Monday, March 31, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Analysis: Law shields research from raiders
Mississippi lawmakers have extended trade-secret protections to universities and community colleges by exempting materials tied to any commercial, scientific or technical research from the state's Open Records Act before the research is published. Gov. Phil Bryant signed House Bill 116 on March 19. It becomes law July 1. Rep. Nolan Mettetal, chairman of the House Universities and Colleges Committee and author of the bill, said the loophole in the public records law was closed because companies have at times used public-records requests to try to obtain details of research underway at colleges. David Shaw, vice president for research and economic development at Mississippi State University, says he and other academics had thought research already was offered protection under the existing law. "We believe it was purely an oversight. It had not come to our attention until last year when we saw in some trade publications that the issue was being raised in other states. When we saw it, we decided we needed to be proactive in protecting our people," Shaw said.
 
Starkville roundtable meeting held
The quarterly roundtable is more than just a meet and greet where local officials get together for a luncheon. It was a chance for leaders to share some of the good things that are going on in the Starkville-Oktibbeha County area right now. There was certainly exciting news to report at Friday's meeting. Mississippi State President Mark Keenum was on hand to update everyone on the new construction at Mississippi State. "We've completed, in the last five years, about $240 million in capital improvements and new facilities on our campus. And we currently have underway over $200 million in new projects," Keenum said.
 
Ceremony set Monday for SMART shuttle system
A ceremony is being held Monday for expanding the Starkville-Mississippi State University Area Rapid Transit system. The ceremony is being held at the Palmeiro Center on the Mississippi State campus. Mississippi State President Mark Keenum says in a news release that the new service represents an expansion of an earlier shuttle system that primarily was focused on the MSU campus.
 
In Mississippi, Medicaid patients struggle to find doctors
In the land of the poorest poor, less than half of Mississippi's primary care physicians are willing to see new Medicaid patients. In contrast, nationally more than two-thirds of doctors open their doors to new Medicaid patients. "Everything else is moot if you can't get to a primary care physician," said Mississippi State University social science professor Ronald Cossman, who along with others conducted a study of health care access in the Magnolia State.
 
2014 Diversity Awards Held at Mississippi State University
They encourage acceptance and embrace diversity. Friday, they were awarded for making a difference on the Mississippi State campus. MSU President Dr. Mark Keenum named the recipients of the 2014 Diversity Awards at a ceremony Friday afternoon. "It allows everyone to know that Mississippi State is inclusive, not only with race, but with gender and other elements of diversity here at Mississippi State," says Alexander Washington. Washington is the vice chair for the President's Commission on the Status of Minorities.
 
Best Practices in Datacenter Cooling
The High Performance Computing Collaboratory (HPC2) at Mississippi State University is boosting its high-performance computing capabilities with the installation of "Shadow," a Cray CS300-LC liquid-cooled cluster supercomputer. The HPC2 is a coalition of member centers and groups that share a common core objective of advancing the state of the art in computational science and engineering using high performance computing. By eliminating the need for a new chiller system, MSU reduced capital infrastructure and operational costs and freed up more resources for increased computational capabilities.
 
Starkville Girl Scouts Learn about Chemical Engineering
Starkville Girl Scouts are taking a break from cookie sales to earn a new badge. Several troops partnered with the chemical engineering program at Mississippi State University to help the girls earn a merit badge. Scouts learned about heat exchange, solar energy and robotic engineering.
 
Cold weather slowed winter wheat, but crop should thrive
This year's cold winter slowed wheat growth so the late-March freeze across much of Mississippi probably did not cause major damage to the state's wheat crop. Erick Larson, grain crops agronomist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said most wheat across the state had not reached a growth stage where it would have been sensitive to freezing temperatures when the cold returned on March 26. "We had a lot colder than normal winter, so we didn't get as much growth on our wheat as usual, and that worked out to be a good thing," Larson said. "Often by late March, we have wheat approaching heading stage, when it is very vulnerable to freeze, but this year, most wheat has several weeks to go before that stage."
 
Cold weather protects wheat crop from freezing?
Mississippi producers planted just 200,000 acres of wheat in the fall, down substantially from the more than 400,000 acres harvested in 2013. Wheat is often planted on soybean acreage, and Larson said part of the decrease is because soybeans were harvested so late last year. Brian Williams, Extension agricultural economist at Mississippi State, said market prices are typically the highest in the spring, when stockpiled wheat is at its lowest. "Wheat prices have been rising steadily since the first part of February, when the May contract was trading for about $5.60," Williams said.
 
