Thursday, February 27, 2020   
ECCC, MCC partner with Mississippi State for applied science degree
East Central Community College and Meridian Community College students with an associate's degree in applied science will soon be able to obtain their bachelor's degrees through a program at Mississippi State University. ECCC and MCC both signed agreements with MSU Wednesday in Meridian. The agreements outline a pathway for MCC and ECCC students to complete MSU's Bachelor of Applied Science program. Students enrolled in the Bachelor of Applied Science program will have access to advisors from MSU-Meridian and MSU Online. They can take courses at Starkville, online or at the MSU-Meridian campus. MSU President Mark Keenum said the partnerships will help students who aren't taking the traditional academic route to get a degree at MSU. "We can open up the opportunity for students to get a bachelor's without having to start all over again as a freshman," he said.
Local community colleges partnering with Mississippi State program
Students and people in the workforce with an associate of applied science degree who want to advance their careers will now have an opportunity to do so. Meridian and East Central Community Colleges are partnering with Mississippi State University to allow for people with an AAS degree to get their bachelor's degree that is needed for higher level positions. This can be all done through the new bachelor of applied science degree at MSU. "This is a real exciting opportunity for many, many students who are about to complete their associate of applied science, and for many working adults who have for years have been working in a career, now they can easily transition online and complete their bachelor's degree," says Dr. Mark Keenum, the president of MSU. "It's a win-win-win, it's a win all around," says Dr. Billy Stewart, the president of ECCC. "It's a win for our students, it's a win for East Central Community College, it's a win for Mississippi State, and quite honestly, it's a win for the state of Mississippi as companies look to relocate here or locate here."
East Central Community College and Mississippi State University sign memorandum
Mississippi State University and East Central Community College signed a memorandum which is good news for both colleges. In the agreement, ECCC students are able to complete the applied science program which is new to MSU. The program was launched last August and has been receiving recognition. "Anytime our students have an opportunity to transfer at a smoother rate as well as an opportunity to transfer credits, it's a win-win for them, for us, for Mississippi State. This partnership is extremely important for us," said Dr. Billy Stewart, ECCC president. For more information on the applied science program visit
38 Special coming to Mississippi State in April
Classic rock band 38 Special will perform for free at the Mississippi State University Amphitheater on April 22, MSU announced in a press release Wednesday. The band formed in Jacksonville, Florida in 1974 and is known for their songs "Hold On Loosely," "Caught Up In You" and "Teacher, Teacher." 1980s tribute band The Molly Ringwalds will be 38 Special's supporting act. The five-piece band formed in New Orleans in 1999 and is known for their stage outfits inspired by Prince and Michael Jackson. MSU Music Maker Productions is a student-run nonprofit that has brought a variety of well-known artists to campus in more than 50 years. Recent concerts include rapper A$AP Ferg in February 2018 and blues-rock singer ZZ Ward in September 2015.
Glo moves to historic Starkville building
Exciting news continues to boom in Starkville. The former Rex Theater on Main Street will have a new "Glo" by the end of this year. According to Glo's press release, the Rex Theater will undergo a $1.2 million renovation through a partnership between Glo, Castle Properties and the Starkville Masonic Lodge. Glo's new permanent home will be the latest evolution to the company that began as a class project-turned-startup business through the Mississippi State University College of Business. Originally a drink light maker, the company has since expanded to also make light-up bath and body products. The Rex Theater, at 103 W. Main St., might just be the new hidden gem downtown. The site's history goes back more than a century when the Freemasons purchased the property at the corner of Main and Washington Street in 1906. Although the original lodge was destroyed in a 1929 fire, it was rebuilt in 1931 where the Rex Theater was built on the ground level. "Even as a member, I was unaware of the former glory of this space," said Starkville Freemason Kyle Jordan. "When I became Master of the lodge, I had high hopes of restoring our building so we could shift our focus from maintaining our property to philanthropic efforts, member outreach and retention."
Gordmans opening three stores in Mississippi March 17
Off-price apparel and home decor retailer Gordmans is opening three new stores in Mississippi on March 17. Gordmans is part of the Stage community of stores "that is delivering a whole new shopping experience, with everyone's favorite brands at prices way lower than department stores," according to company literature. In addition, customers can ship their Amazon orders to the in-store Amazon Counter. The three Mississippi stores are: Kosciusko Gordmans: 200 Veterans Memorial Drive, Suite A. Starkville Gordmans: 844 Highway 12 West in Starkville Crossings. Yazoo City Gordmans: 110 North Jerry Clower Boulevard. Merchandise selection at the stores includes apparel and footwear for the family, home decor, accent furniture, wall decor, bedding & bath, kitchen gadgets, fashion jewelry, designer fragrances, toys and pet accessories.
