Tuesday, June 2, 2020   
Mississippi State, Ole Miss issue statements in wake of George Floyd death
The leaders of Mississippi's two largest universities issued statements as millions of people call for change following the death of George Floyd. The president of Mississippi State University and the chancellor of Ole Miss have issued statements in response to the national call for change following the death of Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. MSU President Mark Keenum issued the following statement Sunday: Racism, violence, and injustice are realities that have afflicted our past as a nation and regretfully still threaten our country's future. Few struggle more deeply with those burdens than young Americans preparing themselves to be tomorrow's leaders. As our university family processes the painful recent events that have stunned the nation, I challenge all of us to hold fast to MSU's core values of diversity, inclusion, tolerance, and respect for others and to strive together to assure that those values do not waver or change.
Mississippi State student injured, former student killed in DeSoto County car wreck
A former Mississippi State University student died, a current student was injured and a third person died Sunday afternoon in a car crash in southern DeSoto County. The car rolled over and struck a tree on Getwell Road south of Hernando, and two men died at the scene, DeSoto County Coroner Joshua Pounders told The Dispatch on Monday. The two men were Michael Taylor, 21, who was driving the car, and Christian Compton, 23, DeSoto County Sheriff's Office public information officer Tish Clark said. Both men were from Olive Branch, and Compton is a former MSU student, MSU chief communications officer Sid Salter said. Sloan McClatchy, 21, was airlifted to Regional One Health Medical Center in Memphis. She "suffered many injuries" but was in stable condition by Monday morning, Clark said. McClatchy is a rising MSU senior from Red Banks, and she is studying fashion design and merchandising, Salter said. MSU President Mark Keenum issued a statement Monday offering condolences.
Poultry biosecurity has lessons for coping with COVID-19
Tom Tabler, Extension professor in the Department of Poultry Science at Mississippi State University, writes for Poultry Health Today: While the coronavirus 19 (COVID-19) pandemic continues to disrupt lives around the world, the US poultry industry may be better prepared than most to deal with the situation because it understands biosecurity. Social distancing seems to be the phrase of the day, but social distancing is no more than biosecurity dressed in a ball gown or a coat and tie. For years, the poultry industry has had procedures in place to protect the health and safety of poultry flocks. Contract poultry growers, perhaps, understand this better than anyone, especially after the avian influenza outbreaks of 2014-2015 and 2016-2017 that made it essential to ramp up biosecurity procedures. Today, the steps and guidelines Americans are being asked to follow to break the spread of coronavirus in humans are the same steps and guidelines the poultry industry started asking of contract growers years ago. ... These same practices pretty much hold true to protecting the entire human flock these days.
Republican Sen. Gary Jackson of French Camp stepping down at end of June
A state lawmaker from north Mississippi said Monday that he will resign June 30. Republican Sen. Gary Jackson of French Camp has served in the Legislature since 2004. His district is in Choctaw, Montgomery, Oktibbeha and Webster counties. Jackson, 69, is a pastor and residential appraiser. He's serving this term as chairman of the Senate Municipalities Committee. His Senate colleagues gave him a standing ovation Monday when he announced his plan to step down. Republican Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann noted that Jackson ran unopposed for re-election last year. "There is a reason for that," Hosemann said in a statement. "He is not afraid to take a position or stand up for his constituents, but he has always done so in a way which is respectful and thoughtful while remaining a leader."
Gary Jackson stepping down from District 15 Senate seat, citing health concerns
State Sen. Gary Jackson (R-French Camp), who represents part of eastern and southern Oktibbeha County, announced Monday that he will retire after almost 17 years in office, citing health concerns. Jackson received a standing ovation on the Senate floor on Monday after his announcement. Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann commended Jackson's legislative career in a statement in which he noted that Jackson ran unopposed for reelection in 2019. Jackson's retirement will be effective June 30. His district includes parts of Oktibbeha, Choctaw, Montgomery and Webster counties. Sen. Angela Turner-Ford (D-West Point) said she and Jackson were seated near each other on the Senate floor and spoke regularly. "I certainly understand him wanting to take time to nourish his health," Turner-Ford told The Dispatch this morning. Gov. Tate Reeves will set a special election to fill Jackson's seat and serve the remainder of his term.
