Tuesday, April 7, 2020   
Mississippi State moves to optional pass/fail grading system
Mississippi State University announced Monday that they would be going to an optional pass/fail grading system. According to the university press release, students will be allowed to choose per individual course to keep their actual letter grade or to change their grade to an S, P or U. MSU Chief Communication Officer Sid Salter said there was much discussion among the academic administration, the faculty senate and the student leadership that led to the final decision. "There was a lot of passionate argument on both sides of the question," Salter said. MSU Executive Vice President and Provost David Shaw explained the reasoning behind the decision to move to a pass/fail system in a video attached to the press release. "That decision was based on the overarching desire of the university to balance compassion for the unprecedented disruption in the lives of our students with the need to protect the delivery of rigorous academic content to those students," Shaw said. Deb Eseyin, a senior industrial engineering major who started a Change.org petition that garnered over 5,000 signatures in support of the university going to a pass/fail system, explained why she thought the new system is best for students. Eseyin said the university's decision to move to the pass/fail system is evidence of the administration's care and concern for their students.
Mississippi State students upgrading ventilators for COVID-19 patients
In an effort to help those hit hard by the coronavirus, students at Mississippi State University are making sure hundreds of ventilators can last longer. Students at the High Voltage Lab will upgrade ventilators with a switch that can go from battery power to electric power. On battery power, the device can only last 48 hours. David Wallace, the manager of the High Voltage Lab, said his team is working day and night to convert more than 300 ventilators. "It gives us the opportunity to put our engineering knowledge to use, to do something that's going to be helpful. It's a wonderful experience for them so anything we can do to help others all the better."
Mississippi State invites community to report vultures
Vultures and airplanes have difficulty sharing air space. Now the predominantly black bird of prey may be sporting a bright orange wing tag, designed to help researchers study its flight path. Scientists at Mississippi State are asking for citizen scientists to report sightings to help determine, among other things, the flight pattern of the mammoth bird. Scott Rush, an associate professor in the wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture department and scientist in the MSU Forest and Wildlife Research Center, is spearheading the project. He and his team have begun the process of tagging vultures. "We're hoping to get a better understanding of the movement of these birds. We want to know how site-faithful they are, how the seasons affect their movement and how many individual birds are there," Rush said. Over the years, vultures have inflicted a toll on military and civilian aircraft. Navy student pilots at Naval Air Station Meridian encounter the birds on a nearly daily basis, making landing, taking off or any low-level flying a dangerous challenge.
Sociology class 15 years ago guides Meridian Community College grad's career
A sociology assignment 15 years ago on the differences between the way toys are marketed for boys and girls made a lasting impression on Meridian Community College graduate Kasey Mosley. That assignment on the social construction of gender, as well as other lessons on race, class and ageism from MCC Sociology Instructor Kim Coward, awakened a desire in Mosley to look at history through a new lens and set her on a long academic career path she continues to follow. Mosley, education and visitor specialist with the Eudora Welty House & Garden in Jackson, is pursuing her doctorate of philosophy in U.S. history through Mississippi State University with an emphasis in the history of science and medicine. Mosley completed the University Transfer Program at MCC to earn her associate's degree in 2008. Two years later, she received her bachelor's degree in history from MSU-Meridian. In August 2011, she started MSU's graduate school on the Starkville campus, earning her master's degree in history in 2017.
Aldermen to consider city hiring freeze, suspending scheduled pay raises
Starkville aldermen will consider three measures this evening to limit the impact of the sales tax revenue shortfall that Mayor Lynn Spruill said will inevitably come from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Spruill shared her three suggestions with the board of aldermen at its Friday work session, which was held via teleconference. The measures are suspending pay raises the board approved for some city employees in September, a hiring freeze with the exceptions of two critical jobs and a suspension of all travel and equipment purchases except for ongoing projects. Each measure will last 60 days but could be extended with a later vote. "There's absolutely no doubt that we're going to have a severe drop in our sales tax revenue," Spruill said. "How severe, we don't know yet, and part of what we control is not our revenue but our costs, so this is a first step as far as I'm concerned."
Oktibbeha supervisors enact 30-day curfew
The Oktibbeha supervisors unanimously passed a 30-day curfew at Monday's board meeting in response to the continued spread of COVID-19 coronavirus. The curfew will be effective immediately and lasts from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., with the exception of essential travel. Board President and District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery suggested the curfew in addition to Gov. Tate Reeves' two-week "shelter-in-place" order meant to help curb the spread of the virus. The order went into effect Friday at 5 p.m. Montgomery said he received a call from a constituent the same day who wanted to socialize anyway. Sheriff Steve Gladney said law enforcement had to deal with an influx of visitors from Clay and Lowndes counties for two weekends in March because people were trying to avoid curfews in those counties.
