Monday, March 9, 2020   
Partnership signed with Mississippi State, Northwest programs
Mississippi State University and Northwest Mississippi Community College signed a memorandum of understanding Thursday, March 5, to formalize partnership programs for students enrolled in technical education programs. The agreement outlines a pathway for Northwest students to complete MSU's new Bachelor of Applied Science program, leveraging the strengths of both institutions to provide more opportunities in technical education and meet current and future workforce demands. "We need more two-year and four-year graduates to move Mississippi forward," MSU President Mark E. Keenum said. "By working together, I believe we'll be able to better assist our fellow Mississippians in gaining the education they need to compete for the jobs of the 21st century. We are committed to helping all of our BAS students excel, succeed and earn a bachelor's degree -- building on the excellent foundation they have been given at Northwest." Northwest President Michael Heindl said he was excited for the new agreement between MSU and Northwest.
ParkMobile partners with MSU to provide smarter parking options around campus
ParkMobile, the leading provider of smart parking and mobility solutions in the U.S., announced March 2 the launch of service on Mississippi State University's campus in Starkville. Students and visitors will be able to use the ParkMobile app to pay for parking at over 12,000 spaces around campus. The ParkMobile app is available for both iPhone and Android devices. To pay for parking using the app, a user enters the zone number posted on stickers and signs around the meter, selects the amount of time needed and touches the "Start Parking" button to begin the session. The user can also extend the time of the parking session on their mobile device, without having to go back to the meter or kiosk. "Mississippi State is a highly innovative university and we are excited to partner with ParkMobile and offer our community an innovative way to pay for campus parking right on their mobile device," says Jeremiah Dumas, Director of Parking and Transit Services. "This will improve the overall parking experience at the school."
Mississippi State honors well-known journalist, politico Wayne Weidie
A Mississippi State University alumnus well respected in the fields of politics and journalism was recognized Friday, with an event honoring his life and work. The university held an event celebrating the life and work of Wayne W. Weidie, and the establishment of the Weidie Internship Program. The internship program will help offset costs for MSU students interning in Washington D.C. and Jackson, including the university's longtime Stennis-Montgomery Association, which Weidie helped start. Weidie died on Aug. 15, 2019 at the age of 78. He was a native of Pascagoula, and graduated from MSU with a bachelor's in political science in 1962. He donated his papers to MSU Libraries in 1994.
Mississippi State to host presentation by California anthropologist Jason De Leon
Mississippi State's Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures is sponsoring a March 24 presentation by California anthropologist and educator Jason De Leon. Free and open to the public, De Leon's lecture takes place at 5:30 p.m. in McCool Hall's Taylor Auditorium, Room 124. His Tuesday evening talk is titled "The Land of Open Graves: Understanding the Current Politics of Migrant Life and Death Along the U.S.-Mexico Border." A 2017 MacArthur Foundation Fellow, De Leon is a professor of anthropology and Chicana/o studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, from which he earned a bachelor's degree in anthropology. Also holding a Ph.D. in anthropology from Penn State, De Leon is executive director of the Undocumented Migration Project. For his long-term anthropological study of migration from Latin America to the U.S., he uses a combination of ethnographic, visual, archaeological and forensic approaches to bring to light the lives and deaths of clandestine migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border into the Sonoran Desert of Arizona.
Rockford University volunteers celebrate 25 years of coming to Starkville
Courtnay Smith waited two years for the day ground would finally be broken on her new home. The Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity, along with students and representatives from Rockford University in Illinois, gathered on the foundation of the new home on Azalea Lane for a groundbreaking ceremony Sunday. "Two years seemed like this was going to be a long way off," she told the crowd. "Thank God for this occasion, thank you for blessing us with a home. Thank you for helping my children, my family and I, it's been two years but it's been worth the wait." While the occasion marked the beginning of the next chapter of Smith's life, it also represented the 25th year a group from Rockford University made the spring break trip to Starkville to help with a Habitat house. Sunday's groundbreaking also represented the start of the Collegiate Challenge, which is always kicked off by Rockford students and alumni.
Citizen-led group of rural broadband advocates plans event with PSC's Brandon Presley
Golden Triangle residents frustrated with the lack of broadband internet access in rural areas are banding together to put more pressure on 4-County Electric Power Association to offer the service. The Golden Triangle Citizens for Broadband private Facebook group has more than 660 members since it began on Feb. 24, and the group will hold a public meeting on at 6:30 p.m. March 16 at the East Mississippi Community College campus in Mayhew. "I feel like we can really grow this group to keep addressing this and giving information out that has to do with broadband," said Steve Pyle, one of the Facebook group's administrators and a former candidate for Lowndes County District 1 supervisor. "There's so much that we're missing out on." Mississippi Public Service Commissioner for the Northern District Brandon Presley will speak at the meeting. Local Realtors, home health providers, community leaders and representatives from 4-County will also be there, Pyle said. 4-County has been under pressure to provide rural broadband access since the state Legislature passed a law last year allowing electric cooperatives to provide internet service. The co-op issued a press release on Feb. 28 saying it conducted three feasibility studies and found that one broadband project could cost $110 million.
State, local officials prepare for 10-year census
When his work as chairman of the Complete Count committee for the city of Columbus was over in 2010, David Armstrong consoled himself with a pleasant thought. "I remember saying to myself, 'I won't have to do that again,'" said Armstrong, the city's chief operating officer. "But here we are." Now, 10 years later, Armstrong is still here and will again lead the local committee charged with helping spread the word of the U.S. Census throughout the Columbus area. The Census process, charged with the herculean task of counting every resident in the United States, begins in earnest on Thursday, when the U.S. Census Bureau will mail millions of notices to residential addresses throughout the country, informing residents of how to complete the short Census questionnaire online or by phone, beginning April 1. Armstrong said it's especially important to get the word out in minority communities, where the participation rate has historically been low.
