitors Bureau, delivered an update regarding the proposal at an intergovernmental committee meeting Monday. Goodwin said he hopes to have the agreement finalized in about a month. The funds will help pay for a $450 million transformation to turn the 85-year-old stadium into the largest in Texas and in the Southeastern Conference. In return, the CVB will get priority use of the facilities over other renters with the exception of certain dates, such as graduation, when A&M will use its meeting spaces.



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