Monday, June 14, 2021   
Super-regional baseball brings people to support Mississippi State and local business
Baseball super-regionals are back in Starkville. The Mississippi State baseball team is hosting Notre Dame from June 12, 2021, through June 14, 2021, with the winning team heading to Omaha. SEC sports typically draw large crowds. That's especially true with fans finally being able to fill the stands to full capacity and with it being the last series in the Magnolia State people were thrilled to get back in the stands. "The atmosphere at football and baseball games with a full capacity crowd here in Mississippi is just like nothing else in the world," said Mississippi State fan Sam Motherway. "The second time I visited here I came for Super Bulldog Weekend and we went to all the games that entire weekend and that's what actually made me fall in love with the school so Mississippi State baseball actually has a special place in my heart," said Mississippi State fan Maddie Terrell. More baseball means more people and that is what local business owners love to see. Business owners said they are thankful the baseball team has done well and brought tourists to the town and they wish Mississippi State baseball the best.
Mississippi research is part of documentary on mental health
Research by a Mississippi State University professor and two undergraduate students will be included in a PBS documentary called "Mysteries of Mental Illness." The four-hour series premiers June 22. It traces the history of mental illness in science and society. Parts of the second episode were filmed on the Starkville campus in the spring of 2020, according to a university news release. The segments show the students and Molly Zuckerman, a biological anthropologist in the Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures. They are part of a group conducting research about patients who died at the Mississippi State Asylum, which operated from 1855 to 1935 in Jackson. Graves were discovered in 2012 on the only remaining undeveloped part of the University of Mississippi Medical Center's main campus. The Asylum Hill Research Consortium was then formed to study and preserve the remains exhumed from the cemetery.
Researchers track bears' movements in Mississippi
On June 2, Tom Lewis left his office at Liberty Insurance Agency to serve as guide for a group of bear hunters. In this case, the "hunters" were researchers from Mississippi State University involved in a regional project tracking the animals' movements in Mississippi, with Amite County being one of their new areas of focus. Coincidentally, their visit came just weeks after a 450-pound black bear made the rounds in the county's Ducktown community. Lewis gave the researchers a tour of a huge swath of woodland south of Liberty, including the area where the recent bear passed. PhD student Lacy Dolan said her team picked Amite County "because of its proximity to Louisiana, and Louisiana has a good population of bears." Lewis took the gang to cutovers, pine stands and hardwood bottoms along the Amite River. "There are a lot of berries coming in," Dolan said. "That's good. They tend to kind of follow the food, and they tend to range kind of widely." Dolan has already been studying bear movements in numerous other counties, including Wilkinson. Now the animals appear to be moving out into places like Amite County. Lewis, a cattleman as well as businessman, said such studies are useful for residents. Also involved are Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks bear biologist Richard Rummel and MSU professor Dr. Dana Morin.
Mississippi State's third Boren Scholar, second Boren Fellow anticipate study abroad adventures
Two Mississippi State students are receiving study abroad opportunities of a lifetime, thanks to prestigious David L. Boren Awards. Tyler Dickerson of Starkville, MSU's third Boren Scholarship recipient, and Kelsey Slater of Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, MSU's second Boren Fellow, each will participate -- when travel is deemed safe -- in intensive language and culture experiences in countries critical to the nation's security and stability. Sponsored by the National Security Education Program, Boren Awards are named for former U.S. Senator David Boren, principal author of the legislation that created the NSEP. Dickerson, a student in MSU's Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College, is pursuing bachelor's degrees in business economics/international business and foreign language/Spanish. He said he is confident that the knowledge base from both majors has prepared him well for the 21st-century social justice and inequality program he will pursue at Brazil's Pontifical Catholic University of Sao Paulo. "The international business program at Mississippi State has been great. It's allowed me the flexibility to pursue courses for an interdisciplinary set of interests, from economics to politics to law. São Paulo is the economic capital of South America, and having such a good background in economics and Spanish from MSU has prepared me to study there," said the former Student Association treasurer.
Mississippi 4-H students to showcase skills across state
The Mississippi State University Extension Service 4-H will host their annual state event designed to supplement county 4-H programs. This event provides positive leadership and educational opportunities for senior 4-H members from across the state to develop young people to their fullest potential. Senior 4-H members will participate in several contests designed to enhance their leadership skills and provide additional learning opportunities. Contests include dairy bowl, public speaking, photography judging and dairy products judging. Traditionally held on the Starkville campus of Mississippi State University, this year's event will be held in Extension's four regions. Contest categories will be divided among these regions.
Helping Small Businesses Protect Their Data and Operations
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have had to increasingly rely on digital methods to store information, communicate with employees and conduct their work. Whether this means more reliance on computers at the office or at home, a side-effect is that businesses have opened themselves to countless new security risks, as evidenced by recent high-profile cyberattacks on the oil and gas and meat industries. To help ease the burden on small and growing businesses, the Mississippi Small Business Development Center, headquartered at the University of Mississippi, has partnered with Mississippi State University to create the SBDC Cybersecurity program. The team lead will be Chip Templeton, director of the MSU center. Also assisting in the project are DeMarcus Thomas and Melissa Hannis, both business counselors for cybersecurity. The team offers a variety of services, workshops and training materials to help small businesses find their footing in a delicate new environment, including business counseling that covers a range of topics. "The core of our program is to build knowledge with our clients," Templeton said. "The best way to solve a problem is to make sure it doesn't have to happen in the first place."