Starkville group plans peaceful demonstration for Saturday
A grassroots group held meetings Sunday and Monday to plan for a peaceful demonstration in Starkville this upcoming weekend, which comes as protests are occurring all over the country to speak out against police brutality. Hosted at Second Baptist Church, Sunday night's meeting of Starkville Stand Up was smaller in size and established a goal or mission for the group, while Monday's meeting saw a much larger turnout, prompting the move outdoors. Second Baptist Pastor Joseph Stone headed up both meetings, along with state Rep. Cheikh Taylor, a Democrat who represents parts of Clay, Lowndes and Oktibbeha counties. While the time and location of the demonstration are still being planned, Mayor Lynn Spruill confirmed to the Starkville Daily News that the group has yet to secure a special event request to march downtown, as has been the case for past demonstrations such as Starkville Pride and the MLK Day March. However, Stone mentioned the possibility of a stationary demonstration taking place at J.L. King Memorial Park Saturday, as opposed to leading a march through downtown Starkville. If the demonstration is held at the park, it would not require a special event request.
Oktibbeha supervisors delay passage of 4-year road project plan
Oktibbeha County supervisors had planned to discuss and pass their 4-year road project plan at Monday's meeting, but they tabled it until the next meeting, June 15. District 1 Supervisor and Board President John Montgomery said most of the roads on last term's 4-year plan have been completed thanks to a $10 million bond issue passed in 2017. "Those roads got done, so that took care of probably three and a half to four years of road work, so the plan we will adopt now will be the updated version that we've all been working on," he told The Dispatch after the meeting. The board voted unanimously Monday for Board Attorney Rob Roberson to seek state funding for a Hollis Creek drainage project and to ask for the state Attorney General's opinion on whether the county can encroach on private property to work on the project. District 4 Supervisor Bricklee Miller said the county should work with the city to address the creek, since it causes flooding within the city limits as well.
Movie theaters expected to reopen in July as blockbusters roll out again
Moviegoers have been missing out on blockbusters since mid-March due to the coronavirus, but the nation's biggest theater chains are working to reopen. Cinemark, the nation's third-largest theater chain with nearly 4,500 in 334 theaters in 41 states, is aiming for the first two weeks of July to reopen. In a call to investors last month, Cinemark officials said they plan to have employees start coming back toward the end of June. Memphis-based Malco Theaters, which has more than 30 locations, including Tupelo, Columbus, Corinth and Oxford, hasn't yet set a date. "Right now, theatres are still closed and we are working behind the scenes to ensure a safe moviegoing experience," said Karen Melton, Malco's vice president and director of marketing. She said detailed information would be released soon. The nation's two largest theater chains, AMC and Regal, said they'll open in July as well.
Reopened Mississippi casinos made more this Memorial Day weekend
Mississippi's casinos reopened just in time for the Memorial Day weekend and what a weekend it was. Casinos raked in $5 million more than Memorial Day weekend 2019, when they won $28.9 million in gaming revenue, the Mississippi Gaming Commission reported Thursday. That increase was without the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi -- the state's largest casino -- being open, The Sun Herald reported. Customers will be welcomed back there beginning June 1. "What we know is there's a lot of pent up demand out there," Gov. Tate Reeves said during a press conference Thursday. People want to go out to nice restaurants and casinos after being home for so long, he said. Casinos reopened May 21 under tight restrictions including 50% occupancy on the casino floor and social distancing requirements.