Carolyn Sullivan, Starkville's unofficial 'Matriarch of Main Street' and co-founder of Sullivan's Office Supply, passes away at 89
For someone who grew up on a small farm in Pontotoc, Carolyn Sullivan didn't seem to retain very much of her rustic roots. She was not an early riser, for example, often sleeping in until late in morning before turning her attention to work. She didn't seem to cater much to the plain, simple clothing you associate with a "country girl," either. She had an eye for style. She dressed well, always seemed to be perfectly put-together -- elegant and refined in her tastes. But there was one quality she retained from her Depression-era upbringing. "Her work ethic. That's what stands out to me," said Steve Langston, Carolyn Sullivan's son-in-law and now CEO of Sullivan's Office Supply Inc., a business founded 61 years ago by Carolyn and her husband. Carolyn Sullivan, 89, died Wednesday following a stroke and was laid to rest Sunday in a small private ceremony necessitated by restrictions related to the COVID-19 virus. In normal circumstances, her funeral might have been among the largest such gatherings in Starkville, given her ties to the community.
Coronavirus in Mississippi: 177 new cases, 8 deaths reported Tuesday
The Mississippi State Department of Health announced 177 new cases of coronavirus In Mississippi Tuesday and eight additional deaths, bringing the state's total cases to 1,915 with 59 deaths. The MSDH also reported data on outbreaks in long-term care facilities or nursing homes Tuesday. According to the department, "Even one case of COVID-19 in these facilities among residents or employees is considered an outbreak." There are 38 outbreaks in nursing homes in 29 counties across the state. With 169 confirmed COVID-19 cases, Hinds County has the most cases in the state. DeSoto currently has the second highest number with 140. Deaths have been reported in Amite, Bolivar (2), Chickasaw (2), Choctaw, Coahoma, Desoto, Forrest, Hancock, Harrison (3), Holmes (2), Humphreys, Jackson (5), Lafayette, Lauderdale (2), Lee (2), Leflore (4), Madison (2), Marshall, Monroe, Montgomery, Panola, Pearl River(2), Perry, Pontotoc, Rankin, Sunflower, Tippah (3), Tunica, Webster, Wilkinson (3), and Yazoo counties.
Gov. Tate Reeves: Camp Shelby preparing to house 200 hospital beds
Camp Shelby could soon be used in the fight against COVID-19 in Mississippi. Gov. Tate Reeves announced Monday that medical resources in Mississippi could be spread thin in the coming weeks. During his daily COVID-19 briefing, Reeves said the state is "close to peak resource use." Reeves said that peak is projected to be reached on April 18. One of the most immediate worries, according to Reeves, is coronavirus patients could soon fill up the state's reserve of hospital beds. Reeves said Camp Shelby is being outfitted to house 200 beds. He said the plan is to have the beds ready before they are needed. The governor said state officials are also working to set up a site with an additional 200 beds in North Mississippi.
State health official: Coronavirus is disproportionately affecting black Mississippians
A state health official told reporters Monday that Mississippi appears to be following a trend emerging in states across the nation: African Americans are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus. "Early indications are, we're seeing similar (data) here in Mississippi that it is impacting the African American community at a little higher rate," said Jim Craig, senior deputy at the Mississippi Department of Health. While some states have been releasing demographic data related to coronavirus, the Mississippi Department of Health has not. The Clarion Ledger filed a public records request for this information last week. Craig said he did not know why COVID-19 appears to be disproportionately affecting black Mississippians, but said other health officials might be able to shed light on the issue. Mississippi joins a growing list of state that is seeing relatively high rates of African Americans infected with coronavirus, including Michigan, North Carolina and Illinois.
Promising health research projects lower Mississippi COVID-19 deaths
An ominous warning from Governor Tate Reeves during his afternoon press conference Monday. The governor said, there are some dangerous, deadly weeks ahead for Mississippi because of COVID-19. But there may be some promising news in health research conducted by a University of Washington institute. The University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation or IHME is considered to be the global go-to source for reliable modeling of the COVID-19 virus' path. It's site is updated daily and in a state by state breakdown of projected deaths from the disease, Mississippi's mortality numbers have actually decreased. April first projections showing by April 18th, the disease would claim 1223 lives. With the April 6th projection, that number is now 237 by June first. A 40.8 percent death rate per 100-thousand residents projected April first. That figure is now 7.9 percent. Governor Tate Reeves said Mississippi is besting the national average when it comes to testing.
Queen's Reward Meadery switching from mead to hand sanitizer
The newly installed gleaming copper and stainless still brewing at Queen's Reward Meadery will be making mead brandy one day. But for now, it'll be making something much more needed – hand sanitizer. "We were going to buy a still anyway -- just not this early -- but now that we have the equipment, we're going to make hand sanitizer," said Jeri Carter, the owner of Mississippi's first and only meadery. Queen's Reward opened two years ago, making and selling award-winning wines made from honey. Honey, water and yeast are the basic components in mead, but for the hand sanitizer it's ethanol, glycerin and hydrogen peroxide. Mead production won't stop completely, but Carter said the priority will be making the sanitizer. While the honey and yeast take four-six weeks to ferment, it takes about a week for a sugar and water mixture to ferment and change to ethanol. Then it takes only about four hours to make a batch of sanitizer.