New Construction at USM, PRAM Awards and PBS Documentary at MSU
The PBS network will feature research that undergraduate students and faculty in Mississippi State University's Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures conducted in an upcoming episode of the new PBS series "Mysteries of Mental Illness." The four-hour documentary series, which will begin airing at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 22, traces the evolution of mental illness in science and society. PBS filmed part of the second episode of the documentary series on MSU's Starkville campus in spring 2020. The segments feature MSU AMEC associate professor and graduate coordinator Molly Zuckerman and two undergraduate students who are conducting research on patients who died at the Mississippi State Asylum as part of the Asylum Hill Research Consortium. The Mississippi State Asylum operated from 1855 to 1935. In 2012, workers discovered graves on the only remaining undeveloped part of the University of Mississippi Medical Center's main campus in Jackson. The Asylum Hill Research Consortium formed after the discovery and aims to bring together scholars and community members to study and preserve remains exhumed from the asylum cemetery, a release from MSU says.
'We're going to lose more family and friends' if Mississippi doesn't get vaccinated, Dr. Thomas Dobbs says
Mississippians who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 face a "substantial" risk of catching the virus, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said during a news conference Friday afternoon. Dobbs, State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers and Senior Deputy Jim Craig, all of the Mississippi State Department of Health, spent substantial time urging Mississippians to get COVID-19 vaccines. "We are seeing some complacency," Dobbs said. "We are seeing folks thinking this is over." Later in the news conference, Dobbs offered a final plea: "I just want to reiterate that COVID is still here and, sadly, we're going to lose more of our family and friends, but we have a fabulous way to prevent that. "Protect yourself," Dobbs said. "Protect your family and friends. It's time." Mississippi has the lowest vaccination rate in the nation. Dobbs said the low rate is indicative of a bigger health problem the state faces. "We have a real challenge and a real failure in health prevention in our state that is born out in our high breast cancer mortality, our cervical cancer rates," Dobbs said. "It goes well beyond COVID." While COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are down, hospitalizations are higher for residents in their 40s than they were in January. The doctors attributed the increase to a failure to get vaccinated.
Novavax vaccine over 90% effective in protecting against COVID-19 infection, study shows
Novavax, the fifth company to receive large federal support for its COVID-19 vaccine, is as good as its competitors, according to data the company released Monday. The vaccine is more than 90% effective in protecting against infection and even more protective against some of the variants, according to the trial of 29,960 volunteers in the U.S. and Mexico. No one who received the active vaccine fell seriously ill. Twice as many volunteers received the active vaccine compared to the placebo. Of the 77 trial participants infected with COVID-19, 63 were in the placebo group and only 14 had received the active vaccine, according to the Gaithersburg, Maryland-based biotechnology firm. More than 80% of participants who became infected had one of the viral variants, genetic sequencing showed. Most of them had the alpha variant first seen in the United Kingdom, which was spreading across the United States during the trial, which ran from late January to late April. Novavax took longer to prove the safety and effectiveness of its vaccine in part because the company is much smaller than other vaccine-makers. Assuming its vaccine is authorized for use, Novavax expects to produce 100 million doses per month of NVX-CoV2373 by the fall and 150 million doses per month before the end of the year.
First four states cut off federal unemployment benefits
Alaska, Iowa, Missouri and Mississippi eliminated their federal unemployment programs on Saturday, ending federal assistance for almost 340,000 workers. The states are the first four of the 25 Republican-led states that have announced plans to end federal assistance to do so. Republican state leaders have argued they need to end the enhanced unemployment benefits because they provide an incentive for people to stay unemployed rather than returning to the work force. They say the benefits drive up wages, stifle hiring and squeeze small businesses. Democrats and a number of economists, however, push back against those claims. Unemployment benefits have little effect, they say, and the slow return of people to the workforce is actually driven by a lack of child care and lingering health concerns. Though May saw a gain of 559,000 new jobs, it came after a disappointing jobs report in April showed that only 266,000 jobs had been added. "It has become clear to me that we cannot have a full economic recovery until we get the thousands of available jobs in our state filled," Mississippi Tate Reeves (R ) said in a statement.
State Supreme Court dismisses election challenge dealing with residency requirements
City clerks, party executives and election commissioners won't receive clear guidance from the state's highest court over how long local candidates are required to live in a municipal ward before they can represent it. Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Kenny Griffis on June 3 dismissed an election challenge appeal from a D'Iberville City Council race. In that challenge, incumbent Craig "Boots" Diaz, believed that his challenger, Zack Grady, was wrongly certified to appear on the ballot. The crux of the legal challenge centered around a recent opinion from the Mississippi Attorney General's Office interpreting a 2019 law to mean that candidates for municipal offices must live in the ward they wish to represent for at least two years before qualifying to hold office. The Secretary of State's office has previously interpreted the 2019 law to only require a two-year residency somewhere within the municipality, not within any particular ward. The attorney general's opinion was issued days before the municipal qualification deadline, which drew a rebuke from Secretary of State Michael Watson and caused three candidates in Oxford to drop out of their respective races.
How the Anti-Abortion Movement Used the Progressive Playbook to Chip Away at Roe v. Wade
The Supreme Court captured its biggest headlines last month not for a decision, but for a case it agreed to review next year: Dobbs vs. Jackson Women's Health Organization. The case turns on a 2018 Mississippi law banning abortion at 15 weeks, but its impact will likely reach well beyond one state. To uphold Mississippi's law -- which the Court's conservative majority is expected to do -- the Court will have to undo all or part of Roe v. Wade. Such a sweeping decision might seem like an opportunistic swipe at abortion rights, a conservative court suddenly reversing 50 years of precedent with a single move. But if the Court does rule that way, the story behind it will be far more complex and important to understand. The attack on Roe has been decades in the making -- and its successes owe not just to the strength of the conservative anti-abortion movement, but to the progressive playbook that achieved breakthroughs on civil rights, gay marriage and even abortion. Much like the civil-rights activists of the past, abortion foes have pursued a long-term strategy that stretches far outside the courts. It depends on grassroots political change as well as legal challenges, and on the tidal push-and-pull between politics and the law at the highest levels.
