Friday, February 7, 2020   
MSU-Meridian to host meeting for those interested in education degrees on Feb. 13
Want to be an educator or further your career in education? MSU-Meridian's Division of Education will host an informational meeting from 5:30-7 p.m. on Feb. 13 in Kahlmus Auditorium located on the College Park Campus at 1000 Hwy 19 North. According to Kim Hall, head of the Division of Education at MSU-Meridian, the meeting will help prospective students learn more about undergraduate and graduate degree programs in Education offered at the local campus, including kinesiology (clinical exercise physiology) and counseling. "Mississippi is facing a critical teacher shortage," said Hall, "and we at MSU-Meridian have worked diligently the past several years to do our part by developing flexible delivery methods designed for the working adult for all our education degree programs. We've also implemented the Professional Advancement Network for Teacher Assistants or PANTA initiative which helps teacher assistants complete the educational requirements to become licensed teachers," she added.
Mississippi State Hosting Science Night at the Museums
Mississippi State University's Museums and Galleries Committee will host MSU's fourth annual Science Night at the Museums on Wednesday, Feb. 12, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Hilbun Hall, Harned Hall and the Cobb Institute of Archaeology. The event is free and open to the public. The Dunn-Seiler Museum in Hilbun Hall and the Lois Dowdle Cobb Museum of Archaeology in the Cobb Institute of Archaeology will both be open for tours. Featured specimens include portions of the Dunn-Seiler Museum's mosasaur skeleton, a 65-billion-year-old marine reptile discovered in the Starkville area in 2019, a release from MSU says. Harned Hall will house exhibits covering ornithology, botany, microscopy, microbiology and evolutionary biology. Hilbun Hall's exhibits will showcase chemistry, entomology, forest products, geology, paleontology, history, meteorology, physics and astronomy. Bob Swanson, an instructor in MSU's Department of Physics and Astronomy known as the "Singing Weatherman," will perform a science-themed song set for the event.
Big-name announcer to work Rotary Rodeo for 15th straight year
In 1993, soon after announcing an amateur rodeo event in DeRidder, Louisiana, Andy Stewart got a letter from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. "I was told that I didn't have what it takes and that I would probably not succeed as a professional (rodeo announcer)," he said. "I took that to heart and really worked hard, and a short two years later, I was selected to work in the pros." Stewart doesn't know the exact date or location at which PRCA found him worthy of approval, since amateur announcers have to be at the top of their game at all times, he said. He now travels coast to coast announcing almost 50 events per year, including this weekend's Starkville Rotary Classic Rodeo at the Mississippi Horse Park -- an event he'll work for the 15th straight year. "Andy brings a high level of excitement to the rodeo, not only entertaining the crowd with jokes and interacting with the riders and the rodeo clowns, but also informing the audience about what's going on," said Trey Breckenridge, a longtime member of the committee that organizes the rodeo.
State's image focus of Mississippi Economic Council stop in Meridian
The business leaders and community members who met in Meridian Thursday morning came from across East Mississippi, but agreed on one thing -- Mississippi has an image problem. The Mississippi Economic Council held an interactive presentation in the MSU Riley Center, one of 18 stops around the state. The private not-for-profit organization plans to focus on strengthening Mississippi through talent retention and attraction, enhancing the state's image and growing the workforce and economy. Participants were asked 13 questions that they were able to answer anonymously, including how they thought people outside the state viewed Mississippi's image. All 51 voters said that view was negative. It was the first time the response reached 100 percent, according to MEC President and CEO Scott Waller. Waller discussed how to improve the state's image, focusing on a low cost of living, improvements in the state's education system and a pro-growth mindset.
At least 5 dead after powerful storm brings flooding and power outages to the Southeast
Nearly 150,000 homes and businesses in the southeastern United States were without power early Friday after a powerful storm raked the region. At least five people were killed. The National Weather Service advised early Friday that the storm system was strengthening in the mid-Atlantic region, bringing rain and snow, ice and high winds northward. The weather destroyed mobile homes in Mississippi and Alabama, caused mudslides in Tennessee and Kentucky and flooded communities that shoulder waterways across the Appalachian region. Rain kept falling over a path of splintered trees and sagging power lines that stretched from Louisiana into Virginia. Authorities confirmed five storm-related fatalities, in Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee.
Five tornadoes confirmed in Mississippi after storms rock state
Nine counties in Mississippi so far have reported damage from a severe weather system that passed through the state Wednesday, bringing tornadoes, straight-line winds, thunderstorms and heavy rain. As of 9 a.m. Friday, there were five tornadoes confirmed by the National Weather Service survey teams: two in Attala County, one that went through Jasper, Clarke and Lauderdale counties, one in Yazoo County and another that hit Yazoo, Holmes and Attala counties, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency reported. Three of the tornadoes were EF2s and two were rated EF1.