Sesame Stree's Count von Count wants to get young children counted in census
No other age group was under-counted more during the last once-a-decade census than children under age 5, researchers say. Sesame Street is hoping to use Count von Count to change that. The Muppet best known as the Count is joining Elmo, Rosita and her mom, Rosa, in public service announcements filmed on the set of the long-running educational television show. The spots encourage parents of young children to make sure they and their children are counted in the 2020 census. The public service announcements in English and Spanish started airing Monday. The head count starts for most people this Thursday. The Sesame Street characters are joining a growing group of celebrities using their influence to encourage people to be counted. Morgan Freeman made a public service announcement for census outreach efforts in Mississippi.
Backwater flood victims inquire about coming lawsuit against U.S. Army Corp of Engineers
Law firms from Hattiesburg and Louisiana said they plan to sue the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers on behalf of people in the Delta affected by flooding. They met with potential clients in Vicksburg, Saturday, but some of them are unsure if this is the right step to take. Rome Johnson, an attorney with Deakle-Johnson Law firm, believes backwater victims will be able to win the lawsuit for damages. He said based off of the takings clause of the 5th amendment, "you can't take property without just compensation. The government cannot take property. What the government has done here is essentially take these citizens' property with no just compensation. So we feel that they have a great case. Anything going forward, as long as the lawsuit is going on, would be included in the lawsuit." People took notes and filling out forms during the presentation, while receiving advice from the attorneys. However some of the people in the crowd think suing the Corp of Engineers will push back progress to get pumps in the area to fight future flooding.
Analysis: Expert will guide changes in mental health system
A federal judge has appointed an expert with more than 40 years' experience to oversee Mississippi's effort to provide more mental health care in community settings rather than in mental hospitals. State legislators are also working to evaluate and change how care is provided. But problems in Mississippi's mental health care system did not happen overnight, and change will not happen quickly. The U.S. Justice Department sued Mississippi in 2016 over the way the state was providing mental health services. During a 2019 trial, federal attorneys argued that Mississippi's movement toward community-based services was too slow, and they noted that hundreds or thousands of people had been forced into hospitalization.
Senate bill beefs up oversight of special needs scholarships, would end out-of-state schools' participation
A controversial program that provides scholarships for special needs students to attend private school may see substantial changes if a bill continues in the legislative process. Senate Bill 2594 passed out of the Senate Friday on a voice vote. The bill would add accountability measures to the Education Scholarship Account Program, which provides special needs students $6,765 per year from the state to attend nonpublic schools. Dubbed "The Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act," the program was established in 2015. "This legislation allows children who have special needs to continue receiving critical services at a school which has a program addressing those needs," Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann said in a statement. "It also adds accountability for taxpayer dollars." Lawmakers say changes are necessary in the wake of a 2018 legislative report which highlighted the need for more oversight.
Mississippi steps back from regulating or outlawing kratom
Mississippi legislators have killed bills that would either ban or regulate kratom, an herbal drug that can be used for pain relief. Kratom is currently unregulated in most parts of the United States, but has been outlawed by a few local governments in Mississippi amid concerns that it can be harmful. Kratom is derived from a tree that's native to Southeast Asia. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency says the leaves can be crushed and then smoked, put into capsules or taken with water or other liquids. The DEA characterizes kratom as one of its "drugs of concern."
Katelyn Lee of Bailey on the ballot for Mississippi's 3rd Congressional District
Katelyn Lee was in the voting booth last November when she noticed several uncontested races on the ballot. "That was very similar to the previous election I voted in, so it's a pattern that we've been seeing in American politics over time and it's a sign of a weak democracy because we don't have enough participation," she said. After trying to find someone else to run, she decided join the race for Mississippi's 3rd Congressional District as a Democratic candidate. Lee, 26, of Bailey, graduated from the University of Mississippi in 2017 and has been pursuing a degree in social work. If elected, her priorities would include ensuring access to fresh food and affordable housing and implementing universal healthcare. Lee is on the Democratic ballot, where she will face Dorothy "Dot" Benford. Incumbent U.S. Rep. Michael Guest and James Tulp are on the Republican ballot.
Mike Espy says Joe Biden, not Bernie Sanders, can help Dems win the state's U.S. Senate seat in November
Mike Espy, the former congressman and U.S. secretary of agriculture, knows if he stands a chance to defeat Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith in November, black voters will have to turn out in record numbers. That's why on Sunday afternoon, Espy will endorse Joe Biden, the former vice president who served under President Barack Obama who has handily won every Southern state primary thus far in the 2020 Democratic primary for president, over U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. "It's almost cliche to say, 'We know Joe,' but I really do know him, and I know him to be a man of high competence and integrity," Espy told Mississippi Today on Sunday morning. "I don't think socialism ought to be the governing principle of the United States. I wouldn't be comfortable (with Sanders) because I'd have to distance myself from a lot of his stated principles, and I don't think those principles are extremely popular in the state. As someone running for office I wouldn't be comfortable, and as an American I wouldn't be comfortable."
Three candidates competing for Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate
Mississippi holds primary elections on Tuesday, and citizens can cast their votes for presidential and congressional candidates. In Northeast Mississippi, the only contested congressional primary election on the ballot is the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate. Mississippi's incumbent junior U.S. Senator, Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith, is up for re-election, but she does not face a primary opponent. Three candidates, however, are competing for the Democratic nomination to face off against Hyde-Smith in the general election. The Daily Journal attempted to interview all three Democratic candidates who will appear on the ballot Tuesday to gain a greater understanding of their campaign strategy and policy positions.