Pearl River: Tug and pull over best way to deal with river escalates after 3rd-highest crest on record
This year's Jackson flooding has elevated the stakes for both sides of a years-long debate over whether or not to proceed with the One Lake project. The $350 million flood control proposal has gained recent attention over the last few weeks with the Pearl River climbing to 36.7 feet at the capital city, the third-highest peak on record. The overflow damaged over 400 homes in Hinds and Madison counties, and as of Monday the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency was still monitoring flooding downstream. On Wednesday, environmental groups and a concerned downstream mayor reiterated their objections to the project, which would dam and widen the river near Jackson. Their concerns, echoed by Rep. Bennie Thompson in a 2018 letter, range from impacts on endangered species and depletion of wetlands to unacknowledged infrastructure costs around bridges and landfills.
'A lot of animals aren't getting reported': House bill calls for deer and turkey tagging
If a bill introduced in the Mississippi Legislature becomes law, hunters will not only be required to report their deer and turkey harvests to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, they will be required to attach a physical tag on the animal. House Bill 1539, authored by Rep. Ken Morgan, R-Morgantown, calls for MDWFP to develop and implement a hunter-friendly reporting system that includes physical tags. The Legislature has not had ample appetite to pass such a bill in previous years. But it's something Morgan said is needed for data collection and to deter the over-harvest of the popular game animals. "It's so simple -- and I've hunted in 14 states and three provinces -- to have a tagging system," Morgan said. "It may seem like a lot to people, but you have a legitimate trail to who killed it. A lot of animals are not getting reported. We'll have a lot more accurate report of what was harvested and when it was harvested. Other states have been doing it for years."
Mississippi mulls checking tax info of welfare recipients
Mississippi is moving toward more intense scrutiny of low-income people on public assistance, an action that comes as a former state welfare director and five other people have been charged with misusing millions of dollars intended for the poor. Amid objections from several Democrats, the Republican-controlled Mississippi House voted 75-46 to pass Senate Bill 2257. The vote was largely along party lines. The bill would authorize the state auditor to check a sampling of tax returns to verify the income of people enrolled in Medicaid, nutrition programs or other types of public assistance. Critics say the proposal unnecessarily targets some of the neediest people in one of the poorest states in the nation.
Bill dubbed an 'attack on poor people' passes out of House
"What does the state of Mississippi have against poor people?" This was the sentiment expressed by Rep. Chris Bell, D-Jackson and numerous members of the House of Representatives who urged their colleagues to vote against Senate Bill 2257, a controversial piece of legislation that would allow the state auditor to examine tax returns of public assistance recipients. Those who spoke out against the bill were unsuccessful. After a lively debate, it passed 76 to 45 mostly along party lines. The legislation gives the State Auditor's Office the authority to examine income tax returns to determine eligibility for public assistance programs including Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Rep. Joey Hood, R-Ackerman, chair of the House Medicaid Committee, presented the bill. "It's another tool in the tool box to check the eligibility requirements," he said.
Sen. Jenifer Branning sponsors immunization legislation
State Sen. Jenifer Branning was steady shuffling her schedule and rushing from meeting to meeting Tuesday morning at the State Capitol. Like all state legislators, the Neshoba County Republican is in the midst of her busiest portion of the 2020 legislative session as next week's deadline to move bills out of committee approaches. Branning said there's always more she'd like to do, but added that she's proud of the bills she's been able to get on the agenda for consideration. Among those bills is one that would allow parents to opt out of immunizing their children on religious grounds, something she said had been requested by a small but vocal number of families around the state. Branning's bill would allow parents of students in Mississippi's K-12 public schools to make the decision not to immunize their children. Branning, who said she was happy to immunize her own children, had been ambivalent on past efforts to subvert immunization requirements. Past bills on the subject, she had argued, were too broad. She considers this bill, which is more narrowly focused on just public K-12 students, is more appropriate.
Sen. Chris McDaniel files bill to stop new landfills
After a contentious fall and winter, both sides in the debate over a proposed third landfill in Madison County are regrouping for the next round of the process set to play out this spring. There has been little movement since January, when the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality's permit board delayed a vote on whether to allow NCL Waste Management to construct a new landfill adjacent to the Little Dixie Landfill on North County Line Road until the Madison County Board of Supervisors can furnish a new needs assessment. But behind the scenes, both proponents and opponents of the project are gearing up for another round of legal arguments and political maneuvering in 2020. n a surprise move, State Senator Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville) earlier this month introduced Senate Bill 2733, an act that would amend section 17-17-227 of the Mississippi Code of 1972 so that no solid waste management plan can include any proposed new solid waste facility within one mile of an existing permitted solid waste facility. With Little Dixie located adjacent to the proposed site of NCL's new landfill, the bill would effectively kill the project if it passed. The bill has been sent to the Senate Committee on Environmental Protection, Conservation and Water Resources, which McDaniel chairs.