Beau Rivage reopens with new protocols in place
The Beau Rivage reopened to the public Monday and, like other casinos on the Coast, they had to institute safety protocols to ensure the safety of staff members and guests. To comply with the state gaming commission's guidelines, the casino will adhere to the 50 percent capacity restriction. "It's really great to see the response from our guests as we open up our doors today," said Beau Rivage President Travis Lunn. "They really are appreciative of the measures we've taken to create a safe environment for them to come, still have fun and enjoy the casino, but also do it in a very safe way." Using the "Seven-Point Safety Plan" as released by MGM Resorts, employees will be screened. This entails temperature checks and specific COVID-19 training. They will also have to wear a mask. As for guests, free masks will be provided. It is recommended that visitors wear a mask, but it's not required in all areas. Masks will need to be used in salons, elevators where guests are present, and at table games where physical barriers aren't in place.
Catfish producers eligible for assistance program
Catfish producers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic have the opportunity to provide the U.S. Department of Agriculture information on why they should be eligible for economic assistance through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Farmers can take two steps to help ensure they are eligible to apply for and receive direct monetary payments once funding is determined. First, producers can submit comments, or information, related to their economic farm losses directly to the Farm Service Agency. To qualify for assistance, producers must show a price loss of at least 5% between January and April 2020. Second, producers can begin to gather the documentation needed for the assistance program application. Farmers can find the types of documentation needed at https://www.farmers.gov/coronavirus. Local Farm Service Agency offices also can inform farmers about the type of documentation needed. Contact information for these offices can be found on the same website.
Mississippi Marine's Steven R. Millwood A Perfect Example of Hometown Boy Making Good
Especially during a worldwide pandemic, it is important that companies like Mississippi Marine Corp. in Greenville are able to operate vital shipyard repair services that facilitate the nation's inland river transportation system. "There are thousands of U.S.-flagged towboats moving more than 700 million tons of cargo a year on our nation's waterways," says Steven R. Millwood, president of Mississippi Marine. "A lot of people don't realize that moving products by river barge is one of the most cost-effective ways to transport." Greenville Port Director Tommy Hart says Millwood is a perfect example of a "hometown boy making good." "The young man who runs this company is very sharp, just who you would want to have running this important company that is one of the largest private employers in Washington County." Millwood graduated from St. Joseph High School and attended Mississippi Delta Community College and Mississippi State University.
Mississippi Power featured in one of the bestselling business books
A Mississippi company's response after Hurricane Katrina is being highlighted in a 30th anniversary edition of one of the bestselling nonfiction business books in history. Mississippi Power, a utility company headquartered in Gulfport, is featured in the most recent edition of Stephen R. Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for using the book's model as a route of restoration and resurgence following one of the worst natural disasters in United States history. "The thesis of the book has really been the foundation of our corporate culture for the last thirty years," Mississippi Power President Anthony Wilson said on Monday's episode of The Gallo Show. "I think it's so rare to have those values set in a corporate culture, and we believe it's important how we treat each other and the public that we're so privileged to serve." The preface of the new edition is written by Sean Covey, son of the book's late author.
All Mississippi businesses allowed to reopen amid virus
All types of Mississippi businesses were being allowed to reopen Monday as Gov. Tate Reeves lifted his final orders that had closed them for several weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic. The openings were taking place even as virus case numbers continued to climb. The state health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, said Monday that during the weekend, Mississippi saw its highest usage of ventilators so far by patients hospitalized with COVID-19. He said people made sacrifices the past two months to mitigate the spread of the highly contagious virus. "We don't want to let that turn back by being unwise," Dobbs said. Businesses are supposed to limit the number of customers and take precautions such as having hand sanitizer available. Dobbs said people should wear masks when they're away from their homes and should avoid big groups. He said even smaller gatherings, such as card games, can spread the virus.
