Tuesday, February 25, 2020   
Chip Templeton discusses business development center at Rotary
Mississippi State University Small Business Development Center Director Chip Templeton discussed the services the center offers and the impact it has made through its service area Monday at the Starkville Rotary Club. The center is one of seven such centers in Mississippi, and serves Oktibbeha, Clay, Choctaw, Kemper, Lowndes, Lauderdale, Montgomery, Monroe, Noxubee and Webster counties. The center's mission is to help entrepreneurs in its service area get their businesses up and running or improve current businesses. The center mainly works through free workshops and one-on-one counseling with entrepreneurs. "Everything about business is all kinds of emotion," Templeton said. "Certainly it's the joys, but it's also a lot of the negatives, a lot of 'how do I get through this, I'm running out of money? We're in the trenches helping people."
Mississippi State experts gather research, educational needs from producers
This year marked Bill Fitts' 27th consecutive appearance at the annual North Mississippi Producer Advisory Council meeting. The Marshall County beef cattle farmer and timber producer said he returns each year because it gives him an opportunity to share requests for research and educational programming with personnel from the Mississippi State University Extension Service and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. "I pick up something every time I come," Fitts said. "I like networking, one-on-one interaction, and I enjoy learning and being challenged." More than 200 growers across 16 commodity groups in 27 counties in north Mississippi joined Fitts in providing input for the next year of educational and research projects from MSU Extension and the Experiment Station. The meeting was held last week at the MSU North Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Verona.
MSU's Annual Networking Night Helps Prepare Student-Athletes For Next Chapter Of Their Lives
It was a chance to prepare for life after sports for college athletes at Mississippi State University. On Monday, the Student-Athlete Development Office hosted its annual Networking Night. The event gives student athletes a chance to meet and interact with a host of employers in a variety of career fields. Students dropped off business cards and resumes to potential employers. Dozens of student-athletes and businesses came out to be a part of this year's event. The program is a part of MSU's Life After Sports Initiative (LASI), something that was put in place to help students become successful after their playing days are over. "It's our job to let them know, hey you can do athletics at a really high level, and you can do academics at a really high level, and let's add a third component in there which is to prepare for life after sports, you can do that at a high-level," said Ben Rodriguez, Assistant Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Development. "Is it hard? No doubt it's hard. Is it possible? It certainly is possible, so again we just want to really instill that from the first time that they step on campus."
MSU-Meridian hosts information meetings for Professional MBA
Are you a seasoned business professional who wants to move up to the next level and increase your leadership skills? Then MSU-Meridian's Professional MBA degree program might be just what you're looking for. MSU-Meridian's Division of Business will host two information sessions for anyone interested in learning more about Mississippi State's Professional MBA degree. The first session will be held Tuesday, March 3 and the second on Tuesday, April 7. Both sessions will begin at 5:30 at the Deen Building, located at 2212 5th street on MSU-Meridian's Riley Campus in downtown Meridian. According to William Hill, head of the Division of Business at MSU-Meridian, the meeting will help prospective students learn more about academic pathways to earning a Professional MBA degree from Mississippi State. "We recently had 13 students graduate from throughout the region," said Stacey McNeil, assistant clinical professor of management and director of the Professional MBA program.
MPSD touts success of Any Given Child Initiative
The Meridian Public School District says it has seen many improvements since the start of the Any Given Child Initiative. "A group of 30 people started in 2016 putting this together, with certainly a lot of effort from the Kennedy Center in supporting it," says Jeffrey Leffler, an assistant professor of elementary education at MSU-Meridian and liaison to the Kennedy Center for Any Given Child. "And we went into it knowing what the research said about the outcomes that we could expect. But clearly seeing those outcomes come to play in the community is wonderful." The teacher retention rate has increased and the amount of chronically absent students has decreased. The school district has also seen an increase in math and English proficiency.
