Thursday, January 23, 2020   
SMART sees 20.5-percent rise in ridership in 2019
The Starkville-MSU Area Rapid Transit system saw increased ridership in 2019 for its campus and city routes, director Jeremiah Dumas reported to the board of aldermen Tuesday. Systemwide, SMART vehicles carried more than 770,000 riders in 2019, up 20.5 percent from 2018. The city routes, alone, saw a more than 15-percent increase -- with 279,358 riders last year compared to 235,943 in 2018. SMART, which is an expansion of the on-campus transit system at Mississippi State University, began offering buses and routes in the city in 2014, funded primarily through a Federal Transit Authority grant. Mayor Lynn Spruill acknowledged after the meeting the skepticism among citizens in the early years of SMART that a public transit system could sustain in Starkville, some of that fueled by claims buses with no passengers were clogging the streets. Now, she said, the numbers are speaking for themselves. "I'm such a fan of the SMART project," Spruill told The Dispatch.
Latest infrastructure development in Starkville making it easier for pedestrians, bicyclists to travel
The path to the Mississippi State University campus continues to expand. Starkville aldermen have approved the next step in building a multi-use path connecting town and campus. The pathway will begin on Spring Street and continue to the campus amphitheater. This is part of the agreement between the city, the state and the university to connect the dots. The first stage -- a wide sidewalk on Locksley Way opened to walkers and bikers a couple of months ago. Starkville's Mayor Lynn Spruill said the goal is to make getting from point A to point B as smooth as possible. "It's a quality of life issue for us. And so students, millennials, the kids that we want to come to school and stay here, find sidewalks, and pedestrian access and bicycling and that sort of thing, a very attractive element to a community," said Mayor Spruill. "It's also important for retirees," she added.
$1 billion tech development eyes North Star
The North Star Industrial Park might include a project that seeks to establish itself in all three counties in the Golden Triangle with an investment of $3 billion -- $1 billion per county -- Golden Triangle Development LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins said Wednesday. The project, codenamed Project Trinity, would occupy the entire west end of the park, Higgins said in an update on the park's progress for Starkville and Oktibbeha County leaders at the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems building at the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park. He presented a list of planned occupants for the land at the northwest intersection of Highways 389 and 82. "We're going to ask you if you would just kind of dream with us," Higgins said. Higgins described Project Trinity to The Dispatch as the arrival of an "advanced company" with a "big footprint" that would create 100 to 150 jobs "technical in nature" for six-figure wages. He declined to provide further details.
Joe Max Higgins encourages officials to pursue $1B project for industrial park
The city of Starkville, the Oktibbeha County Economic Development Association and Oktibbeha County officials gathered Wednesday to listen to a presentation from the Golden Triangle Development LINK on the future of North Star Industrial Park. Joe Max Higgins, CEO of the LINK, gave the presentation and said the purpose of the meeting was to inform officials on the steps necessary to potentially secure new projects. One of the projects Higgins presented was codenamed "Project Trinity." If the company, who Higgins did not name, decided to build at North Star, it would take up roughly 150 acres, completely filling the western half of the $16 million industrial park. The capital investment for the project, or the amount of money the company has pledged to use to begin their operation in North Star, is $1 billion, Higgins said. The project has been in development for just over one year at the LINK, and Higgins said it was the type of project he had not yet seen in his career.
Oktibbeha supes move forward with county lake funding search
Supervisors voted 3-2 Tuesday for a measure to potentially foot half the bill for about $8 million of construction at the county lake dam -- "the most pressing issue in Oktibbeha County," District 3 Supervisor Marvell Howard said. The board also voted to hold a public hearing at the chancery courthouse on Feb. 24 to hear people's concerns about the state of the levee, which showed early signs of breaching last week. A breach would have forced about 250 people to evacuate at least 130 households and flooded 17,500 acres of nearby land, from the area immediately around the lake northwest of Starkville all the way to parts of southwest Clay County. Supervisor Bricklee Miller of District 4 and Board President John Montgomery of District 1 said they were hesitant to dedicate $4 million in taxpayer dollars without public input and with other multimillion-dollar projects on the horizon for the next few years, including a new building for the county health department.
Farmers given details of Delta flood
Mary Catherine Brooks, extension associate at the Delta Research and Extension Center, spoke at the Delta Ag Expo on her experiences photographing damage from the 2019 flooding in the South Delta. The Mississippi Levee Board reports that the rainfall from April 2018 to March 2019 was the highest for any 12-month period in the United States in the Ohio Valley, the Midwest and the Northeast since 1895. "I've seen more plumbing maps, levee maps and inundation maps than I can recall but not being a Delta native, I don't really have too much experience with flooding and never really understood the severity of the flooding that our neighbors were facing in the South Delta until this past year," said Brooks. There saw 548,000 acres of land flooded, including 231,000 acres of crop land, taking a big chunk out of Mississippi's farming season. There are still multiple studies being conducted to determine the economic impact of the flood, as well as work on the long-term environmental impact.
Backwater flood returns to the Delta
Backwater has pushed its way back into farmland in the Delta putting homeowners and farmers on edge. The water levels at the Mississippi River by Vicksburg and the Steele Bayou Gates are very similar to how the 2019 backwater flood began. One week after the Steele Bayou Gates were forced to close the flooding is back, rain runoff and backwater in the Delta has nowhere to go. Painting a similar picture to how the 2019 flood began putting a big setback on agriculture business. "It's just exactly like it was in January of 2019," Yazoo County farmer Clay Adcock told us. The good news right now is planting season is still a month away and by Feb. 2nd the Mississippi River is predicted to drop below flood level allowing the Bayou Gates to re-open. "Farmers and me particularly are always optimistic," Adcock stated. "The record breaking things that had to happen in 2019 to cause that flood the chances of that happening this year are not that great."