Oxford lawmaker files bill for citizens to apply for communication disorder car decal
A Northeast Mississippi lawmaker has filed legislation that would allow people with communication disorders to affix a special decal on a car tag to ease potential encounters with law enforcement. State Sen. Nicole Boyd, a Republican from Oxford, told the Daily Journal in a telephone interview that Senate Bill 2764 sets up a voluntary process by which people can apply to get the decal. She said the process would be similar to applying for a handicap tag. "You would apply for that and provide proof from a licensed psychologist or physician that you have a communications disorder," Boyd said. The intent of the bill is help law enforcement officials realize upon seeing the sticker that someone in the vehicle has a communications disorder and may not be able to conventionally communicate with law enforcement. The bill has been double referred to the Transportation and Finance Committees.
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith visits Grammy Museum Mississippi
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith stopped by Cleveland last week as part of her tour of Mississippi. She visited the Grammy Museum Mississippi after spending the morning touring Clarksdale. "We're on a recess this week and I just wanted to get to the Delta and visit several things because when you're thinking about legislation and you're reflecting upon your state, the Delta has a lot of needs and a lot of challenges." Hyde-Smith and the rest of Mississippi's congressional delegation have been working for months in Washington to get the paperwork and funding for the Yazoo Backwater pumps that will reduce the threat of flooding for much of the south Delta. After record-breaking flooding and damage in 2019, Mississippi had another scare over the last couple of months and are anxious for news. "I have spent countless hours in negotiations with the Corps of Engineers, with EPA, in trying to figure out (getting the pumps installed)," said Hyde-Smith. "Obviously, the pumps are a necessity." The senator is cautiously optimistic about the potential to finally get the pumps built.
B.C. Hammond to run for U.S. House in 2nd Congressional District
Local political candidate B.C. Hammond has thrown his hat into national politics as he has filed to run in the Republican primary for Mississippi's 2nd Congressional District, currently headed by Rep. Bennie Thompson. Hammond was the Republican candidate for State Senate District 13 and was defeated by Sarita Simmons, but that has not dampened his aspirations or desire to be heard. "I got my hat into the political arena and I figured I'd like to see a different direction from the leadership we have," Hammond said. "If not me, who, and if not now, when, and I'm going to run the common man's campaign. "I'm all about economic freedom and trying to provide opportunities to people to better themselves, to have a chance at prosperity. I don't think we see a lot of that in that district specifically." Hammond, a Cleveland native, has spent his adult life in different fields varying from being an insurance salesman to a farmer.
California coronavirus case could be first spread within U.S. community, CDC says
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating what could be the first case of novel coronavirus in the United States involving a patient in California who neither recently traveled out of the country nor was in contact with someone who did. "At this time, the patient's exposure is unknown. It's possible this could be an instance of community spread of COVID-19, which would be the first time this has happened in the United States," the CDC said in a statement. "Community spread means spread of an illness for which the source of infection is unknown. It's also possible, however, that the patient may have been exposed to a returned traveler who was infected." The CDC said the "case was detected through the U.S. public health system -- picked up by astute clinicians." "It's the first signal that we could be having silent transmission in the community," said Lawrence Gostin, director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law.
Dow plunges 650 points, enters correction on coronavirus fears
Stocks tumbled Thursday as fears mount that the deadly coronavirus could be spreading to the U.S. as the number of worldwide cases top 81,000. The Dow Jones industrial average tumbled 650 points, pushing it into a correction for the first time since December 2018. A correction is generally defined as a decline of 10% from a recent high. Traders are concerned the global economy could stumble as major industrial countries struggles to contain the outbreak. To be sure, the U.S. economy remains strong, driven by record low unemployment, a firming housing market and robust consumer spending. "People who keep trying to call a recession are missing the fact that the U.S. consumer feels comfortable about their financial position," says Michael Antonelli, market strategist at Baird. "But if the virus spreads and hits U.S. shores, it will absolutely hit household sentiment. Once the U.S. consumer cracks, then the whole story around the stock market starts to falter."
5 killed in mass shooting at Molson Coors campus in Milwaukee before gunman takes his own life
An employee opened fire Wednesday at one of the nation's largest breweries in Milwaukee, killing five fellow workers before taking his own life, police said. The assailant who attacked the Molson Coors complex was identified as a 51-year-old Milwaukee man who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said. "There were five individuals who went to work today, just like everybody goes to work, and they thought they were going to go to work, finish their day and return to their families. They didn't -- and tragically they never will," Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said. Authorities offered no immediate motive for the attack and did not release details about the shooter or how the shooting unfolded. The attack occurred at a sprawling complex that includes a mix of corporate offices and brewing facilities. The complex is widely known in the Milwaukee area as "Miller Valley," a reference to the Miller Brewing Co. that is now part of Molson Coors. A massive red Miller sign towers over the complex and is a well-known symbol in Milwaukee, where beer and brewing are intertwined in the city's history.