Meridian Public School District highlights success of Any Given Child Initiative
Four years since the Any Given Child Initiative came to Meridian, the city's public school district is seeing decreases in chronic absenteeism and teacher turnover and improved student engagement. Leaders from the Meridian Public School District highlighted results from the arts integration program during a news conference Tuesday at the MSU Riley Center. The program, coordinated through the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, helps communities develop plans for arts education. Looking ahead, the district plans to develop science lesson plans and to offer art integration training for teachers at the Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience. The Mississippi Association of Partners in Education will also honor the district, MSU-Meridian and the MSU Riley Center with the Governor's Award of Distinction at a luncheon on March 5 in Hattiesburg.
Engineer will prepare plans to replace Oktibbeha County Lake dam
Oktibbeha County supervisors voted unanimously to authorize County Engineer Clyde Pritchard to draw up plans for the replacement of the Oktibbeha County Lake Dam after a public hearing in the chancery courthouse Monday night. The decision to either replace the dam or no longer have a county lake has yet to be made, but the board agreed to fund the replacement plans with $250,000 from the county's $2.2 million allocation from the Office of State Aid Road Construction within the Mississippi Department of Transportation. The vote came after three hours of debate among the supervisors, who have been divided for weeks over how quickly to proceed with the potential replacement of the dam, and public input overwhelmingly in favor of replacing or eliminating the dam as soon as possible.
After tragedies, New Orleans celebrates end of Carnival
Revelers dressed in costumes and reaching for beads thrown from floats took to the streets as Carnival season reached its peak, their celebration tinged with grief after two paradegoers in New Orleans were hit and killed by floats in the run-up to Fat Tuesday. In the Central City neighborhood, dozens of members of the Zulu parade marched down the street in their costumes followed by a marching band to kick off the day's parades. Thousands of people lined the streets, dressed in the Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold, standing or sitting in lawn chairs, eating food and talking to friends and neighbors. Carnival season began Jan. 6 and ends Fat Tuesday after weeks of Mardi Gras parades, balls and merriment. This season's festivities have been marred by the deaths of the two people killed at separate New Orleans-area parades in recent days.
Speaker attends luncheon to hear secretary of state tout driver's license bureau plan he opposes
Secretary of State Michael Watson touted his plan Monday to have his agency take over the administering of the renewal of driver's licenses as a powerful politician opposed to that proposal -- House Speaker Philip Gunn -- sat in the audience listening. Gunn, who has gone on record as being opposed to transferring the duties of license renewal from the Department of Public Safety to the Secretary of State's office, attended the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute of Government Capitol press corps luncheon where Watson was the guest speaker. Gunn had not attended the luncheons previously other than when he was the guest speaker. During his speech, Watson acknowledged the disagreement with Gunn over the issue. Watson, who served three terms as a state senator, also acknowledged the difficulty in passing legislation making major changes. "But that is OK. That is part of the process," he said.
Doctor denied therapy: Bills would make Mississippi plans cover proton therapy
After Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi denied coverage for a doctor's expensive brain cancer treatment in 2019, state lawmakers took notice. Bryan Hierlmeier is a cardiac anesthesiologist at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. Hierlmeier was struggling with painful headaches last spring when he was diagnosed with brain cancer. His doctors recommended getting proton therapy, a type of radiation treatment designed to pinpoint cancer cells and avoid damaging nearby healthy tissue, but his insurance denied coverage. State lawmakers could decide this session whether to make Mississippi insurance plans cover proton therapy. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi, which denied Bryan Hierlmeier's proton therapy, declined to comment on these bills. Rep. Jill Ford, R-Madison, said proton therapy is covered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Medicare and Medicaid, but people under private insurance in Mississippi are at risk. She noted the "lengthy and grueling" appeals process that cause further distress to patients and their families.