Northrop Grumman expanding, adding 40 jobs in Iuka
Aerospace and defense leader Northrop Grumman Corp. is expanding in Iuka, investing $8.3 million and creating 40 jobs immediately. Northrop Grumman has more than 200 employees at its 320,000-square-foot Iuka facility producing large composite aerospace structures for its Antares, Pegasus and Minotaur launch vehicles and United Launch Alliance's Atlas V and Delta IV launch vehicles. Among other work, the company recently started production of composite structures for its new OmegA mid-to-large launch vehicle. The Mississippi Development Authority is providing a $600,000 grant for infrastructure improvements and the construction of a warehouse. MDA Executive Director Glenn McCullough Jr., said: "The teamwork of the Tishomingo County Development Foundation, Tishomingo County Board of Supervisors, Tennessee Valley Authority and MDA was instrumental in facilitating this industry leader's expansion in our state."
Mississippi Lottery deposits $7.6 million in state coffers
The Mississippi Lottery netted the state more than $7.6 million in its first month. The Mississippi Lottery Corporation announced its first deposit Wednesday, saying people have been buying about $10 million worth of scratch-off tickets each week. At this rate, the Mississippi Lottery would generate more than $90 million annually in scratch-off tickets alone, much of which will go to fix roads and bridges. Powerball and Mega Millions games will go on sale in Mississippi on Jan. 30. "We are very pleased with these early results," Tom Shaheen, president of the Lottery Corporation, said in a statement. "Retailer and player support have been fantastic in our collective efforts to raise money for roads, bridges and education needs for the state of Mississippi." Mississippi's lottery kicked off Nov. 25 with scratch-off lottery tickets.
A matter of national security: Nutrition, obesity affecting military readiness, generals say
During World War II, approximately 40% of recruits couldn't enlist due to poor nutrition. Today, over 70% of would-be recruits are ineligible for a number of contributing factors, including nutrition and obesity. It's become a matter of national security, according to an organization of retired generals. "Seventy years ago, a military leader said a lack of nutritional food in our children and young adults contributed to military readiness," said retired Army Maj. Gen. Larry Harrington. "We've made some improvements but we have a long, long way to go." Mission: Readiness is a national group made up of over 75 retired admirals and general across the country that focuses on helping children stay in school, in shape and out of trouble. The organization issued a report Wednesday, Improving Childhood Nutrition in Mississippi, that highlighted the need for federally funded programs that give children access to fresh and healthy food. Wednesday morning, three generals from Mission: Readiness met with agencies from across Mississippi in a roundtable discussion in Jackson about child nutrition.
Mississippi Tourism Association Hosts 2020 Day at the Capitol
Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and tourism professionals from the Mississippi Tourism Association gathered today at the state Capitol to tout the impact of their industry on Mississippi's economy. Though not in attendance, Governor Tate Reeves, a tourism supporter noted, "Mississippians have diverse, fascinating stories to tell, and I appreciate the thousands of people in our tourism industry who help us share those stories every day. There's a reason we're called the 'Hospitality State.' Once a visitor sees the beauty of our state and experiences our hospitality firsthand, they want to come back. I thank the Mississippi Tourism Association for all they do for our small business owners and for our great state." MTA coordinated the event, drawing tourism partners from convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce, attractions and other entities from around the state to celebrate the industry and discuss with legislators key tourism issues that affect our state and to celebrate the Tourism Promotion Act which will permanently fund tourism advertising and marketing for our state tourism office, Visit Mississippi.
Trey Dellinger to step in as Chief of Staff for Speaker Philip Gunn
Trey Dellinger has been chosen to be Chief of Staff for Speaker of the House Philip Gunn. Dellinger has spent the majority of his adult career in private law, 17 years of which were with Wells Marble where he defended businesses and individuals from civil lawsuits. In 2015 he was selected by the Mississippi Business Journal as one of Mississippi's top 40 attorneys for Leadership in Law. He received his undergraduate degree in Physics, graduating magna cum laude from the University of Mississippi in 1992 and a Juris Doctorate from University of Mississippi School of Law in 1996. Most recently, he served as the State Director for the Mississippi chapter of Americans for Prosperity. He served on the Madison County Republican Executive Committee before his time with AFP.
Rome: Community in the Shadow of Parchman Endures the Storm
Storm clouds filled the sky and sirens of state highway patrol cars shrieked through the nearly empty streets of this small community on a recent Friday afternoon as troopers transported inmates from Mississippi State Penitentiary to a private prison just up the road. Rome, located fewer than five miles from Parchman Farm in Sunflower County, was bracing for bad weather while enduring a political and human rights squall after one the nation's most notorious prisons began to receive national media attention due to the living conditions of the inmates and recent violence that left several prisoners dead. The unincorporated community is primarily African American and has a population of fewer than 200 people. A large number of the residents either work at Parchman or have retired from the prison. The village seems to be almost as guarded as the prison that sits in its backyard. Some residents sit on their porches and gaze with wonder as unfamiliar vehicles pass through. It is a community where most people know each other and could tell you exactly who lives in the area.
A New Face of White Supremacy: Plots Expose Danger of the 'Base'
The plans were as sweeping as they were chilling: "Derail some trains, kill some people, and poison some water supplies." It was the blunt, bloody prescription for sparking a race war by a member of the Base, a white supremacist group that has come under intense scrutiny amid a series of stunning recent arrests. Federal agents, who had secretly recorded those remarks in a bugged apartment during a domestic terrorism investigation, pounced on seven members of the group last week in advance of a rally on Monday by gun rights advocates in Richmond, Va. Three members of one cell in Maryland affiliated with the group plotted attacks at the rally, hoping to ignite wider violence that would lead to the creation of a white ethno-state, law enforcement officials said. The details that emerged in court and in documents from active cases in three other states -- Georgia, Wisconsin and New Jersey -- unveiled a disturbing new face of white supremacy.