'Our Lord Isn't Woke.' Southern Baptists Clash Over Their Future.
Evangelical Christians were a regular presence in the Trump White House. They laid hands on the president as they prayed for him, stood at his shoulder as he signed executive orders, and saw vindication for their support in his antiabortion policies and conservative judicial appointments. Now, the Southern Baptist Convention, the country's largest and most influential evangelical denomination, is at war over what direction it will take after the Trump presidency. One faction argues the SBC should step back from its role in electoral politics in order to broaden its reach and reverse a 15-year decline in membership. Another faction says the denomination has been drifting to the left, and the way to retain and attract members is to recommit to its conservative roots and stay politically engaged. Each side accuses the other of straying from the SBC's core mission. The internal fissures exploded into public view when Russell Moore, the SBC's top lobbyist in Washington and a frequent critic of Donald Trump, unexpectedly announced his resignation in May. Last week, letters he wrote criticizing other high-ranking SBC officials over their handling of sex-abuse allegations and attitudes about race became public. Mr. Moore's sudden departure comes as the group's president, J.D. Greear, ends his term this month, leaving two of the denomination's most prominent jobs, which help define evangelicalism, open at once.
Zillow: People are moving to smaller cities, bigger homes
The pandemic changed a lot about how Americans live and work -- and where they live and work. New analysis from real estate site Zillow confirmed what we've been hearing anecdotally: There's been a big shift in where people are living now. Zillow analyzed data from 2016 to 2020 from one of the biggest moving companies in the country, North American Van Lines. According to Jeff Tucker, a senior economist for Zillow, people were seeking out less expensive regions and more square feet of living space last year. "The opportunity to work remotely was really changing the game for some homeowners who took this opportunity to move someplace where they could get more bang for their buck." The five cities that saw the most inbound movers were smaller, more affordable metro areas in the South and Southeast like Phoenix, Charlotte, Sarasota, Dallas and Austin. Steven Pedigo, professor of public affairs at the University of Texas, Austin, said his city has become "California central. I can tell you how many license plates of the new houses that have been bought in our neighborhood are all California plates." He added that cities in the Sun Belt were already growing, but the pandemic accelerated the trend.
Commission accepting nominations for Governor's Arts Awards
The Mississippi Arts Commission is accepting nominations for the 2022 Governor's Arts Awards. The annual awards recognize people and organizations that have made noteworthy contributions to the arts in the state of Mississippi. Nominations must be submitted to the art's commission website by August 6. Sarah Story, executive director of MAC, said the ceremony will be held in person in February 2022. Award winners are nominated by members of the public and selected by a jury of community arts leaders and industry peers. Schools, businesses, organizations, arts initiatives and events are eligible to receive an award, in addition to individual artists and supporters of the arts. Recipients are not required to be Mississippi residents. However, they must have significant ties to the state.
Jessica Harpole named vice president for student affairs, dean of students at MUW
Mississippi University for Women has announced Jessica Harpole as vice president for student affairs and dean of students, pending approval by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning. "I am honored to have been selected for this role. It is very special to have the opportunity to carry out my vision for student affairs here. When I became part of The W family as a student, I could not have imagined how important the institution would become to me or how my experiences here would influence my career path. Bringing this full circle to give back to my alma mater in a broader way is very exciting," said Harpole. In June of 2020, Harpole began serving as the interim vice president for student affairs and dean of students. Before then, she served as the director of student life for seven years. Harpole also has served as Staff Council president, chair of the Director's Council and served on several university committees and councils. From 2009-2013, Harpole was the coordinator of leadership and service. "Jess stepped in as interim vice president for student affairs and dean of students last summer as we were preparing the campus for renewal in a pandemic. She and her team never missed a beat. Jess is committed to our students and their development as leaders. I appreciate her vision and her strong voice for our students -- and I wouldn't want to face a pandemic without her," President Nora Miller said.
The W joins COVID-19 College Challenge
Mississippi University for Women has further committed to a safe campus community by signing the White House COVID-19 College Challenge. The White House and the U.S. Department of Education have invited colleges and universities across the country to join the efforts to end the pandemic by signing up for the COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge. The COVID-19 College Challenge is part of President Biden's National Month of Action to mobilize an all-of-America sprint to get 70 percent of U.S. adults at least one shot by July 4th. "I am excited about The W joining the COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge. We want everyone to know that vaccines are available on our campus and in the community. The more people in our campus community who are vaccinated, the safer and healthier we will all be, and the closer we can get things back to normal. We are committed to this challenge," said W President Nora Miller. Currently, The W has coordinated with the Mississippi State Department of Health to offer COVID-19 vaccines on campus to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays through June. Beginning in July, students, faculty, staff and their dependents can request a vaccination through the Campus Health Center.
Out in the Grove: Oxford's LGBTQ+ community celebrates Pride
Members of the Oxford and university community gathered in the heart of the University of Mississippi campus yesterday for Out in the Grove, a historic event celebrating the LGBTQ+ community in Lafayette County. "What I like about this symbolically is we've never had anything in the heart of campus in the Grove before," said Dr. Jaime Harker, director of the Sarah Isom Center. "So just symbolically it's important to say, we're here, we're queer, we throw the best parties, come hang out with us." The event, which featured a drag show, live music performances, local vendors, and the crowing of Miss Oxford Pride 2020, drag queen DeePression Holliday, is the latest evolution of Oxford Pride, which began in 2016. The event, which replaced the annual Pride Parade due to scheduling conflicts, is the first since of its kind since the pandemic began, allowing community members to gather in person for the first time in over a year. "You never know how someone identifies, so some of the people, whether they're community members or students or family of students, when they're coming to these things, I know it's good to just have that representation," said Hunter Grissom, a student who works with the Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement.