Mississippi medical marijuana: Advocates pitch legalization benefits
Advocates for legalizing medical marijuana held a press conference in Jackson Monday with two out-of-state experts who explained what it look like if Mississippi joined the 33 states that allow cannabis use for medicinal purposes. One was a doctor and the other was a policy expert. They made the pitch that medical marijuana would not only be beneficial for Mississippians -- it would also be safer than the status quo. Mississippi voters will have a chance to decide for themselves in November. Medical Marijuana 2020, the nonprofit that hosted Monday's event, gathered more than 105,000 signatures to let voters decide on a constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana. The secretary of state's office certified the signatures in January, and Ballot Initiative 65 was formally filed with the Legislature. According to a poll conducted by Millsaps College and Chism Strategies in January 2019, 67% of Mississippi voters who were polled supported a medical pot initiative. The Mississippi State Board of Health and some law enforcement and government leaders oppose the initiative.
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith to make Vicksburg National Military Park repairs a priority
Fixing the erosion-damaged roads at the Vicksburg National Military Park will be her top priority when she returns to Washington, U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith said Friday. Speaking at ceremonies dedicating the Mississippi Center for Innovation & Technology, she told those gathered she had toured the park and the National Cemetery Friday morning and got a first-hand look at the damage, especially to the cemetery road. "Nothing is more important than preserving the graves of those who made this country great," she said. The National Cemetery at the Military Park was closed Feb. 11 after the cemetery's maintenance crew noticed some cracks appearing in the pavement. Two days later, on Feb. 13, the pavement buckled and failed as the road eroded, and part of the slope degraded. Calling the park the state's No. 1 attraction, Hyde-Smith said, "I assure you, we will be all over this to try to get these repairs back where we can live with them. It is a sacred incident. While we're here this is our opportunity to get the things repaired that we have been needing for a long time."
An Airbnb For Farmland Hits A Snag, As Farmers Raise Data Privacy Concerns
Parker Smith grows corn and soybeans on land near Champaign, Ill., together with his father and uncle. But Smith Farms doesn't own most of the land it uses. "About 75 percent of what we farm is rented ground," he says. This is common. Across the Midwest, about half of all the farmland is owned by landlords who live somewhere else. Farmers compete to rent that land. "There's only so much ground, and most of the farmers out there want more, so obviously it gets pretty competitive," Smith says. These farmer-landowner relationships can last for decades. They sometimes feel personal. So Smith was pretty upset when he heard that a company had sent letters to his landlords a few months ago, offering cash up front to rent the land that he's been farming. The letters came from a company called Tillable, based in Chicago. It's backed by venture capital. Those letters to landowners, though, got a lot of farmers very angry. "They're reaching out to our landlords, that we have relationships with, to sort of go behind the farmer's back" and break up those relationships, Smith says.
In Cold War travels, Bernie Sanders found much to admire behind enemy lines. Now that's a problem for his campaign.
The mayor of tiny Burlington, Vt., was back from Nicaragua and eager to share the good news. The country's Soviet-backed government -- forged via armed rebellion -- was cutting infant mortality, reducing illiteracy and redistributing land to peasant farmers. Its Sandinista leaders, branded terrorists by the U.S. government, impressed him with "their intelligence and their sincerity." Three years later, Bernie Sanders was fresh off the plane from Moscow, reveling in the beauty of the land and the contentedness of the people. And a year after that, he returned from Cuba having tapped into a revolutionary spirit "far deeper and more profound than I understood it to be." With Sanders now surging to the top of the Democratic presidential field, those three-decade-old impressions introduced a volatile new element in the race Monday as rivals reacted to Sanders's decision to defend his remarks, not disclaim them. The fact that Sanders's long-ago travels in the communist world have become an issue in the 2020 campaign reflects how unorthodox a choice he would be to lead the Democratic Party.
Best-selling author reveals details about upcoming Natchez book
The literary world will once again shine the spotlight on the City of Natchez when a new book by New York Times best-selling author Richard Grant is released this fall. Simon and Schuster recently announced the upcoming release of "The Deepest South of All: True stories from Natchez, Mississippi." The British journalist and author describes the book as an equal mixture of Natchez past and present. Grant said he spent approximately 2 1/2 years traveling back and forth from his home in Jackson doing research for the book. The book will be launched in August at this year's Mississippi Book Festival on the grounds of the Mississippi Capitol in Jackson. Grant said "The Deepest South of All" is similar to his previous book "Dispatches from Pluto." "It is an outsider's impressions of a place and its culture and it includes my first-person experiences," Grant said.