World leaders convene in Jerusalem to remember Holocaust and counter anti-Semitism
Leaders from almost 50 countries gathered in Jerusalem Thursday to mark 75 years since the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp and, drawing on the memory of its horrors, to mount a united stand against the resurgence of anti-Semitism around the world. Vice President Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi were among the dignitaries and delegations filling Yad Vashem, the city's somber memorial to the Holocaust's 6 million Jewish victims, for the World Holocaust Forum, one of the largest international events ever hosted by Israel. With about 100 of the fast-dwindling number of Holocaust survivors present, participants warned that the hatred that fostered the industrial murder that took many of their families is festering again in incidents both trivial and terrorizing, from swastikas painted on gravestones to mass shootings at synagogues. Now is the time, organizers said, to turn honoring the victims of the Holocaust into a real-time call to action.
Most Americans Are Lonely, And Our Workplace Culture May Not Be Helping
More than three in five Americans are lonely, with more and more people reporting feeling like they are left out, poorly understood and lacking companionship, according to a new survey released Thursday. Workplace culture and conditions may contribute to Americans' loneliness. And loneliness may be on the rise. The report, led by the health insurer Cigna, found a 7% rise in loneliness since 2018, when the survey was first conducted. The report found several factors that were linked to increased feelings of isolation in 2019. Loneliness appeared to be more common among men. The survey found 63% of men to be lonely, compared with 58% of women. Social media use was tied to loneliness as well, with 72% of very heavy social media users considered lonely, as compared with 51% of light users. But feelings of isolation were prevalent across generations. Gen Z -- people who were 18 to 22 years old when surveyed -- had the highest average loneliness score on the 80-point scale (about 50), and boomers had the lowest (about 43).
How you can meet Chancellor Glenn Boyce next week
Senior University of Mississippi leadership plans to come together in the Lyceum on Tuesday, Jan. 28 and open the doors to students from 5:30 to 7 p.m. for questions, conversation and dinner. All senior leaders, including Chancellor Glenn Boyce, Provost Noel Wilkin and Athletics Director Keith Carter are committed to attending the first Open Doors event and hearing from students, according to Assistant Vice Chancellor for Diversity Shawnboda Mead. "We hope this is the start of a new tradition for the UM Community that provides an opportunity to develop genuine connections among students and senior leadership," Mead said. "Given the casual nature of the event, we believe Open Doors is an excellent opportunity for students to not only learn about the various roles of senior leadership but also start meaningful conversations that will hopefully continue beyond the event." Mead said Open Doors builds upon The Longest Table event that the university hosted in the Grove on Oct. 27, which was Boyce's first public appearance since being appointed the university's 18th chancellor.
Ole Miss Dining introduces new food delivery robots
The University of Mississippi is continuing to evolve 20 years into the 21st century, and one of its latest examples of evolution deals with how students can receive food. In conjunction with the start of the Spring semester, Ole Miss Dining debuted food delivery robots from Starship Technologies. The fleet of 30 robots can deliver meals, snacks or drinks at the push of a button. A demonstration of the robots' capabilities was held in front of the Ole Miss Student Union on Wednesday. Meetings were held with the University and Starship Technologies last September, and the robots began being seen around the end of Fall semester as they were mapping the campus. "It did happen very quickly, actually," said Ole Miss Dining and Aramark marketing manager Amy Greenwood. "It happened a lot faster than we expected. It was great."
Ole Miss rolls out food delivery robots on campus
University of Mississippi students returning to campus for the spring semester will now share the sidewalks with a fleet of autonomous food delivery robots. A partnership between Starship Technologies and Ole Miss Dining Services brought the service to the university, making Ole Miss the first in the Southeastern Conference to have autonomous delivery robots. "Ole Miss Dining is focused on the continued utilization of advanced technology to enrich the student, faculty and staff dining experience," resident district manager of Ole Miss Dining Services Chip Burr said. "We are excited about the expansion of our mobile ordering operation and the new opportunities this partnership creates." A Starship spokesperson was unable to provide specific details on the financial aspects of the deal with Ole Miss because it's "a private commercial agreement between Starship and the university's food service contractor," but they did share that no tuition or student fees were used to pay for the service.
East Mississippi Community College staff assume new leadership duties
Three East Mississippi Community College employees with more than five decades of combined service at the college are assuming new administrative duties. Women's head basketball coach Sharon Thompson has been named athletic director and will handle day-to-day operations of the college's sports programs. She will report to Executive Director of College Advancement & Athletics Marcus Wood, whose duties have been expanded to include oversight of athletic programs. Dean of Students Tony Montgomery will additionally oversee the Transportation, Facilities & Grounds Management, Campus Police and Food Services departments on the Scooba Campus. Montgomery, Thompson and Wood are assuming the duties of Mickey Stokes, the college's former vice president of the Scooba campus and director of athletics who has accepted a position with Coastal Alabama Community College. He retired from EMCC this January after 34 years of service to the school.
Co-Lin's Mandy Hart Case nominated for national Instructor of the Year
One local educator may be on the way to receiving national recognition. Copiah-Lincoln Community College Automation and Control Technology instructor Mandy Hart Case has been chosen as a finalist to receive the 2020 American Technical Education Association Instructor of the Year Award. In March, Case will travel to the 2020 ATEA National Conference in Camden, New Jersey, where the teacher of the year will be announced. Camden is directly across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, and Case said she is excited to see the city. "I was very humbled and very honored, that they would do this," she said. "I just found out Tuesday." Case said automation and control technician students find jobs in the medical field and manufacturing, and as many as 15 percent of students even to go work for the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station. "That's the great thing about our program," she said. "It's a really broad field."
VP Candidate Recap: Lady Cox places emphasis on communication, collaboration
Lady Cox is no stranger to the SEC. A 1998 graduate of Mississippi State University, Cox went on to earn her master's degree from Auburn University followed by a doctorate in higher education from the University of Georgia. "I absolutely love the SEC, and what I love about it is the competition," she said told a Ferguson theatre audience on Wednesday. Cox grew up in Starkville, Mississippi, home to a student population nearly matching the town's population. Located only an hour away from Tuscaloosa, her family made frequent visits to University Mall to shop. These trips were often accompanied with a stop at Krispy Kreme, a luxury she said Starkville did not have at the time. "For me, my whole life, Tuscaloosa and The University of Alabama has been a place where good things happen," Cox said. Cox is the fourth of five candidates to present in an open forum for the vice president of student life, a position that opened after David Grady's resignation in July.