Joe Biden visits Mississippi church, college: 'This is a battle for the soul of America'
Joe Biden spoke at New Hope Baptist Church in Jackson on Sunday, telling congregants America today is at an "inflection point" similar to the Civil Rights era more than 50 years ago. With just two days before Mississippi's Democratic presidential primary, Biden had campaign events at a predominantly African American church in the morning and a historically black university in the afternoon. After a slow start, Biden stormed back into contention for the Democratic nomination in recent days, largely by dominating in Southern states with large black electorates, such as South Carolina and Alabama, against Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, who introduced Biden at both events, dubbed him the "comeback kid." "What a difference a week makes," Biden told the crowd at Tougaloo College to applause. "A week ago, the press and the pundits declared our campaign dead, but then came South Carolina ... Come Tuesday, Mississippi's gonna get their say."
With Mississippi visit, Joe Biden takes a Southern victory lap
Former Vice President Joe Biden didn't need to visit Mississippi on Sunday. Biden has dominated primaries in the South, where African Americans are the soul of the Democratic Party. The most powerful black Mississippi politicians have endorsed him in recent days, and in the state with the highest percentage of African American residents, nearly three-fourths of Democratic primary voters are black. Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Biden's challenger, cancelled a scheduled visit to the state earlier this week, all but ceding the South -- and Mississippi -- to Biden. Biden's Sunday visit to Mississippi was less a campaign trip and more a victory lap asserting his dominance in the South, particularly with black voters. The venues his campaign selected for his Sunday swing said it all: New Hope Baptist Church, Jackson's largest black church where Biden was welcomed warmly by the large and politically engaged congregation; Pearl's Southern Cooking in south Jackson, where Biden loaded up a carb-heavy plate of soul food; and Tougaloo College, the historically black college where hundreds of Mississippians packed into the gymnasium.
Joe Biden Rallies Support Ahead of Tuesday's Primary
Hundreds filled Tougaloo College's Kroger Gym for Vice President Joe Biden's campaign rally yesterday. Actress Vivica Fox and former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick came to support him. Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson made the introduction. As Biden took to the podium people chanted: "We want Joe," said Biden. "I love HBCU's. They're the heart and pride of our communities. As president I'm going to invest another $70 billion in them over the next ten years," said Biden. Biden said "what a difference a week makes" referring to last Tuesday, when he became the frontrunner for the Democratic Party Nomination, winning primaries in 10 out of 14 states against Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. He said tomorrow Mississippians will have their say and he needs their support. Among the issues Biden talked about were making healthcare affordable, increasing funding for education, combating climate change and healing the divisiveness in the country.
Actor Danny Glover makes pitch for Bernie Sanders in Mississippi
Actor and director Danny Glover visited churches and pumped up attendees of a get-out-the-vote event in Jackson on Sunday as he rallied support for Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential bid. "This is about a transformation," Glover told about 30 volunteers gathered at Callaway High School in North Jackson on Sunday, discussing Sanders' Medicare-for-all proposal, his Thurgood Marshall education plan and his pitch to eliminate college student debt. "We're in a fight, and we knew it was going to be a fight," the star of the "Lethal Weapon" movie franchise said. Sanders, of Vermont, had been scheduled to visit Jackson himself for a Friday rally ahead of the Tuesday primary. But he opted to campaign in Michigan instead, which also votes Tuesday and is seen as a crucial state in his effort to beat former Vice President Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination. To counter Biden's momentum in the South, Sanders surrogates such as Glover -- as well as Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba and activist Phillip Agnew -- arrived to rally Mississippi voters behind the self-described Democratic socialist.
Fed moves to stem panic as stock plunge forces trading halt
The Federal Reserve is moving to stem investor panic over the spread of the coronavirus and to prevent the fallout from tumbling financial markets from slamming consumers, as a freefall in stocks forced the exchanges to halt trading. Trading on the S&P 500 was temporarily suspended Monday morning after a 7 percent drop triggered one of the SEC's market-wide "circuit breakers," which stop trading for a specified period of time if prices drop by a certain magnitude. In an effort to protect consumers, the Fed and other regulators are expected to urge banks to work with people who have mortgages, credit card debt and other loans and are facing the prospect of missing days or weeks of work as the virus spreads and businesses take countermeasures.
Clinical trial in Mississippi gives Huntington's patients hope
Sometimes, Nathan Wilmoth falls down without catching his foot on something or getting an unintentional push. That's part of their life with Huntington's Disease, a neurodegenerative disorder that kills healthy nerve cells in the brain. That process leads to loss of thinking and reasoning skills, memory, coordination, speech and movement. It's rare, and it's genetic. "When I saw him back in 2017, he had a lot of problems in motor control and speech, lots of fidgeting of his arms and legs, and difficulty sleeping," said Dr. Juebin Huang, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and an HD care specialist. "He lost his ability to work because of this." Through a multidisciplinary approach that pulls in a neurologist, psychiatrist, neuropsychologist, genetic counselor, social worker, registered nurse care coordinator, physical and occupational therapists, speech therapist and other specialties, Nathan and UMMC patients with HD receive a full array of care. That includes education about their disease and how it impacts the entire family.
The Pinnacle: Northsider selected Keeton Chair of Pediatric Urology at U. of Mississippi Medical Center
Dr. Mark Barraza considers being named the James E. Keeton, M.D. Chair of Pediatric Urology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) the pinnacle of his career as a pediatric urologist and surgeon. "It's like an Academy Award in my profession," Barraza said, echoing the remarks of the first Keeton Chair, Dr. Edwin Harmon, when he received the honor in 2015. "And it means so much because I have been a friend of Dr. Keeton for more than 45 years. He is the reason I became a pediatric urologist." Barraza, a Natchez native who returned to his medical alma mater, UMMC, to lead the Division of Pediatric Urology in 2018, first met Keeton as a surgical technician at St. Dominic. "I had graduated from Ole Miss and didn't get into medical school my first try," he said, "so I worked for about a year as a scrub tech at St. Dominic." He became a friend and mentor, encouraging Barraza to apply again to the University of Mississippi School of Medicine.