'We are Ole Miss, too:' Black student groups march for representation
Escorted by police officers and university officials, dozens of university students marched from Lamar Hall to the Confederate monument in the Circle on Monday evening to commemorate Black History Month. "I feel like this walk is important because it represents not only what we have achieved but what we will achieve in the future as black students here at Ole Miss," Dee Harris, a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said. The groups registered the march with the university, and when they did so, they requested that the university place a podium behind the Confederate monument in the Circle for student leaders to speak. However, when the march reached the Circle, the podium had been placed in front of the Lyceum instead. "They placed it in front of the Lyceum, but we decided that we wanted it where we said we wanted it, so we just picked it up and moved it," Arielle Hudson, president of the BSU and the university's first African American female Rhodes Scholar, said.
Despite student efforts, no polling place coming to campus
With the 2020 primary and general elections looming, student voting accessibility is being monitored both nationally and locally. Despite continual efforts to establish a polling place on campus, including an Associated Student Body (ASB) resolution, Lafayette County circuit clerk Jeff Busby doesn't believe it will happen before the 2020 elections. "I would like to see (a polling place on campus)," he said. "But I don't foresee that happening anytime soon. Most of the precincts are in and around the university, so they're not far, and there's transportation to all precincts." He said that polling places are not too far for students and added that the Oxford-University Transit (OUT) buses will transport students to polling places in this year's elections. The buses also went to polling places for the November 2019 election. Students with an on-campus post office mail box, for example, can vote at the Mississippi State Extension Office, which is on Buddy East Parkway in Oxford. This is approximately a 10-minute drive from campus to the Extension Office for students to vote. On an OUT bus, which has multiple stops depending on the route, this trip could take longer.
Suspect in shooting deaths of 2 Alcorn State students facing 2 counts of murder
The suspect in the shooting deaths of two Alcorn State University students has had his charges upgraded and his bond substantially raised. According to the Claiborne County Sheriff's Department, 20-year-old Jerrell Davis made his initial appearance on the two counts of murder Sunday in Claiborne County Justice Court. Davis, a Natchez native, is charged with two counts of murder, an upgrade from the aggravated assault charges he faced last week in the fatal shootings of Tahir Fitzhugh and James Carr. The alleged shooter now faces a $2 million bond. According to Claiborne County Sheriff Edward Goods, Davis was captured in Adams County. Davis had his initial court appearance in Claiborne County Justice Court on Thursday. He was held on a $200,000 bond. Two other students were also injured in the shooting. One was taken to the University of Mississippi Medical Center. There is no word on the condition of the other injured student.
Spectrum, Auburn Justice Coalition host Roll Toomer's Rainbow
After Auburn's win on Saturday against Tennessee, the members of Spectrum and the Auburn Justice Coalition gathered on Toomer's Corner with one goal in mind: rolling the trees. Any Auburn fan on a game day wakes up hopeful for a win, so they can roll Toomer's in celebration. These members, however, had a slightly different idea in mind. Instead of the streaks of white that usually paint the trees, they envisioned a little more color. Roll Toomer's Rainbow was born from the many "challenges and discomforts minorities face on campus," said Lucas Copeland, programs director for Spectrum and the LGBT+ Equity project manager for the Auburn Justice Coalition. "I was thinking of a way that we could do something provocative, do something interesting and start a conversation about the experience of the marginalized on campus," Copeland said. The hardest part was trying to find rainbow-colored toiled paper.
U. of Florida students and locals rally at university president's office about Aramark
Students and food service workers are disappointed in the University of Florida's President Kent Fuchs. Nearly 50 people rallied in front of Fuchs' office Friday to protest working conditions and wage problems from Aramark, the food service company that provides services on campus. Speakers included Aramark employees, members of Graduate Students United, the Young Democratic Socialists Association, United Faculty of Florida, the Alachua County Labor Coalition and the North Central Florida's American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, said Ashley Nguyen, a 22-year-old UF international studies and political science senior. The employees are experiencing hostile work environments with managers cursing out their workers, said Jeremiah Tattersall, a UF alumnus and a field representative for North Central Florida's American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization. He said some workers have complained that their employers aren't paying them for their overtime hours, despite constantly reminding them.