Pope to Catholics: For Lent, give up trolling
During Lent, Catholics are called on to give up something, like sweets. On Wednesday, Pope Francis added a modern twist to the list of things to quit during the season and beyond: insulting people on social media. The pope made his appeal to tone things down while speaking to tens of thousands of people in St. Peter's Square for his general audience on Ash Wednesday, the start of the 40-day season that leads up to Easter. Lent, he said in partially improvised remarks, "is a time to give up useless words, gossip, rumours, tittle-tattle and speak to God on a first name basis," he said. "We live in an atmosphere polluted by too much verbal violence, too many offensive and harmful words, which are amplified by the internet," he said. "Today, people insult each other as if they were saying 'Good Day.'" In recent years, Francis himself has been the butt of insults from ultra-conservative Catholic websites and mostly anonymous anti-pope Twitter feeds.
'It's just disrespectful': Speaker Gunn uses rare procedure to kill bill that would abolish IHL board
House Speaker Philip Gunn employed one of the rarest legislative tactics at his disposal to ensure the death of a bill that would abolish the board of trustees of the Institutions of Higher Learning. Ten Democrats filed a bill earlier this month that would abolish the state's 12-member college board and allow each of the state's eight public universities to appoint their own board of trustees. Those boards would oversee the universities' finances and make executive leadership decisions. The bill's primary author Rep. Chris Bell, D-Jackson, said the bill was inspired by the controversial 2017 president search the IHL board conducted for Jackson State University, though Bell also pointed to the controversial 2019 chancellor search at the University of Mississippi. But shortly after Bell filed the bill, Gunn killed its chances of even making the House floor for debate. Controversial bills or pieces of legislation that the speaker opposes are often double-referred, meaning they must pass out of two committees before they can move to the floor. But during this year's committee assignment process, Gunn made the rare decision to triple-refer the bill that would abolish the IHL board.
College Scholars Prepare To Compete And Take Part In Annual Leadership Conference
While it may not be in the classroom, some of the best and brightest students from across the state are being tested. For the seventh year in a row, Mississippi University for Women is hosting the Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda State Leadership Conference. Nearly 150 students are competing in more than 50 business, legal and leadership-oriented competitions. The top two finishers in each competition will go on to compete in nationals which will take place this summer in Salt Lake City, Utah. University leaders said the conference helps students develop their networking skills, and also gives them a glimpse into the business world. "If they're the number one student in the state in principles in marketing, then that looks wonderful when they're going out into a job interview," said Thomas Haffey, marketing and management instructor and PBL Chapter Adviser at MUW.
Titanic oceanographer talks about ocean exploration partnership with USM
Dr. Robert Ballard, best known for his discovery of the famed sunken ship Titanic, was joined for an interview by Chief Executive Officer and Principal Educational Officer of The University of Southern Mississippi, Dr. Rodney D. Bennett. Ballard's work was honored by legislators at the Mississippi Capitol on Tuesday. The two discussed a partnership between the university and the Ocean Exploration Trust started by Ballard. The Ocean Exploration Trust is designed to participate in what he calls the next "Louis and Clark Expedition." "Our nation owns more land under water than any other nation on earth," said Ballard. "It represents 50 percent of America's territories and yet we have better maps of Mars than our own country." Ballard said the project explores the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Pacific. With the West coast covered by the Trust located in California and the East coast maintained by partners like University of Rhode Island, he said they were looking for a key partner with leadership capabilities on the Gulf Coast.
USM chorale students at 'low risk' of coronavirus infection after South Korea trip
The University of Southern Mississippi has advised chorale students who recently traveled to South Korea to self-monitor for 14 days after the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention issued a Level 3 travel advisory Monday. The travel advisory recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to South Korea due to an outbreak of the novel coronavirus causing respiratory illness. Southern Miss released a statement Wednesday regarding chorale students who performed in South Korea at the Jeju International Choral Symposium last week, which ended prior to the advisory being issued by the CDC. Students returned to Mississippi on Sunday. The Mississippi Department of Health, in consultation with the CDC, has advised the University that the students who traveled to South Korea are at a low risk of infection. No students have reported symptoms, according to USM.
3 more accused in shooting of Alcorn State students
Three men have been charged as accessories after the fact of murder in connection with a shooting that left two Alcorn State University students dead, authorities said. The Claiborne County Sheriff's Office tells WAPT-TV that Carlton Hall, 21, Damious Madison and Vontavious Green, both 20, are all in custody. It was unknown if any of them are represented by an attorney who could speak on their behalf. Tahir Fitzhugh, 22, and James Carr, 19, were killed and two others were injured in the Feb. 17 shooting at an off-campus student hangout, investigators said.
Vicksburg conference attracts Mississippi College business students
The J.L. Holloway Center for Entrepreneurship is where Mississippi College business students advance their skills to succeed in the real world. The MC students learn from CEOs and other outstanding professionals year-round. One of the ways to do just that is by attending the 2020 Mississippi Entrepreneurship Forum. The April 2-3 program at the Vicksburg Convention Center will attract economic developers, future business owners and students from institutions across the Magnolia State. John Brandon, director of MC's entrepreneurial programs in the School of Business, says students are already pitching new ideas to bring to the conference this spring. One is for Mississippi businesses to develop sustainable promotional signs out of recyclable plastics. Another concept in the works at the Christian university is offering custom design initiatives and a design studio so churches can save money on imprinted clothing.