Mississippi Legislature: Harvest reporting, CWD on radar of new wildlife chairmen
Coming out of an election year, the Mississippi Legislature is in session and key appointments affecting conservation in the state have been made in both the House of Representatives and Senate. In the House, Rep. Bill Kinkade has been appointed chairman of the Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks committee and Sen. Neil Whaley has been appointed to the Senate's Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks committee. Both talk about issues they intend to look at during their terms and harvest reporting of deer is among them. "I've been a hunter and fisherman my whole life," said Sen. Whaley, R-Potts Camp. "I'm a landowner interested in conservation. I live on our family farm. I've lived there my whole life. I'm an avid deer, duck and bird hunter." Rep. Bill Kinkade, R-Byhalia, spent his early years in southern California, but 41 years ago moved to Mississippi and appreciates its natural resources. When asked about harvest reporting, Kinkade said he will follow the path of former WFP committee chairman Rep. Scott Bounds who introduced harvest reporting bills in the past.
House committee rejects bills to allow public retirees to serve in Legislature, draw pension
Bills to allow public employee retirees to serve in the Legislature and draw their pension were defeated overwhelmingly Wednesday afternoon in the House Appropriations Committee. Most members of the Republican majority voted against the bills. The defeat of the bills was a stinging setback for three public employee retirees elected to the House in the November general election after the Public Employees Retirement System Board changed its regulations to say retirees could serve in the Legislature and draw their pension and a portion of their legislative pay. Despite the PERS change, which was based on an opinion by the Attorney General's office, the House under the leadership of Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, has argued the PERS decision conflicted with existing state law and has refused to reduce the pay of the public employee retirees so they could draw their pension.
Auditor: More than $4M stolen from Mississippi welfare funds
Mississippi's state auditor said Thursday that investigators believe at least $4 million in federal welfare money was stolen by the former head of the state welfare agency and others in the nation's poorest state. At least $48,000 of that paid for a luxury drug rehabilitation program for a former pro wrestler, according to indictments issued Wednesday, which also alleged a politically connected nonprofit administrator and her son took more than $4 million -- including more than $2 million invested in two Florida medical companies. Republican Auditor Shad White said his office is still seeking to determine the scope of the suspected public embezzlement, expanding its audit of the Department of Human Services to a wider time frame. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves praised the auditor Thursday, saying the investigation has uncovered "what appears to be a truly disgusting abuse of power."
Feds: State auditor kept them in the dark on Mississippi welfare embezzlement bust
U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst says neither his office nor the FBI was notified about Mississippi Auditor Shad White's investigation into alleged embezzlement of millions of dollars of federal welfare funds. "While we commend the reported actions, neither the FBI nor the United States Attorney's Office was contacted by the State Auditor or the Hinds County District Attorney about this investigation, although millions of federal dollars are alleged to have been stolen," Hurst said in a statement Thursday. He said his office learned of Wednesday's indictments and arrests of six people in the case through media reports. Hurst said investigating and prosecuting "cases of this magnitude and complexity" is usually the domain of the FBI and U.S. Attorney's offices. White said he decided to partner with Hinds County District Attorney Jody Owens in order to move as quickly as possible. White said he would welcome involvement from other agencies such as the FBI.
Connecting the dots: Players in massive welfare embezzlement case got millions from taxpayers, but helped few
A downtown Jackson resource center funded by millions of state welfare dollars was quiet Wednesday morning. Blue bins labeled "fresh produce" in a mock farmers market sat empty. Monitors in the computer lab were black and toys in the children's playroom sat neatly on their shelves. Families First for Mississippi's recently-opened State Street center, run by the nonprofit Mississippi Community Education Center, promises to lift families out of poverty. Human Services has granted the nonprofit approximately $53 million since the beginning of fiscal year 2018 reportedly to do just that, state expenditures show. "Our main goal is getting them off TANF," Will Lamkin, operation coordinator for the center, said Wednesday morning, referring to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families cash-assistance program. Hours later, law enforcement agents would arrest the nonprofit's owner, Nancy New, and former Human Services director John Davis in the largest public embezzlement scheme in state history, according to the office of the State Auditor.