MSU Bulldog Classic Posts Record Entries
With 3,310 entries for its March 14-16 event in Starkville, the Bulldog Classic show management is on the right track. Thirty-nine percent of the classes had 15 entries or more per judge at the 2014 MSU Bulldog Classic at the Mississippi Horse Park.
 
Delta Producers Go Cold on Corn
The Delta farmer's ardor for corn has cooled in the face of lower prices and stubbornly high input costs, according to a recent canvass of extension agents serving the states of Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee and Arkansas. Planting of soybeans, cotton and rice should gain as a result. Mississippi farmers, for instance, were gung ho on corn this time last year, though late rains prevented many from planting as much corn as they would have liked. This year, Erick Larson, Mississippi State University Extension professor, expects corn acreage to be down considerably.
 
Mississippi State, Choctaw Teens Forming Ag Mentor Program
Jim McAdory wants to surround a group of Choctaw teens with academic and professional examples of people who are pursuing or embracing careers in agriculture. McAdory, an agent with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, is working with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians to develop an agricultural mentors program for high school juniors and seniors.
 
How to climb from design engineer to senior VP at one of Huntsville's top high-tech companies
Kevin Heering had heard of ADTRAN as a student at Mississippi State University in the early 90s, but he had no idea then he would kick off his career there or eventually spearhead the high-tech company's efforts to become a global industry leader. In an era where longevity has become a thing of the past as more workers embrace job hopping, Heering's long career with the publicly-traded company spans two decades. Heering, who was only 23 when he joined ADTRAN as a design engineer, was recently promoted to senior vice president of quality and administration for the Huntsville-based networking and communications equipment provider. The Fulton, Miss. native will now lead and direct the quality, compliance and human resources organizations globally.
 
Tishomingo County names superintendent
The Tishomingo County school board last week named Christie Holly the district's new superintendent effective July 1, said spokesman Joel Robertson. Holly, who for the past year has served as the school district's director of curriculum and testing, will fill the position being vacated when Superintendent Benny McClung retires June 30. Holly earned her bachelor's degree from Mississippi State University in English education and her master's degree in educational leadership. She is the first woman to serve as Tishomingo County schools superintendent.
 
Local representation missing from merger bill conference
The Mississippi House and Senate each named their three-person delegation Thursday for an upcoming Starkville-Oktibbeha County school merger bill conference committee, but the list does not include any local representatives. State Reps. Toby Barker, R-Hattiesburg, John L. Moore, R-Brandon, and Jeff Smith, R-Columbus, will represent the House, while the Senate assigned Sens. Russell Jolly, D-Houston, Gray Tollison, R-Oxford, and Brice Wiggins, R-Pascagoula, to the group that will negotiate a final version of proposals set out by HB 833 and SB 2818 this term. Smith was chosen over state Rep. Gary Chism, R-Columbus, who serves on the House Education Committee, because Barker's original bill was also sent to the House Ways and Means Committee, Chism said. Smith's appointment, Chism said, could allow for further discussions on possible state-level funding sources for future construction within the consolidated school system. Mississippi State University officials are planning to construct a grades 6-7 campus and a pre-kindergarten facility as part of a joint university-consolidated school district partnership, but funding sources for the projects have yet to be identified.
 
Second committee forms for merger legislation
State legislators formed a second conference committee last week to negotiate minor and technical amendments to Starkville-Oktibbeha County school merger provisions currently moving through the state capitol. Reps. John L. Moore, R-Brandon, Toby Barker, R-Hattiesburg, and Jeffrey Guice, R-Ocean Springs, will join Sens. Gray Tollison, R-Oxford, Brice Wiggins, R-Pascagoula, and Russell Jolly, D-Houston, to finalize SB 2818, the Senate's tweak to 2013's school merger law. The same lawmakers, minus Guice, comprise the conference committee expected to meet and negotiate a final version of HB 833, a similar bill filed this term in the House. State Rep. Jeff Smith, R-Columbus, takes his spot on that committee. As with HB 833's conference committee, no Oktibbeha County representation is present in the Senate bill's counterpart.
 