Sacks of oysters for sale as fears of the spillway opening grow
With supplies becoming scarce due to concerns over COVID-19, one local business is stepping in to provide fresh oysters to the community. Coast Foods Restaurant Group is now offering 50-count sacks of oysters that are grown right here on the Coast. The service typically is only open to commercial restaurants, but has now been extended to the public. However, news that the Bonnet Carre Spillway has opened for the third year in a row is raising concerns. "Hopefully, that gets closed sooner rather than later," said Kevin Fish with Gulf Coast Restaurant Group. "The salinity dropped 30 percent overnight. I mean, we are still in good shape. They do a parts per million; it was at 25 and it is now down to 16 and you can harvest anywhere above five but you don't want to. At 10 or so, we are going to stop because the flavor and salinity in the oyster, it makes it not taste as good as it would." Last year's opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway sent trillions of gallons of freshwater into the Mississippi Sound and surrounding waters, causing algae blooms. Mississippi Department of Marine Resources Executive Director Joe Spraggins told WLOX that, as of right now, the Army Corps of Engineers has opened 20 bays of the spillway.
Nissan in Canton temporarily lays off 4,000 hourly workers amid coronavirus pandemic
Nissan Monday laid off 4,000 hourly workers at its Canton plant and took similar actions at its other manufacturing facilities across the United States due to the coronavirus. The workers will not be paid, but can collect unemployment under the CARES Act. "We have temporarily furloughed members of our hourly workforce across our manufacturing facilities in the U.S.," Lloryn Love-Carter, a Nissan spokeswoman, said. On March 18 Nissan said it would halt production at its Canton facility and others in the U.S. for two weeks due to the COVID-19 outbreak. That period lasted from March 20 until Monday. During the production outage -- affecting about 5,250 employees in Canton -- workers were paid. The hourly workers -- who build vehicles on the line -- are expected to be off the job through April 27. The Canton plant employs 5,250 workers. Many salaried workers and some hourly workforce are doing their jobs from home.
Kroger to limit shoppers entering stores because of coronavirus
Kroger said stores nationwide will post limits by Tuesday on the number of shoppers permitted inside stores at a given time to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus pandemic. On Monday, Kroger said the shopper limits will vary by store size. But under Kroger's new reduced capacity limits, the number will be 1 person per 120 square feet. So a traditional grocery-pharmacy "combo" store of 60,000 to 75,000 square feet would allow 500 to 625 shoppers at a time. Larger Marketplace stores that are 125,000 square feet or larger would permit more than 1,000 shoppers at a time. Smaller format stores would only allow about 375 at a time. Kroger is the nation's largest supermarket chain. Also on Tuesday Kroger said it was seeking to boost shopper and associate safety through additional steps. On Saturday, Walmart began limiting the number of customers who can be in a store at once.
President Trump touts 'friendly' conversation with Joe Biden
President Trump said Monday that he had a "friendly" and "warm" conversation with former Vice President Joe Biden, the 2020 Democratic front-runner, regarding the novel coronavirus outbreak. "We had a really wonderful, warm conversation," Trump told reporters at a regular White House briefing Monday evening on COVID-19. "This is what we talked about." "He gave me his point of view, and I fully understood that. We just had a very friendly conversation," Trump said, adding that the call lasted roughly 15 minutes. "It was really good, really nice," Trump continued. "I appreciate his calling." The Hill reported earlier Monday that Trump and Biden spoke by phone about the nation's response to the coronavirus, but Trump's remarks at the briefing represented his first public statement about the conversation. The conversation as described by Trump marked a rare moment of amicable dialogue between two political foes. Biden is widely expected to be the Democratic presidential nominee facing Trump in the 2020 election.
Joe Biden: 'We cannot delay' November's general election
Former Vice President Joe Biden argued Monday that November's presidential election should not be delayed, even if the coronavirus pandemic forces changes to the way voting is conducted. "I'd much prefer to have on -- you know, in-person voting, but it depends. It depends on the state of play," Biden told NBC's "Today" show in an interview that aired Tuesday. "But we cannot, we cannot delay or postpone a constitutionally required November election." The disease's rapid spread in the U.S. has already upended voting in more than a dozen states where local elections officials have delayed their primaries, prolonging Biden's quest to seal his party's nomination. But voters in Wisconsin are still heading to the polls Tuesday after the state's Supreme Court blocked Gov. Tony Evers' last-minute executive order postponing in-person voting. The decision is certain to endanger residents seeking to exercise their constitutional right in the face of a highly infectious and deadly outbreak.
Could Society Move Toward Normalcy Before A Coronavirus Vaccine Is Ready?