Mayor Tannehill: Legislators 'very receptive' during discussion about Oxford's infrastructure issues
It's not a secret the infrastructure in and around Oxford and Lafayette County is in need of repairing, and Oxford mayor Robyn Tannehill says she's well aware. Several projects, which have been approved by the Mississippi Department of Transportation, have not begun for reasons regarding lack of funding or otherwise. The issue has gone on for several years and each legislative session, Tannehill makes the trip to Jackson to speak with legislators about receiving more funding than has been allotted to Oxford recently. Last month was no different, as Tannehill took a trip to the state's capitol to once again try to secure more funds and to receive answers to her questions regarding those projects. The project with the highest priority for Tannehill and Oxford residents is the Highway 7 and University Avenue intersection. During the 2018 session, the City asked legislators for $3 million to go toward that project, but was only awarded $750,000.
15 dead in six weeks. Can a federal investigation fix the grim legacy of Mississippi's prisons?
The Justice Department announced Wednesday that it was opening a civil rights investigation into Mississippi's state prison facilities following deaths of at least 15 prisoners since late December, as well as ongoing reports of violence and deteriorating living conditions. Opening the investigation contrasts with the Trump-era Justice Department's pattern of scaling back efforts to reform prisons and police departments. That track record has some civil rights advocates cautious about how much meaningful change the department will ultimately enforce. Harsh prison conditions are a century-old legacy of Mississippi's penal system, said David Oshinsky, who chronicled the brutal history of Parchman in the 1996 book "Worse Than Slavery: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice." "The real difference today from 100 years ago is that Parchman in 1920 was a real moneymaking operation for the state," Oshinsky said, and the state profited from prison slavery in a practice euphemistically known as "convict leasing."
Larry Kudlow: Coronavirus will slow U.S. farm exports to China
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow conceded today the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus in China will affect its ability to purchase massive amounts of U.S. goods and services as part of the "phase one" trade deal. "The export boom from that trade deal will take longer because of the Chinese virus, that is true," Kudlow said on Fox Business. China has not formally asked for consultations on meeting a commitment to buy $200 billion in U.S. farm goods, energy products and other goods and services over the next two years. The deal, signed last month by President Donald Trump, will go into effect on Feb. 14. Kudlow said he didn't "wish China any ill whatsoever," but said the coronavirus could spur business investment in the U.S. "You may get a step up in production here in the U.S., which would be very beneficial," he said. The White House adviser said there could be a decrease in exports and production in China, particularly in the pharmaceutical sector, and "some things kind of in the middle when you get to automobiles and auto parts, but there is a lot we don't know."
States wary of possible changes to highway funding
State transportation leaders applauded House Democrats for releasing principles of a broad infrastructure package last week, but were concerned about potential changes to the formula programs that determine funding levels for each state. Although there is some concern that the broad scope of the Democrats' $760 million legislative "framework" could hurt chances of passage, state leaders also applauded the ambition. In addition to reauthorizing federal highways and transit programs, the plan would also change how harbors and airports are funded, boost spending on broadband access and charging stations for electric vehicles, and seek to make all forms of transportation carbon-neutral. The larger concern is over tweaks to formulas states say work fairly well. The changes would incentivize maintenance over new construction and reward states that build in climate change resiliency, reduce pollution and offer other "performance-based incentives." Most state officials would rather see fewer changes to how the programs work and more money poured in.
Hiring Picks Up As Employers Add 225,000 Jobs In January
The U.S. labor market revved up in January, with employers adding 225,000 jobs. That's well above the number forecasters were expecting. The unemployment rate inched up to 3.6%, near a 50-year low, according to a new report from the Labor Department. Employment growth for November and December was also revised upwards by a total of 7,000 jobs. Unusually warm weather contributed to a surge in construction last month, with 44,000 jobs added. Housing construction has also gotten a boost from low mortgage rates. Hiring was also strong in service industries such as health care, education and hospitality, which have been steadily adding workers month after month. Manufacturing continues to be a weak spot in the economy. Factories cut 12,000 jobs in January, despite signs of a rebound in manufacturing activity following a five-month slump.
Taylor discusses building human heart in opening of MUW's II+C Symposium
Dr. Doris Taylor said she cried the first time she held a human heart in her hand. The Mississippi University for Women alumna is one of the leading medical professionals in the international regenerative medicine research efforts, particularly cardiovascular regenerative medicine. Now, Taylor's research is attempting to build a heart by using stem cell therapies to help a non-functioning heart regenerate -- a process which she hopes will one day replace organ transplant when it comes to saving those with heart failure. Taylor talked about her research at the opening of MUW's annual II+C (Imagine, Inspire, Challenge) Symposium, for which she's a co-founder, Thursday night in Rent Auditorium on campus. In her presentation "The Art and Science of Building a Beating Heart," she and her friend artist Dario Robleto discussed Taylor's research -- research Robleto said is "not only groundbreaking science" but "philosophical" and extremely emotional for Taylor.