U. of Florida students give local elementary school a $20K makeover
Daphne Blessing put the final touches on her monochromatic sketch of Thomas Edison's face in green paint on Sunday afternoon. Edison and other impactful leaders such as Rosa Parks, Malala Yousafzai and Tim Tebow lined the fourth and fifth grade hallway at C.W. Norton Elementary School, 2200 NW 45th Ave. Blessing, a 20-year-old University of Florida visual arts studies junior, designed the sketches, which included inspirational quotes, as part of the student organization Project Makeover. The student organization, which began in 2008, selects a low-income elementary school in Gainesville to transform over the course of a single weekend each year. Executive Director Stephanie Bradley, 22, a UF accounting senior, said more than 1,100 volunteers participated this past weekend to donate books, paint interactive murals and update landscaping at the school. The group raised about $20,000 for the project through fundraising and sponsorships.
U. of South Carolina agrees to team up with Prisma Health on innovative ideas and business spinoffs
The University of South Carolina has announced a partnership with Prisma Health to explore finding commercially viable ideas and spinoff companies through teamwork between the institutions. The deal, approved Friday by USC's board of trustees, will allow the health care provider to use USC's connections and experience with winning patents and its business incubator that can help startups grow, said Bill Kirkland, executive director of the school's Office of Economic Engagement. Prisma Health is the state's largest private employer. It works with medical schools in Columbia and Greenville and has innovative capacity and concepts that could be developed into businesses or licensed ideas, Kirkland said. The partnership with USC should create an avenue for those concepts to make that leap. "Physicians will get ideas out of their heads and into the marketplace," Kirkland said.
IFC membership is down 37 percent from 2015, six of 10 IFC fraternities currently on social suspension
Vanderbilt's Interfraternity Council membership has decreased 37 percent from 854 members in 2015's fall semester to 528 in 2019's fall semester, according to the Office of Greek Life's Semester Academic & Membership Size Rankings. This is the report that Vanderbilt's Office of Greek Life (OGL) releases every semester regarding the number of members, new recruits and GPAs of the fraternities and sororities in the Interfraternity Council (IFC), National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) and Panhellenic Council. The number of new IFC recruits for the 2019-20 school year hovers at 291, consistent with the typical number of new recruits of around 280 students over the last four years, a drop from the 2015-16 school year at 398 students. The most notable reasons for this drop in IFC membership include fewer chapters on campus due to disciplinary reasons, member retention issues within chapters and a changing student demographic, Director of Greek Life Kristin Torrey said.
Texas A&M to break ground Saturday on Aggie Park upgrade
Aggie Park on Texas A&M University's campus is being redeveloped to include a small lake, tributes to alumni and university leaders, a new building and more. A groundbreaking will be Saturday morning at the park -- a 20-acre stretch of land between the Clayton W. Williams Jr. Alumni Center and the John J. Koldus Building. The park will include Wi-Fi, a small lake and an outdoor amphitheater, according to a university press release. Park redevelopment will be completed in spring 2022. A new facility that will be constructed and jointly operated by The Association of Former Students and the Texas A&M Foundation will be completed in a second phase. The building will house the Aggie Ring Program and Texas A&M Foundation staff. Kathryn Greenwade, vice president for communications and human resources at The Association of Former Students, said the building will provide a better experience on Ring Day, which can draw up to 45,000 people. The renovation will be funded by $25 million in private donations that the Association and the Foundation are raising.