Career, college not either-or choice, Alabama education officials say
Alabama's students don't have to choose between college and career, a top state education official told business and industry leaders on Tuesday. The Alabama state department of education's director of workforce development Dr. Brock Kelley the group of 150 gathered during Tuesday's quarterly meeting of East AlabamaWorks in Gadsden the perspective that students have to choose between a career or college is outdated. "We're trying to say you can do both," he said. All students will need some type of training and education after high school, he added, and in many cases, a person's post-secondary training can be paid for by their employer. Career and technical education is a pathway, he said. Kelley shared an illustration of multiple pathways connected at various junctions and said this is how education and workforce preparation is conducted. "There are multiple entry and exit points."
UF: Former faculty did not disclose China affiliations
A University of Florida chemistry professor who worked in Gainesville for 24 years simultaneously served as vice president of a Chinese university, got federal funding from China and ran a business -- all without UF's knowledge. Florida House representatives discussed this person, identified only as "Faculty 1," and two other former faculty members at a Tuesday meeting of the recently created Select Committee on the Integrity of Research Institutions in Tallahassee. The committee's 12 representatives addressed at the meeting the issue of undisclosed foreign influence on research institutions, including at UF. The group also discussed similar issues concerning Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, which has been under scrutiny after its former president/CEO and center director resigned for violations of conflict of interest rules through work in China. In Gainesville, four faculty members have left the state's flagship university after UF and the National Institutes of Health found possible ties to foreign institutions that are not in line with funding and research rules.
U. of Tennessee announces paid leave policy for organ donors
The University of Tennessee announced a new policy that gives paid time off for employees to donate a body organ or bone marrow. The Body Organ and Bone Marrow Donation Leave Policy gives eligible faculty and staff up to six weeks of paid time off to donate a body organ and up to one week of paid time off to donate bone marrow. The policy was named the Laura McGinnis Policy on Organ Donation after a UT Institute of Agriculture employee Frankie McGinnis' whose daughter passed away after she experienced complications from an organ donation. "We hope this policy will honor Ms. McGinnis' daughter and better equip our employees to make this selfless donation," Interim President Randy Boyd said. University officials said leave may be taken in one continuous period or in smaller increments for any medical reason related to the donation. The policy will go into effect on March 1, 2020.
U. of South Carolina student who posted racist comment no longer enrolled
A University of South Carolina student involved in a social media post that included a racist comment is no longer attending the school. A university spokesman, citing privacy laws, declined Wednesday to say if the student was expelled or left on her own and did not release the student's name. Felicia Nguyen, a USC freshman from Charlotte who re-posted the photo on social media to get the university to take action, said most of her classmates were appalled about the comment, especially coming on King Day. Nguyen said she was glad the student was no longer on campus. "There's no reason for a post like that. It's not representative of being a Gamecock," Nguyen said. "She finally faced the consequences she deserved." African Americans make up 9 percent of USC's student population in Columbia, according to the latest data available online. African Americans account for 27 percent of South Carolina's population.
UGA Concerto Competition Concert brings cultures together
The annual Concerto Competition Concert will be held on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in Hodgson Hall. The concert is a part of the Thursday Scholarship Series. Six Hugh Hodgson School of Music students will perform solos alongside the University of Georgia Symphony Orchestra. The Concerto Competition is a longstanding tradition of the Hodgson School, where music students from all areas are selected choose, learn and perform a concerto for a faculty judging panel. "What makes [the program] a challenge is you never know what the winning selections are going to be. It can make for some very challenging programming," said Mark Cedel, director of the UGA Symphony Orchestra and one of the conductors of the Concerto Competition Program. The winners of the Concerto Competition have come to study music at UGA from three different continents and six different countries: Yidan Zhang, violin; Seung Hyun "Sonny" Yoo, piano; Valentina Ignjic, cello; Magdalena Wor, mezzo-soprano; Kelly Mozeik, oboe; and Tsai-Wei Li, piano.
Texas A&M celebrates new Student Services Building
With two ceremonies on Wednesday, Texas A&M students and staff formally celebrated the completion of the Student Services Building on A&M's main campus. Several speakers said the $42 million building -- which houses numerous student services and affairs departments -- in the heart of the main campus will provide greater accessibility and convenience for students. The new facility, at the former site of Bizzell Hall just east of Simpson Drill Field and north of Rudder Plaza, features 150 offices, 14 open work areas and 25 meeting and conference rooms. The 95,000-square-foot building houses the Division of Student Affairs, Residence Life and the Offices of the Dean of Student Life. Additionally, it holds three departments featuring new names: disability resources, formerly called disability services; counseling and psychological services, formerly known as student counseling services; and the LGBTQ+ Pride Center, formerly called the GLBT Resource Center.
Texas A&M chancellor suggests that Harvard researchers have an anti-red meat agenda
John Sharp, chancellor of the Texas A&M University System, on Wednesday took the extraordinary step of sending a public letter of complaint to Harvard University president Lawrence Bacow. At issue is what's been called an ongoing "food fight" between researchers at both institutions over whether or not it's healthy to eat red meat. Sharp's letter cites a recent article in JAMA that accuses several Harvard public health researchers of trying to strong-arm another journal into pulling papers questioning longstanding guidance on beef consumption. As these matters "undermine the values espoused by your institution," they "must be corrected immediately," Sharp wrote to Bacow. Meanwhile he said, "I can assure you that Texas A&M's research is driven by science. Period."