Brothers donate $26 Million to Ole Miss for STEM facility
With eyes on increasing job opportunities and boosting the economy, business leaders and brothers Jim and Thomas Duff, of Hattiesburg, have committed $26 million to the construction of a state-of-the-art science, technology, engineering and mathematics facility at the University of Mississippi. Chancellor Glenn F. Boyce announced Feb. 5 the top gift for the 202,000-square-foot building, which will be the largest single construction project in Oxford campus history, with a $160 million total project budget. Thomas Duff, a member of the state Institutions of Higher Learning board -- the governing body responsible for policy and financial oversight of the state's eight public universities -- shared the motivation behind their gift. "Jim and I recognize the importance of educating Mississippi students in STEM fields," he said.
Standing ovation: Hinds Community College dance students 'brought the house down' at Carnegie Hall
A dance performance on the Carnegie Hall stage will linger long with the Hinds Community College students who recently danced there, driving that spring in their step to greater heights back home, they say. In addition that prestigious gig, four jam-packed days in New York City for HCC's Montage Theatre of Dance were an eye-opening, heart-thumping treat and treasure. Willie Hunt, a freshman from Jackson, was humbled. "With us, being from a small country town, and you're going to a big city and seeing not just the buildings and big lights -- you feel opportunity. Everything's moving so fast. It's a bit overwhelming if you let it get you, but performing -- it's just, whew!" he grinned, his face still flush with the excitement. Montage Theatre of Dance was one of only 14 preprofessional dance groups from across the country selected to take part in Performing Arts Educators' 14th Anniversary Invitational at Carnegie Hall Jan. 18. The festival celebrates pure dance on a world-class stage by focusing on the art form unaided by scenery, props or set, and not distracted by competition.
'Stability and progress': LSU Interim President Thomas Galligan discusses vision
When Interim President Thomas Galligan isn't running marathons with his daughter, Sarah, or spending time with his wife and other two children, he enjoys traveling the European countryside -- more specifically, the El Camino route from St. Jean Pied de Port, France, to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Galligan made the 484-mile trek in between jobs, transitioning from his role as president at Colby-Sawyer College to the dean of Paul M. Hebert Law Center, the University law school. For the next few months, Galligan will have a lot less free time on his hands. "Somebody [LSU Board of Supervisors Chair Mary Werner] came to see me and asked if I would be interested [in the role of University interim president]," Galligan said. "I was like, 'woah.' I didn't expect it." Galligan was asked to step in for former University President F. King Alexander, who left LSU after nearly seven years to serve as president of Oregon State University. Alexander announced his departure on Dec. 13 and officially stepped down on Dec. 31, though he will remain at the University in a research capacity until March.
Georgia House bill would offer in-state tuition to 'Dreamers'
Five Georgia House Democrats have proposed legislation aimed at allowing immigrants with temporary permission to stay in the United States to pay in-state tuition at any of the state's public colleges and universities. Those students currently pay out-of-state tuition, which is at least three times higher than the in-state cost to study at University System of Georgia schools. House Bill 896, introduced Wednesday, would change the tuition restrictions in Georgia, with some conditions. The student must be enrolled at a Georgia high school for at least three years, have filed paperwork seeking legal immigration status and have a high school diploma or GED. The sponsors argue for the changes as an economic development issue. They worry that some students will get an education outside Georgia and won't return. Nineteen states have similar policies, the sponsors said.
U. of Florida student data among information sold by anti-virus software
Avast, the anti-virus software recommended by the University of Florida since 2013, sold the browsing data of millions of its users to third-party companies like Microsoft and Amazon. The data of students who did not opt out of the collection upon downloading Avast may have been included in the information that was sold, said Matt Pendleton, UF Information Technology senior director. Avast's consent policy outlines what data is sold: IP addresses, geo-locations and search histories, for starters. This is not a data breach, Pendleton added -- Avast is only one of many software companies that sells user data. Sensitive information like users' search terms and viewing history on porn websites were also among the data collected, according to a Vice News investigation that broke the story. UF initially recommended Avast because it was free and used by millions of people, Pendleton said. According to the apology letter, Avast data collection began in 2015.
U. of Arkansas, Fayetteville's Senior Walk, dating to the early 1900s, getting face-lift
Work is expected to begin this month to replace the oldest sections of Senior Walk at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, campus officials said. Years of discussion involved different ideas for dealing with the crumbling portions of concrete sidewalk inscribed with the names of the school's first graduates. Concrete will be used in replacing the first 50 years of the Senior Walk, which includes senior classes from 1875 through 1924, Mike Johnson, UA's associate vice chancellor for facilities management, said in an email. Names will also be sandblasted -- the method used now for sections of Senior Walk commemorating recent graduates -- rather than trying to emulate the hand-inscribed work of students in the early 1900s, campus officials said. The project cost is $502,460, Johnson said, with $250,000 in grant money from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council helping pay for the work.