President Trump asked Americans during Monday's coronavirus briefing to maintain their social distancing through the end of the month to bring the coronavirus under control. And if people really do observe the stay-at-home orders, models suggest that the epidemic could wane by summer. There's also hope that the changing weather will help slow the spread of the virus, though that's far from certain. But there's a problem. Even if things "get better all of a sudden," as the president suggested he hoped would happen, the virus will not have gone away. "This virus is now in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of locations around the world," said Mark Denison, director of the division of infectious disease at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "And it's not finished with its human exploration." Broader testing capability, including antibody testing, would help the country reduce the kind of COVID-19 mitigation by social distancing that is in effect now.
How Telehealth is Being Used in Mississippi
Telehealth appointments are not that different from in-person ones. Instead of reading a magazine in a waiting room, patients wait from home to video chat with a medical professional. During this coronavirus pandemic, free testing is being made available across the state with drive -thru testing sites. But those who feel they should be tested must first go through a free screening through a telehealth smartphone app. Dr. Alan Jones with The University of Mississippi Medical Center said telehealth has become a useful tool for screening and treating patients with COVID-19. "We've been able to utilize telehealth in hospital rooms, so that we limit the amount of time that a nurse or a doctor has to go in and out of the room," Doctor Jones said. "We've been able to minimize that protective equipment use, by having a camera in the room and being able to interact with a patient on a more frequent basis rather than having to enter the room." But reliable internet access is also a problem for some using the service.
UMMC drive-up coronavirus testing center coming to Eupora
A University of Mississippi Medical Center's drive-up testing center will be in Eupora this week. The one-day mobile collections will be on Thursday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., across the street from the Webster County Health Department. You have to be screened on the C-Spire Health UMMC Virtual COVID-19 Triage telehealth app before being assigned an appointment. Appointments will only be given to people who are symptomatic for COVID-19 and are determined to need testing. Those being tested cannot leave their vehicle. UMMC will notify those tested of the results.
Ole Miss student competes on 'Jeopardy' Wednesday
Londyn Lorenz, a sophomore at the University of Mississippi from Perryville, Mo., will make her first appearance in the "Jeopardy!" College Championship on Wednesday. Lorenz will face off against Alistair Gray, a sophomore at the University of California, San Diego from Sunnyvale, Calif., and Kylie Weaver, a senior at Penn State from McLean, Va., for a shot at the semifinals. The "Jeopardy!" College Championship is a 10-day special event featuring 15 of America's sharpest students. The winner claims the $100,000 grand prize and a berth in the next Tournament of Champions. To learn more about the tournament, visit the College Championship mini-site on Jeopardy.com.
Financial Hits Pile Up for Colleges as Some Fight to Survive
Colleges across the nation are scrambling to close deep budget holes and some have been pushed to the brink of collapse after the coronavirus outbreak triggered financial losses that could total more than $100 million at some institutions. Scores of colleges say they're taking heavy hits as they refund money to students for housing, dining and parking after campuses closed last month. Many schools are losing millions more in ticket sales after athletic seasons were cut short, and some say huge shares of their reserves have been wiped out amid wild swings in the stock market. Yet college leaders say that's only the start of their troubles: Even if campuses reopen this fall, many worry large numbers of students won't return. Mississippi's Millsaps College, which has fought to maintain enrollment in recent years, expects to refund $1 million in housing fees out of $33 million in yearly revenue. Amid uncertainty around the fall, the school's faculty and staff have been making daily calls to help attract prospective students.
ICC's Advanced Manufacturing Technician program application deadline extended to June 1
The application deadline for the Advanced Manufacturing Technician program, which is offered at the Itawamba Community College Belden Center, has been extended through June 1. The AMT program is designed as an innovative manufacturing degree that will span five semesters of classroom instruction and provide paid, hands-on experience at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi's Blue Springs automotive assembly plant. The Industrial Maintenance curriculum includes instruction in areas, including electricity, fluid power, mechanics, fabrication and robotics, as well as advanced manufacturing, business principles and best practices. Upon completion of the program, candidates will earn an associate's degree. The program is a partnership between Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi, Inc. and the Mississippi Corridor Consortium, of which Itawamba Community College is a member.
CMSD ends relationship with Golden Triangle Early College High School
Columbus Municipal School District's board of trustees voted unanimously to cut ties with the Golden Triangle Early College High School during its meeting Monday evening, citing additional costs to continue with GTECHS and a more pressing need to divert that funding elsewhere. CMSD Superintendent Cherie Labat recommended the board not renew the district's memorandum of understanding with GTECHS, which would have allowed the district to continue sending students to the early college high school on East Mississippi Community College's Mayhew campus next school year. GTECHS, which opened in the 2015-16 school year, allows select area high school students to take college courses and graduate high school with associates degrees. In addition to CMSD, it accepts students from Lowndes County, Noxubee County, West Point Consolidated and Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated school districts on an application basis. The school boasts small class sizes and a stringent application process specifically geared toward students who don't thrive, either socially or academically, in traditional high school environments.