Museums, theaters, ballparks reopen as state officials urge caution
As museums, ballparks and movie theaters reopened Monday, Gov. Tate Reeves urged Mississippians not to let their guard down. "The threat of COVID-19 is as great as ever, if not greater," he said. "We are not back to normal." State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said there continues to be significant coronavirus activity in the state, most of it generated by community spread. Over the weekend, health officials reported the highest number of COVID-19 patients statewide on ventilators, at 108, Dobbs said. As of Monday, the total had decreased to 97, he said. The Mississippi State Department of Health reported three new cases of COVID-19 in Lauderdale County Monday, for a total of 741. A curfew established in response to high COVID-19 activity in Meridian is being extended in the city. The 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, which would have expired Monday, remains in effect until June 14. Staff at the Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience in Meridian were cleaning items at the museum Monday in preparation for opening Tuesday for the first time since mid-March.
'The threat is great as ever': Reeves, Dobbs concerned over growing COVID-19 cases
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves and the state's top health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, showed an increased concern over the worsening COVID-19 statistics during the governor's daily media conference on Monday. "The threat of COVID-19 is as great as ever, if not greater," Reeves said. With the announcement of 251 new cases and five new deaths on Monday, the seven-day average for new cases reached a new high for the ninth consecutive day at 327.71. Those numbers are bolstered by numbers on Friday and Saturday that both cleared 400. Another worrying trend is the state reaching a new high in coronavirus patients being placed on ventilators at 108 over the weekend. That number was down to 97 on Monday, but Dobbs was as adamant as ever about the need for Mississippians to follow social distancing guidelines. "We are seeing an increased strain on our health system," he said. "It's still there, it's still active." Jones County, in the middle of the Pine Belt, led the state in new coronavirus cases last week at 86 -- outpacing the state's most populous county, Hinds.
Gov. Tate Reeves: Protests good, but no place for 'agitators'
Protesters marched in Mississippi's capital city on Monday, with some stopping to lie on the ground outside Jackson's main police station to remember George Floyd, a black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for several minutes. Other protests took place during the weekend in Oxford, Biloxi, Jackson and other parts of Mississippi. There were no reports of violence. Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves said Monday that he respects people's First Amendment right to protest. He said he differentiates between those who are protesting to air grievances and "anarchists and agitators from other parts of the country who seem committed to violence." "We've seen them all over the country in the last few days and frankly, they're usually spoiled kids who are privileged enough to not know the consequences and they tend to co-op otherwise protests that are nonviolent," Reeves said. "I want you to hear that there is no place for the anarchists and there is no place for the antagonists here in Mississippi." He said any efforts to cause violence "will be overwhelmed."
Jackson protest peaceful; Gov. Tate Reeves vows action against violence
Dhahran Hall made a flyer and a Facebook post, then waited. The 29-year-old Jackson Public Schools teacher organized a protest outside the Mississippi Capitol Monday at noon, but only a few people were there. Reporters and TV crews initially outnumbered the protesters. Hall wanted justice for George Floyd, a black man who died on Memorial Day in Minneapolis after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly 9 minutes. The police officer has been fired and charged with third-degree murder. Floyd's death has ignited a firestorm of massive protests across the nation. But in the city of Jackson, which Mayor Chokwe Lumumba once pledged to make the "most radical city on the planet," demonstrations have been relatively small. During his Monday afternoon press conference, Gov. Tate Reeves directly addressed death of Floyd, saying he was "disgusted and dismayed" by video of his arrest. "I pray that justice will be done," Reeves said. The governor reaffirmed that he would support Mississippian's First Amendment right to protest, but warned against any "anarchists and antagonists from other parts of the country who seem committed to violence."