USM students, alumni participate in annual 'Big Event'
Hundreds of University of Southern Mississippi students, alumni, faculty and staff made their way across the Hub City Saturday to volunteer for a number of service projects. It was part of the annual "Big Event." The volunteers visited the Hub City Humane Society, the ARC of Southeast Mississippi and several local schools. Some students like Tichina Seeden, a sophomore from Liberty, Mississippi, volunteered to work on a home for the Hattiesburg Area Habitat for Humanity. "I decided to volunteer because I wasn't doing anything else on my Saturday, so I might as well come out for a bigger cause, a greater cause and just help work on a house," Seeden said. "Habitat is trying to keep the affordable housing mission moving forward and that's why the alumni and the students are here today to assist us in that mission," said Akwete Muhammad, outreach, marketing and volunteer coordinator for the Hattiesburg Area Habitat for Humanity. The volunteers took part in service projects at nearly two dozen sites across the Hub City.
Misconduct or restructuring? Terminated Lion Hills employees question circumstances surrounding their firing
While East Mississippi Community College officials said four positions from Lion Hills have been cut as cost-saving measures, two of those fired employees say their termination letters claim they were let go for misconduct -- which the employees said caught them off guard. The firings included the head chef, sous chef, event coordinator and assistant event coordinator at the club on Military Road, which has been under EMCC's ownership since 2012. The two employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the firing happened with no warning and no previous disciplinary write-ups, leaving them entirely unaware of what actions of theirs were ever considered "misconduct." What's more, the ex-employees said they are even more confused by EMCC President Scott Alsobrooks' recent statements to both the college's board of trustees and The Dispatch suggesting they were laid off as a cost-savings measure for the financially struggling club. Alsobrooks and Lion Hills Director Cheryl Hubbard spoke with a Dispatch reporter about the culinary program's restructuring on Tuesday. However, when The Dispatch asked school officials about the termination letter on Friday, both Hubbard and Director of Marketing and Recruiting Julia Morrison said they would not comment on personnel matters.
Former CMSD business manager hired as EMCC's chief financial officer
East Mississippi Community College has hired the former business administrator for Columbus Municipal School District as the college's chief financial officer. Tammie Rena Holmes began working at EMCC on Feb. 24, according to an EMCC press release issued Friday. Holmes replaces Melissa Mosley, who is retiring this spring after 23 years with the college. "We are delighted to have Tammie on our team," EMCC President Scott Alsobrooks said in a prepared statement. "She will be a tremendous asset to the college and will be a key driver of our commitment to ensuring sensible spending that aligns with our core mission as an educational institution." Holmes has more than 22 years of financial management experience. Her duties will be to analyze and manage the financial condition of the college, work with other administrators to oversee the financial planning process and implement risk service to EMCC, according to the press release.
Angie Carraway, Beth Calderon selected as division chairs at Meridian Community College
Two veteran Meridian Community College instructors have been appointed as division chairs in their respective areas. Beth Calderon, a member of the Language, Literature and Student Success division, has been a Spanish instructor for MCC for 25 years. Angie Carraway, a member of the Science and Wellness division, has served as a chemistry instructor for 21 years. "Both have excelled as classroom instructors and are respected by their students," said Michael Thompson, MCC dean of academic affairs. He noted the two are also active outside the classroom with Calderón serving as advisor of the newly-formed Student Government Association and Dr. Carraway serving as campus coordinator for the Mississippi NASA Space Grant, organizer for the You Be the Chemist and NASA NCAS coordinator. Calderon holds a bachelor's degree from Mississippi State University and a master's of arts in the teaching of languages degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. Carraway holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Mississippi State University and a doctorate from the University of Alabama.
Auburn faculty asked to teach one class online to test for coronavirus readiness
Auburn is asking all faculty on campus to "deliver at least one class period remotely during the week of March 16" in order to gauge how well prepared the University is at handling a possible campus-wide closure caused by a potential spread of the coronavirus, according to an email sent by provost Bill Hardgrave to faculty and obtained by The Plainsman. Faculty were recommended to use Canvas, Zoom or any other medium easily accessible to students. Once faculty conduct their classes remotely, they will submit a form to the Biggio Center to gain feedback, according to the email. The email goes on to reiterate that there are "no current plans to close the University," adding that no student has been diagnosed with COVID-19. "Any formal decision involving a campus closure would come at the direction of the Alabama Department of Public Health, working in conjunction with our local health authorities and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," Hardgrave said in the email.
LSU might suspend face-to-face classes if coronavirus concerns escalate
LSU is considering temporarily suspending face-to-face instruction because of the novel coronavirus, officials said Saturday. "In the event local public health concerns warrant a decision to suspend face-to-face instruction, course instructors should be prepared to deliver courses remotely to the best of their ability," according to a memo to faculty members from Matt Lee, vice provost for academic programs and support services. "As a short-term solution, the university has developed an instructional resource page providing tools on moving course materials to an online environment," Lee wrote. "To be clear, at the time of this writing all instructional activities should proceed as planned," he said. "However, the situation is extremely fluid and in the interest of protecting the health and wellness of the campus community it may be necessary to temporarily suspend some campus activities, including instruction." The message Saturday came one day after LSU leaders announced that all planned study abroad trips were being canceled through Aug. 17.
UF students exposed to coronavirus at pro-Israel conference
University of Florida students who recently rallied for Israel at a conference with government officials were unknowingly exposed to two New York attendees who were later confirmed to have coronavirus. AIPAC, or American Israel Public Affairs Committee, held its annual national policy conference in Washington, D.C, from March 1 to March 3. Vice-President Mike Pence and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were among the speakers who attended and discussed developments in the American-Israeli relationship. Three days after the conference, two attendees tested positive for the virus, AIPAC announced in a tweet. About 60 UF students were at the conference, said Katie Hernandez, the UF AIPAC liaison and Gators for Israel president. Forty of those students are affiliated with Gators for Israel, a pro-Israel group at UF. There are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Gainesville as of Sunday evening.