Gov. Mike Parson tours new U. of Missouri plant facility
Corn with better drought resistance. Soybeans that produce more oil. Researchers at the recently completed East Campus Plant Growth Facility, a 22,880-square-foot greenhouse on the University of Missouri campus, got a chance Wednesday to show off the potential of those crop innovations for food, energy production and other uses to Gov. Mike Parson. The facility, approved by the Board of Curators in October 2016, features precise control of light, temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide. It uses reverse osmosis filtered water for precise nutrient adjustments. "This is remarkable what they're doing here," Chancellor Alexander Cartwright told the governor. "The research is path-breaking. It really shows what the future of agriculture can be and we're on the forefront of that." The tour would feature high-tech science, Cartwright said. "It's just very cool," he said.
U. of Missouri sets Feb. 1 for grand opening of new School of Music center
A grand opening for the Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield Music Center will be held at 10 a.m. Feb. 1. Students began attending class at the building starting Tuesday for the spring semester. The public event will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony as well as speeches and a performance by faculty. MU Chancellor Alexander Cartwright will be speaking, along with Dean of the College of Arts and Science Patricia Okker, Director of School of Music Julia Gaines and philanthropist Jeanne Sinquefield. Sinquefield contributed $10 million to the College of Arts and Sciences toward the construction of the new facility in 2015, according to previous Missourian reporting. Mizzou Brass, an MU faculty ensemble, will be performing a piece composed by an MU undergraduate student. The Sinquefield Music Center will be replacing a collection of buildings as the home for the MU School of Music.
Trump's claim about saving HBCUs was false, but his administration has largely backed sector
Fact-checkers quickly corrected the record after President Trump, during remarks Monday at the Davos economic conference, declared that he had rescued historically black colleges and universities. "I saved HBCUs. We saved them," Trump said. "They were going out, and we saved them." Congress passed the legislation after a months-long negotiation over several higher education bills. Trump signed the law in December. So, as fact-checkers rightly noted, it's a stretch at best for the president to claim he single-handedly saved the colleges by signing the law. However, the White House and the U.S. Department of Education can make legitimate points when touting their support for the sector. Some HBCU leaders, for example, point to the March 2018 move by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to cancel the repayment of more than $300 million in federal relief loans that four historically black colleges took out after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit in 2005.
Oldest Confucius Institute in U.S. to Close
The oldest Confucius Institute in the United States is closing. In a letter to students and faculty and staff members at the University of Maryland at College Park, President Wallace D. Loh said the 15-year-old Chinese language and cultural center would shut down because of 2018 legislation that made colleges with the institutes, which are supported by the Chinese government, ineligible for certain Defense Department funding. Maryland is among nearly two dozen American colleges to close their Confucius Institutes in the last two years. And it's the second in little more than a week -- the University of Missouri also will shutter its center. Colleges have faced pressure over Confucius Institutes from lawmakers who say the agreements lack transparency and amount to Chinese-government propaganda on American campuses. In his letter, Loh said Maryland remained committed to education and scholarship in Chinese language and culture.
U. of Michigan Provost Is Accused of Sexual Misconduct
The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor placed its provost on administrative leave on Tuesday in the wake of sexual-misconduct allegations against him. An internal investigation began on Friday into accusations against Martin A. Philbert, Michigan's provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. University officials received "several" accusations of sexual misconduct late last week. "We take allegations of sexual misconduct very seriously, and our policy is clear: Sexual misconduct will not be tolerated in the University of Michigan community," the university's president, Mark S. Schlissel, wrote in a letter on Wednesday to faculty, staff, and students on the Ann Arbor campus. Michigan has retained an outside law firm to investigate the matter further. Philbert, a professor of toxicology, was appointed as Michigan's provost in 2017.
Report: Students of Color Find it Difficult Accessing Mental Health Support
A new study has found that only 48% of students of color feel comfortable reaching out to a teacher or counselor if they need mental health support compared to 57% of White students. These numbers stand out sharply, considering the report, by the non-profit ACT, found only one in four American adolescents experiences mental health challenges. The report, "Supporting the Mental Health Well-Being of High School Students," analyzed and compared students' experience and knowledge of mental health services in their high schools. It found both racial and geographical demographic disparities in the level of access and comfort while seeking counseling. Schools need to address this issue by diversifying the teacher workforce and ensuring that all teachers take cultural competency training sessions, said ACT's report.
Conservative student groups say process for official recognition risks viewpoint discrimination
Syracuse University junior Justine Murray was angry when she and other students were denied permission to form a chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, or YAF, on Syracuse's campus. The student panel that rejected the bid for YAF to be formally recognized made clear that it disagreed with the philosophy of the self-described "ideologically conservative youth activism organization." It wasn't the first time that politically conservative students felt unfairly sidelined on campus. Murray said they often feel like their ideas are shut down by peers and professors, and the denial of YAF's application to become an official student organization was a clear example. Although the organization was subsequently granted registered status in September 2019 after a second attempt, conservative students like Murray and free speech advocates are increasingly voicing their opposition to what they consider "viewpoint discrimination" in the approval process for student organizations to be formally recognized on campus.
U. of Minnesota student jailed in China over tweets
A Chinese student at the University of Minnesota has been arrested in China and sentenced to six months in prison for tweets he posted while in the United States, according to a Chinese court document viewed by Axios. Some of the tweets contained images deemed to be unflattering portrayals of a "national leader." The case represents a dramatic escalation of the Chinese government's attempts to shut down free speech abroad and a global expansion of a Chinese police campaign to track down Twitter users in China who posted content critical of the Chinese government. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) called on China to release the student. "This is what ruthless and paranoid totalitarianism looks like," said Sasse. Chinese students in the United States know that they may be subject to surveillance. Many have become increasingly reluctant to publicly criticize the Chinese government or attend pro-democracy events.