Choi, Cartwright to lead Missouri priority medical research project effort
The University of Missouri System's priority medical research project is too important to fail, system President Mun Choi said Thursday. Choi and University of Missouri Chancellor Alexander Cartwright will take the lead on fundraising, finding partnerships and coordinating efforts behind the system's priority building project, Choi told the Board of Curators. "The biggest concern I have is this project may not succeed to the level we expect because of a lack of leadership," Choi said during the meeting. The cost of the building under construction on campus is $221 million. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Choi said around $20 million has been raised so far from donors for the NextGen Precision Health Institute and the system-wide NextGen Precision Health Initiative. There is a goal of raising $75 million to $100 million from donors, and Choi said there was a potential of $65 million in federal funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs over 20 years.
New U. of Missouri degree program to emphasize NextGen Initiative's health care goals
A new degree program focused on fitness programming and management was highlighted at the University of Missouir System Board of Curators meeting Thursday for its connection to the NextGen Precision Health Initiative. Academic, Student Affairs, Research and Economic Development Committee Chair Darryl Chatman called the degree program "a state-of-the-art opportunity to address a national and state health issue." Steve Graham, UM System vice president for academic affairs, presented the degree program, receiving unanimous board approval Thursday. The board's $337 million debt issuance was also unanimously approved. Running entirely through MU Online, the program will target nontraditional students, specifically military and people changing careers. The program will provide students with a Bachelor of Science degree in fitness programming and management and a minor in business. The program is set to begin enrollment in fall 2020.
Universities cancel study-abroad programs amid virus fears
As concerns about China's virus outbreak spread, universities are scrambling to assess the risks to their programs, and some are canceling study-abroad opportunities and prohibiting travel affecting hundreds of thousands of students. From Europe to Australia and the United States, universities in countries that host Chinese students have reconsidered academic-related travel to and from China. In the U.S., the cancellations add to the tension between two governments whose relations were already sour. The scare threatens to cause lasting damage to growing academic exchange programs that reached new heights over the last decade and a half, experts say. The travel restrictions also complicate planning for conferences and campus events in the U.S. that scholars from China might attend.
Colleges worry about implications of religious freedom rule
Higher education lobbyists are concerned that colleges and universities could be disqualified from getting millions of dollars in federal grants under a draft Trump administration rule, which is aimed at increasing the legal rights of campus religious groups to be able to exclude gay students and others. Colleges could face substantial penalties under the proposal, said Terry Hartle, the American Council on Education's senior vice president for government and public affairs. "Like any proposed rule, it's as serious as a heart attack," he said. "If legally binding requirements are going to be imposed on a very diverse industry, we want to make sure we understand the proposal in advance." In addition, Americans United for Separation of Church and State described the proposal as a way to sidestep a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld the right of colleges to require student groups be open to all types of people in order to be recognized or receive funding.
U. of Louisville student distributes anti-LGBTQ literature in classroom
Ashley-Shae Benton, a student at the University of Louisville, was "stunned" to hear about an anti-gay incident that recently occurred on campus. It was not something she expected at a university known for being welcoming of people of all sexual identities. "Since the time I've gotten here, Louisville has preached about inclusivity," said Benton, a senior who came out as lesbian four years ago. "Students are prideful about being out in their sexuality. Coming to Louisville was my saving grace. I was able to come out and be myself. But now it makes me question whether I should be out." Benton is not the only student worried since a fellow student entered a classroom where an Introduction to LGBTQ Studies course is taught and placed a pamphlet equating homosexuality with sin on each desk. The young man who left the pamphlets, was not enrolled in the course and arrived 20 minutes before the start of the class to distribute the pamphlets. Under Kentucky law and university policy, students cannot be prevented from entering classrooms and expressing their free speech rights, unless a class is in session and as long as they are not disrupting a class, said John Karman, the university's director of media relations.
China's Lavish Scientific Funds Fall Into Prosecutors' Spotlight
More than a decade into his career as an organic chemist, Jon Antilla found a solution to the grinding task of fund-raising that, increasingly, was squeezing out his time in the laboratory. Leaving a tenured position at the University of South Florida, he relocated to Tianjin University in China, where he was awarded a grant through a Chinese recruitment program, Thousand Talents. He wasn't alone: Colleagues in Tianjin's chemistry department had given up tenured positions at the University of California, San Diego, and Texas A&M, among other prestigious institutions, attracted by China's readily available funding. "We have time to think here," Dr. Antilla said. "You can think about your research." As Dr. Antilla proceeded with his academic career, United States officials changed their view of China's recruitment programs, which they say have been used to steal sensitive technology from American laboratories.