Computer systems at U. of Kentucky and UK HealthCare hobbled by massive, month-long cyber attack
The University of Kentucky and UK HealthCare conducted a major reboot of their computer systems early Sunday morning in an effort to end a month-long cyber attack that university officials say is the most substantial cyber intrusion in university history. The unidentified "threat actors" infiltrated Kentucky's largest university system in early February from somewhere outside the United States and installed malware that utilized UK's vast processing capabilities to mine cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, said Eric Monday, UK's executive vice president for finance and administration. The protracted intrusion, which the university believes it resolved early Sunday morning during a campus-wide network outage, has repeatedly caused a slowing or temporary failure of computer systems used by students and employees, an effect that was likely "most acute" on the health care side, said university spokesman Jay Blanton. Blanton insisted that "patient safety [and] access to care was never compromised," but day-to-day functions were likely interrupted, even repeatedly.
U. of South Carolina's first black provost looking forward to 'great partnership'
Bill Tate didn't get the job on his first trip to the University of South Carolina when he was a finalist for president last year. But the family-like atmosphere he said he found in meeting with the campus community made him come back for a different job this year. "If I was willing to come here potentially in one role, why wouldn't I consider coming there and being responsible for academic affairs?" Tate told The Post and Courier just a few hours after the USC board hired him unanimously as provost. "I would sort of be a hypocrite." This summer, Tate, the graduate school dean at Washington University in St. Louis, will become USC's first African American provost and the only one at a Southeastern Conference school. "What I really would hope is that I am a role model for all students regardless of their background and their race," said Tate, who will earn $465,000 a year. "Real opportunity exists, and if you persevere and work really hard, you get might get a shot at things like this."
U. of South Carolina's foundation spending $2.5M on a property tied to board member
The University of South Carolina's Development Foundation is spending $2.5 million to buy property that is tied to a board member without any concrete plans for what to do with the land. The land, 547 acres, once was part of the Green Diamond development plan. The land is prone to flooding and is within a Federal Emergency Management Agency flood zone, according to media reports and property records. USC has no specific plans for what to do with the property, spokesman Jeff Stensland said. What's more, the $2.5 million used to buy the property -- should state lawmakers approve it -- could redirect funds USC is planning to use for other projects. The land is owned by Columbia Venture LLC, of which Myrtle Beach development company Burroughs & Chapin is a minority owner. USC board of trustees member Egerton Burroughs is a "director emeritus" at Burroughs & Chapin, according to the company's website. Burroughs recused himself by announcing his recusal and leaving the meeting. In an interview with The State, Burroughs downplayed his position at Burroughs & Chapin, saying "I'm not on the board anymore" and joking that "they put me out to pasture," by giving him the title of emeritus.
Texas A&M introduces program to help students who aged out of foster care
Texas A&M University introduced a program this semester that will provide additional financial assistance to students who have aged out of the Texas foster care system. Through the Supervised Independent Living program, students can receive funds for housing, meal plans, cellphone fees, hygiene products and other college expenses. To be in the SIL program, students must opt back into the Texas foster care system, be a full-time student, live on campus year-round and meet weekly with the foster care liaison from Student Services in the Offices of the Dean of Student Life. Students 18 to 21 years old can participate. Educational psychology sophomore Mikayla Slaydon is the first student on A&M's flagship campus to benefit from SIL. She is a member of the Former Foster and Adopted Aggies program, a Fish Camp counselor and counselor for the Freshman Leadership Organization Aggie Fish Club.
Updated flu protocol, teaching alternatives part of U. of Missouri's virus plan
University of Missouri Provost Latha Ramchand outlined a campus response plan in the event COVID-19 disrupts classes. In an email to faculty and staff Friday, Ramchand emphasized there are no known cases of the virus on campus. "At the same time, the safety and well-being of our faculty, staff, students, patients and the community is of paramount importance," she wrote. As of Saturday evening, Missouri had no confirmed cases of the virus, though Gov. Mike Parson announced there was one "presumptive positive" case in St. Louis County. Additionally, three health officials said Monday in the Missouri House of Representatives the state is at a low risk of a "critical outbreak." The plan for MU breaks down into the following categories: medical preparedness, students, academic preparedness, communications, travel, research infrastructure preparedness and system-level planning.
Roundup of news on coronavirus and higher ed
The spread of the new coronavirus continues to cause major disruptions to higher education. Colleges in California, New York and Washington -- the states where the largest number of cases have been reported -- have closed their campuses or moved instruction online for the remainder of the quarter in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus. Stanford University, where a medical faculty member has tested positive for the virus, on Friday announced the cancellation of all in-person classes for the remaining two weeks of the winter quarter in favor of moving to online formats "to the extent feasible." The University of Washington similarly said on Friday it would hold all classes and exams remotely through the end of the winter quarter March 20 after a staff member tested positive for the new coronavirus (the test used was developed by UW's medical school, and the diagnosis must be confirmed by public health officials). The move toward online instruction appears to be the norm rather than the exception in the Seattle area.
Princeton tells students to stay home after spring break amid coronavirus outbreak; classes to go virtual
Princeton University classes will all go online after spring break as a response to the spread of the coronavirus, officials said. The announcement came less than 24 hours after New Jersey announced its sixth case of the virus, with the number of confirmed cases expected to grow, as the university aims to limit large congregations of people on campus by way of "social distancing." "Though we recognize that a personal, 'high touch' educational environment is one of Princeton's great strengths, we also recognize that these are extraordinary times that require exceptional measures to deal with a health risk that affects us all," university President Christopher Eisgruber said in a letter to students and staff. The remote classes will begin on March 23, when students were scheduled to come back from spring break, until April 5 -- where the policies will be reassessed depending on the scale of the outbreak at that time, Eisgruber said.