Unpacking teen social norms
Angela Farmer, an assistant clinical professor in Mississippi State University's Shackouls Honors College, writes: Students in each contemporary generation look back on those before and find disparity between social norms. One hundred years ago, students of the 1920s discovered new social norms with the creation of the automobile. A remarkable decade, this is also the time period where the teenage mindset began to emerge, according to the website in "Invention of the Teenager." As parents were beginning to see a new subgroup between children and adults, a composite who could travel independently, education also began a transformation. Utilizing mass transportation via school bus, this adolescent group began to enjoy extended educational access in another novel setting, the consolidated high school. The expansion of compulsory education laws also set the stage for expanded populations of this age group to experience extended educational experiences.
Working to change waiting in line for a new Mississippi driver's license
Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson writes: It is about the time of year when everyone wonders how many of their New Year's resolutions have already been broken. Some are disappointed, some will just plan to pick them up again next year. What about the list of the things we dread and procrastinate? A root canal? Filing a tax return? Waiting in line for a new driver's license? Unfortunately, I cannot help you with the first two, but I am working to change the last one. While campaigning across the state this past year, I promoted the idea of having the legislature move the driver's license services bureau from the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to the Secretary of State's office. Many of you shared your frustration with long lines, faulty kiosk machines, limited renewal options, and "day of" office closures, among other issues. Technically named driver's license services, but commonly called "the DMV," it's clear Mississippi must do better when it comes to issuing a new driver's license, or renewing a driver's license -- whether it be for personal or commercial use.

Reggie Perry's double-double lifts Mississippi State past Arkansas
Reggie Perry had 26 points and 13 rebounds to lead Mississippi State to a 77-70 win over Arkansas on Wednesday. Perry has now scored 20 points or more in five of his last seven games. He also recorded his SEC-leading 11th double-double of the season and his 20th career double-double. DJ Stewart Jr. added 14 points for Mississippi State (12-6 overall, 3-3) while Nick Weatherspoon and Tyson Carter had 11 and 10 points, respectively. "That was a great win over a really good team," said Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland. "It is such a difficult matchup with Arkansas, and their guards play so unselfish. The key for us was taking care of the basketball, only nine turnovers, against a team that forces 17.6 turnovers a game. That was huge for us and we did a good job knocking down our foul shots."
Free-throw shooting, Reggie Perry lift Mississippi State over Arkansas
Reggie Perry took a deep breath. The first of many long pauses he'd take Wednesday night, as he was a regular at the charity stripe. And all but one time, Perry's free throw attempts rang true, as the 6-foot-10 forward converted 14 of 15 free throws Wednesday at Humphrey Coliseum as Mississippi State (12-6, 3-3 SEC) downed Arkansas (14-4, 3-3 SEC) 77-70. "That was a really great win against a really great team," MSU coach Ben Howland said. "I think it's our best win of the year, obviously." Considering MSU (12-6, 3-3 SEC) shot 38.6 percent from the floor, the Bulldogs needed every bit of their 27 made free throws on 31 attempts. Arkansas, meanwhile, didn't make a free throw until less than three minutes remaining in the contest and converted 6 of 11 charity stripe attempts. Getting outrebounded 41-31 didn't help their cause, either as the Razorbacks suffered back-to-back losses for the first time in the Eric Musselman era.
Bulldogs win third straight to even SEC record
Mississippi State certainly made the most of its three-game homestand. The Bulldogs started Southeastern Conference play at 0-3 but took advantage of their past three games in the friendly confines of Humphrey Coliseum to break even in the league. MSU capped off its homestand with a 77-70 victory over Arkansas on Wednesday evening. "We knew these past three games have been really big," said MSU forward Reggie Perry. "We didn't want to dig a hole any deeper than what we'd dug ourselves in. We just paid close attention to the scout in practice and knowing what we've got to do to win. When we got our first win in the SEC, we knew exactly what we had to do to continue to win. We're going to try to continue building on it." State travels to play Oklahoma in Oklahoma City on Saturday at 1 p.m. as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
Reggie Perry dominates in Mississippi State victory win over Arkansas
Humphrey Coliseum has officially adopted a new collective chant. Every time sophomore forward Reggie Perry scores, the public address announcer yells "REG-GIE PER-RY!" Just about everyone inside the arena echoes him in the same tone immediately after. If you're not used to it by now, you will be before long. The sophomore forward has become one of the most unstoppable forces in the SEC, if not the entirety of college basketball. Perry had 26 points and 13 rebounds in Mississippi State's 77-70 win over Arkansas on Wednesday night. That's a lot of "Reg-gie Per-ry"s. Perry has had a double-double in all three of Mississippi State's (12-6, 3-3 SEC) conference victories. He claimed his SEC-leading 11th double-double of the season against the Razorbacks. "I'm so proud of how he's playing," MSU head coach Ben Howland said. Those three wins have all come in succession. Just over a week ago, the Bulldogs were 0-3 in SEC play. Then Perry called the Missouri game a "must win," and they haven't lost since.
Mississippi State's Reggie Perry continues prolific run in win over Arkansas
Trailing senior guard Tyson Carter, sophomore center Reggie Perry launched his 6-foot-10-inch, 250-pound body skyward. Corralling Carter's wayward layup off the iron, Perry skied over an Arkansas defender as he threw down his second tip-slam of the night -- sending the Humphrey Coliseum crowd into a frenzy. Just two of his 26 points and 13 rebounds on the night, Perry became the first MSU player in the past 20 years to record 20 points and 10 rebounds in three-straight games as he guided the Bulldogs to a 77-70 win over Arkansas Wednesday in Starkville. "No not really," Perry -- a former Arkansas commit -- said of whether he circles the calendar when the Razorbacks come to town. "I just try to kill everyone." Kill he has. Since scoring a season-high 26 points Dec. 30 against Kent State, the Bulldogs are 3-1 in games in which Perry eclipses the 20-point plateau. As impressive, MSU has boasted a 22-point margin of victory in its three victories over that span.