Major construction at U. of Southern Mississippi to add more parking
A series of construction projects totaling more than $3.5 million is underway at The University of Southern Mississippi to provide greater campus accessibility and mobility. The projects, with a variety of funding sources, include an extension of Montague Boulevard; new metered parking spaces; a Montague Boulevard multiuse pedestrian pathway; the North Campus Gateway, designed to resemble the Centennial Gateway at the Hardy Street entrance, and a new parking lot adding 280 parking spaces. Chris Crenshaw, senior vice president for facilities planning and management, said the projects are part of a long-term bike and pedestrian master plan developed by a USM committee in conjunction with outside engineers. "These projects -- particularly the pedestrian pathway project -- help us provide convenient access for our students, faculty and staff, especially if they want to use an alternative means for accessing the campus outside of their vehicle," Crenshaw said. Crenshaw says that safety was the primary factor in moving ahead with this project.
William Carey U. launches black educators initiative
With a grant of nearly $100,000 from the Black Educators Initiative, a new teacher residency program from William Carey University will increase the number of black classroom teachers in three school districts in Mississippi -- Hattiesburg, Covington County and Moss Point. "This new BEI Residency Scholarship is the result of our work with the Mississippi Teacher Residency program, established in 2019 by a Mississippi Department of Education grant, and our relationship as a network partner with the National Center for Teacher Residencies," said Dr. Katie Tonore, chair of curriculum and instruction for the WCU School of Education. The new initiative is an adaptation of WCU's "Alternate Route" program, which provides people who already have bachelor's degrees with the classes they need to earn certification as fourth- through 12th-grade classroom teachers. Ten students chosen for the program will take classes at William Carey this summer, earning teaching certificates. The K-12 partner school districts will hire them as classroom teachers for fall 2021.
Mississippi school districts targeted by ransomware attacks
A group of cybercriminals hacked the Vicksburg Warren School District's servers last month and claimed to have employees' personal information and internal school documents. A group that calls itself "Grief" breached the school's servers through a ransomware attack on May 28. While the district declined to answer whether it paid a ransom to the group to prevent the release or sale of personal information, Brett Callow, a threat analyst at the antivirus company Emisoft, said when the cybercriminals remove the threat from online, "it's usually an indicator they are in negotiations or have been paid." A district spokesperson said Thursday they are "working to determine what information might have been affected." A Mississippi Department of Education spokeswoman confirmed the district had contacted the department in recent weeks about the attack. George Co. School District also made the department aware it had been attacked in recent weeks. It's unclear if the attacks were carried out by the same group. The phenomenon is not new to Mississippi schools. In October of last year, Yazoo Co. School District was also the victim of a ransomware attack and was made to pay $300,000. At least four Mississippi school districts or universities have been targeted in ransomware attacks since 2013, according to a database compiled by StateScoop, though others may not have been publicly disclosed. The Oxford School District was targeted in 2016, though officials said they did not pay a ransom. The FBI investigated the Oxford hack.
Two Black Students Won School Honors. Then Came the Calls for a Recount.
At first, it seemed a joyous occasion. There was an audible gasp in the room, then boisterous cheering and applause when the announcement was made: Ikeria Washington and Layla Temple had been named 2021 valedictorian and salutatorian for West Point High School. The president of the local N.A.A.C.P. in West Point, Miss., Anner Cunningham, smiled as the two young women, both standout students, were photographed. "It was a beautiful and proud moment to witness two young, Black ladies standing side by side given such honors," Ms. Cunningham said. But almost immediately parents of other students near the top of the rankings raised questions about who should have been honored. Within days, and breaking with longstanding tradition, West Point High School decided to name two valedictorians and two salutatorians -- with two white students, Emma Berry and Dominic Borgioli, joining the Black students who had already been named. And in the nearly three weeks since that senior awards night, West Point, a mostly Black town in the northeastern part of the state, has been split largely along racial lines, roiled by a dispute that included threats, a potential lawsuit and allegations of racism posted on Facebook. Officials say that race had nothing to do with the events in West Point, but instead blamed a mistake made by a school counselor resulting largely from a confusion over which of two methods for calculating final grades should have been used.
AU President Jay Gogue announces plans to retire
Auburn University President Jay Gogue is looking to retire for a second time. Gogue said at Friday's Board of Trustees meeting that he is looking to leave the position soon, suggesting that the Trustees begin a search for a new president. "I think it's important for you guys to begin to think about a search for a new president," Gogue said. "I've been back a couple of years, and I think it's probably time for me to do that." Gogue said he will wait to retire until after the Board of Trustees have formed a search committee and found a candidate for the position. Normally, that process takes months, he said, meaning he could retire "conceivably by January," while the "longest would probably be next May." Initially, Gogue's current stint as president was supposed to be temporary, but in February 2020, the Board of Trustees decided to remove the interim tag from his title. Gogue previously served as president of Auburn from 2007–2017 and is also a two-time graduate of the University. "I'm getting older," Gogue said. "I was telling some people the other day, when you're 15 years old it takes forever to get 16 to drive a car, but when you get my age ... it comes a lot quicker." Gogue said he plans to stay in Auburn after he retires.
'An engineer's dream': Auburn University dedicates new structural engineering lab
There's a new $22 million Auburn University structural engineering lab on the corner of West Samford Avenue and Shug Jordan Parkway that is "an engineer's dream," according to Auburn Board of Trustee and 1973 mechanical engineering alumnus Charles McCrary. Auburn University's Samuel Ginn College of Engineering hosted a dedication and grand opening of the Advanced Structural Engineering Laboratory Friday afternoon. The lab's director Justin Marshall said the key component of the facility is the high bay laboratory complete with three major items: a strong wall and strong floor where tie-down points are seen and the 4,700-cubic-foot geotechnical test chamber. "The word strong is pretty descriptive -- it's very simple, but the reality is that's what it is," Marshall said. "We build and test structural components at full scale that would be used in bridges, buildings, stadiums, light poles, power poles, anything that's an above-ground structure. ..." The 42,000-square-foot building also features a concrete materials research and testing laboratory, wind-testing capabilities that can replicate hurricane-level loads, and faculty and graduate student spaces.