With insurance coverage scarce, coronavirus threatens college finances
As COVID-19 -- the disease caused by the novel coronavirus -- spreads across the United States and the world, colleges are creating outbreak contingency plans, canceling study abroad programs and shoring up their financial safety nets. But outbreaks pose a particular challenge. Unlike fires, floods and storm damage, very few colleges are insured against financial losses due to a biological disaster. A campuswide outbreak could be costly, and lost tuition revenue from a decrease in Chinese student enrollment could have lasting effects for which colleges are not insured. Typical college insurance plans pay out next to nothing for pandemic-related losses, and purchasing new policies amid the outbreak is difficult and incredibly expensive. Most colleges have property and business contingency insurance plans. Both could provide some relief for affected colleges in the right circumstances.
Higher ed plans from Biden and Sanders differ in scope, specificity
Elizabeth Warren's departure from the race for the Democratic presidential nomination has left two candidates with different approaches to dealing with college affordability and other higher education policy issues. In addition to having different price tags, the plans released by Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders differ in how much detail they provide.
Gov. Tate Reeves must do more than build on the past
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford writes: Running for governor, Tate Reeves touted the successes achieved over eight years with Phil Bryant as governor and himself as Lt. Governor. "All of these (good) things don't just happen," Reeves told the Delta Business Journal. "It happens because conservative public policy works. I'm running for governor to continue to invest in our priorities and to continue to make Mississippi an even better place to invest capital, an even better place to create jobs, and ultimately an even better place to raise a family." After Bryant endorsed him, Reeves said, "I'm looking forward to continuing our efforts to help Mississippi workers and families as governor." Well, maybe not so much continuation. Turns out that eight year record has some blemishes. ... Act one of how this will play out will be Reeves' picks to head MDOC, MDA and DHS (attorney Bob Anderson named last week). The subsequent new and improved stories promise to be interesting.
Turnout Tuesday could be indicator of how energized Democratic voters are moving forward
Bobby Harrison writes for Mississippi Today: Despite the dominance of the Republican Party in Mississippi, Democrats in the state have proven they will come out in force for their party primaries. For instance, in 2008, 434,152 people voted for either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton in Mississippi's Democratic presidential primary. It still is a record turnout for a Mississippi presidential primary. By contrast, 416,270 voted in the 2016 Republican presidential primary in Mississippi won by Donald Trump. That represents a record turnout for a Republican presidential primary in the state. Obama energized Democratic voters in 2008, as Trump did Republican voters in 2016. It will be interesting to see how many Mississippians go to the polls Tuesday to vote for either former Vice President Joe Biden or U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the two remaining legitimate Democratic candidates for president. In the 2016 Democratic primary for president in Mississippi, about 207,000 fewer people voted when Clinton upended Sanders than did in 2008 in the Obama-Clinton election.

More Than A Game: MSU Student-Athlete Development program places high premium on preparing for life after sports
January marked a year since Ben Rodriguez started his new role as assistant athletics director in the Office of Student-Athlete Development at Mississippi State University. But if you ask the former Stony Brook University football player who came to MSU from the University of Central Florida, his focus is on the future, especially when it comes to success and preparation off the field. Last September, MSU Athletics announced the rebranding of its Life Skills department to become what is now referred to as Student-Athlete Development -- a concept that continues to trend up for universities across the country. The highly-structured program, led by Rodriguez and his staff, puts an emphasis on different events and programming for student-athletes at different points in their athletic and academic careers, all with the over-arching goal of preparing them for life after sports. Placing an added emphasis on preparing the hundreds of MSU student-athletes for the next chapter in their lives has been a mission of Athletic Director John Cohen since he was first hired to his position three years ago after serving as MSU's baseball coach.
Reggie Perry leads Mississippi State over Ole Miss 69-44
Reggie Perry had 22 points and 14 rebounds to lead Mississippi State to a 69-44 win over Mississippi on Saturday night. It was Perry's Southeastern Conference-leading 17th double-double of the season and 26th of his career. Mississippi State (20-11) finishes the regular season with an 11-7 SEC record, the most conference wins for the Bulldogs since winning 12 in the 2007-08 campaign. Nick Weatherspoon and Robert Woodard II each had 11 points for Mississippi State while senior Tyson Carter had nine points in his final home game at Humphrey Coliseum. Perry was 7 of 13 from the floor and sank 8 of 9 free-throw attempts. The Bulldogs receive a double-bye for the SEC tournament and will play on Friday.
Bulldogs secure SEC tournament double-bye with 69-44 trouncing of Ole Miss
A tospy-turvy season for Mississippi State men's basketball scored one more in the win column in the team's regular season finale Saturday night. A few days after suffering what looked like a bubble-deflating defeat to South Carolina, the Bulldogs took care of business against its arch rival and also received a little help from its friends in Kentucky. MSU secured a double-bye in the Southeastern Conference tournament thanks to a 69-44 victory Ole Miss on senior night at Humphrey Coliseum and a Kentucky road win over Florida. Saturday's win against Ole Miss was the lowest point total allowed by the Bulldogs this season. "It was our best defensive performance that I can remember at Mississippi State," MSU head coach Ben Howland said. MSU (20-11, 11-7 SEC) will be the No. 4 seed in next week's SEC tournament, while Ole Miss (15-16, 6-12) will be the No. 12 seed and face Georgia Wednesday. "That will definitely help us," MSU forward Reggie Perry said of the double-bye.
Ole Miss coach thinks Mississippi State is an NCAA tournament team
If Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis had any say in the matter, Mississippi State would be an NCAA Tournament team. No questions asked. "It's ridiculous," Davis said after Mississippi State's 69-44 win over Ole Miss on Saturday. "To have that many wins that they have in this kind of league? Put that team in the Big 10 and see how many games they'd win. They'd be in the tournament in this particular year. "For some reason the SEC isn't getting respect this year. There's no doubt that team can go win games in the NCAA Tournament. That many wins in our league? There's no way. I think they'll get there and I think they'll win some games in the tournament." With its win over Ole Miss, Mississippi State is 20-11 on the season and 11-7 in SEC play. The Bulldogs are 2-5 in Quadrant 1 games and are 2-4 in Quadrant 2 games. In other words, the Bulldogs only have four combined wins at home against teams ranked in the top 75 in the NET rankings, in a neutral site against team in the top 100 in the NET rankings or on the road against teams in the top 135 in the NET rankings.