Belhaven University offers new degree in digital media
Belhaven University is now offering a degree in digital media. The interdisciplinary digital media program -- one that began in January -- combines courses from film production, graphic design, writing, public relations and business programs. "Belhaven's Bachelor of Arts in Digital Media will help students prepare for an increasingly digital world," Bill Moak, Belhaven University's chair and assistant professor of communications, said Wednesday in a news release. "Experts in digital media shape the way the modern world works, learns, communicates, and plays," he said. "Whether you're interested in becoming a journalist, a graphic designer, a videographer or public relations professional or any one of hundreds of other careers involving communication, this degree will help you reach your goal and prepare you for a rewarding career."
Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration starts today with Faulkner film
The Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration kicks off today and runs through Saturday with a theme of "Visits, Vittles & Vines: The Culture of Southern Hospitality." Most events are free and open to the public and will be held at the Natchez Convention Center. This year's celebration will explore how the many aspects of hospitality contribute to Southern identity. Friday's programming, which begins at 8:30 a.m., will focus on cultural identity through foodways and hospitality with speakers such as Andrew Haley, University of Southern Mississippi; Southern Foodways Alliance's oral historian Annemarie Anderson; Ebony Lumumba, Tougaloo College and First Lady of Jackson; Ashli Quesinberry Stokes, University of North Carolina at Charlotte; Wendy Atkins-Sayre, University of Memphis; and archaeologist Meg Kassabaum, University of Pennsylvania. Ann J. Abadie, professor emerita, University of Mississippi, and founding member of the Southern Foodways Alliance, will be honored with the Thad Cochran Award for Achievement in the Humanities.
U. of Arkansas picks 6 design finalists for research center
Architects from nine foreign countries and the U.S. submitted designs for a new academic building with "expanded vision and character" to form a part of the new arts district planned by the University of Arkansas, said Peter MacKeith, UA's architecture dean. Undulating roofs and plenty of exposed wood highlight the conceptual work of six design finalists for the $16 million Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation, according to renderings released by the university. The facility, announced in 2018 after a $7.5 million gift from donors John Ed and Isabel Anthony, is to house timber-related and wood design programs and a fabrication shop that are a part of UA's Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design. Up to five stories tall, the research center on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard at Government Avenue will be part of the Windgate Art and Design District, according to the university.
U. of Kentucky instructors teaching college courses through live video in high schools
At Lexington's STEAM Academy this week, teacher Leslie Valley sat in front of her students as expected in a typical high school classroom, but she remained quiet. Her role was to facilitate while someone else did the teaching. The students were focused on screens where University of Kentucky instructor Sy Bridenbaugh was teaching their college preparation course through interactive video. And the teens were virtually interacting with both Bridenbaugh and students at Marshall County High School in Western Kentucky who were taking the same class. With the University of Kentucky's new dual credit program, taught by high school teachers and UK professors and instructors, students can earn both high school and college credits. "Typically, in dual credit courses, a high school instructor teaches the college material, but the UK model partners college faculty with high school teachers and allows for virtual 'face-to-face' instruction," UK spokeswoman Amanda Nelson said.
Chief Michael Ragan reflects on 40 years with Texas A&M's University PD
Texas A&M University Police Chief J. Michael Ragan celebrated his 40th anniversary at the department last month. Over the course of his law enforcement career, Ragan has seen a number of changes at the department, including growth and the use of technology. But, he says, it's always been a good fit, and the department is where he was meant to be. "I look back on it and think that this is where the Lord wanted me to be," he said recently. Ragan, a native of Richmond in Fort Bend County, attended the University of St. Thomas in Houston before transferring to Texas A&M to study business. He graduated from Texas A&M in 1983 with a degree in economics, but his true passion sprouted from a job he took at the university's police department while still a student to help fund his education. Over Ragan's career, Texas A&M's student population has nearly doubled and the campus has evolved with it.
Student association auxiliaries moving to U. of Missouri's campus
The Missouri Students Association announced Tuesday night that STRIPES, Tiger Pantry and Truman's Closet are moving to the University of Missouri's campus. The MSA auxiliaries currently operate off-campus at the Rock Quarry Center. The move will put them in an unused storage space on the bottom floor of Hitt Street Parking Garage. STRIPES provides students free, safe rides on weekends. Tiger Pantry supplies food to students and staff who face food insecurity. Truman's Closet offers students and staff free rentals of professional clothing. MSA Senate Speaker Jacob Addington said during the presentation that accessibility for students has been a priority for the auxiliaries since they were founded in 2012. "It'll feel a little more like a permanent home for the auxiliaries," Senior Coordinator of Student Engagement Bryan Goers said about the new location during the meeting.