State to tweak school ranking formula
As the academic year nears its close, the formula that will be used to grade Mississippi's schools still is being tweaked. The Mississippi Board of Education in January approved a new model for measuring the state's schools and districts. However, the U.S. Department of Education said this month it needs more work. That's because the new formula does not give enough weight to graduation rate, the federal department said. It means Mississippi must revise it with the state tests that will be used to determine rankings that will be distributed in just over a month.
 
State's Creative Economy potential to be focus of MEC annual meeting
Leaders from across the state are showing great confidence in the direction Mississippi is moving and in the ability to improve its economic competitiveness, the Mississippi Economic Council says in reporting on a survey done during the MEC's Blueprint Mississippi Pathway to Progress Tour. Business and community leaders rate Mississippi as a newly emerging growth state, higher than any other category, the survey found. Details from the survey will be among the highlights of the MEC's Annual Report which will be presented at the organization's 65th annual meeting April 10. Lunch speaker will be Gov. Phil Bryant followed by keynote speaker Peter Sims, an author, consultant and entrepreneur focused on the Creative Economy.
 
Radio giant Motorola systematically vanquishes competition to dominate statewide mobile radio, broadband
Mississippi's governor fought back hard from one of Hurricane Katrina's more exasperating blows -- a knockout punch to emergency radio systems that forced rescue workers along parts of the Gulf Coast to communicate via hand-carried notes. Seizing on the walkie-talkie failures, Gov. Haley Barbour set one of the nation's poorest states on course to leapfrog past the other 49 into the forefront of emergency communications technology. Motorola captured both of Mississippi's mega contracts, which promised to generate more than $300 million in sales, with initial bid prices so low competitors were dumbfounded. The firm's lowball bids offer a case study in how some of the company's myriad marketing tactics have warded off competition and helped preserve its estimated 80 percent hold on the nation's emergency telecommunication business. Democratic state Rep. Tyrone Ellis, a former longtime chair of the House Public Utilities Committee who attended key decision-making meetings on the new systems, is worried.
 
Legislature faces budget deadline today
The Legislature will attempt today to put the finishing touches on a budget to fund state government, local school districts and universities and community colleges. If legislators are not successful in finishing their budget work today, the leadership will have to garner a two-thirds majority to approve a resolution to extend the session to meet the constitutional mandate that appropriations bills cannot be passed during the final five days of the session. But the leadership remained optimistic that they will pass today, in the full House and Senate, the budget deal agreed to by the leadership this past weekend.
 
State budget deadline today; no major obstacles foreseen
Lawmakers are sweating a deadline today to pass all the bills that compose a nearly $6 billion state general fund budget, despite the leadership announcing agreement on most major spending over the weekend. "We just simply ran out of time," Senate Appropriations Chairman Buck Clarke, R-Hollandale, said Sunday as lawmakers passed dozens of "special funds" agency budgets, mostly for small state boards and commissions that charge fees that generate their funding. "Writing and printing the bills takes time. ... The (state universities) bill takes them 19 hours to write." Many House lawmakers booed loudly Sunday night when it was announced they'd be back on the floor at 8 a.m. today.
 
No felons on committees
A bill some say was aimed at political operative Ike Brown has been signed into law by Gov. Phil Bryant. House Bill 874 will prohibit anyone convicted of a felony or a federal election crime from serving on municipal, county or state executive committees. Last year, a bill was signed to prohibit anyone convicted of an election crime from serving on executive committees. Brown was the central figure in the first case of its kind brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, accusing him and his then-associates on the Noxubee County Democratic Executive Committee of discriminating against white voters in a majority black county.
 
Cole: Focus political discussions on 'meat of things'
Mississippi Democratic Party Chairman Rickey Cole is touring the state in hopes of uniting Mississippians, Democrat and Republicans alike, he said. Cole, a self-confessed "political junkie" who jokes that he was born a Democrat, has served as the party's chairman since 2012. Cole said that since that time he has tried to unite the state on what he refers to as "pocketbook issues." For Cole, that means talking about raising the minimum wage, providing affordable healthcare, improving public education and ensuring that women are paid the same amount of money for the same amount of work as their male counterparts. Cole spoke to The Dispatch editorial board Friday.
 