UT-San Antonio names Lynne Sittig Cossman founding dean of College for Health, Community and Policy
Medical sociologist and demographer Jeralynn "Lynne" Sittig Cossman, chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at West Virginia University, has been named founding dean of UTSA's College for Health, Community and Policy and Mark G. Yudof Endowed Professor. She begins her duties May 11. At West Virginia, an R1 research-intensive university, Cossman oversaw curriculum and program development in a department of 1,000 students in criminology, sociology and anthropology. Notably, she spearheaded the design and implementation of the university's doctoral program in sociology. Prior to joining WVU, Cossman worked from 2001 to 2014 at Mississippi State University, where she earned tenure and later promotion to full professor. She served in several administrative roles, including head of the Department of Sociology, graduate program coordinator and director of the women/gender studies program.
U. of Alabama fund helps students with economic needs
The University of Alabama has created a fund to help its students who have economic needs because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Tide Together Student Support Fund is an assistance program that allows students the opportunity to gain access to short-term financial help. UA said that because of the COVID-19 outbreak, some students need money to travel home, find alternate housing arrangements or afford food. Some also need money so they can take their classes online. Alumni, parents and friends of UA are encouraged to contribute to the fund.
U. of South Carolina hoping to produce over 1,000 face shields a week to fight coronavirus
Researchers at the University of South Carolina are hoping to produce more than 1,000 face shields per week to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Using 3D printers -- and plenty of social distancing -- the team of faculty, a doctoral candidate and around 15 student volunteers have been producing face shields for places like the Medical University of South Carolina and Lexington Medical Center, said Sowmya Raghu, a mechanical engineering instructor at USC. The team is shipping completed masks, but is actually making only two of its key parts, said Robin James, a USC doctoral candidate. Those parts are the headgear and the strap lock on the back that connects the elastic band, James said. USC isn't the only S.C. college that's using 3D printing to help with a coronavirus-related mask shortage. Coastal Carolina University is using its 3D printers to create parts for the N95 masks to send to MUSC, the school said in a press release.
Campus housing: U. of Arkansas, Fayetteville dorm occupants dip to 184
Less than 4% of students living earlier this semester in University of Arkansas, Fayetteville housing will stay on campus to finish the term. Other public universities also have described big declines in their on-campus population, though they report a greater percentage of students continuing to live on campus. Last week four of the state's largest universities closed their residence halls in response to the coronavirus pandemic -- with exceptions for those in need -- though so far none have announced any covid-19 cases among their on-campus students. UA-Fayetteville, the state's largest university, closed its residence halls on Friday. On the UA-Fayetteville campus, a total of 184 students are set to remain in university-operated housing through the spring semester, said university spokesman Christopher Spencer. The last spring finals are set for May 7, according to UA's academic calendar. Spencer said that "generally students were granted approval because they were either international students, students with older family members at home or students who did not have internet access at home."
REACH Project gives aid to 'invisible Aggies' financially impacted by outbreak
An area nonprofit is working to provide various forms of support to the hundreds of custodial, dining and other support staff working at Texas A&M University that have been, or will be, financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The REACH Project earned a grant, announced Friday, from the Brazos Valley COVID-19 Community Relief Fund for its efforts to aid A&M support staff members, including an ongoing fundraiser called "Feeding the Invisible Aggies." The nonprofit is providing campus staff members with redeemable coupons for family meal packs sourced through restaurants in the Brazos Valley. Max Gerall, co-founder and CEO of the REACH Project, said the fundraiser serves two purposes: feeding campus support staff members and their families, as well as providing support for the local restaurant industry.
Record low oil prices could cost Texas universities $300 million
Record-low oil prices could cost a fund that supports the University of Texas and Texas A&M systems at least $300 million in revenue. State-operated University Lands, a company that oversees oil leases on land owned by Texas, expects to send $700 million to the Permanent University Fund this fiscal year, down from $1 billion in 2019 after oil prices plunged to about $20 per barrel this year during a price war and the coronavirus pandemic.
Some U. of Missouri employees will lose paid leave Sunday
University of Missouri employees who can't work remotely or on site will have to use vacation time, other paid leave options, or take unpaid leave after Sunday. Paid leave for these employees ends this weekend, the university announced as it also revealed that 2020 summer courses would be online-only. As of the most recent pay period, around 4,200 individuals in the University of Missouri System had used at least one day of paid administrative leave, spokesman Christian Basi said. Around 60 percent of those are estimated to be student employees. The actions are being taken in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the state budget cuts that have resulted from it. Gov. Mike Parson recently cut $171 million in general revenue spending, including $61.3 million to higher education institutions. The state is expecting a $500 million decline in state revenue because of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Basi said job losses could happen.