Universities pulling students from Italy and South Korea as coronavirus outbreak spreads
Some U.S. universities are ordering students to leave Italy, one of the most popular study-abroad destinations, and discouraging travel to South Korea as the novel coronavirus spreads. With a rapidly evolving outbreak, university officials accustomed to planning months ahead have had to move quickly to protect students, faculty and staff on campuses that have become increasingly global. The uncertainty affects thousands of students: More than 340,000 students from the United States studied overseas in the 2017-2018 academic year, according to the Institute of International Education's Open Doors survey. Many programs in China were suspended last month amid the outbreak. But the arrival of coronavirus in Italy and elsewhere in Europe took the disruption to another level.
NC-SARA report paints detailed picture of distance education landscape
Over 1.5 million students studied toward online degrees at institutions in their home state last year, according to new distance education data released today. The National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) has been collecting data on the number of out-of-state students studying online for the past four years. This year for the first time the report includes in-state students studying online in addition to out-of-state students studying online -- painting a much fuller picture of the online learning landscape. Data collected from NC-SARA's 1,960 member institutions (from every state but California) show that 2.8 million students studied in fully online degree programs in 2019. Of these, 1.5 million were in-state students and 1.3 million were out-of-state students. Out-of-state online enrollment grew by 5 percent compared with the 2018 data. Before NC-SARA existed, individual states used to collect online enrollment data, but it was difficult to get a national picture, said Cheryl Dowd, director for the State Authorization Network at the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies. "I appreciate that NC-SARA is providing consistency in the reporting," she said.
Study: Student evaluations of teaching are deeply flawed
Student evaluations of teaching reflect students' biases and are otherwise unreliable. So goes much of criticism of these evaluations, or SETs. Increasingly, research backs up both of those concerns. On the other side of the debate, SET proponents acknowledge that these evaluations are imperfect indicators of teaching quality. Still, proponents argue that well-designed SETs inevitably tell us something valuable about students' learning experiences with a given professor. A new study -- which one expert called a possible "game-changer" -- seeks to cut through the noise by assuming the best of SETs -- at least, that which is supported by the existing literature. Its analysis assumes that the scores students give instructors are moderately correlated with student learning and the use of pedagogical best practices. It assumes that SETs are highly reliable, or that professors consistently get the same ratings. And it assumes that SETs do not systematically discriminate against instructors on the basis of irrelevant criteria such as their gender, class size and type of course being taught.

Mississippi State Athletic Director John Cohen talks renovations, mental health care in speech at Kiwanis Club of Columbus
Mississippi State Athletic Director John Cohen has a vision. Speaking with members of the Columbus chapter of Kiwanis International on Wednesday afternoon at Lion Hills Center and Golf Club, Cohen offered a wide-ranging overview of the MSU athletic department and the new initiatives his arm of the university has begun offering in recent years. Chief among the announcements, the fourth-year athletic director said the new Mississippi State Tennis Pavilion is scheduled to be completed by May. An indoor facility that cost an estimated $8 million according to the university, it will sit on what was previously an extra football practice field. "What I've discovered in dealing -- and if anyone in this room deals in construction, I don't mean to throw shade -- everytime it rains, it's almost like the construction is a month behind," Cohen quipped of the project. "But no, that's just how it works." Following the completion of the new tennis facility, Cohen said Humphrey Coliseum is next in line for renovations. Other major announcements Cohen included as part of a nearly 30-minute speech included an emphasis on MSU's initiatives for student athlete development.
Jordan Westburg's homer helps Mississippi State down Alcorn State
Alcorn State center fielder Jordan McGowan simply turned and watched. Trotting a handful of steps before letting his brief jaunt come to a standstill, McGowan peered into the rigs in right-center field at Dudy Noble Field as Mississippi State junior shortstop Jordan Westburg's 410-foot homer skied into the stands at 104 miles per hour -- giving the Bulldogs the game-breaking hit they desperately sought all afternoon in their 8-4 win over the Braves Wednesday afternoon. Just one day removed from expressing his disgust at MSU's inability to plate runners in its loss to Southwestern Conference foe Texas Southern, Westburg's hit was one of just a handful of positive blips on an otherwise forgettable day for the majority of the maroon and white clad hitters. MSU now heads to California for a three game set against Long Beach State. Game one of the set is scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday.
Bulldogs bounce back against Alcorn State
Perhaps the only thing positive about Mississippi State's loss to previously winless Texas Southern on Tuesday is that the eighth-ranked Bulldogs were back on the field the following day. MSU made the most of the final game of its homestand with an 8-4 over Alcorn State on Wednesday afternoon. "I think we learned a lot about our team in a 24 hour period," said MSU coach Chris Lemonis. "We left here last night very disappointed but it was good to see them fight back." The Diamond Dogs (5-2) had a dozen hits, led by Jordan Westburg who went 2 for 3 with a two-run home run and scored four runs. "The game is fighting us a little bit," Lemonis said. "We've got some guys pressing in certain parts of our lineup. It was nice to see the middle of our order really take care of business today and have some big hits." The Bulldogs travel to Long Beach State for a three-game series starting Friday at 8 p.m. CT.