Mississippi political scene sees few changes
Party loyalty is being tested in one of Mississippi's U.S. House districts as a former Democratic congressman runs in a Republican primary. Gene Taylor says he never asked constituents their political affiliation, and he hopes they'll accept him with a new label. Republican Steven Palazzo, who unseated Taylor in the 2010 general election, notes it took his opponent 25 years to jump into a GOP primary. In several other states, the partisan balance of state legislatures changed enough after 2010 to give Republicans --- or, in fewer cases, Democrats --- the newfound power to draw congressional lines favoring their party. In Mississippi, however, the four congressional districts have not changed substantially in the past decade.
 
NSA chief's legacy is shaped by big data, for better and worse
In nearly nine years as head of the nation's largest intelligence agency, Gen. Keith Alexander presided over a vast expansion of digital spying, acquiring information in a volume his predecessors would have found unimaginable. But something else seems likely to shape the legacy of the NSA's longest-serving director, who retired Friday: something that Alexander failed to anticipate, did not prepare for and even now has trouble understanding. Thanks to Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor, the world came to know many of the agency's most carefully guarded secrets. Ten months after the disclosures began, Alexander remains disturbed, and somewhat baffled, by the intensity of the public reaction.
 
U.N. climate panel: Governments, businesses need to take action now against growing risks
The world's leading environmental scientists told policymakers and business leaders Sunday that they must invest more to cope with climate change's immediate effects and hedge against its most dire potential, even as they work to slow the emissions fueling global warming. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that climate change is already hurting the poor, wreaking havoc on the infrastructure of coastal cities, lowering crop yields, endangering various plant and animal species, and forcing many marine organisms to flee hundreds of miles to cooler waters. But the Nobel Peace Prize-winning group said that climate change's effects will grow more severe and that spending and planning are needed to guard against future costs, much as people insure themselves against possible accidents or health problems.
 
Olympian to MUW crowd: Attitude is key to success
For Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard, a change in attitude changed the path of her life. Beard, a 32-year-old four-time Olympian who won seven medals, spoke at Mississippi University for Women Thursday night. Beard told students and others in Cochran Hall that changing her attitude from negative to positive made the difference in qualifying for her second Olympics in 2000. "The second time, I allowed myself to be there in the moment and I allowed myself to dive into that pool and do something great and amazing," she said. "I didn't talk myself out of it."
 
Finalists chosen to fill dean of students position at UM
The University of Mississippi's Division of Student Affairs has officially chosen two candidates for the position of assistant vice chancellor for student affairs and dean of students. Candidates Bob Rasmussen and Melinda Sutton gave presentations to the public March 18 and March 24. Rasmussen currently serves as the dean of students at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah. At Utah Valley University, he has served as director of student life and leadership and director of campus events, as well as holding other leadership positions. Sutton currently serves as the associate dean of student life at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. She has also served as deputy to the dean of students at the University of Texas at Austin. Current Dean of Students Thomas "Sparky" Reardon announced this past summer that he would be retiring on April 30 after 36 years of service to Ole Miss.
 
Grandson of South African Apartheid Prime Minister on Healing Racial Rifts
Healing racial rifts takes an honest dialogue and time, says a former researcher for South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission under President Nelson Mandela. Wilhelm Verwoerd visited the University of Mississippi last week, which has been grappling recently with several race incidents of its own.
 
Bennett's first year at USM a busy one
Rodney Bennett says he's had to bring the surgeon's clamp to his first year as president of the University of Southern Mississippi. And very soon, to extend the metaphor, he'll reach for the scalpel. "I think this was a year when we just had to stop the bleeding," he said. "We haven't done the surgery yet." April 1 marks the one-year anniversary of Bennett's official start as Southern Miss president after serving as the vice president for student affairs at the University of Georgia. It's been a busy, turbulent year, starting with the devastating tornado that whipped through the campus in February 2013, followed by a prominent athletic director search during the summer and a successful appeal to the school's Army ROTC program closure in the fall.
 
USM announces Eagle Fest events
A day of events highlights this year's Eagle Fest Weekend, which is set for April 18-20. The events surrounding this year's Eagle Fest include a Future Golden Eagles Football Camp, a Champions Brunch, the annual Black and Gold Football game, a fair on Pride Field, The Pride of Tailgating Challenge, Southern Miss baseball and an Easter egg hunt.
 