Workforce Board recommends $130M in CARES Act funds for training
The Mississippi State Workforce Investment Board is recommending the Mississippi Legislature utilize Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funds to make an investment of $130 million in workforce training between now and the end of 2020. According to SWIB, the investment would create opportunities for more Mississippians to gain high demand skills that both pay above-average wages and align with workforce needs. "Investing CARES Act Funds to significantly boost high-tech, high demand skills training would be a home run for Mississippi's near and long-term economic recovery," said SWIB Chairman, Patrick Sullivan. "This recommendation is aimed to assist individuals this year in helping them access skills training while on the job, to help businesses defray costs of training new workers, and to make an unprecedented level investment in expanded training capacity to aid in the economic recovery and for years to come." Under the recommendation, efforts identified should be narrowly targeted to programs that can train individuals in a relatively short period of time, prepare them for jobs in high demand, both now and for the future, and allow individuals to earn an income well over the private sector average.
'Slap in the face': Columbus DA rips AG Lynn Fitch for dropping charges against white officer who killed black man
The district attorney in Columbus, a predominantly African American city of about 20,000, called Attorney General Lynn Fitch's decision last week to dismiss 2015 charges brought after a black man was killed in an officer-involved shooting a "slap in the face." District Attorney Scott Colom initially transferred the case from his office to the state in 2016 to put a distance between the outcome and any local influence. "I don't know if they're just not aware of how serious this case was in Columbus back in 2015 and early 2016," Colom said. Ricky Ball, 26, was shot to death during a police traffic stop in October 2015. Columbus Police Department officer Canyon Boykin, who is white, was later fired and pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges brought by the state in 2016. As tens of thousands protest inequities in the criminal justice system and the police killings of black Americans, Fitch announced last week that her office had dropped the charges against Boykin. In a two-sentence statement, Fitch's office said its review of the evidence concluded Boykin had acted in self-defense.
Confederate monuments toppled, burned as protests over George Floyd's death continue
Protests in response to the death of George Floyd -- a handcuffed black man who was asphyxiated as a white police officer knelt on his neck -- once again spotlighted frustration over the presence of Confederate monuments in some cities as anger over police brutality and racism intensified over the last week. A statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was toppled from its pedestal in front of the namesake high school in Montgomery, Alabama Monday night. A statue outside the Tennessee State Capitol of Edward Carmack, a controversial former lawmaker and newspaper publisher who espoused racist views, was torn down Saturday. The Robert E. Lee memorial on Richmond, Virginia's Monument Avenue was covered in graffiti Saturday night, as was the Stonewall Jackson statute. The headquarters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy was similarly tagged and set on fire, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Peaceful protests in some cases gave way to looting as well as violent displays of police aggression as 4,400 people have been arrested, according to a tally by The Associated Press.
Protests Spread Beyond Big Cities, From Raleigh to Santa Rosa
In conservative West Texas. In Omaha, Neb. Across the quiet suburbs of California. The rage and despair sparked by the death of George Floyd in police custody has spread far beyond Minneapolis, to communities of all sizes. People took to the streets over the weekend -- peacefully and violently -- in many small and midsize cities that have seldom, if ever, seen large protests over police brutality. "The nation has erupted," said Kami Chavis, director of the criminal justice program at Wake Forest University School of Law, who called the outcry more intense than past protests. "What feels different to me about this time is that there's so much solidarity across communities." Steven Webster, a political scientist at Indiana University and author of the forthcoming book "American Rage: How Anger Shapes our Politics" said Americans have always been spurred to action by anger going back to the American Revolution, but the current moment is particularly ripe for fury. Social media allows people to share things in real time -- and consume information that aligns only with their pre-existing political views. The Covid-19 pandemic has added stress, he said.
Road ahead: Senate schedule so far unaffected by protests, DC curfews
Senators returned to the Capitol on Monday to heightened security as demonstrators gathered peacefully outside the building, but there was little effect on the Senate schedule, even as District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser has imposed citywide curfews. The more visible police presence is expected to continue, but with House members away, the only real floor activity will be in the Senate, where the expected focus remains on confirming more of President Donald Trump's nominees. The Senate's schedule for the week was set before the weekend of protests over the police killing of George Floyd. This week's list of nominees for floor consideration include several tapped for judgeships and Brian D. Miller, who was nominated for the job of special inspector general and tasked with oversight of some of the Treasury Department's spending in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The one piece of coronavirus-related legislative business that's likely to come up in the Senate this week is a bill passed by the House last week that would give small businesses that received federal loans to help keep workers on the payroll more leeway in how to spend the money and still have the loans forgiven.