Feds Drop Foreign Gift Reporting Request
The Trump administration has dropped a proposed new form for collecting information from colleges about gifts and contracts from foreign sources. The U.S. Department of Education in September published a notice about the new form to report gifts and contracts of $250,000 or more. The American Council on Education and 29 other higher education groups had argued the proposed information collection went beyond the scope of the law. The Office of Management and Budget and the department this week posted a document saying the agencies "have determined that the best course of action is to withdraw this emergency information collection request." The department said it plans to soon resubmit a standard, nonemergency information collection request.
New Millsaps programs for the future
Robert Pearigen, president of Millsaps College in Jackson, writes for The Northside Sun: Our new Pathways program will provide tracks for professional and career development, connecting students with academic areas of interest and providing every first-year student with an immediate cohort of mentors, advisors and peers. This program will also connect students to professional communities in and beyond Jackson. The pathways will cover arts, culture and communication; business; exploratory; health; law and public service; and STEM and data science. New academic partnerships have been established with public and private institutions to enable our students to both secure a Millsaps degree and advance their academic and career interests. ... New agreements with Mississippi State University and the University of Mississippi allow Millsaps students to earn both a degree from Millsaps as well as an ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology)-accredited degree in a number of engineering areas.
Achoo to the flu
Angela Farmer, an assistant clinical professor in Mississippi State University's Shackouls Honors College, writes: According to the Centers for Disease Control, February typically presents with more than double the cases of flu of any of the other months which are included in flu season. While influenza viruses are present all of the time, the typical flu season with peak activity ranges from December to February, with activity and positive cases well into May. Given that the CDC estimates 55 million students and 7 million staff populate public and private schools across the nation, the flu can have a tremendous impact on schools. Their recommendations are first and foremost for everyone (unless the person has a specific contraindication) to receive the flu shot. They recommend schools with the resources to work with area providers to offer flu clinics at certain attendance areas where historic flu exposures have been elevated.
Message to Gov. Tate Reeves: Mississippi needs gender studies
Kimberly Kelly, the Director of Gender Studies and Associate Professor of Sociology at Mississippi State University; Bridget Smith Pieschel, Director of the Center for Women's Leadership and Public Policy, Director of Women's Studies, and Professor of English at the Mississippi University for Women; and Jaime Harker, the Director of the Sarah Isom Center for Women & Gender Studies and Professor of English at the University of Mississippi, write: As professors and directors of women's and gender studies programs across various institutions of higher learning in Mississippi, we want to jointly respond to the comments of Gov. Tate Reeves in his 2020 State of the State address on January 27. ... We are baffled by the governor's comments, which mischaracterize gender studies as a frivolous endeavor with no practical value. As teachers and administrators, we have a view on the ground that is quite different. Reeves implied gender studies has no value in the workforce. We disagree. Like all liberal arts fields, gender studies promotes a set of skills among students that employers value.
Interest rate caps harm consumers
Tom Miller, a professor of finance and the Lee Chair of Financial Institutions and Consumer Finance in Mississippi State University's College of Business, writes for The Hill: Lawmakers in Virginia appear poised to "fix" an elusive "predatory lending problem." Their focus is the small-dollar loan market that allegedly teems with "outrageous" interest rates. Bills before the Assembly would impose a 36 percent interest rate cap and change the market-determined nature of small-dollar loans. Other state legislators across the country have passed similar restrictions. To enhance consumer welfare, the goal should be to expand access to credit. Interest rate caps work against that, choking off the supply of small-dollar credit. These caps create shortages, limit gains from trade, and impose costs on consumers. Many people use small-dollar loans because they lack access to cheaper bank credit -- they're "underbanked," in the policy jargon. The FDIC survey classified 18.7 percent of all US households as underbanked in 2017. In Virginia, the rate was 20.6 percent. So, what will consumers do if lenders stop making small-dollar loans?

No. 8 Mississippi State women trounce No. 23 Tennessee 72-55
Mississippi State showcased one of its greatest strengths while exposing Tennessee's major weakness. The eighth-ranked Bulldogs forced 23 turnovers in a 72-55 triumph at No. 23 Tennessee on Thursday night. Mississippi State (21-3, 9-1 Southeastern Conference) is forcing 22 turnovers per game and entered the night leading all SEC teams in that category. "I say this all the time, you don't get that stat running a 2-3 and playing hope-you-miss defense," Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said. "I'm proud of our kids for how hard they played and for making it happen." Mississippi State caught a break in its fifth straight win --- Tennessee's top scorer, Rennia Davis, was out with the flu. Davis averages 18.1 points per game to rank second in the SEC. With this latest victory, Mississippi State became the first SEC program to beat the Lady Vols in Knoxville three straight times.