USM starts new dyslexia therapy degree
The University of Southern Mississippi is now accepting applications for individuals interested in obtaining a master of education degree in dyslexia therapy. This will be the first program of its kind in the state of Mississippi offered by a public institution. A collaboration between the DuBard School for Language Disorders in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences and the Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education, this degree program will prepare graduates to become dyslexia therapists licensed by the Mississippi Department of Education.
 
Delta State president takes active recruiting role
The new president of Delta State University has spent much time on the road recently, actively working to attract students to the regional university. Bill LaForge, who has been on the job since April 15, visited Lee County on Thursday, making recruiting trips to Baldwyn, Saltillo and Tupelo high schools. He's visited three dozen public schools, he said, noting that enrollment growth is among the chief challenges facing the Cleveland school. "I'm trying to commit a day or two a week to recruiting during the peak part of the year," LaForge said. "I'm trying to turn over every rock we can because we are looking for good students." Delta State's enrollment, which currently sits at about 3,600, has declined in each of the past seven years, LaForge said. Early indicators are good for growth next year, he said, with spring enrollment gains and with applications at a 10-year high.
 
Alcorn State alumni donate for scholarships
A $10,000 gift from Alcorn State University's National Alumni Foundation will make more scholarships available for Alcorn students. The donation and scholarships were announced at Alcorn's satellite campus at Vicksburg Mall on Thursday. The Vicksburg Post reports the Alcorn National Alumni Association awards scholarships to students on the basis of scholarly performance need and area of specialization. Preference is given to those students whose specialization is deemed a critical manpower area. A few students on scholarship this semester attended Thursday's event to talk about the importance of having an extra revenue source to pay for college.
 
East Mississippi Community College helping develop skills for potential Yokohama jobs
As of Jan. 6, 470 students have taken the WorkKeys assessment through basic manufacturing skills classes with East Mississippi Community College's Workforce Services division. Of those, 65 percent achieved a silver ranking on the test the first time they took it and another 17 percent did so after additional training, Workforce Services Director Raj Shaunak said last week. Shaunak spoke at a pre-employment session for Yokohama Tire Company hosted by the Public Relations Association of Mississippi at Lion Hills on Friday. The trainees he referenced were undergoing the pre-employment training process for opportunities that will be available as Yokohama prepares to begin operations at its manufacturing plant in Clay County in October. Achieving a silver on the test, which measures the ability to process information and apply basic math and reasoning, is required, along with a high school degree or equivalent, to be considered for employment at Yokohama. But the skills and credentials needed to be considered for employment there translate to openings at any industry in the area, Shaunak said.
 
Auburn University bicycle committee seeks input
The Auburn Bicycle Committee and Auburn University are seeking input on bicycling around Auburn and the AU campus from now until April 30. Input can be submitted via smartphone and website. Coordinators of the initiative are interested in input on cycling locations throughout Auburn. Results from the feedback collected will be compiled to highlight popular routes, encourage additional cycling within the city, and identify locations where bicycle routes can improve.
 
Auburn open house offers behind-the-scenes look at vet school
For more than 30 years, Auburn University's College of Veterinary Medicine has hosted a spring open house, which grants prospective students and the community an inside look at one of the nation's top vet programs. The event, held Saturday, featured a petting zoo, an equine display, a detector dog demonstration and a canine parade of breeds, along with other educational family activities. Thousands of guests toured the college's new Wilford and Kate Bailey Small Animal Teaching Hospital, which officially opened earlier this month. The facility boasts state-of-the-art equipment and a number of departments, including radiology, intensive care, ophthalmology, physical therapy and neurology/neurosurgery, among others.
 
Dawson officially named U. of Florida interim law dean
Two weeks after he suspended the search for a new law dean, University of Florida President Bernie Machen on Friday announced the appointment of longtime law professor George Dawson as interim dean until a new search can be launched to find a successor to Dean Robert Jerry. Jerry announced last August that he would step down in July to return to the classroom. A nationwide search was begun, with UF paying $90,000 to a California executive search firm to help recruit potential candidates. Dawson sat on the search committee that ultimately forwarded a slate of three candidates to Machen and Provost Joe Glover. Machen said all three were well-qualified but lacked the transformative leadership qualities he was looking for to get the Levin College of Law to the next level.
 