Summer classes will be online for U. of Missouri students
Summer classes for the 2020 term will be moved completely online, the University of Missouri announced Monday. The decision was made because of the coronavirus public health crisis. Courses typically offered during the summer will be available in an online format. Similar decisions have been made at colleges and universities across the country. Tuition and fees for summer classes won't change, spokesperson Christian Basi said. MU has been providing hotspots to students with no internet access, and this assistance will continue to be available throughout the summer term. "We'll work with our students to provide the technology they need to keep taking their classes," Basi said. "Hotspots are made available based on need since there is a limited number."
Reports: President of U. of Texas at Austin coming to Atlanta to lead Emory
Greg Fenves would replace Claire Sterk, who announced in November that she would leave her job as president in August. Sterk, who took the job three years ago, said she wanted to return to teaching. "Serving as president is a seven-day-a-week job," she wrote in a note to students and staff. "I'm excited about teaching at Emory again, and I'm equally excited about having more time for friends, family and travel." According to his official bio, Fenves has led UT-Austin since 2015, after serving as executive vice president and provost, and as dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering. He earned a bachelor's degree from Cornell University and a master's degree and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, all in civil engineering. Reporting that an official announcement is expected this week, the Texas Tribune said, "During Fenves' tenure, the university successfully defended its race-conscious admissions program before the Supreme Court and expanded the financial assistance it offers low- and middle-income undergraduates. His comparatively calm term succeeded years of strife between former President Bill Powers and regents and statewide leaders who were pushing to make the university more closely resemble a business."
Where is the stimulus money, colleges ask?
When Congress set aside about $14 billion specifically for higher education in the stimulus bill it passed two weeks ago, lawmakers had the well-intentioned goal of most of the money going to colleges and universities that serve larger shares of lower-income students. But lawmakers also didn't want to penalize large institutions that don't enroll as many lower-income students. The way Congress decided to deal with the issue, however, has complicated how billions of dollars of aid will get to colleges, lobbyists representing colleges and universities worry, and it could delay the money as campus leaders are anxiously dealing with a financial hit from the coronavirus epidemic. "We are deeply worried the institutions' money won't go out, in the best-case scenario, for a month, and in the worst-case scenario for several months," Terry Hartle, the American Council on Education's senior vice president for government and public affairs, said during a webinar last week for members of the Education Writers Association.
Stripped of graduation and end-of-year rituals, new generation of college seniors instead face dismal job market
For recent college graduates, the job market in 2020 is shaping up to become one of the worst in recent memory. Last week, joblessness claims climbed by a record 6.65 million, and economists are predicting unemployment could rise as high as 20 percent in the months to come. Some 57 percent of Americans are worried about losing their jobs, 46 percent have seen their hours or income reduced and one-third believe that if they do lose their job, they will need additional education to find a comparable one, according to a survey conducted in late March by Strada Education Network. College seniors at four-year schools hoped recruiting fairs and on-campus interviews this spring would help them land a job in the strong market they'd expected to graduate into. If not, they counted on having part-time work to fall back on: bartending, waiting tables, serving coffee.
Officials and Advocates Seek to Halt Title IX Rule Changes Amid COVID-19 Disruptions
Three Senators joined 18 state attorneys general and a leading academic association to urge the Department of Education and the Office of Management and Budget to suspend changes to Title IX rules on dating violence, domestic abuse and stalking. Citing the closures of schools and colleges around the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent disruptions of revenue and resources, the attorneys general led by Pennsylvania's Josh Shapiro stated in a March 27 letter that "in the midst of a national health emergency, the burden placed on schools would be untenable and ultimately counterproductive to student safety. ... With everything our schools and students are facing right now, we strongly urge you not to impose further substantial regulatory burdens."
Medical Students Were Sidelined by Coronavirus. Now They're Volunteering to Battle the Pandemic.
One highlight of David S. Edelman's medical training at Columbia University was providing free medical care to homeless and uninsured patients in the basement of a Harlem church. That was before the coronavirus pandemic turned the world upside down. In mid-March, Columbia's medical school, like others nationwide, pulled fourth-year medical students from their rotations in hospitals and clinics. The goal was both to keep them safe and to protect the rapidly diminishing supply of respirator masks and other protective equipment. As the number of cases of Covid-19 in New York City threatened to overwhelm its hospitals, sidelined students just months from graduation were growing increasingly frustrated. So he and a classmate teamed up to create the Covid-19 Student Service Corps to coordinate safe service-learning opportunities for students in nearly a dozen of Columbia's schools and programs. Regardless of which roles they're filling, the lines between medical students, residents, and faculty members are likely to continue blurring during the pandemic, he said. "It's almost like the crisis has flattened the hierarchy. Everyone is like, 'All hands on deck.' It doesn't matter who I'm next to. We trust each other."