Mississippi State tops Alcorn State after shocking loss to Texas Southern
Jordan Westburg called Mississippi State's loss to Texas Southern on Tuesday an embarrassing one. He took it upon himself to make sure the Bulldogs wouldn't be embarrassed again against Alcorn State on Wednesday. Westburg's big blast in the bottom of the seventh inning broke the game open for the Bulldogs, but he did much more than hit one 410-foot bomb over Dudy Noble Field's right-field fence in Mississippi State's 8-4 win. Needing some consistency at the top of the order, the Bulldogs (6-2) leaned on Westburg all afternoon. He went 2-for-3 and reached base two other times on walks. Each time he got on, he scored. His two-run homer was the swing of the bat that served as the knockout blow to the believing Braves. "Personally, I didn't want to go to sleep last night," Westburg said of his emotions after the loss to Texas Southern. "I'm sure he slept more than I did too," MSU head coach Chris Lemonis quipped. "I felt the same way. I think most of our ballclub did."
No. 10 Bulldogs close out home slate tonight
No. 10 Mississippi State will attempt to bounce back from its buzzer-beating loss at home to Alabama on Sunday. The Bulldogs (23-5, 11-3 SEC) close out their regular season home slate with Arkansas tonight at 8 on SEC Network. MSU has won nine straight against the Razorbacks. The Bulldogs won both games against Arkansas last season, 93-69 in Fayetteville and 101-70 in the SEC Tournament championship game. The Hogs (21-6, 9-5) have won three of their last four games but dropped out of the top 25 following an 83-80 loss at Florida on Sunday.
First up for unranked Razorbacks: No. 10 Mississippi State
The Arkansas Razorbacks fell out of the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time this season after losing at Florida on Sunday. Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors said they ran into a highly motivated Gators team, which was trying to better its seeding for the upcoming Southeastern Conference tournament. But the Razorbacks were coming off a win over Tennessee earlier in the week. It was their ninth Southeastern Conference victory, which has only happened twice in the team's history. He did acknowledge talking to the team about what could have been. The Razorbacks could have been playing for second place in the SEC tonight in Starkville with a win on Sunday. But Neighbors pointed out the loss was not catastrophic. Vic Schafer, who served as an assistant and later associate head coach at Arkansas from 1997-2003 is a perfect 9-0 against the Razorbacks while at Mississippi State. The Razorbacks have dropped nine straight games to the Lady Bulldogs.
Mississippi State graduate guard Jordan Danberry named to SEC Community Service Team
Mississippi State graduate guard Jordan Danberry was named to the Southeastern Conference Community Service team, the league announced Wednesday. Danberry has participated in six community service events this season, including working with children with autism and special needs through Camp of the Rising Sun and Baseball Buddies. Along with teammates, she visited children with severe illnesses in the hospital in Jackson when the Bulldogs played at Jackson State this season. Danberry was also named a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Award on Tuesday. One of 10 players on the list, she is one of just two SEC players to earn the honor.
Bulldogs hold serve, have plenty work to do
Mississippi sports columnist Rick Cleveland writes: Mississippi State defeated Alabama 80-73 Tuesday night in a hard-played, hotly contested victory that, in essence, was college basketball's equivalent of holding serve. As a result, Mississippi State moves to 18-10 overall and a quite respectable 9-6 in the Southeastern Conference, good for fifth place overall before Wednesday night's games. The victory was the Bulldogs' seventh straight SEC win at The Hump, a feat that is keeping State in the NCAA Tournament conversation. That's the good news for Bulldogs fans. The bad: Most NCAA Tournament bracket experts, for whatever reason, project the SEC as a four-team league this season. Where March Madness is concerned, the Bulldogs are still on the outside looking in. Most bracket prognosticators have State as one of the first four teams out of the tournament.
Mississippi State softball rallies past Central Arkansas on key fifth-inning error
With two on and two out in the bottom of the fifth inning Wednesday, Mississippi State senior left fielder Candace Denis hit the ball hard but right at Central Arkansas second baseman Mary Kate Brown. Trailing 2-1, the Bulldogs had put their first two batters of the fifth aboard, but now the inning -- and a prime opportunity for the Bulldogs to tie the game or take the lead -- was over. Or so it seemed. The ball glanced off Brown's glove and rolled into shallow right center field. Freshman shortstop Madisyn Kennedy scored from third, sophomore right fielder Chloe Malau'ulu scored from second, and Mississippi State had turned what looked like another empty threat into a 3-2 lead. "We were a little down at first and a little quiet, so once we got that momentum back, it was lights out for all of us," catcher Mia Davidson said. From there, the Bulldogs (13-3) rode that wave to a 6-3 win over the Bears (11-6) in Wednesday's nonconference game at Nusz Park in Starkville.