Gator Growl crawling over to cozy Flavet Field
After disappointing ticket sales and a lack of enthusiasm among students and alumni in recent years, Gator Growl is moving to Flavet Field this year --- marking the first time in 82 years that the world's largest student-run pep rally will not be held at The Swamp. In an effort to recapture the excitement and revitalize student interest, the producers of Gator Growl this year are seeking their opinions on the events and entertainment they want to see. "The reality is it's a student-run show put on for the students by the students," said Devin McDaniel, executive producer for the 2014 Gator Growl and a third-year marketing major. "We want to bring it back to those roots." The theme for this year is "Limitless."
 
Save farming by going back to nature, says agroecologist
Modern agriculture must divert from its present course, a prominent figure in the sustainable farming movement recently said in Athens. Farming techniques today, with the use of fertilizers, tractors and pesticides, is often described as an improvement over what was once back-breaking labor performed by humans and animals, said Wes Jackson, founder and president of the Land Institute, a Kansas-based nonprofit promoting an ecological approach to agriculture. But the full energy invested into industrial ag -- board meetings, factories producing machinery, labs making fertilizer, transportation -- paints a different picture. A "full cost accounting" of such a system "is impossible," Jackson said on Friday at the University of Georgia.
 
Ball State educator named director of U. of Kentucky School of Music
John Scheib has been named director of the University of Kentucky's School of Music. Scheib, a former public school music teacher, is currently director of the School of Music and associate professor of music education at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. He succeeds Skip Gray, who served as interim director since fall 2012 after Ben Arnold stepped down from the post. "Dr. Scheib brings an incredible energy, strong leadership and vast experience to our dynamic School of Music," said Michael Tick, dean of the UK College of Fine Arts.
 
Loftin, U. of Missouri student groups spend spring break on Capitol Hill
University of Missouri Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin spent the better part of his spring break on Capitol Hill, as did a handful of students. The primary goal of Loftin's trip, he said, was to get acquainted with Missouri's national representation, as those "relationships are very critical." During his time there, he met with the entire Missouri delegation -- eight representatives and two senators. The former Texas A&M University president said it was an easier task than it was back in Texas, which has more than 30 congressmen and women. Loftin said the delegation was interested in how they could help the university, for which Loftin had a request: A place for an intern from MU in every Missouri office each semester.
 
No big tangible changes planned after Texas A&M System communications audit
A Texas A&M System communications audit has recommended a broad shift in the way administrators spread their message, but not many tangible changes. A large portion of the recommendations in the $261,000 report completed by Austin-based Hill & Knowlton were already in practice at the system and there are no immediate plans to implement one of the grander suggestions -- a system-wide news bureau. The audit is one of the studies ordered by A&M System Chancellor John Sharp to find efficiencies or cost-savings within the system. The final price tag of the study was $6,000 greater than previously reported because of travel expenses by the auditors who interviewed spokespersons across the state, said system spokesman Steve Moore. The report was completed in September, but released this month. The Texas Attorney General ruled that the report, funded by taxpayer dollars, was public after The Eagle filed an open records request to obtain it.
 
Amid Russia-U.S. tensions, educational exchanges continue
As formal relations between the American and Russian governments are at a near-historic low point -- at least as far as post-Soviet history is concerned -- administrators of educational exchange partnerships say business is largely continuing as usual. "University partnerships with Russia, educational exchange programs, they existed during the Cold War, and we ultimately believe that we're in this for the long run," said Jonathan Becker, the vice president for international affairs at Bard College, which helped to found Smolny College, a liberal arts college within St. Petersburg State University that offers dual Bard and St. Petersburg degrees.
 
Faculty at Montana Tech protest selection of commencement speakers who promote creationism
Montana Tech is a science-oriented unit of the University of Montana, offering a range of degrees in science and technology fields. So Montana-based technology entrepreneurs might seem like logical choices for commencement speakers. This year's speakers will be Greg and Susan Gianforte, engineers who started several technology companies and have been donors to computer science programs at several Montana colleges. Does it matter that they also support a creationist museum that seeks to convince people that evolution is incorrect? Is there anything inconsistent with a science university honoring people who back creationism? Some faculty members and students are organizing a graduation boycott (an unprecedented level of protest for Montana Tech) because they think the university should not give a platform to people who argue against science.
 