UF faculty union wins paid parental and medical leave in new contract
After over two years of negotiation for paid leave, among other faculty updates, the Board of Trustees ratified an agreement Thursday with the United Faculty of Florida. The collective bargaining agreement, a labor contract defining the relationship between UF and its faculty, is renegotiated every three years. This year, the union bargaining team won paid parental and medical leave, new promotion guidelines for non-tenure track faculty and a clearly defined way to report conflicts of interest and outside activities, among other updates. Helene Huet, union co-chief negotiator, has been fighting for paid parental and medical leave since she moved to the United States from France in 2005. "Having a baby is not a vacation and it's not an illness. So, you shouldn't have to use your vacation or sick days," Huet said. The union bargaining team initially asked for 19.5 weeks, the equivalent of a semester, but won eight weeks of paid parental leave and eight weeks of paid medical leave. Before this contract, faculty could borrow time from the university and pay it back later. They could also use vacation or sick days, but were allowed no medical leave.
Trial reveals federal agents falsely accused a U. of Tennessee professor born in China of spying
Armed with a Chinese press release translated on the fly via Google, federal agents falsely accused an internationally-renown welding technology expert at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville of being a spy and brought him to professional ruin. FBI Agent Kujtim Sadiku admitted last week in an ongoing trial in Knoxville that federal agents falsely accused former UTK associate professor Dr. Anming Hu of being a Chinese spy. Why? "You wanted to find a Chinese spy in Knoxville," defense attorney Phil Lomonaco offered as he cross-examined Sadiku on his tactics to secure a fraud indictment against Hu after the agency's economic espionage probe fell apart. Sadiku responded, "My job is to find spies, yes." More than three years after Sadiku launched a national security investigation against Hu, the agent still hasn't provided any proof that Hu is or was a spy. He says he didn't read nearly every document federal prosecutors are now relying on as proof Hu defrauded NASA. He says he doesn't remember the contents of others. The U.S. Department of Justice publicly announced in 2018 a "China Initiative" --- a directive to all federal agents to set their sights on ferreting out "economic" Chinese spies operating in America. It didn't take long for Chinese professors and researchers at American universities to become targets of that initiative. Hu isn't the only Chinese-born researcher to be charged as a result of the initiative. There have been a handful rounded up on various federal charges.
Tenured U. of Kentucky professor accused of research misconduct resigns before termination hearing
A tenured professor at the University of Kentucky has tendered his resignation, just days before the UK Board of Trustees was scheduled to hold a hearing on whether to terminate his employment. An attorney for Xianglin Shi and a university spokesman confirmed Friday that Shi has resigned effective June 15. The board hearing was scheduled for June 16. Shi, a professor in the Department of Toxicology and Cancer Biology in the College of Medicine who studied metal toxicity and cancer, and his wife, Zhuo Zhang, a fellow UK professor, had been accused by the university of significant research misconduct regarding published papers. UK began investigating in 2018, and multiple papers involving them were retracted. An internal committee made up of UK researchers spent a year looking into the matter and completed a 1,000-page report "that found several examples of falsified or fabricated data that were among numerous irregularities in seven grant proposals and in at least 13 scholarly papers sampled from their work," according to the university. UK said in 2019 that it was moving toward firing Shi and Zhang unless they resigned. Zhang resigned earlier in the process, UK spokesman Jay Blanton said.
U. of Kentucky announces new mask rules
The University of Kentucky announced last week that starting Monday, vaccinated people don't need to wear masks on campus, while unvaccinated people will still be required to do so. That guidance, in line with the state's, also says vaccinated people won't need to complete the daily COVID-19 screener for symptoms, while unvaccinated people must continue. Vaccines for members of the UK community are not mandatory, the university said, but they are "strongly encouraged." "We will, of course, continue to monitor this issue and change plans, if necessary, to ensure the health and safety of our campus," President Eli Capilouto wrote in a letter announcing the changes. The letter later stated: "The best path forward, especially to maximize the safety of you and others, and to be able to take full advantage of all campus resources and privileges is to GET VACCINATED." Those who are vaccinated can upload proof at so "testing and screening can be modified." Unvaccinated students will still be required to get COVID-19 tests upon entry to campus and then regularly afterward.
U. of Missouri counters dining services workers' complaints over hours, policy changes
On the steps of the Plaza 900 dining hall, 30 University of Missouri employees voiced their frustration Wednesday over lack of hours and job security. A few signs read: Shame on You MU. Laborers' Local 955, a branch of LiUNA and the union representing these employees, said the university substantially cut hours for campus dining workers this summer. MU spokesperson Christian Basi said the university offered summer employment options for full-time employees to avoid reducing their pay or health insurance benefits. Union spokesperson Andrew Hutchinson said that the union asked MU to cover the employee portion of health insurance for workers who had experienced declining hours and that the university refused. However, Basi maintained that was not the case. Basi said it is not unusual for campus dining services to shut down during certain times of the year. This summer, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, MU will not host overnight camps, and as a result, fewer dining locations will be needed. Campus dining services has 125 employees, and about 30 were offered alternative work. Basi said some part-time employees were not offered summer work.