Hogs don't 'respond' after defeat
The University of Arkansas men's basketball team has a losing streak. Granted, it's just losses in back-to-back games, but that's a first for the Razorbacks this season. Mississippi State beat the Razorbacks 77-70 on Wednesday night before an announced crowd of 6,337 at Humphrey Coliseum after Arkansas lost to Kentucky 73-66 on Saturday at Walton Arena in Fayetteville. "When you lose a game to Kentucky, you've got to come back and win your next game, and we didn't do that," Razorbacks Coach Eric Musselman said. "You should always bounce back from a loss and play your best game after a loss, and we did not play our best game. "We played one of our worst games of the year, and that's not how you should respond after a loss." Reggie Perry, a 6-10 sophomore who committed to Arkansas before signing with Mississippi State, led the Bulldogs with 26 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocked shots. "We had a good plan for him, but he got to the free-throw line," said Arkansas junior guard Mason Jones, who had 20 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. "That's all that matters." Perry hit 6 of 13 shots and 14 of 15 free throws.
No. 9 Bulldogs back on the road at Vandy
No. 9 Mississippi State saw its 14-game road winning streak come to a close on Monday with a 81-79 loss at top-ranked South Carolina. The Bulldogs will try to get a new streak started as they travel to Vanderbilt tonight at 8 on SEC Network. "They didn't do us any favors on the schedule having to go back-to-back on the road on Monday, Thursday," said MSU coach Vic Schaefer. "Again, we'll embrace the challenges." The Bulldogs (16-3, 4-1 SEC) have three starters scoring over 12 points per game led by graduate guard Jordan Danberry at 14.3. Vanderbilt (12-6, 2-3 SEC) has lost its last two games, both at home to South Carolina (93-57) and Arkansas (100-66). The Bulldogs have won six straight over Vandy and lead all-time the series 14-11.
Zach Arnett selected as Mississippi State's defensive coordinator
Mississippi State will have one of the more unique and innovative defensive schemes in college football this fall. Head coach Mike Leach announced on Wednesday that Zach Arnett has been hired as the Bulldogs' new defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, bringing along his 3-3-5 style to Starkville. "Zach is one of the brightest defensive coaches in all of college football," Leach said. "Having been mentored by Rocky Long during his successful time at San Diego State, Zach understands what it takes to build and run an elite defense." Arnett spent the past nine seasons working under Long at San Diego State, including the past two as the Aztecs' defensive coordinator. The 33-year old from Albuquerque, New Mexico, was recently hired as Syracuse's new defensive coordinator on Jan. 11. "I couldn't pass up the chance to join an SEC program like Mississippi State," Arnett said. "I am grateful to coach Leach and (athletic director) John Cohen for the opportunity to be a part of this first-class institution."
Mississippi State football hires Zach Arnett as defensive coordinator
Mike Leach's coaching staff at Mississippi State is taking shape. Tuesday afternoon, the Bulldogs hired Zach Arnett as defensive coordinator. Formerly the defensive coordinator at San Diego State for two seasons, Arnett had just taken the same job at Syracuse on Jan. 11. Now he's changed course once more and is headed to join Leach in Starkville. Arnett will also serve as Mississippi State's linebackers coach. "Zach is one of the brightest defensive coaches in all of college football," Leach said. "Having been mentored by Rocky Long during his successful time at San Diego State, Zach understands what it takes to build and run an elite defense." In his two seasons as the Aztecs' defensive coordinator, Arnett led San Diego State to national total defense rankings of No. 21 in 2018 and No. 5 in 2019.
Mississippi State hires Zach Arnett as new defensive coordinator, linebackers coach
Mississippi State has its next defensive coordinator. Sources confirmed to The Dispatch Wednesday that former San Diego State assistant Zach Arnett was finalizing a deal to become MSU's new defensive coordinator under first year head coach Mike Leach. MSU Athletics confirmed Arnett's hiring as the new defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Wednesday afternoon. Arnett takes over an MSU unit that must cope with the losses of safety Brian Cole, linebacker Willie Gay Jr. and cornerback Cameron Dantzler's departures to the NFL as well as the graduation of starting defensive end Chauncey Rivers and defensive lineman Lee Autry. Senior linebacker Erroll Thompson and safety Marcus Murphy should anchor the Bulldog defense in 2020 and offer plenty of leadership on that side of the ball. Cornerbacks Tyler Williams, Martin Emerson and Jarrian Jones will also aid in the rebuilding process as capable defenders in the secondary.
From Handsome Dan to Uga, has college football destroyed bulldogs?
The English bulldog is a peculiar breed. It is objectively, almost aggressively, ugly, that tiny snout and wide jowls drawing themselves into a wrinkled mass, as if it is forever puzzled by a smell it doesn't like. Its frame is short and stocky, less a dog's than a pig's, but with a chest that's disproportionately broad, as if it were auditioning for the role of canine superhero. There is a listless roll to the bulldog's gait, implying it'll move only out of obligation. Its flaws are also the features that endear the dog to us: a face so ugly it's cute, a body so compact it's powerful, a gait so slow it's confident. An English bulldog is not as much a companion as a statement, and what that statement says, for the dog and owner alike, is I am comfortable with myself and my place in the world. It has a vestigial athleticism, the residue of earlier eras when the dog looked fiercer and was the reason college after college -- 40 in all, according to the American Kennel Club -- chose it as a mascot. There are more bulldog mascots in Division I than any other animal. Many of these are still live bulldogs, like at Mississippi State, Yale and Georgia.
Mr. Basketball De'Runnya Wilson remembered for how he lived, not how he died
His high school coach described De'Runnya Wilson as a "selfless" hard worker. High school teammate Justin Coleman called Wilson -- Alabama's 2013 Mr. Basketball at Birmingham's Wenonah High who became a football star at Mississippi State -- as "one of the funniest dudes I've ever been around" and an inspiration to the entire Wenonah community. Artis Cleveland, another high school teammate, called him a legend. All of them spoke reverently about Wilson, who was found shot to death inside a southwest Birmingham home on Tuesday. Police have announced no arrests and few details. "That was," said Cleveland, pausing for nearly 10 seconds to compose himself, "my brother, man. He was the guy that if you were down, he'd pick you up. If he was down, he'd pick himself up. It crushed me. It crushed my spirit. He was a legend." Coaches and teammates remembered Wilson for his work ethic, hustle and team-first attitude.