In Pennsylvania, officials prepare for coronavirus, civil unrest to disrupt Tuesday primary
Election officials across Pennsylvania braced for a chaotic day of voting in Tuesday's primary, as the convergence of the coronavirus pandemic and protests over the death of George Floyd threaten to close in-person polling locations, even as thousands of voters who requested mail-in ballots still have not received them. In Philadelphia, city officials said they were working with police and other emergency personnel to prevent violence from disrupting voting. The city planned to open 190 polling places instead of the usual 831, but with a late surge of poll workers canceling their commitments out of fear of unrest, there was no guarantee that even the reduced number of polling sites would open Tuesday morning. Eight states plus the District are holding primaries on Tuesday. All of them have experienced a surge in interest in mail balloting, and several have had hiccups or worse. Pennsylvania, notably the ring of suburbs around Philadelphia, is widely expected to be a crucial battleground in the November presidential election. If thousands of voters are unable to cast ballots in the primary, election officials will be under tremendous pressure to better prepare for a general election that four years ago was decided by the narrowest of margins.
Will Joe Biden make a former Florida police chief his 2020 running mate?
Val Demings' rise from Orlando's first black woman police chief to a congresswoman with a central role in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial landed her on Joe Biden's vice presidential shortlist. And now, as protests over the death of George Floyd grip the country, those same credentials are propelling Demings further into the national spotlight, with interviews last weekend on "Meet the Press," frequent cable news hits and a Washington Post op-ed titled "My fellow brothers and sisters in blue, what the hell are you doing?" But for Demings, a Democrat who served as police chief from 2007 to 2011 after joining the Orlando Police Department in 1983, the resume that served her so well in the last four years may turn out to be a mixed bag amid the national outcry against police brutality and a flawed criminal justice system. Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said in an interview last month that Demings "is one of a group of close to a dozen really qualified and talented women who are on the list."
Former President Obama: 'Let's Not Excuse Violence ... Or Participate In It'
Former President Barack Obama said the protests in cities across the nation in the aftermath of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis under a police officer's knee "represent a genuine and legitimate frustration over a decades-long failure to reform police practices and the broader criminal justice system in the United States." But he wrote in a post Monday on Medium that the "the small minority of folks who've resorted to violence" at many demonstrations are "putting innocent people at risk, compounding the destruction of neighborhoods that are often already short on services and investment and detracting from the larger cause." He recounted seeing an interview, where he said, "I saw an elderly black woman being interviewed today in tears because the only grocery store in her neighborhood had been trashed. If history is any guide, that store may take years to come back. So let's not excuse violence, or rationalize it, or participate in it."
COVID-19 Puts 265 Million at Risk of 'Hunger Pandemic,' Experts Say
About 265 million people around the world are expected to face acute food insecurity this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a World Food Program Analysis. The figure is more than double the number the 130 million who were estimated to suffer food shortages last year. The "hunger pandemic" linked to the COVID-19 outbreak is expected to be caused by economic hardship, price hikes, and substantial breaks in the food supply chain. "There are no famines yet," WFP Executive Director David Beasley told the U.N. Security Council. However, he said, "we could be facing multiple famines of biblical proportions within a short few months." The coronavirus is disrupting food supply chains because farmers and laborers cannot work or travel, transportation delays are causing shortages, and in the United States, for example, meat processing plants have been forced to close. Not only are these breaks in the supply chain affecting the availability of food, but also its affordability.