Mississippi State beats Tennessee for fourth-straight win against Lady Vols
Vic Schaefer seemed somewhat perplexed Thursday night. At halftime of No. 8 Mississippi State's road game against No. 25 Tennessee, Schaefer was stopped by SEC Network reporter Andraya Carter for an interview. Carter asked Schaefer what the Bulldogs had to do to get senior guard Jordan Danberry going. Danberry hadn't scored a single point through the first 20 minutes. And yet, Mississippi State still led by eight points. That's why Schaefer wasn't too worried by his most experienced player's lack of production. "If she gets it going within the offense, fine," Schaefer said. "But we've got other people scoring." Mississippi State had enough other people scoring to leave Thompson-Boling Arena with a 72-55 win, marking MSU's fourth-straight victory over the Lady Volunteers (17-6, 7-3 SEC). That's the Bulldogs' (21-3, 9-1 SEC) longest winning streak in series history and their first win over a ranked team this season.
Without Rennia Davis, Lady Vols succumb to Mississippi State
The Lady Vols took a blow before even stepping on the court against Mississippi State on Thursday night. Junior forward Rennia Davis was not present for the pregame warm ups, and she was left out of the starting lineups. It was announced that she was out for the night due to lingering illness from the flu. She had not participated in any team activities since a loss to South Carolina on Sunday. Her absence was felt in Tennessee's eventual 72-55 loss to the 8th-ranked Bulldogs (21-3, 9-1 SEC). "I knew scoring was going to be a premium with Rennia," Tennessee coach Kellie Harper said. "Without Rennia, it definitely changed how our attack was going to look." By the end of the third frame, Mississippi State established a 56-40 lead. In total, the Lady Vols amassed 23 turnovers, and the Bulldogs capitalized with 20 points off of the mistakes.
Crunching the numbers: How Mississippi State men's basketball is embracing analytics and opponent tendencies in game preparation
Before Ben Howland even starts watching film of his next opponent, he's given an analytical cheat sheet. These compilation of numbers give the fifth-year Mississippi State men's basketball coach an early idea of the opposing team's style of play, tendencies, and statistics in comparison to the rest of the Southeastern Conference, his own team, and others around the nation. More often than not, the numbers reaffirm what Howland is about to see with his own eyes from the game tape. For context, Howland is 62 years old with nearly four decades of coaching experience. He's quickly approaching 500 career victories. And yet, he continues to embrace new-age analytics, not shun them. Entering Saturday's matchup with Vanderbilt, the Bulldogs sit at 14-8 overall and 5-4 in SEC play, with their NCAA tournament destiny entirely in their hands. If there's any stat, number, or efficiency rating that can better help prepare his team to win a game and get that much closer to a second straight NCAA tournament berth, Howland wants to know about it. "Analytics has been a big part of sports for a long time and I think it keeps getting more in-depth in terms of all the different things you can measure," Howland said.
Iverson Molinar made his own way to Mississippi State
Separation anxiety and homesickness are usually two of the biggest dilemmas facing college freshmen. However for Mississippi State freshman guard Iverson Molinar, independence is nothing new. Molinar left his native Panama at 14 and moved to California on his own to begin his basketball journey in the United States. "I barely knew English and went to school trying to do all the work," Molinar said. "I definitely got homesick my first two months, it was terrible. My English wasn't good and I couldn't express myself as well as I can now. There was just a language barrier coming from speaking Spanish my whole life. It was just a whole different culture for me." Molinar soon started to adapt to his new surroundings. His English improved and he grew fond of the fast-food chain, In-N-Out Burger. "I got addicted to it," Molinar said. "It got to the point where I was eating that every night for dinner." Molinar also found his groove on the court as well.
Mississippi State's Reggie Perry picked as Karl Malone Award finalist
Reggie Perry continues to receive national recognition. The Mississippi State sophomore was selected as one of 10 finalists for the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award on Thursday. The Malone Award is one of five honors presented by position to the top players in college basketball by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Perry leads the Bulldogs averaging 17.1 points and tops the Southeastern Conference with 10 rebounds per game. He is also the active SEC leader in career double-doubles with 21 and has a dozen of those this season. The 6-foot-10, 250-pounder from Thomasville, Georgia is also the reigning Naismith National Player of the Week and SEC Co-Player of the Week.