JIMMIE GATES (OPINION): Meetings open if you can find them
The Clarion-Ledger's Jimmie Gates writes: "We're in the last week or so of the Legislature, when the life or death of some bills hangs in the balance, their fate in the hands of conference committees, three members each from the House and Senate. For me, covering only my second full legislative session, the conference committee process seems a little cloak-and-dagger on general bills. These days, we hear a lot of talk about transparency in government, but will someone please tell me when and where these conference committees meet in the hallowed halls of our state Capitol? I can't find a schedule or meeting place designated for these conference committee meetings."
 
LLOYD GRAY (OPINION): History is on Cochran's side
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Lloyd Gray writes: "With a little more than two months remaining in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, challenger Chris McDaniel has this to ponder: It's been 72 years since an incumbent Mississippi senator was voted out of office, and he'd been there only a year. Wall Doxey, the incumbent in the 1942 election, had won a special election the year before to fill out the unexpired term of Sen. Pat Harrison, who died in office. James O. Eastland -- who served a few months as an appointed senator before the special election -- came back to defeat Doxey in the next round. Thus began a 36-year Senate run for the cigar-chomping, Scotch-sipping Delta planter. He has been one of only five men -- including John Stennis, Trent Lott, Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker -- who have represented Mississippi in the U.S. Senate since the late 1940s. Their cumulative record in re-election campaigns is 20 wins and no losses. McDaniel's re-election target, Cochran, is 5-0 in such races."
 
GEOFF PENDER (OPINION): How to decipher Capitol jargon
The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender writes: "As lawmakers haggle through the next few days trying to set a state budget, anyone masochistic enough to watch them might hear terms unfamiliar to nonlegislative, also known as 'normal,' people. Legislative machinations and jargon can be confusing. It has taken many decades of work to make it so. For instance, the Legislature doesn't 'borrow' money. It passes 'bond bills.' That sounds so much better than borrowing. And a state agency doesn't overspend or cause a budget hole. It just requests a 'deficit appropriation.' The language is often formal and stilted."


SPORTS
 
Lindgren helps No. 16 Mississippi State take series from Arkansas
The No. 16 Mississippi State baseball team relied on its pitching depth Sunday for a third-straight Southeastern Conference series victory. After a doubleheader Saturday in which it used three pitchers, MSU turned to its new secret weapon out of the bullpen: Jacob Lindgren. The junior left-hander, who was used as a starter in his first two seasons, improved to 3-0 by striking out eight in MSU's 5-1 victory against Arkansas before a crowd of 7,766 at Dudy Noble Field. "I really had my stuff today," said Lindgren, who struck out six straight in the sixth and seventh innings. "I felt like I was kind of driving a car on cruise control. You're not even thinking about your speed anymore because your foot isn't on the gas all the time."
 
Bulldogs win another series, share SEC lead
Mississippi State's baseball team is off to its best Southeastern Conference start since 2003. The 16th-ranked Bulldogs claimed their third consecutive series to open league play by taking Sunday's rubber game against Arkansas, 5-1. The win improved MSU to 20-10 on the year, and its 6-3 league record sits in a four-way tie atop the SEC standings with South Carolina, Florida and Alabama. "Everybody wants to win every game but realistically everybody's trying to win every series," said MSU coach John Cohen. "I'm really proud of our kids. In some circumstances there's a little bit of luck involved with how the schedule falls. But I like the fact our team came back and found a way to win the next two games after not playing well in the first game of the series."
 
Mississippi State Ks Arkansas in Game 3
Mississippi State's strikeout artists took the mound Sunday. The Bulldogs split Saturday's doubleheader behind the arms of groundball pitchers Preston Brown and Ross Mitchell. Trevor Fitts, Jacob Lindgren and Jonathan Holder gave MSU's fielders a rest in its 5-1 win against Arkansas. "We've got to give them a little break every now and then," Lindgren said. The trio combined to strike out 14 batters in the final game of the series. The win clinched MSU's third Southeastern Conference series win of the season. It's the first time the Bulldogs won their first three conference series under John Cohen.
 
Lindgren pitches Mississippi State to series win vs. Arkansas
Clutch pitching and timely hitting proved to be the story for No. 13 Mississippi State on Sunday as the Bulldogs claimed a 5-1 win against Arkansas to clinch the weekend SEC series. Junior left-hander Jacob Lindgren (3-0), who prepped at St. Stanislaus, earned the win for Mississippi State (20-10, 6-3 SEC) with four innings of relief and a season-high eight strikeouts. Chris Oliver (2-3) took the loss for Arkansas (17-10, 4-5). All-American junior right-hander Jonathan Holder from Gulfport earned his fourth save of the season and the 34th of his career, giving him sole possession of third place on the all-time SEC career saves list.
 