As meatpacking plants reopen, workers terrified of coronavirus risk
The number of meatpacking workers dying from the coronavirus is still rising, and employees across the country are scared to come to work. The latest Agriculture Department figures show that U.S. meat production is returning to nearly last year's capacity, accomplishing the White House's goal of keeping the food supply steady during the pandemic. But while slaughter lines may be up and running, lawmakers, employees and labor leaders say the federal government is failing to protect workers' safety, and they warn that death tolls will continue to rise unless the federal government expands its safety authority over the operations of the country's meatpackers. Major meat companies like Tyson and JBS continue to say that they are looking after their employees with safety measures like installing plexiglass barriers and hand sanitizing stations. A spokesperson for Tyson told POLITICO that the company has put in place protective steps in line with CDC and OSHA guidance. That includes taking employees' temperatures when they arrive at the facility; providing face masks; implementing social distancing measures such as installing physical barriers between workstations and in break rooms; and installing hand sanitizer stations throughout.
Iranian scientist acquitted of stealing research deported by US
Sirous Asgari, a materials science professor from Tehran, was charged in 2016 with trying to trade secrets research from an American university. He was acquitted by a federal court in November. It was reported last month that Mr Asgari would be deported once he had recovered from a Covid-19 infection. The US and Iran have denied that he is part of a prisoner swap. The 59-year-old professor at Sharif University of Technology was accused by US prosecutors of stealing trade secrets from a research project being carried out by Case Western Reserve University in Ohio for the US Navy. He denied the charge and a judge eventually threw out the prosecution's case. His return to Iran led to speculation that he could be part of another prisoner swap. At least six US citizens are currently imprisoned in Iran or out on bail.
U. of Mississippi's vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement resigns
Katrina Caldwell, the vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement, is leaving the University of Mississippi to take a position as the vice provost for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore on June 11. Shawnboda Mead, currently the university's assistant vice chancellor for diversity, will serve as the interim vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement beginning July 1. Mead has been with the university since 2014, and has eight years of experience working with diversity and inclusion efforts in higher learning, including involvement with the Bias Incident Response Team. Caldwell was the university's first vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement. She joined the university in 2017, and helped the university to secure the Carnegie Foundation's Classification for Community Engagement classification and developed a strategic diversity framework for the university.
Bond set for accused vandal of Ole Miss Confederate monument
Bond has been set for Zachary Borenstein, the man arrested on May 30 for vandalizing the confederate monument on the University of Mississippi campus. According to a statement from UM, Borenstein, 30, was arrested and charged with injuring, destroying or defacing certain cemetery property, public buildings, schools or churches, or property thereof, which is classified as a felony. Borenstein was arraigned on Monday by a Lafayette County Justice Court judge. His bond was set at $5,000. Borenstein is a former student of the University, having recently graduated with a master of arts degree. He has also been identified as a geometry teacher at Simmons Junior-Senior High School in the Hollandale School District. Following Borenstein's arrest, a GoFundMe was set up by Arielle Hudson to help cover his bail money. Hudson, the University's first African-American female Rhodes Scholar, was one of the main leaders of the movement to relocate the statue from its current position on the Circle.
Jackson State engineers improvise slopes made of Yazoo Clay that's blamed for costly erosions on highways
Two Jackson State University civil engineers, along with graduate students, from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering have been working on Mississippi highway slopes with notorious Yazoo clay. Dr. Sadik Khan and Dr. Farshad Amini from the College of Science, Engineering and Technology have been leading a project funded by the Mississippi Department of Transportation. They're studying six highway slopes made of Yazoo clay. The study involves the use of advanced moisture sensors, water potential probes, rain gauge and temperature sensors. Each provides continuous monitoring of the impact of the rainfall and temperature changes that cause slopes to fail. The JSU team is also simulating the behavior of the slopes under different climatological conditions of Mississippi. They are also evaluating the critical scenario that causes highway slopes to fail. The study will help MDOT better manage slope failures and avoid costly repairs from landslides that range in the millions of dollars.