U. of Missouri ag college marks 150 years
University of Missouri officials on Monday celebrated the start of what is now the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources 150 years ago in 1870. "Today really is a big deal," Dean and Vice Chancellor Christopher Daubert said during the event in the rotunda of Jesse Hall. The college was established on Feb. 24, 1870, exactly 150 years to the day, Daubert said. "We still uphold our commitment to Missouri's number one industry -- agriculture," he said. "I'm proud of what CAFNR has meant to Mizzou, the state, the nation and the world." In an interview before the event, Daubert said the strategic plan, "Drive to Distinction," will guide the college in the coming years. "We have a very bold future ahead of us," he said.
Democrats strongly favor tuition-free college, GOP divided by age and education
American adults generally support making tuition free at public colleges and universities for all U.S. students, yet there are sizable partisan and demographic differences in views of tuition-free college. Republicans, in particular, are divided by age and educational attainment in opinions on this issue. Among all U.S. adults, 63% favor making tuition at public colleges free, including 37% who strongly favor the proposal. Slightly more than a third oppose tuition-free college (36%), with 21% strongly opposed, according to a Pew Research Center conducted in January. Large shares of black (86%) and Hispanic adults (82%) favor making college free for all Americans, compared with 53% of whites. And while 75% of adults under age 30 favor this proposal, it draws support from only about half (47%) of those ages 65 and older. While Democrats largely favor free college tuition, the party's 2020 presidential candidates differ in how intensely they feel about this issue. The differences among Republicans are particularly stark when combining age and educational attainment.
Coronavirus forces U.S. universities online in China
After celebrating the Lunar New Year earlier this month, thousands of students at U.S. universities in China have resumed classes. But the campuses are eerily quiet, and classrooms remain empty. That's because classes have moved online in the wake of the coronavirus. The transition from face-to-face to fully online wasn't one leaders at institutions such as Duke Kunshan University and New York University Shanghai had planned for. Preparing to teach a course online for the first time usually takes several months. Faculty at institutions in China have done it in less than three weeks -- a remarkable feat. "It's been highly stressful, but at the same time, the clarity of the crisis has brought us together," said Clay Shirky, vice provost for educational technologies at NYU in New York, who was part of the team that helped colleagues at NYU Shanghai launch their courses online.
How on-the-job training became the new grad degree
When you think of fields that require advanced technological training, "retail" probably isn't one of them. But whether we're talking about people selling sweaters at the Gap or workers pulling orders in Amazon warehouses, many of the actual employees in the sector would beg to differ. The number of tech-related job openings among major retailers has risen dramatically in recent years---up to 23% in 2019 from 10% in 2016. And that's not just for executives. Entry-level workers dealing with AI-powered smart carts and online ordering platforms increasingly need an understanding of programming and data analytics to maintain sophisticated equipment and make sense of the reams of customer data they collect. It's not just retail that's seeing this shift. Employers in sectors as diverse as healthcare, education, government, technology, and customer service are seeking in-demand skill sets that average entry-level workers, or even those with college degrees, may not be equipped with.
How To Increase Consumer Confidence In Higher Education
It's impossible to ignore the concerning trends emerging from recent research on postsecondary education. A new study from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows that four out of 10 recent college graduates are underemployed, meaning they're working in jobs that don't require their degree. One out of eight is working in a job that pays $25,000 a year or less---far from what most consider a good salary for a college graduate. Similarly, a new book from Michael Horn and Bob Moesta shows that students who take on debt but don't finish are often left worse off than if they'd never gone to college. For education consumers, it's buyer beware: The education you pursue not only comes with a huge cost, it has massive implications for the future of your career and life with no guarantees. So how do we increase consumer confidence in higher education? We can start by arming consumers and learning providers with more and better information about the value of college programs --- not just how much they can expect to earn after they graduate, but also how current and former students rate and value their experience.
A New Netflix Show Will Tackle Life as a Department Chair. Academics Have Thoughts.