Universities and their students are helping in the coronavirus response in myriad ways
How can we help? That simple question has spurred a flurry of activity among students, faculty, staff and university administrators who have looked for ways to assist health-care workers in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether it's repurposing university-owned equipment to decontaminate N95 masks, mixing hand sanitizer in chemistry labs for use by hospitals, collecting supplies of personal protective equipment -- of which there is a critical national shortage -- or babysitting health-care workers' children, professionals in higher education and the students they serve have found all kinds of ways to help. Faculty members and students at multiple universities -- including but not limited to Duke University, in North Carolina; Rowan University, in New Jersey; SUNY Stony Brook; and the Universities of Montevallo, in Alabama; and South Carolina -- have mobilized to manufacture masks or face shields using 3-D printers. Some universities, such as Duke and the University of Nebraska Medical Center, are using different technologies to decontaminate N95 masks, which are in scarce supply.
Graduate students seek time-to-degree and funding extensions during COVID-19
Tenure-clock stoppages came fast and furious last month to faculty members worried about how COVID-19 will throw off their career timelines. Graduate students have similar concerns about how their research has been upended and how that will impact progress toward their degrees. Yet accommodations to their program timelines and funding packages are almost nil. Graduate students need help "figuring out where they stand," said Bradley Sommer, president of the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students and a Ph.D. candidate in history at Carnegie Mellon University. "A lot of students right now just need basic information on what to expect." Students who were overseas when the public health crisis escalated, doing research or attending conferences, are in some cases stuck there, Sommer said. Stateside, many students in the natural sciences and engineering don't have access to their labs. Their counterparts in the humanities and social sciences, meanwhile, lack access to libraries, archives and research sites. And students who collect data in K-12 schools have no idea when widespread school shutdowns will end.
Inside DOJ's nationwide effort to take on China
The leadership of the Justice Department has put a bull's-eye on the Chinese government, pushing prosecutors across the country to focus on investigations of Chinese state-backed efforts to steal intellectual property. The work involves investigations into American academics and work with U.S. universities, and department officials say their nationwide undertaking isn't slowing it down. The department's targets range from Chinese military officers to American college professors -- evidence, its leadership says, that the Chinese government is targeting every sector of American public life. The Chinese government has denied allegations of state-sponsored theft, according to media reports, and its embassy in Washington did not respond to POLITICO's requests for comment on this story. Cases have materialized all around the country --- and not just in high-tech power centers where intellectual property theft is a constant issue. Last month in West Virginia, for instance, a former West Virginia University professor pleaded guilty to fraud. According to the charging document, he asked the university to give him time off so he could care for his newborn. But instead, he secretly used the time to work in China as part of its Thousand Talents Plan, an effort by the Beijing government to recruit and draw talented researchers to China that U.S. officials say is thinly disguised economic espionage.
Mortgage process illustrates solving pandemic economy not simple
Columnist Phil Hardwick writes for the Mississippi Business Journal: It will be a sad and desperate time in a few months when millions of laid-off homeowners receive foreclosure notices. Add to that, the thousands of renters and commercial leaseholders who will face eviction. Is this a problem that can be solved now? And who will solve it? One idea is to simply call a timeout. Consider how a timeout works in a football game. When a timeout is called, play is suspended and both teams go to their respective sidelines, and the clock stops. The score does not change. The football stays in the same place. When play resumes everyone goes back to where they were when timeout was called. Congress is taking a swipe at solving it. Timeout is the idea behind the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Except it's called forbearance instead of timeout. Homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages because they've lost a job or income during the coronavirus pandemic can defer paying their mortgage for up to a year. If only it was that simple.

Vic Schaefer reflects on Mississippi State tenure in Texas introductory press conference
Having traded his maroon and white for burnt orange, Vic Schaefer was officially introduced as the new head women's basketball coach at Texas Monday. Sitting down with the Longhorn Network, Schaefer was questioned on his departure from Mississippi State, why he ended up at Texas and his vision for the sustained success of the women's basketball program in Austin. "I also want to take this time to thank Mississippi State," he said in his opening remarks. "To thank Dr. Mark Keenum, Scott Stricklin -- who hired me eight years ago, my former (athletic director) -- and current athletic director John Cohen for this opportunity here. To our fanbase -- the Bulldog family -- for their love of my family, my staff out program, my players here at Mississippi State. This has been a great eight years and it has been a tremendous state. So many wonderful people, the state of Mississippi has just been tremendous for us."
Texas A&M left without a sure-fire replacement for women's basketball head coach Gary Blair by UT's hire of Vic Schaefer
Gary Blair was a great teacher and Vic Schaefer was even a better pupil, so much that his mentor might have to come up with a few new tricks. Schaefer landed a dream job Sunday by becoming the University of Texas' women's basketball coach. It wasn't his dream job, which would have been his alma mater, Texas A&M, but there's no doubt Schaefer walked into a great situation. Texas, which won the national championship in 1986, is yearning to return to its glory days. Schaefer can get them there and do it in a hurry. Texas and Schaefer are feeling giddy today, but what about Texas A&M and Blair? The game plan supposedly was for Blair to retire one day with Schaefer returning a hero, building on what he helped start. That's not happening, so what's Plan B? And since Plan A never materialized, was there any plan? Maybe it's for the 74-year-old Blair to coach another five years, which is not that far-fetched since he hasn't slowed down.