State surely looked like an NCAA team, dominating Ole Miss, 69-44, in season finale
Mississippi sports columnist Rick Cleveland writes: Kermit Davis Jr. is a basketball coach -- not a bracketologist -- but he had a message for those who will select the NCAA Tournament field next weekend. "Of course Mississippi State deserves to be in the NCAA Tournament," Davis said. "You win as many games as they've won in this league and you deserve to be in." Davis was talking after his alma mater, State, swamped the Ole Miss Rebels he now coaches, 69-44, in the final regular season game. The Bulldogs, playing an inspired, suffocating defense, dominated the Rebels. Thus, State ends the season with a 20-11 overall record, 11-7 in the Southeastern Conference. The Bulldogs will be the fourth seed in next week's SEC Tournament at Nashville and has a double bye into Friday's quarterfinals. Yet all the Joe Lunardis and Andy Katzes of the world -- the nationally known bracketologists -- have the Bulldogs as one of the teams just outside the 68-team NCAA field. "That's ridiculous," Davis said. "You put that team in the Big Ten Conference and they'd be in. For some reason, the SEC is not getting any respect."
Mississippi State baseball completes sweep of Quinnipiac Sunday
The Mississippi State baseball program scored five times in the fourth inning to break open its series finale with Quinnipiac on Sunday (March 8) and sweep the three-game series with an 8-4 victory at Dudy Noble Field. Mississippi State (10-4) scored twice in the first inning to take the lead, before Quinnipiac (1-11) plated one in the third and two in the fourth to take a lead. The Diamond Dawgs scored five times in the bottom of the fourth inning to recapture the lead. A single Bobcat run in the seventh and another MSU score in the eighth capped the scoring at 8-4. Six different Diamond Dawgs reached base on multiple occasions, including three times each by juniors Josh Hatcher and Jordan Westburg, and freshman Logan Tanner. Freshman Kamren James, along with juniors Rowdey Jordan and Tanner Leggett all reached base twice in the series finale.
State confident coming off Quinnipiac sweep
No. 18 Mississippi State needed some positive momentum heading into a challenging week ahead. The Diamond Dogs gained some of their confidence back following a three-game sweep of Quinnipiac, capped off by an 8-4 win on Sunday and will now face a five-game stretch against two top 15 opponents that each reached the College World Series last season. "It's a lot better to win than lose," said MSU coach Chris Lemonis. "I know that sounds simple but it just lets you wake up in a good mood. We're getting on a bus traveling going to play a big opponent, I just think it puts a good taste in your mouth." MSU (10-4) left immediately following the Quinnipiac series to travel to Biloxi where it will host fifth-ranked Texas Tech on Tuesday and Wednesday before beginning SEC play back at home against No. 13 Arkansas on Friday.
Mississippi State baseball sweeps Quinnipiac
The Mississippi State baseball team defeated Quinnipiac 8-4 on Sunday to complete a sweep of the Bobcats. Quinnipiac (1-11) was competitive with the Bulldogs (10-4) this weekend, even though the team from Connecticut lost all three games. The Bobcats squandered a late lead on Saturday and led briefly on Sunday. Quinnipiac took a 3-2 lead after scoring two runs in the top of the fourth inning. Mississippi State fired back with five runs in the bottom of the inning and never trailed again. David Dunlavey earned the win for the Bulldogs. He pitched three scoreless innings of relief after entering the game in the fourth inning. Josh Hatcher had three hits Sunday for Mississippi State, and Rowdey Jordan and Jordan Westburg had two hits apiece. Logan Tanner hit a solo home run and Kamren James knocked in two runs.
No. 1 Gamecocks take SEC title, beat No. 9 Bulldogs 76-62
"Mad Kiki" is a believer in South Carolina at last. It was almost a year ago when Mikiah Herbert Harrigan came to coach Dawn Staley saying she wasn't happy at South Carolina and wanted to transfer. So after Herbert Harrigan, nicknamed "Mad Kiki," earned SEC tournament MVP honors following the top-ranked Gamecocks' 76-62 victory over No. 9 Mississippi State on Sunday, Staley made sure to catch up with her senior star. "I know you didn't envision this a few months ago," Staley said she told Herbert Harrigan. "She said, 'I didn't. But now I'm a believer.'" Aliyah Matharu led Mississippi State with 17 points. Mississippi State await its NCAA Tournament seeding.
'Ain't how I'm built': Why Vic Schaefer is still optimistic after SEC Tournament loss
Sunday's result doesn't change much. Less than an hour after Mississippi State lost the SEC Tournament Championship Game to South Carolina, MSU head coach Vic Schaefer walked up the stairs to the postgame press conference table with two of his Bulldogs. The room inside Bon Secours Wellness Arena was silent except for Schaefer's shoes and the players' sneakers clanking onto the eight metal steps that took them to the platform where they answered questions about their 76-62 defeat at the hands of the Gamecocks. Echoes of the South Carolina on-court celebration trudged through the tunnels of the arena and faintly made their way into the room as well. Schaefer started his opening statement by congratulating South Carolina, something he's had to do after four of the last five SEC title games. But the fact that he's been in that position so many times is better than any alternative aside from doing what he did last year -- winning the whole thing. It's March, and March means one thing to Schaefer: he's aiming to be the last team standing in April.