End of an era: U. of Memphis film professor David Appleby retires after four-decade career
David Appleby's high school English teacher in New Rochelle, New York, was Anne Schwerner, mother of Michael Schwerner, one of the three young civil rights workers abducted and murdered near Philadelphia, Mississippi, during the "Freedom Summer" of 1964. "Those murders struck all of us in high school pretty hard," said Appleby, 72. "So that was really the prism through which I saw much of what was happening in the South." Understandably, Appleby had concerns about moving down South, when he first considered accepting a teaching job in the nascent film program at what was then known as Memphis State University. "I had never been in the South, and I was a little bit nervous about it because growing up in the North during the civil rights movement, the portrait of the South you get is not flattering," he said. But Appleby -- experienced as a road manager for bands and trained as a documentary filmmaker -- also was curious "to see what the truth was about this mythical place, with its music and the Mississippi River. "Obviously, I liked it. I stayed for 44 years." And, of course, "I found out there were stories here, stories I could tell." He retired last month, not far behind his University of Memphis film colleagues Steve Ross (who retired in 2019, and whose films include an adaptation of "The Old Forest" by Pulitzer Prize-winner Peter Taylor) and Allison Graham (who retired in 2020, and is the author of the essential book "Framing the South: Hollywood, Television, and Race During the Civil Rights Struggle").
Why Professors Should Ask Students For Feedback Long Before the Semester Is Over
About a month into each semester, Gayle Golden sets aside a little time to ask her students about their learning. The journalism instructor at the University of Minnesota keeps the process simple, with brief questions similar to these: What should keep happening in this class? What should we start doing in this class? What should we stop doing in this class? Golden collects the results, which students give anonymously, then studies the feedback and makes a list of all the information she's received. During the next class period, she discusses the findings with her students. She tells them which suggestions she plans to put into practice, which recommendations she can't act on, and why. "If they told me something like, 'I want no deadlines,' I will say, 'I heard a call for no deadlines, I understand deadlines are hard, but I can't do that in this class, and the reason is this -- sorry,'" Golden explains. "By saying that, I have told them I have heard them." This practice is called early-term feedback. Experts say it's an effective strategy for improving teaching and learning quickly -- sometimes as soon as the very next class period. It can be done with the basics -- pencil and paper -- or with sophisticated digital tools, like chatbots.
Is online campus counseling here to stay?
Before COVID-19 came to campus, mental health treatment was an in-person affair. Fewer than 8% of colleges offered telephone therapy in 2019, and only 3% offered video, a survey of campus counseling center directors worldwide showed. But when the coronavirus forced classes nationwide to go online in March 2020, it did the same to campus counseling. At first, the shift was challenging. State licensing requirements made it difficult for colleges to treat out-of-state students, while some students lacked the privacy or technology to attend counseling remotely. Some students and counselors also found the online format awkward. But now, more than a year into a pandemic that has upended much of higher education, college administrators say they've come to see the advantages of online counseling and plan to preserve it as an option post-pandemic. The global health crisis is reshaping campus mental healthcare in other ways, too. With many students still studying remotely, colleges have had to rely on faculty to recognize and respond to signs of student mental distress. To better prepare them for this role, many colleges have added or expanded training to help faculty members identify students who are struggling and connect them with counselors.
HBCU Leaders Urge Biden Administration to Select Executive Director of White House Initiative on HBCUs Soon
With the continued rise in anti-Asian violence fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, President Joe Biden signed an executive order last month to establish the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. On the same day, Krystal Ka'ai, executive director of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, was selected to lead the initiative. As the White House continues to fill key leadership positions, the executive director position for the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) remains noticeably vacant. Given the "insurmountable amount of mess cleaning" the Biden administration has faced since taking office in January, Dr. Marybeth Gasman, the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Endowed Chair in Education and a distinguished professor at Rutgers University, assumes the focus has been on addressing those tasks at hand -- like mitigating COVID-19 -- first. "The Department of Education and the White House have been doing a lot of damage control since Trump was president," she said. "I am hopeful that they will have an executive director in place within the next month or two and that this timeline shouldn't have a negative impact."
Education Department delays major student aid overhaul
The Biden administration has notified Congress that it needs more time to implement a bipartisan law overhauling how students apply for federal financial aid, citing challenges with decades-old technology at the Education Department. Department officials on Friday said the new, simplified application for federal financial aid that Congress approved last year will not be ready in time for the 2023-24 academic year, as required by the law. The department instead plans to roll out the redesigned form -- the Free Application for Federal Student Aid -- a year later, by the 2024-25 school year. The delay was first reported by POLITICO. Congress included the changes to the FAFSA as part of the year-end government funding and Covid relief package that then-President Donald Trump signed in December. Simplifying the form was a longtime priority of Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who retired last year. Officials at the Education Department said that the Biden administration strongly supports the policy of making the FAFSA easier for students. But they said that transitioning to a brand new FAFSA was complicated by antiquated systems at the agency.
Justices defer Harvard case on race in college admissions
With abortion and guns already on the agenda, the conservative-dominated Supreme Court is considering adding a third blockbuster issue -- whether to ban consideration of race in college admissions. The justices on Monday put off a decision about whether they will hear an appeal claiming that Harvard discriminates against Asian American applicants, in a case that could have nationwide repercussions. The court asked the Justice Department to weigh in on the case, a process that typically takes several months. "It would be a big deal because of the nature of college admissions across the country and because of the stakes of having this issue before the Supreme Court," said Gregory Garre, who twice defended the University of Texas' admissions program before the justices. The presence of three appointees of former President Donald Trump could prompt the court to take up the case, even though it's been only five years since its last decision in a case about affirmative action in higher education. The Supreme Court has weighed in on college admissions several times over more than 40 years. The current dispute harks back to its first big affirmative action case in 1978, when Justice Lewis Powell set out the rationale for taking account of race even as the court barred the use of racial quotas in admissions.