How Texas and AD Chris Del Conte lured Vic Schaefer back home
Like any good athletic director worth his multimillion-dollar salary, Chris Del Conte keeps a running list of candidates should a coaching position ever open up. One did last Friday when the Texas athletic director and his brain trust decided not to renew the contract of women's basketball coach Karen Aston. That morning, Del Conte pulled files and got to talking with deputy AD Shawn Eichorst, chief of staff Chris Plonsky, senior associate AD Kathy Harston and special assistant Jody Conradt. "You always have names," Del Conte said Monday during a teleconference. The name atop Del Conte's wish list: Mississippi State's Vic Schaefer. Conradt, the legendary Hall of Fame coach, wasn't clued into that, but she offered advice that nearly made the AD burst from his seat. "I don't know if you can get him," Conradt opined, "but if you can get Vic Schaefer, you go get him." "I had this huge smile inside," Del Conte admitted, "but I didn't want to show it outside, show my cards too much."
'I want to create hope.' UK coach John Calipari's new weekly show seeks to help fight COVID-19
On Monday, Kentucky Coach John Calipari announced that he will appear on a new weekly show intended to raise awareness and funds to help with COVID-19 relief. The show -- titled "Coffee with Cal" -- will be a Facebook Live broadcast on the John Calipari Basketball Fantasy Experience Facebook page. It will air the next 20 Mondays beginning next week. "I want to do something that's uplifting and creates hope," he said, "and gives people an idea of what to do." Guests in the first few weeks will include a former United States president (Calipari teased the audience by declining to say which one), Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and ESPN commentator Dick Vitale. Calipari also said he was "very confident" that Dr. Anthony Fauci will be a guest. The "Coffee with Cal" show will also offer viewers ideas on how to make the most of being self-quarantined at home during the pandemic. The UK coach recommended bringing structure to each day, exercising and reading. He said he might recommend books on an upcoming show.
UGA summer sports camps likely will be canceled
The novel coronavirus pandemic has shut down the sports world and is impacting activities all over with or without a connection. That includes sports camps in the months ahead at the University of Georgia that are expected to be canceled due to the spread of COVID-19. Athletic director Greg McGarity said Monday that an official decision is due this week campus-wide, but swimming coach Jack Bauerle said his understanding is that sports camps are going to called off. "We're going to refund everything," he said of his camps which draw some 330 swimmers a year and spots are in demand. "I spend a lot of time with the campers. It's fun. I'm going to miss it." The university already moved its summer classes -- which run through July 31 -- to online only.
Louis Alexander named MUW men's soccer coach
Mississippi University for Women Director of Athletics Jason Trufant announced Louis Alexander as the new head coach of The W's men's soccer program in a news release Monday. Alexander comes to The W after spending one season as the head coach of the girls' varsity soccer program at Henry W. Grady High School and three seasons leading the boys' and girls' varsity and junior varsity programs at Caledonia High School. While at Caledonia, the programs with his leadership saw a combined record of 51-31-7 with four playoff appearances. The boys' team had an overall record of 29-20-4 which included one district championship season and the girls were 22-11-3 with two successive district championship season. Under his direction, 22 players were named to All-District Teams. Prior to becoming the head coach at Caledonia, Alexander spent two seasons as the assistant coach for both programs at Starkville Academy.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, senior staff take pay cuts
The Pac-12 is implementing a series of cost-cutting measures, including pay cuts for executives and layoffs at the Pac-12 Networks, as a result of the coronavirus-forced shutdown and the broader headwinds in the media space, the Hotline has learned. The moves include a 20 percent salary reduction for commissioner Larry Scott and 10 percent cuts for members of his senior staff in both conference and networks divisions. The cuts will remain in place for the remainder of the school year, then be revisited this summer. Scott was credited with $5.3 million in compensation in the conference's FY18 tax returns (the most recent available), making him one of the top-paid commissioners in college athletics during that timeframe. In addition, the Pac-12 Networks will reduce its workforce by eight percent as part of "a new strategic and financial restructuring plan," according to an internal memo.
The Masters in November; British not at all
The Masters goes from that annual rite of spring to two weeks before Thanksgiving. The U.S. Open now is scheduled in September for the first time since amateur Francis Ouimet took down Britain's best at Brookline in 1913 to put golf on the map in America. And the oldest championship of them all won't even be played. Golf organizations tried to salvage a season unlike any other Monday with a series of changes, starting with the British Open being canceled for the first time since 1945. The PGA Championship, which last year moved to May, would go back to August. That would be followed by the PGA Tour's postseason, the U.S. Open and Ryder Cup in consecutive weeks, and then the Masters on Nov. 12-15. Still to be determined was when -- or even if -- golf would resume because of the coronavirus pandemic that has shut down sports worldwide.

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