Tuesday, March 4, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Mississippi State selects Maroon Edition for incoming freshman class
Mississippi State University announced Monday that "The Invisible Girls: A Memoir" by Sarah Thebarge will be the 2014 Maroon Edition selection. Maroon Edition encourages incoming freshman classes to read the chosen book over the summer -- giving them a free copy at summer orientation -- and invites them to participate in programs throughout the school year that explore the book's themes and ideas. Past Maroon Edition selections have included Richard Muller's "Physics for Future Presidents" in 2013, Wangari Maathai's "Unbowed" in 2012 and Eudora Welty's "The Optimist's Daughter" in 2011.
 
Mississippi State University Announces this year's 'Maroon Edition' Selection
Mississippi State University announced its latest Maroon Edition selection on Monday. "The Invisible Girls: A Memoir" written by Sara Thebarge, was selected as the university's 2014 book of choice. Maroon Edition is the annual university-wide program that motivates incoming freshman to read the same book, along with engaging in discussion with other students and faculty throughout the year. Published by Jericho Books, Invisible Girls reveals a record of Thebarge's life after being diagnosed with breast cancer while attending college. All incoming freshman will receive a copy of the book during orientation. The university hopes that Thebrage's story will help readers to see the world around them in a different way.
 
MSU Dorm Renovation Update
Work continues at Ruby Hall on the Mississippi State University campus in Starkville. Three dormitories sustained water damage after sub-freezing temperatures caused pipes to rupture. Three dormitories sustained water damage after sub-freezing temperatures caused pipes to rupture. About 124 male students were effected by flooding at that location. MSU students had some of their property damaged. A claims process is set up with an insurance company. "They are in the process now of reviewing those and getting back to us with regard to what they are able to cover. But the intention is to make all students whole with regard to any losses that occurred," said Ann Bailey, MSU's director of housing. A company is making repairs to floors in Ruby Hall and things should be ready for summer camp season in late May through July.
 
County administrator candidates down to three
AdCare Healthcare Regional Vice President John Thomas became the second candidate to pull out of the Oktibbeha County administrator search when he voluntarily removed his name from the running Monday. The applicant pool decreased last month when Union County Administrator Terry Johnson also removed his name from contention before his scheduled public interview. Thomas and the three remaining candidates -- Oktibbeha County Comptroller Emily Garrard, former Starkville Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill and Ivory Williams, a former bureaucrat with Jackson and Hattiesburg -- all answered questions during the board's Feb. 17 interview session. Supervisors did not name a preferred candidate then. Instead, they opted to continue discussions on March 17.
 
Natchez Trace visitors make big economic impact
Visitors on the Natchez Trace Parkway spent nearly $126 million and help support more than 1,550 jobs, according to a new National Park Service report. The report for 2012 showed that 5.6 million recreational visitors to the Parkway spent more than $22 each, contributing $125.9 million in the communities surrounding the 444-mile roadway that stretches through 41 communities in Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. The spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber and the National Park Service's Lynn Koontz. According to the report, most visitors' spending supports jobs in restaurants, grocery and convenience stores (39 percent), hotels, motels and B&Bs (27percent) and other amusement and recreation (20 percent).
 
Northwestern Mississippi: gateway to the world
Marketing DeSoto County along with the entire Northwest Mississippi region to the world is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that DeSoto County Economic Development Council President and CEO Jim Flanagan said the region can ill afford to pass up. Flanagan appeared before the DeSoto County Board of Supervisors Monday to inform members of a possible partnership with Tunica and Marshall counties to promote the region as a united front. Flanagan informed supervisors of the possibility to rebrand the region with a marketing effort aimed at the global marketplace. Flanagan said other regions have bound together to promote economic development -- such as the Golden Triangle, which includes Starkville, Columbus and West Point.
 
Black Caucus: Medicaid unaddressed issue; no last-minute push expected
Medicaid expansion is one of the biggest issues Mississippi lawmakers are failing to address this year, the chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus said Monday. Sen. Kenny Wayne Jones, D-Canton, said he doesn't expect a last-minute push to add more people to the government health insurance program. With just more than a month left in the session, Jones said debating Medicaid expansion would take too long. He spoke at a forum sponsored by Mississippi State University's Stennis Institute of Government and the Capitol press corps.
 