How A Bill Working Through Congress Could Reshape American Scientific Leadership
M. Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, writes: The Senate passed important legislation on Tuesday to help reinvigorate American science and innovation. The bipartisan bill, the U.S. Competition and Innovation Act, would authorize significant increases in federal scientific investment while giving the National Science Foundation authority to make investments in science aimed at catapulting discoveries made in the lab into innovations that improve quality of life and fuel economic growth. This investment could hardly be more urgent. Over the past several decades, federal investment in research and development has flatlined as a share of the economy even as our global competitors have jumpstarted innovation and economic growth through such investment. When measured as a share of the economy, U.S. investment in these areas is just a third of what it was at its peak. Yet U.S. leadership in research and development now is arguably more important than ever before. As population growth slows, breakthrough technologies that boost productivity will become more important to boosting economic growth and lifting living standards. And one needs to look no further than the dawning sectors of the future -- from biotechnology to robotics, artificial intelligence to cybersecurity -- to see that U.S. primacy in these areas has massive ethical and geopolitical implications. Fairness and democratic values should be embedded in them.
Successful special sessions often began without consensus Gov. Tate Reeves wants on medical marijuana
Bobby Harrison writes for Mississippi Today: Gov. Tate Reeves is adamant that he will not call a special session to enact medical marijuana and to fix the ballot initiative process until legislative leadership reaches a consensus on how to deal with the separate but related issues. ... Both House Speaker Philip Gunn and Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, who presides over the Senate, seem to support the governor's position and are apparently trying to reach that consensus so the oft-discussed special session can be called. Even Sen. Hob Bryan, the Democrat from Amory who often disagrees with the governor and who chairs the Public Health Committee where a medical marijuana bill would originate, concurs that a special session should not be called until consensus is reached. "If I was governor, I would not call one before then," Bryan said earlier this month. Bryan's Senate Public Health Committee held a hearing recently to try to determine what should be entailed in legislation to legalize medical marijuana. Not holding a special session until there is consensus, no doubt, is good fiscal policy to prevent legislators from being in prolonged session costing taxpayers more money. But if reaching consensus had always been required to call a special session, some important special sessions never would have occurred.

One More Time at The Dude
The Dude will see one final game in 2021, as the No. 3 Mississippi State baseball program dropped a 9-1 decision to No. 4 Notre Dame on Sunday (June 13) in the best-of-three NCAA Starkville Super Regional at Dudy Noble Field. Another huge crowd packed itself into The Dude, as 13,971 fans -- the second largest postseason crowd in NCAA history -- came through the gates. Mississippi State now owns the top eight all-time largest on-campus crowds in college baseball history, along with the top seven all-time Super Regional crowds since the format began in 1999. Both offenses struck in the first inning, with Mississippi State (44-16) getting one run and Notre Dame (34-12) getting two runs to take the lead. The Irish offense didn't slow down and scored four more in the fourth inning and two in the sixth inning to make it an 8-1 lead. A run in the seventh capped the scoring at 9-1 to force the winner-take-all game on Monday, June 14 at 6 p.m. The game will air on either ESPN2 or ESPNU.
Bulldogs shut down by Notre Dame's Aidan Tyrell to even super regional series
Notre Dame pitcher Aidan Tyrell pitched the best game of his career on Sunday night, and he saved the Fighting Irish's season in the process. Tyrell, a junior left-handed pitcher, pitched 7 1/3 innings and struck out a career-high six batters as No. 10 Notre Dame beat No. 7 Mississippi State, 9-1, in Game 2 of the super regional series at Dudy Noble Field. Tyrell's performance helped tie the best-of-three series at 1. Game 3 of the super regional will be today at 6 p.m., with the winner advancing to the College World Series. "We couldn't stay off the ball down," Lemonis said. "You have to give Tyrell credit. We just continued to chase down. In most of his starts, he doesn't get a ton of strikeouts. We just could not stay off that low pitch tonight. He did a really good job of mixing and pitching." Mississippi State (44-16) scored its lone run just two pitches into the game. Rowdey Jordan led off the game with a triple off the right field wall on the first pitch. Tanner Allen drove in Jordan on a sacrifice fly to center field on the second pitch of the game to put Mississippi State up, 1-0. The Bulldogs, however, couldn't score any more against the lefty.
Notre Dame beats Mississippi State baseball, forces Game 3 with College World Series berth on the line
Mississippi State baseball will have to wait until Monday to try to punch a ticket to the College World Series for the third straight postseason. The No. 7 seed Bulldogs lost to No. 10 Notre Dame 9-1 in Game 2 of the Starkville Super Regional on Sunday. Mississippi State (44-16) and Notre Dame (34-12) will play in a winner-takes-all Game 3 at 6 p.m. CT Monday. Notre Dame junior starter Aidan Tyrell stymied the same Mississippi State batting order that scored nine runs in a Game 1 victory. Tyrell struck out six and gave up five hits in 7 1/3 innings. MSU third-year freshman Christian MacLeod, meanwhile, gave up seven runs -- six earned -- in five innings. Notre Dame junior shortstop Zack Prajzner had another solid day at the plate in going 3-for-4 with two RBIs. He went 3-for-4 with four RBIs in Game 1. Mississippi State scored its only run in the first inning. Senior center fielder Rowdey Jordan led off with a triple, and senior right fielder Tanner Allen drove him home on a sacrifice fly on the next pitch.