Mississippi State freshman Ashley Gilliam named SEC women's golfer of the week
Mississippi State freshman Ashley Gilliam was named the Southeastern Conference women's golfer of the week, the league announced Wednesday. Gilliam led the Bulldogs to a win at the Westbrook Invitational in Peoria, Arizona, this past weekend. She posted a program record-tying 13-under-par 203, tying for second individually. Including three straight top-three finishes, Gilliam has now finished inside the top 10 in four straight events. At the Westbrook Invitational, she led Mississippi State to a total team score of 32-under par, tying the 12th-lowest team score in NCAA Division I history and beating the Bulldogs' record by 10 full strokes. Gilliam shot 13 birdies and an eagle over the course of the tournament in Peoria, shooting par or below on 52 of 54 holes. Her 5-under score helped the Bulldogs to an 18-under second round -- the sixth-best round by a team in Division I history.
New Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy: Dak Prescott is Super Bowl-caliber QB
Mike McCarthy already has won a Super Bowl. With the Dallas Cowboys, he hopes to win more. The longtime Green Bay Packers head coach arrives in Dallas with beliefs on what it takes to win rings. Two key principles drive those beliefs. "Defenses get you to the championship," McCarthy explained Wednesday afternoon from the NFL scouting combine. "Quarterbacks win championships." He added: "I definitely feel Dak is that quarterback." The Cowboys have yet to agree to a long-term extension with Dak Prescott, whose rookie contract is expiring. The team reiterated this week that they will "absolutely not" part ways from the 135th overall pick of the 2016 NFL draft. The team will designate Prescott as their franchise-tag candidate if necessary. Management would prefer to settle on terms of an extension before the March 12 tag date. McCarthy says he's staying out of negotiations. McCarthy, like owner Jerry Jones and vice president Stephen Jones, confirmed Prescott is the Cowboys' guy.
Vanderbilt announces athletics strategic plan, football locker room renovation
Vanderbilt released its athletics strategic plan, which was created during recently resigned athletics director Malcolm Turner's tenure. It is a 17-page outline of priorities and planning for Vanderbilt athletics for the next few years and was released Wednesday. The university also announced a fundraising campaign for a "significant upgrade" to the football locker room, with construction planned to be completed before the 2020 season. Interim athletics director Candice Storey Lee said the locker room renovation will be less than $5 million. No other specific facility upgrades are mentioned in the athletics strategic plan. There are general references to "build and renovate competition venues," as determined by a master facility plan, which has not yet been released. Lee called the athletics strategic plan "a living document," and "just the beginning" of progress in Vanderbilt athletics. She expects other announcements later this year, but did not provide specifics.
NCAA monitoring coronavirus' possible impact on basketball tournaments
Amid concerns that a potential outbreak of the coronavirus in the U.S. could jeopardize major sporting events, the NCAA's Sports Science Institute has issued memos to its members directing schools toward Centers for Disease Control resources while maintaining preparations for the upcoming NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, which begin on March 17. "NCAA staff continues to prepare for March Madness but we are keenly aware of coronavirus and will continue to monitor in coordination with state/local health authorities and the CDC," said NCAA associate director of communications Chris Radford. On Tuesday, Nancy Messonnier, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, warned that an outbreak of the virus, also known as 2019-nCoV or COVID-19, could lead to school closings and the cancellation of major sporting events. In the two memos issued to athletics directors, health care administrators, conference commissioners and head athletic trainers and team physicians, the NCAA shared links to CDC resources on travel, coronavirus symptoms and topics to discuss with campus leadership.
If appeal fails, major Georgia Tech donor supports lawsuit against NCAA
Over the years, Georgia Tech alumnus Steve Zelnak has been exceedingly generous in giving to his alma mater and its athletic department. He and his wife, Judy, gave the lead $4.5 million gift on the basketball practice facility and also were behind the football team meeting room, among other donations. His next donation might be his most unusual. As Tech's appeal with the NCAA for penalties stemming from the men's basketball team's recruiting violations continues, Zelnak said he's willing to help fund a lawsuit against the NCAA should Tech's appeal fail. "If the NCAA were to turn us down, I'd love to see us just flat sue the NCAA," Zelnak told the AJC. Zelnak made sure to clarify that it was his position, and not that of the athletic department. But Zelnak was critical of the NCAA for what he considered inconsistency in how the association has penalized member schools for infractions. It echoed the perception held by fans across college athletics that the NCAA lightly penalizes the most prominent athletic programs while treating others more harshly.
As the NCAA Compensation Debate Rages, Transfer Rule Reform Now a Key Part of the Equation
Last Tuesday, the NCAA stunned many in the college sports world by announcing a proposal to change a policy that dates back to the 1960s. Under the idea, first-time transfers in all sports would immediately be able to compete at their new school, rather than sit a year as they did under old legislation. Not only was the statement's timing a surprise but so was its path: The proposal is being fast-tracked to go into effect this fall. At least one conference administrator expressed surprise at the announcement and said his league received no warning. Meanwhile, Todd Berry, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association, a group opposed to the proposal, was completely "shocked" at the NCAA's statement and said FBS conferences were against the idea as recently as last summer. "Something has happened recently," Berry said. "I don't know if it has to do with NIL or what." Many believe it does.

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