Reeves offers teacher pay plan
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves on Monday countered the House-passed $4,250 teacher pay raise spread out over four years by proposing a $1,500 pay raise starting July 1, followed by another $1,000 raise the following year. Reeves' plan , which will be considered today in the Senate Education Committee, also would eliminate the benchmarks veteran teachers are required to meet to get the raise in the House plan. It also includes in the third year one-time per-student stipends to schools that improve their state ranking or maintain an A or B grade that could be divided among teachers at those schools. The goal, Reeves said, "is to encourage and to incentivize more kids in the university system, the best and brightest if you will, to go into the teaching profession."
 
Reeves unveils teacher pay plan
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves on Monday announced his plan to raise current teachers' pay by $2,500 over the next 16 months, raise starting teachers' salaries and in three years start a merit-pay system. Reeves said his proposal is "transparent and not complicated." Unlike a four-year, $4,250 pay raise proposed by House Speaker Philip Gunn, Reeves' doesn't include any benchmarks for teachers to meet to receive the first $1,500 and $1,000 raises. Gunn on Monday said he's "excited the Senate has embraced our idea for a pay raise."
 
Hudson, Byrd support teacher pay raises
Pearl River Community College's annual legislative breakfast allows local lawmakers to inform their constituents about the goings-on in Jackson. But Sen. Billy Hudson, R-Purvis, and Rep. Larry Byrd, R-Petal, may have been guilty of a little misinformation Monday morning at Pearl River Community College's Forrest County Center. "Our law is based on English law, so he's in the upper house -- the House of Lords," joked Byrd, referring to Hudson. "And I'm in the House of Commons -- just one of the regular folks." Both legislators were serious about the need for K-12 teacher pay raises, however. Students in attendance were primarily from PRCC’s nursing and honors programs.
 
State's religious-practices bill faces deadline
A Mississippi House panel will decide Tuesday whether to kill a religious-practices bill or keep it alive with or without changes. Critics say the bill could lead to discrimination against gay people and other groups. But, supporters say it would reinforce religious freedom guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, based at the University of Mississippi and named for a former governor, issued a statement Monday calling on lawmakers to kill the bill. It said if the bill becomes law, Mississippi would be under a "shameful cloud of discrimination" that would hurt economic development.
 
Jackson County asks Legislature to step in on debate against state retirement system
Jackson County supervisors passed a resolution Monday asking for the state Legislature, Gov. Phil Bryant and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves to clarify the authority of the Public Employees' Retirement System. Specifically, the county -- which has been at odds with PERS since 2012 on an issue of retirees' accrued vacation and sick leave -- is asking the legislators to clarify whether PERS has authority to interpret a local government's personnel policies. Since 2012, the county has been trying to save thousands of hours in leave that its employees have accrued over many years. "It's a big issue, and PERS is using us for a guinea pig." Supervisor Barry Cumbest said. "We need clarification from the Legislature because this could affect a lot of people, including other counties and cities."
 
Bill would allow perpetuity trusts for first time in Mississippi
One lawmaker described Mississippi's pending "dynasty trust" legislation as like having a hand from the grave controlling money. A bill that has passed the House and is before the Senate would allow dynasty trusts in Mississippi for the first time. It would allow a trust to be continued from generation to generation exempt from estate taxes. Some say a dynasty trust allows a person with a lot of money to control its use long after he or she is dead. Assets in such trusts can grow and be protected from creditors, former spouses and estate taxes and can change hands from generation to generation. The state currently has a rule against perpetuity trusts.
 
Thad Cochran to launch first 2014 ads
Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran will launch the first television ads of his 2014 reelection bid Tuesday, moving to define his legislative record in positive terms to the GOP primary electorate, according to two sources close to the Mississippi race. Cochran, who is seeking a seventh Senate term, faces a stiff challenge for the Republican nomination from conservative state legislator Chris McDaniel. Former Democratic Rep. Travis Childers filed last week to compete in the general election. The incumbent senator's first wave of television advertising will feature three positive messages -- none of them mentioning McDaniel, a Republican familiar with the ads said.
 