A look at Mississippi State softball's opening weekend in the NFCA Leadoff Classic
Samantha Ricketts' first year as the head coach of the Mississippi State softball team officially begins Friday morning in Clearwater, Florida. At 11 a.m. Friday, the Bulldogs will kick off their 2020 season by facing Missouri State in the first game of the NFCA Leadoff Classic. At 5 p.m. Friday, they'll play an exhibition with Team USA. On Saturday, Mississippi State will face Liberty at 11:30 a.m. and Louisville at 2 p.m. The Bulldogs will close out the trip by facing North Carolina State at 11 a.m. Sunday. So how does Ricketts' first weekend in charge shape up? Let's take a look at each of the five games on the Bulldogs' slate. Home teams are listed last for each contest. The Bulldogs start their 2020 schedule by facing Missouri State of the Missouri Valley Conference. The Bears finished with a winning record in conference play in 2019 but lost in the second round of the MVC tournament to Indiana State.
Seven under the radar Mississippi State baseball players to watch for in 2020
Mississippi State baseball is seven days away. What better way to count down than to highlight seven under the radar players who could play important roles as the Bulldogs seek an unprecedented third straight trip to the College World Series? Head coach Chris Lemonis lost a lot of experience from the team that made it to Omaha last year. Gone are Jake Mangum, Elijah MacNamee, Ethan Small, Dustin Skelton, Jared Liebelt, Cole Gordon -- the list goes on. Those pieces are hard to replace, but Lemonis must try. Here are seven first-year who Diamond Dawgs who Lemonis will likely lean on throughout the season.
Mississippi State baseball picked second in SEC West, four players named preseason All-SEC
Baseball season is just a week away. With Mississippi State's season opening series against Wright State beginning Feb. 14, the 2020 SEC preseason coaches poll was released Thursday afternoon. The Bulldogs were selected to finish fourth overall and second in the SEC West behind Arkansas. Also of note, four MSU players were selected to the preseason All-SEC teams. Junior second baseman Justin Foscue was the program's lone first team selection, while classmates shortstop Jordan Westburg and outfielders Tanner Allen, Josh Hatcher and Rowdey Jordan were named to the second team. Sophomore starter and projected ace J.T. Ginn was a notable snub. Ginn was named the National Freshman of the Year by Perfect Game and the SEC Freshman of the Year. The Bulldogs enter 2020 coming off their second-straight trip to the College World Series and are a consensus top-10 team nationally in the six major preseason polls.
U. of Florida expands alcohol sale to spring sports
Florida's athletic department is expanding the sale of alcohol to other sports, but football is not one of them. While beer and wine are not available in The Swamp, they are going to be sold at three spring sports. Alcohol sales are expanding to baseball, softball and lacrosse starting this season, the University Athletic Association announced Thursday. Those three sports join men's basketball, which started selling beer and wine in Exactech Arena at the O'Connell Center this season. UF still has a no-alcohol sales policy for football. When asked if UF's policy for football could change, UAA spokesperson Steve McClain gave The Sun the following statement: "Our policy has not changed for any other sports or venues." At baseball, softball and lacrosse, sales will be limited to beer and wine only and will be sold at designated stationary locations.
Auburn trustees pushing to get football center going
Auburn University planners were told politely Thursday afternoon to pick up the pace in getting a new football performance center built. The university's board of trustees hosted a work session at Auburn University Hotel to get briefings from university administrators and staffers. The highlight was board chairman Wayne Smith urging the football center project forward. Dan King, associate vice president for facilities, told trustees that the site selection is nearly done, construction bidding and design should be complete by late 2020 or early 2021, with about two years of building work to follow. He said the configuration and cost of the center will depend on which of four campus sites is chosen. Smith thanked King, noted that the football program just signed a top-10 recruiting class Tuesday, and proceeded to implore King to get the project moving. "We need to get there as promptly as we can," Smith, with arms crossed, told King. "...The trustees are absolutely committed to this facility."
Colorado considers student athlete compensation bill
Following California's lead, Colorado lawmakers advanced a bill Thursday that would allow college student athletes to profit from their names and images -- while giving the NCAA and Congress time to issue guidance beforehand. The Senate Education Committee on Thursday unanimously passed the bipartisan bill, whose chief sponsors are Democratic Sens. Rhonda Fields and Jeff Bridges. The bill would allow college athletes to be compensated without surrendering scholarships and to hire attorneys or others to negotiate with outside parties on their behalf. Patrick O'Rourke, general counsel and secretary to the University of Colorado's board of regents, told the committee that the university is actively engaged in formulating those rules with the NCAA and with other schools in the Pac-12 Conference.

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