Academics channeled their inner screenwriter this past weekend after the news broke that Sandra Oh would be starring as a department chair at a major university in a coming series on Netflix. It wasn't immediately clear what, if any, university would be depicted in The Chair, which will feature Oh, the star of Killing Eve, as chair of an English department. Deadline described the series -- written by the actress Amanda Peet with Annie Julia Wyman, who earned a Ph.D. at Harvard -- as a "dramedy." Academe quickly took notice, with some wondering why it had taken Hollywood so long to "mine that rich field for comedy." Some hoped the show would be accurate in its depiction of the liberal arts and university departments, while others doubted the series would hold people's interest.
White Men Dominate Aging Tenure-Track Ranks
The median age for tenure-track faculty members is 49, according to a recently released data brief from CUPA-HR, the association for human resources professionals in higher education. That median age is seven years older than the median for the typical American worker, which isn't surprising given that professors required advanced training and credentials. However, the data show a significantly larger portion of tenure-track faculty members who are 55 or older. Just 23 percent of all U.S. workers are 55 or older, compared to 37 percent of faculty members. Women and members of underrepresented minority groups also tend to comprise relatively small shares of the older, tenure-track professoriate. For example, the report said women are 45 percent of all tenure-track faculty members who are 55 or younger, but just 35 percent of those over 55. And racial or ethnic minority group members comprise 26 percent of tenure-track faculty members who are 55 or younger and just 16 percent of those who are older than 55.
Flood spotlights need for strategic policy thinking
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: Politicians tend to be adept at tactical political thinking. How do I win the next election? How do I get this project my financial backers want approved? How do I keep special interest groups on my side? And so on. Strategic policy thinking to solve systemic and long-term problems, well that's another story. Effective government, however, cannot be singularly driven by tactical political thinking. Strategic policy thinking has a critical role. As state and local officials assess the decimating impact of the 2020 Pearl River flood, flood control is an appropriate example of the need for strategic policy thinking. Flood control and prevention seldom occupy public officials' minds...until a flood happens. Of course, then, all the tactical political thinking in the world is too late to help the victims. Flood control and prevention require rigorous, strategic thinking over time, and hard, often costly decisions at the federal, state and local levels.

Desperate for a win, Mississippi State men anticipating rematch with Alabama
With a disappointing road loss to Texas A&M Saturday, the Mississippi State men's basketball team is desperate. With just four regular season games remaining, the Bulldogs are projected to be on the outside looking in of the NCAA tournament picture, sitting in either the first four out or the next four out depending on what methodology of bracketology you subscribe to. Nevertheless, with a relatively weak NCAA tournament bubble this year, MSU coach Ben Howland stopped short of saying his team needed to win all four remaining contests to have any hope of an at-large bid. "It's all up in the air," Howland said Monday. Winning Tuesday's 8 p.m. matchup with Alabama at Humphrey Coliseum would go a long way in creeping back on the right side of the tournament picture, though.
Alabama faces another crucial road test in Starkville
The Alabama basketball mystery tour continues Tuesday in what is the most important regular-season game remaining. The lone Quadrant 1 game in the four games left takes the Crimson Tide to Starkville coming for another baffling two-game stretch. Following a momentum-killing loss to Texas A&M last Wednesday with a 25-point blowout win at Ole Miss added relevance to the 90-minute drive on US-82. Alabama (15-12, 7-7 SEC) figures to need a win over Mississippi State, the No. 57 team in the NET rankings, to keep the NCAA dream on life support. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. CT on the SEC Network. The Bulldogs (17-10, 8-6) spent almost all of February trading wins with losses before the same Texas A&M team ended a two-game winning streak with an 87-75 loss Saturday in College Station. This is the same Bulldog team that took a 90-69 beating in Coleman Coliseum on Jan. 8 against an Alabama team smarting from a double-overtime loss at NET No. 33 Florida.
No. 8 Mississippi State set for two midweek opponents
No. 8 Mississippi State will close out its homestand with a pair of midweek games before it travels to Long Beach State this weekend. The 5-1 Diamond Dogs take on Texas Southern today and also host Alcorn State on Wednesday. Both games are slated for 4 p.m. starts and will be the first midweek action for MSU following last week's rainout with Samford. Texas Southern is 0-9 on the year and coming off a sweep at Wichita State over the weekend. The Tigers will start freshman right-hander Camden Guarnere (0-0, 12.15 ERA) on the mound. Alcorn State is 2-2 this season after having all three games rained out at the Jackie Robinson Tournament in Jackson last weekend.