Remembering De'Runnya Wilson
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Logan Lowery writes: The Mississippi State family is mourning the death of De'Runnya Wilson, one of the most beloved players in recent memory. Wilson was taken from this world far too soon at the age of 25 as a result of an apparent homicide in his hometown of Birmingham earlier this week. The outpouring of memories and condolences by fans and former teammates only begins to reflect the impact Wilson made in such a short time on this earth. For most of you reading this, Wilson was the Bulldogs' star wide receiver during their historic rise to No. 1 in the nation during the 2014 season and rightfully so. Wilson, better known by his nickname "Bear," was Dak Prescott's go-to target and finished his career No. 2 on the school's career touchdown receptions list despite playing only three seasons in Starkville. My experiences with Wilson pre-date his days at State. I first met Wilson in person in December 2012 after watching him play in a high school basketball tournament in Columbus.
The Hottest Player in College Basketball Is Named Sabrina
A little over a year ago, Joel Morgan had never been to a women's basketball game. When the 54-year-old data scientist in Eugene, Ore., ventured to a matchup of top-10 college teams -- Oregon and Mississippi State -- he was captivated. Oregon point guard Sabrina Ionescu scored 29 points and led the Ducks to victory before a raucous crowd. "I suddenly realized what I'd been missing all this time," Morgan recalled. He has been to every Oregon home game since, and this month traveled to Arizona to see Ionescu and the Ducks play. "I just want to be able to say that, 'Yes, I was there,'" Morgan said. "I just think she represents a monumental shift in the women's game." Ionescu (Yo-NESS-coo), a 5-foot-11 pick-and-roll savant who also averages more than nine rebounds a game, turned down becoming the WNBA's likely No. 1 pick last year to return for her senior season and try to win a national title.
Special deer season set to collect more tissue samples for CWD testing
The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks needs more deer tissue samples to test for chronic wasting disease and has established a special hunting season for deer in the North Mississippi CWD Management Zone. "We were over 2,000 samples for the north zone last week," said Russ Walsh, Wildlife chief of staff. "The goal was roughly 4,800 samples for that zone. "So, we're not quite halfway there. In contrast, if you look at Tennessee, they've collected over 12,000 samples this season and they have over 400 positives this season." Also, Tennessee had only three CWD-positive counties in the 2018-19 season and now it has seven. "The samples are needed to determine the geographic spread of the disease," Walsh said. To get more samples, the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks established a special season for the north CWD zone on Feb. 8-9, and hunters may harvest up to seven deer in addition to the normal bag limit and all deer harvested must be tested.
Millsaps new athletics director to make the Majors more prominent
This time last week the Millsaps Majors athletic department selected a new leader and they promoted within. They made their head football coach their new athletics director. Aaron Pelch was officially named the athletics director of the Majors 7 days ago. Pelch was the interim AD in 2018 and the head coach of the football program for 10 years. He led them to two conference championships. He also won two coach of the year awards. Not only does he know how to win but he has been able to sustain success over a period of time. Now he will oversee all the teams and departments. His first big initiative is marketing the Majors. "I think the first thing we want to do is be a little more visible and get people in the local community, give them a reason to come to our games. Give them them a reason to come out and see what our student athletes are doing on the field and give them a little bit more of what Division 3 athletics looks like," Pelch said. "I think that's something that not a lot of people understand what it looks like and who good the competition level is and what kind of product we're putting out there so I think that's number one for us."
No. 1 Baylor denies Brady Manek, Sooners a Big Monday upset
It was almost another Manek Monday. Two days after scoring a career-high 31 points, Brady Manek led Oklahoma to the cusp of on its biggest upsets in school history Monday at top-ranked Baylor. But chalk it up Baylor 61, OU 57. A pair of late 3-pointers by Manek and Austin Reaves gave OU a chance to stun the newly-minted No. 1 team in the country. Trailing 59-57 in Waco, Texas, OU's Kristian Doolittle stole the ball from Baylor's Jared Butler, setting up a potential game-winning 3-pointer from Reaves on the wing with six seconds left. It missed and Baylor (16-1, 6-0 Big 12) survived in its first game as the AP No. 1 team in three years. Things stopped going Manek's way late in the game. With about 4:30 left, Freddie Gillespie -- who Manek had contained for most of the game -- slipped around the Sooner to grab a rebound and turn it into a dunk. Up next for OU is the SEC-Big 12 Challenge on Saturday against Mississippi State at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
LSU softball opens season in new practice facility
Almost a month after Christmas, LSU softball will cut the ribbon on its shiny new toy, the Mike Moore Performance Center, which includes a 14,500 square foot indoor practice field, a weight room and other conditioning area. At Wednesday's media day coach Beth Torina acknowledged her gratitude to the school and donors who provided the facility located beyond the right-centerfield fence. But she also recognized how much it wasn't just Santa making a late delivery. "Our players are not entitled, they're earning this," Torina said of her program. "They're winning 45 games per year (on average), five straight super regionals, perfect graduation rate and setting record numbers in community service. They're working very hard to earn the right to be in the facility." It looks like the beat will go on. Despite losing five position starters from a 43-19 Super Regional team, Torino's crew is poised to keep with the legacy she's installed in her eight seasons.

The Office of Public Affairs provides the Daily News Digest as a general information resource for Mississippi State University stakeholders.
Web links are subject to change. Submit news, questions or comments to Jim Laird.
Mississippi State University  •  Mississippi State, MS 39762  •  Main Telephone: (662) 325-2323  •   Contact: The Editor  |  The Webmaster  •   Updated: January 23, 2020Facebook Twitter