Annie Willis' stellar outing helps Mississippi State shut out SEMO in Bulldog Slamboree final
Annie Willis was relieved to be relieved. The Mississippi State junior, a transfer from Troy, had been dominant through six scoreless innings of Sunday's Bulldog Slamboree final against Southeast Missouri at Nusz Park in Starkville. But in the top of the seventh, with Mississippi State up 2-0, two hits off Willis put runners on first and second with two out. As pitching coach Josh Johnson strolled out to the circle to talk to Willis, the pitcher noticed junior Emily Williams jogging in from the bullpen. "When I looked over and saw E-Dub was coming in," Willis said, "I knew she had it." After a walk to load the bases, Williams struck out Austine Pauley swinging on a pitch above the zone. The Bulldogs had survived the scare. Mississippi State has one more game before its "second season" -- SEC play -- starts at 5 p.m. Friday against Kentucky (18-3) in Starkville. The Bulldogs will travel to face Southern Miss (14-7) at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Hattiesburg.
Heston Kjerstad walks off South Alabama to give Razorbacks series win
An announced crowd of 8,463 received a thrill Sunday from a rare occurrence at Baum-Walker Stadium. Arkansas right fielder Heston Kjerstad blasted a game-winning two-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Razorbacks a 5-3 victory over South Alabama. Arkansas (9-5) won the weekend series after losing the opening game Friday. Kjerstad hit Arkansas' first home run to end a game since James McCann's beat LSU on April 9, 2011, in Fayetteville. It was Kjerstad's third career game-winning hit. He also had singles to beat Auburn in 2018 and Eastern Illinois last year. Kjerstad came to the plate thanks to Christian Franklin, whose two-out single in the ninth was the Razorbacks' first hit since the third inning. "Franklin has been our hottest hitter probably all weekend, and I was just hoping he could get on base to give Heston a chance," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said.
UF expands alcohol sales to baseball, softball and lacrosse events
A new pilot program will allow UF sports fans to enjoy alcoholic drinks while watching Spring sporting events. On Feb. 6, the University Athletic Association announced the expansion of alcohol sales for Spring sports. After serving alcohol at men's basketball games during the season opener in November, the UAA implemented a pilot program that will allow baseball, softball and lacrosse fans to purchase alcohol at games. The alcohol sold includes 12-ounce beers, 8-ounce wines and 12-ounce seltzers. Ana Mata, a 22-year-old UF criminology senior, said she is more likely to attend sporting events with the alcohol expansion. "My friends and I usually watch games at a bar. So now that alcohol is served at games, we can enjoy our drinks at the actual game," Mata said. The operations of the university police department have not changed with the implementation of the pilot program, said UFPD spokesperson Brad Barber.
SEC, SEC Network closely monitoring coronavirus situation ahead of SEC Tournament
The Southeastern Conference and SEC Network continue to closely monitor the coronavirus situation in Tennessee ahead of this week's men's basketball tournament. The state of Tennessee now has three confirmed coronavirus cases including one in Nashville, the city's mayor announced Sunday, where the tournament will be played. After the most recent case, the SEC referred back to a statement released late last week when the first confirmed case in Williamson County, Tennessee became public. "The SEC remains in regular communication with local, state and national public health officials, including the Tennessee Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as our member schools and tournament hosts in Nashville," the league said in a statement. The SEC Network, with plans to host a variety of live programming on-site in Nashville, is "closely monitoring the situation and continue to implement appropriate preventive measures," according to an ESPN spokesperson. Neither the SEC Network nor ESPN, which will televise five SEC Tournament games, has altered coverage plans.
AP Q&A with NCAA chief medical officer on COVID-19
Less than two weeks away from the start of the NCAA Division I men's and women's basketball tournaments, the association is considering how to proceed safely amid an outbreak of coronavirus COVID-19. The NCAA's COVID-19 advisory panel said Friday it is "not recommending cancellation or public spacing of athletic and related events scheduled to occur in public spaces across the United States." But contingency plans are being discussed that include playing games with only essential personnel present. The AP on Friday interviewed NCAA chief medical officer Dr. Brian Hainline and advisory board member Dr. Carlos del Rio, chairman of the Hubert Department of Global Health at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health. This is an edited version of the highlights of that interview.
Coronavirus Outbreak Could Prompt Alarming Ripple Effect Across Sports
Legal analyst Michael McCann writes in Sports Illustrated: The outbreak of the coronavirus disease in the United States and Canada could soon lead to a very different experience for NBA games. It might also spark losses of jobs for those whose employers depend on revenue from people attending NBA games and spur legal battles between corporate sponsors and NBA teams over their contractual obligations. On Friday, the NBA sent a memo to teams indicating that they should prepare for the possibility of playing games without fans in attendance. ... The NBA's warnings are sensible in light of growing concerns about the spread of COVID-19 and the disturbing ease at which it can infect people. ... If the NBA implements a plan to play games without fans in attendance, the league would join a growing list of professional and amateur sports associations to exclude spectators. ... Playing NBA games in empty arenas would trigger a bevy of economic consequences.
Indian Wells cancellation could be turning point for sports and coronavirus
Columnist Dan Wolken writes for USA TODAY: Until Sunday night, the impact of COVID-19 on sports in the U.S. felt almost entirely theoretical. Not anymore. The BNP Paribas Open, known more commonly as the Indian Wells stop on both the men's and women's professional tennis tours, was canceled Sunday due to coronavirus concerns just before it was scheduled to start this week and with many players already in the Palm Springs, California, area preparing for the event. Though tennis doesn't always move the needle for mainstream sports fans in America, this is a very, very big deal. Indian Wells is often referred to as tennis' "fifth Grand Slam," a tournament that typically attracts all the top-ranked men's and women's players because of the significant prize money and ranking points at stake. ... Maybe that's an overreaction. Maybe the tennis tournament could have been played as scheduled without incident, or perhaps they could have played without fans in attendance and not created as big of a stir. But the fact that such a major sporting event is gone from the calendar in the blink of an eye seems like a potential turning point.

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