Just how sad does Lent need to be?
The 40 days leading up to Easter are penitential by definition. There's no way around the introspection and prayer of Lent that's necessary to prepare for the celebration of the Resurrection. But does Lent have to be all sackcloth and ashes? "I think Lent should have its own form of celebration," said John Switzer, associate professor of theology at Spring Hill College in Mobile. "Lent is a time when the church says, 'Let's stop; let's slow down and think about who we are.' It doesn't have to be all bad." On Wednesday, Catholics, Episcopalians, Lutherans and an increasing number of other Protestants will mark the first day of Lent with a special service in which they receive a mark of ashes on the forehead. The use of ashes to symbolize sinfulness and mortality has a long history in both Christian and Jewish worship.
 
Where are the cyberattacks? Russia's curious forbearance in Ukraine
Despite its aggressive incursion into Crimea this week, Russia has apparently shown notable restraint in another area of its conflict with Ukraine: cyberattacks. Cyberattacks had appeared to become a staple of conflicts involving Russia and its smaller neighbors in recent years. In 2007, massive "distributed denial of service" or DDoS attacks practically shut down tiny Estonia after a Soviet-era war statue was moved from the center of the capital, Tallinn, to the outskirts of the city. A year later, Russia's invasion of neighboring Georgia was preceded by cyberattacks that severely disrupted Georgia's government and telecommunications. Yet so far, the cyber front in Ukraine has appeared relatively quiet. One reason, experts suggest, may be that very capable pro-Ukrainian hackers could inflict serious damage right back on Russia.
 
Ukrainian MUW professor keeping close eye on conflict
With Russia and Ukraine teetering on the brink of armed conflict, a local professor is speaking out about what is happening in his home country. George Pinchuk, a native of Ukraine, teaches biology at Mississippi University for Women and his wife, Lesya Pinchuk, teaches at Mississippi State University. The two have been in the United States for nearly 25 years. While Pinchuk says he has a love of this country, his heart still lies in Ukraine along with his friends and family. As Russian troops line the borders of Crimea, Pinchuk worries about an impending third world war.
 
MUW janitor faces child molestation charge
A janitor at Mississippi University for Women has been arrested and charged with molesting a child for lustful purposes. Napoleon Lee Stevenson, 50, of 501 23rd Street South, was arrested at MUW Thursday by investigators with the Columbus Police Department. According to CPD Investigations Secretary Latasha Key, Stevenson is accused of touching a female under the age of 16. MUW officials confirmed Monday that Stevenson has been placed on administrative leave.
 
Bland named academic vice president at MVSU
Constance Bland has been named vice president of academic affairs at Mississippi Valley State University. Bland's appointment was announced by President William Bynum. The new leader has worked at Valley since 1991, becoming chair of the Department of Mathematics, Computer and Information Sciences in 1999. Before that, Bland was an instructor of math and computer science at what is now Coahoma Community College in Clarksdale. A native of Friars Point, Bland holds bachelors and master's degrees in computer science and a doctorate in computer engineering from the University of Mississippi.
 
William Carey eyes potential rural residency program
William Carey University will graduate its first class from the Osteopathic School this May, but according to the school's dean, 90 percent of those students will leave the state of Mississippi to complete their residency. "The problem with that is if they go outside the state of Mississippi, traditionally, historically, about 50 percent of them are going to practice where they do their residency, and there's no guarantee that the other 50 percent will come back to Mississippi," said Jim Turner, dean of osteopathic medicine at WCU. Sen. John Polk authored Senate Bill 26-09, which provides up to $3 million over three years to help hospitals in rural areas with residency programs, including start-ups.
 
Case Files: Unmanned drones in skies over Mississippi
There are unmanned drones in the skies over Mississippi. Students at Hinds Community College in Raymond are behind the controls as part of the Drone Flight Program. The students practice out of the Raymond Airport. Dennis Lott is the program's coordinator and instructor. He said the future for drones could help farmers grow crops, deliver emergency supplies and even drop off packages at one's doorstep.
 