Former Alcorn State coach, athlete Lonnie Walker dies
Lonnie Walker, a former three-sport athlete at Alcorn State who later served as head coach of the school's men's and women's basketball teams, died on Monday. Walker was inducted into the Alcorn A-Club Sports Hall of Fame in 2005, and the Southwestern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame in 2011. Walker lettered in basketball, baseball and tennis at Alcorn from 1964-68. The 6-foot-4 guard was the SWAC Freshman of the Year in basketball in 1964-65 and a catcher on the baseball team. As a student-athlete, Walker was a part of three men's basketball teams that won SWAC Championships in 1966, 1967 and 1968. Upon graduation, Walker was an assistant men's basketball coach under Davey L. Whitney for 22 seasons. The Braves posted winning seasons in 19 of the 22 years, including NCAA Tournament appearances in 1980, 1982, 1983 and 1984, as well NIT appearances in 1979 and 1985.
U. of Arkansas baseball program turns rare profit in 2019; athletic department hits record revenue total
The University of Arkansas baseball team finished the 2019 season where only eight programs end up each year -- the College World Series. The Hogs did something else last year that's also rather exclusive in NCAA Division I baseball -- turn a profit. The baseball program finished in the black in 2018-19, to the tune of $855,055. The program had a total operational revenue of a record $6.73 million to go along with expenses of $5.87 million. Rising attendance, premium seating and ticket sales are at least partially responsible for the rise in revenue. Total attendance at Baum-Walker Stadium last year rose to a record 348,775, an average of 8,719 per game. Only LSU (425,377) and Mississippi State (373,784) had higher attendance figures. In a statement provided to the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal, UA Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek said the Razorbacks are "fortunate" to have strong support from season ticketholders, donors and sponsors for football, basketball and baseball programs.
Alabama strength coach an unconventional hire for Georgia on-field opening
As far as filling a spot for a position coach, Georgia's Kirby Smart could hardly have made a bigger splash and perhaps more of an out-of-the-box hire. Scott Cochran, Nick Saban's longtime strength and conditioning coach at Alabama, was hired as special teams coordinator, the school announced Monday evening. "Ask anyone who's been around him, Scott's passion and energy is contagious," Smart said in a statement posted to the school's athletic website. "Special Teams Coordinator is a great fit as he'll be working with all position groups. His knowledge and experience elevates our entire program, and we're excited to welcome the Cochran family to Athens." Georgia's opening was created when James Coley left for Texas A&M after Todd Monken was hired as offensive coordinator. Coley coached quarterbacks, but Cochran will fill the special teams coordinator opening created when Scott Fountain previously left for Arkansas. Cochran doesn't have a typical strength coach profile. He has more than 60,000 Twitter followers, was in a commercial with Saban for a bank and, according to USA Today, is the fifth-highest paid strength coach nationally at $595,000 a year.
Former Texas tennis coach Michael Center sentenced after admissions scandal
Former University of Texas at Austin tennis coach Michael Center was sentenced Monday to six months in prison in a Boston federal court for his involvement in the nationwide admissions scandal that implicated more than 50 people, including celebrities Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. Center pleaded guilty last April to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud and was released on a $5,000 bond. Although the maximum sentence for the charges was 20 years, U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns accepted prosecutors' recommendation of six months in exchange for Center's "substantial assistance," according to the plea deal. Other penalties handed down include a $20,000 fine, forfeiture of the $60,000 Center pocketed and 12 months of supervised release, according to court filings. Investigators found that Center conspired with mastermind William "Rick" Singer in 2015 to get a prospective student admitted to the university under false pretenses. Center accepted a $100,000 bribe, $40,000 of which was donated to UT's athletics program, in exchange for designating the student a tennis recruit.

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