Mullen uses spring practices to experiment
Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen and his coaches are using the spring season to do a lot of experimenting with drills, formations, personnel, and style of coaching. With only five starters lost from last season, MSU is trying to figure out how to make 15 spring practices exciting. The coaches already have talked about how the traditional installation of offenses and defenses can become monotonous for an experienced group. "That's the definition of learning, adapting, and developing as a coach and as a staff," Mullen said. "If we don't try different things during this period then our guys are going to get too comfortable with what they're doing. The last thing we want anytime we're out here is our guys just going through the motions half speed."
 
Playmakers on display in Mississippi State scrimmage
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said that he wanted to see plays being made during Saturday's initial spring scrimmage inside Davis Wade Stadium. Mullen got his wish, as the Bulldogs amassed 768 yards and 10 touchdowns in 130 offensive plays while his defense also had a score of its own along with eight sacks and three forced turnovers. "Offensively, I saw some guys making plays," Mullen said. "I also saw some opportunities for some big things that we didn't get and some short-field opportunities that we didn't score on and we have to take advantage of those. Defensively it was the same type of deal -- both good and bad. We had five three-and-outs for the 1s and five three-and-outs for the 2s. But we gave up some big plays and had a couple of penalties."
 
Dan Mullen takes good, bad in scrimmage
Dan Mullen knew he wouldn't be happy after Saturday's scrimmage. Mississippi State's coach wanted his defense to create turnovers, yet expected his offense to protect the ball. Something had to give inside Davis Wade Stadium. "In scrimmage situations, you're always happy or really sad," Mullen said. "You're either happy the defense creates a bunch or mad the offense turns it over." The internal discussion continued throughout the Bulldogs' first scrimmage of the spring on Saturday.
 
Expansion for Mississippi State's Davis Wade Stadium progressing
Mississippi State fans will be in for a surprise when they step into Davis Wade Stadium to watch the Maroon-White Spring Game. For the past two years, Davis Wade Stadium has been in the process of being expanded and it is nearing the end of the construction phase Fans will pile into the MSU football stadium on April 12 for the annual spring game and get a glimpse of what the finished product looks like. "It'll look a lot different from the last time people were in there for the Egg Bowl for sure," MSU athletic director Scott Stricklin said.
 
Mississippi State women stunned at buzzer
Mississippi State appeared to be on its way to the Final Four of the Women's National Invitational. Martha Alwal banked in a layup with under five seconds remaining to give the Bulldogs a 58-57 lead over South Florida on Sunday. Shortly thereafter, the final horn sounded to the thunderous approval of the 3,006 in attendance. But after official review, the Bulls had called a timeout and 4.2 seconds was put back on the clock. That was all the time Courtney Williams needed to drive the length of the floor and bury a contested 3-pointer from the right wing at the buzzer for a 60-58 victory. "I'm really proud of this team and I hate it that we lost that," said MSU coach Vic Schaefer. "I hate it more for them and our fans than I do anything. It was a great crowd and a tremendous atmosphere again."
 
Mississippi State falls on buzzer beater in WNIT
Mississippi State and South Florida both made game-winning shots. Yet, Martha Alwal and Kendra Grant wiped tears of disappointment from their eyes after a 60-58 loss Sunday. "It's hard to lose that one," MSU coach Vic Schaefer said. "The way we lost it. It's hard. I'm a why guy. I don't get it." The buzzer-beater concluded the 2013-14 season in which MSU compiled 22 wins -- the fourth most in program history. The three wins in the WNIT is the most in the postseason in program history.
 
LOGAN LOWERY (OPINION): Schaefer putting Mississippi State in national spotlight
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Logan Lowery writes: "Vic Schaefer is building something special. In his second season at the helm of Mississippi State's women's basketball program, Schaefer appears to be on the cusp of turning the Bulldogs into a force to be reckoned with on the national scene. ...Despite fielding a roster that features just two seniors and has two true freshmen in the starting lineup, Schaefer has guided MSU to one of the most successful years in school history."



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