Joab Thomas, former U. of Alabama and Penn State president, dies at 81
Joab L. Thomas, the former University of Alabama president who aspired to turn the Capstone into a top-quality research institution and led the transition from the Paul W. "Bear" Bryant era, died Monday. He was 81. Thomas was remembered by former UA trustees and administrators as a man of integrity who was committed to improving the level of education of all students. "He truly wanted this to be a student-centered university," said former UA chancellor emeritus Malcolm Portera.
 
Auburn University senior shares story of Beauregard students, coaches in documentary
Auburn University senior Laney Payne searched the faces of three Beauregard High School students as they watched themselves appear, one by one, on screen. Payne premiered her 17-minute documentary, "Halftime Heroes: Coaching Beyond the X's and O's," at Pebble Hill Monday evening to a teary-eyed crowd that spilled into the hallway. The film follows three Beauregard High athletes and the father figures they have found in their coaches. The film is a project for Payne's community and civic engagement senior capstone course. Her younger brother, who she watched mature through relationships with football coaches, inspired the documentary.
 
UGA to offer online master's program in financial planning
Addressing the growing demand for financial advisers, the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences will begin offering an online master's degree program in financial planning this fall. The non-thesis degree program will prepare graduates to sit for the Certified Financial Planner examination. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the projected growth rate of the financial advisers occupation is 27 percent between 2012 and 2022. "There's a great demand out there for a program like this," said Ann Woodyard, an assistant professor in the college's financial planning, housing and consumer economics department. "It's tremendously exciting."
 
U. of Arkansas Endowed Scholarship Established for Tribal Students
A professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Arkansas is contributing $25,000 to create an endowed scholarship for tribal students in the memory of his late wife. Michael Hoffman chose to establish the Margaret J. Hoffman Endowed Scholarship for Citizens of Tribes Indigenous to the United States to celebrate his wife and her accomplishments as a member of the department of anthropology and a University Museum staff member. Chris Wyrick, UA's vice chancellor for university advancement, called Michael Hoffman's gesture "a wonderful, heartfelt tribute to his wife." "As a professor, Peggy impacted a generation of students, and this gift will ensure that legacy is felt into the future," Wyrick said
 
A&M, UT presidents: Faculty guide the future of higher education
University of Texas President Bill Powers and Texas A&M Interim President Mark Hussey spoke Monday about the need for faculty to help shape the dialogue of the future of higher education. An envoy of UT faculty and administrators made the 100-mile drive for the annual joint meeting of faculty senates. The four-hour meeting was held in the Memorial Student Center. Powers lobbied the group to get involved with the broader dialogue about what changes should be made in higher education. He said faculty members should have shared governance and should help decide pathways through the university, degree requirements and teaching delivery systems. One faculty member asked about the role of the humanities as compared to science, technology, engineering and math. "I would argue the humanities are just as important in creating jobs as are the biological and physical sciences," Hussey said.
 
Couple commits $2.5 million to U. of Missouri veterinary school
A St. Louis couple announced Monday an estate commitment of $2.5 million to the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine. The endowment created by the gift from Gary Savill and Barbara Stampfli-Savill will support scholarships for veterinary students that will encourage volunteer work from its recipients. According to a news release from MU, the couple has no prior affiliation with the university or the veterinary school. The couple was inspired to give after reading about the philanthropy of other donors to the veterinary school.
 
Many Colleges 'Hoard' Endowments During Rough Economic Times
When the economy is doing well, many colleges increase their endowment spending on new programs, new buildings, new positions, and breaks in tuition. But when times are tough---at precisely the moment that campuses could most use the money---colleges' endowment managers are less likely to spend it. "That's a really strange thing to do if the purpose of the endowment is at least in part to help the university overcome economic shock," says Jeffrey R. Brown, a professor of finance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Five years ago, with endowments suffering a record 23-percent average loss in value, Mr. Brown and colleagues at Illinois and at Michigan State University decided to take a systematic look at how colleges spend their money in good times and bad.
 
More Workers Earning Graduate College Degrees, Earnings
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the number of adults who finished some graduate school rose 24 percent from 2008 to 2013, increasing from 29 million to 36 million. The accompanying graphic shows median annual earnings by field, based on data collected in the bureau's American Community Survey in 2011. Business is the most popular degree field, followed by education, though, as the graphic shows, science and engineering-related fields tended to be the most lucrative.
 