From Starkville to Biloxi: Ethan Small's return to Mississippi
Two years after Ethan Small wrapped up a college career for the ages pitching for Mississippi State, he's back in the baseball-crazed Magnolia State, pitching for the Shuckers. "Obviously a lot of support here. Mississippi is a great baseball state. You have Ole Miss and Mississippi State going to supers, I'm here, and we have a lot of fans," Small said. "It's a great time for Mississippi baseball." With a minor-league ERA of 1.85 and 82 strikeouts in just under 50 innings of work, his numbers pop off the page -- but the road to the minors wasn't easy. Small underwent Tommy John surgery in 2016, and missed his entire sophomore season in 2017. "It was tough. No doubt, it was tough," he said. "I remember coming back, initially I was slated to be a reliever. I ended up meeting with some of the coaches at State and telling them I wanted to start. We had some of those conversations, and obviously it was a much longer road than I could explain. That year (2018) honestly turned about to be a pretty good year." "Pretty good" may be selling it short. He was fourth nationally in games started and top-20 in strikeouts. In 2019, he took home the award for national pitcher of the year. After spending 2020 at the Brewers' alternate site in Appleton, Wisconsin, he currently leads the Shuckers in strikeouts. He may not be back to his old stomping grounds of Dudy Noble Field, but his MSU passion still runs deep. Even though he's set to pitch in the Shuckers' series against the Braves, he'll still have an eye on his former squad. "Go 'Dogs. See you in Omaha."
NFL legend Joe Theismann shows up to watch Notre Dame, Mississippi State baseball game
Joe Theismann showed up to support his alma mater in Starkville on Saturday and watched Mississippi State against Notre Dame baseball in the NCAA Tournament Starkville Super Regional. Theismann played quarterback at Notre Dame from 1968-70. He then played for the Washington Football Team at quarterback from 1974-85. Theismann wore a navy blue shirt to Saturday's game in Starkville. Before the game, Theismann tweeted, "At the ND / MSU game getting ready to watch the Irish move on to Omaha." They showed Theismann on the TV broadcast getting excited and standing up for Zack Prajzner's three-run home run. Mississippi State defeated Notre Dame 9-8 on Saturday.
Meet the Mississippi State fan and veteran drawing love and loathing in Tucson
It's always been Mississippi State for Justin Grantham. Growing up in Ellisville, Grantham visited Starkville often. His father went to MSU, and the family had season tickets at Dudy Noble Field. "It was Bulldogs from Day 1," Grantham said. But a month and a half ago, Grantham left his home state for Arizona, where he is currently stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson after twelve and a half years in the Marines. And this weekend, he's been able to stay connected with the school he loves -- by rooting against its biggest rival 1,500 miles from home. A longtime baseball fan who played the sport in high school, Grantham planned to attend the Tucson Super Regional when he saw the University of Arizona sweep through its NCAA Regional. Then the Oxford Regional wrapped up last Monday, and Grantham saw who would be visiting Hi Corbett Field. "I would have gone no matter who they were playing, but when I found out they were playing Ole Miss, I kind of wanted to go and help cheer on the Wildcats," Grantham said. He bought a ticket for Friday night's Game 1, donning a blue Arizona hat and a maroon Mississippi State jersey. Grantham said Sunday afternoon he had yet to decide whether to go. An earlier event, after all, took precedence: the second game of the Starkville Super Regional between his beloved Bulldogs and Notre Dame. "I'm definitely not going to go until the State game's over, because that's the No. 1 priority: watching that game," he said.
NC St, Texas, Tennessee, Arizona lock up CWS bids; Hogs out
North Carolina State, Texas, Tennessee and Arizona locked up spots in the College World Series on Sunday, with the Wolfpack knocking out No. 1 national seed Arkansas. Two days after losing its NCAA super regional opener by 19 runs, Jose Torres hit a tiebreaking home run in the top of the ninth inning off SEC pitcher of the year Kevin Kopps and NC State beat the Razorbacks 3-2 in the deciding Game 3. Tennessee defeated LSU 15-6 and Texas beat South Florida 12-4 to complete two-game sweeps, and Arizona won a three-game series with a 16-3 victory over Mississippi. Virginia beat Dallas Baptist 4-0 and Notre Dame defeated Mississippi State 9-1 to force deciding third games Monday. No. 2 Vanderbilt and No. 9 Stanford were the first teams to claim spots in the CWS, which opens Saturday in Omaha, Nebraska.
Arizona punches CWS ticket with 16-3 romp over Mississippi
Branden Boissiere went 4-for-6 with two doubles, driving in five runs and scoring three, and No. 5 seed Arizona pounded out 20 hits to roll to a 16-3 victory over No. 12 seed Mississippi in the rubber game of the Tucson Super Regional on Sunday, earning the Wildcats a trip to the College World Series. Arizona (45-16) scored a run in the bottom of the first when Boissiere doubled with two outs and scored on a Tony Bullard single. Ole Miss (45-22) pulled even in the top of the third when Hayden Dunhurst led off with a single, took third on a Hayden Leatherwood double and scored on a sacrifice fly by Cael Baker. Arizona took over from there. Donta Williams doubled with one out in the bottom of the third and scored on Jacob Berry's 17th home run of the season to put the Wildcats up 3-1. Arizona added seven more runs in the fourth -- on a two-run homer by Ryan Holgate, an RBI double by Williams, a three-run double by Boissiere and an RBI double by Kobe Kato -- to put the game out of reach.
UGA hires new track and field coach Caryl Smith Gilbert fresh off a national championship
Georgia is replacing one national championship-winning track and field coach with another. Caryl Smith Gilbert, Southern Cal's director of track and field, is moving from the Pac-12 to the SEC to take over as head coach for the Bulldogs. She guided the USC women's team to two NCAA outdoor championships including capturing this season's title on Saturday in Eugene, Ore. It's the first head coaching hire for first-year athletic director Josh Brooks who also will be picking a successor for longtime softball coach Lu Harris-Champer who retired on June 6. The move comes a day after Petros Kyprianou's time as Georgia coach ended. The school officially announced Kyprianou was leaving Sunday morning and announced his replacement more than an hour later. He is walking away at the end of his contract due to the school not committing to facility upgrades he wanted to keep up with other elite programs. The school and coach had known for weeks that they were parting. Smith Gilbert will have the title director of men's and women's track and field at Georgia. She will be the first female to head a men's program at Georgia.

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