Zombie Studies Gain Ground on College Campuses
Kyle Bishop figured it was risky when he applied to a University of Arizona Ph.D. program in English eight years ago by proposing a dissertation on zombie movies. He was dead wrong. The program approved Mr. Bishop's proposal, and he is now chairman of Southern Utah University's English department. The 40-year-old has been invited to give zombie lectures in Hawaii, Canada and Spain. "It's clearly now acceptable to study zombies seriously," he says. Just as zombies---those mythical revived corpses hungry for living human flesh and gray matter---have infiltrated pop culture, they have also gotten their hands on our brainiest reserves: the academy. Self-described "zombie scholar" Sarah Juliet Lauro, a Clemson University assistant English professor, acknowledges that some think it is silly or inappropriate to study the ghouls.
 
OUR OPINION: Bond bills need further discussion before end
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal editorializes: "The advantage of long-term bond financing for major projects empowers issuing entities like Mississippi to take advantage of low interest paybacks while building needed facilities and infrastructure like highways and buildings on college campuses. Mississippi's Legislature almost always considers a bill approving the issuance of bonds in a broad category of public needs, and it often reaches into spending that's focused on economic development and jobs creation."
 
CHARLIE MITCHELL (OPINION): Cochran camp taking lessons from Indiana ambush
Longtime Mississippi journalist Charlie Mitchell writes: "Two years ago, citizens of the great state of Indiana had every reason to believe that Richard Lugar, their U.S. senator for 36 years, would be re-elected. But an ambush took place in the primary. The veteran Republican went down in flames. What happened? Simple. Ultra-conservative and 'tea party' camps defined Lugar as 'too close to Democrats' and 'out of touch.' That's all it took. ...So now it's 2014 and Mississippi's Republican Primary for one of its U.S. Senate seats is in three months, on June 3. ... Fertile territory for another ambush? Yes. Except that it appears the Cochran camp, aided by the Mississippi Conservatives PAC, is playing heads up."


SPORTS
 
Bulldogs' recruit bulks up
Oliver Black is getting a good idea of what things will be like at Mississippi State next season. The 6-foot-9 former Wingfield High School forward made the decision to move from Jackson to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., for his senior year to improve himself both on the court and in the classroom. "Things have been going great down here," Black said. "There's new competition, new referees and a new style. It seems like things are more physical here. My post game has gotten a lot better and I've been getting stronger as well." MSU coach Rick Ray visited Black last month and was impressed with the improvements he saw from his early signee.
 
Bulldogs PG suffers through injury plagued season
Head, hamstrings, knees and fevers. It doesn't exactly have the same ring as the nursery rhyme, but it describes I.J. Ready's freshman season. Ready played through a knee injury at the start of last Saturday's loss against Missouri. It was the latest physical ailment to strike the rookie point guard. Ready is listed as "day-to-day," according to Mississippi State assistant coach Chris Hollender. "He's been fighting injuries all year," Hollender said. "Before the game, he felt great. He goes out there, makes a couple of plays and then there was a certain play in the second half where he tried to catch a pass and tweaked his knee a little bit."
 
Gulf Coast Softball Classic draws good reviews
By all accounts, the inaugural Mississippi Gulf Coast Softball Classic was a success. The Classic featured games by 10 college teams, including three ranked in the Top 25 and a fourth, Mississippi State, on the cusp of being ranked, plus 25 varsity high school teams and 10 junior-varsity high school teams. Mississippi State Coach Vann Stuedeman said she was proud of the way Bulldogs fans came out to support her team. "Our stands were full in every game," she said. "The turnout of Mississippi State fans was excellent." Like the other two coaches, Stuedeman said competition quality was excellent.
 
Polk speaks at Saltillo
Former Mississippi State head baseball coach Ron Polk was the guest speaker at Saltillo High School's First Pitch Banquet on Monday. Polk has been in coaching for 48 years, including two stints at MSU. He also coached at Georgia and Georgia Southern. "I spend a lot of time in Birmingham, I do a lot of speaking, I coach up in the Cape Cod League in the summer, and I enjoy being at UAB," Polk said. "I'm a Blazer right now, but still follow Mississippi State in all the sports, and root for 'em, but, I've been staying busy."



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