JSU facilities leader La'Kitha Hughes earns 2nd scholarship from renowned Association of Physical Plant Administrators
La'Kitha Hughes, associate director for Jackson State University's Facilities and Construction Management has been awarded a scholarship to attend the Association of Physical Plant Administrators Institute for Facilities Management Leadership Academy. This is her second consecutive award from the APPA. "When I received the email notification that I had been selected as a recipient for a scholarship from SRAPPA (Southeastern Regional Association of Physical Plant Administrators), I was overwhelmed with gratefulness and excitement especially during these times of uncertainty due to COVID-19," Hughes said. SRAPPA is one of the six regional organizations under APPA. "This scholarship award will allow me to attend Level II of the Leadership Academy through APPA University. I was able to complete Level I of the Leadership Academy in January 2019. It is my hope to graduate from the Leadership Academy by completing all four levels that focus on different leadership approaches within an organization as well as personal leadership/management styles," Hughes said.
Despite some help, over half of Mississippi's child care centers have closed as they struggle to remain solvent amid COVID-19
Two weeks into the COVID-19 crisis, Deneka Alexander, executive director of Tiny Steps Academy in Gulfport, reopened her child care center to support the parents working through the pandemic. Her 10,000-square-foot facility can hold up to 150 children, but as parents have become unemployed or continue working from home after the economy screeched to a halt in March, her attendance dropped to fewer than 40 kids. "Just imagine: lights, water and everything keeps going. I still have to provide food and you name it for my children and give them the best care," Alexander told Mississippi Today in late May. "I really don't know how long we're going to be able to keep the doors open." Across the state, 42 percent of centers have lost at least half of their revenue and 51 percent cannot currently pay even half of their monthly expenses, according to responses from 425 centers through a survey conducted by The Graduate Center for the Study of Early Learning and the Center for Research Evaluation at the University of Mississippi.
Auburn to re-open its campus as a test run for the fall
Auburn University will resume on-campus instruction for its second summer mini-semester as a dress rehearsal for welcoming back students to campus this fall. "Following the Governor's guidelines, Auburn is preparing to start re-opening our campus to students slowly," said Provost Bill Hardgrave in a press release. "... With the new guidance from the state, we can utilize instructional delivery modalities that will enable our campus to implement important protocols as we prepare for the broader re-entry of students this fall." Reopening the campus means taking safety precautions. "The university will employ a mobile COVID-19 health check for all students and faculty, and safe social distancing will be followed in classrooms," according to the press release. All faculty are being asked to create a "syllabus B' in the event of a resurgence of the coronavirus and a return to full remote instruction. Auburn's second summer mini-term will begin June 29. Students can take their courses in person, online or with blended courses.
LSU issues 'roadmap' to reopening: Here's what it means for students, staff this fall
Interim LSU System President Tom Galligan detailed Monday in an email how the Baton Rouge campus will reopen should Gov. John Bel Edwards move the state to Phase 2 reopening after the state has been closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. LSU has already brought back 25% of the staff and under Phase 2 plan to return about half the work force. "We are also looking ahead to the fall semester; we are excited to say that we plan to be open and ready to hold classes on campus. We are planning for all facilities and buildings to be open and accessible to our students, faculty, and staff, but, as noted, we will continue to strive to protect the health and safety of the LSU community," Galligan wrote. "This means that things may look a little different on campus, but that's okay. Together, we will navigate the challenges that COVID-19 present to us, and we will adjust our policies and protocols as needed."
U. of Arkansas, Fayetteville maps new-look semester; safety is stressed in campus return
A return to face-to-face classes this fall at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville will involve a campus mask requirement and "several modes of instruction" to include students trading off class attendance with one another, the university announced Monday. A 24-page plan outlines a phased-in return to begin June 15 and culminate with all employees and students returning in August. In-person classes have been suspended since March 12 because of the covid-19 pandemic. No in-person instruction will take place before Aug. 3. "As promised, I'm pleased to report that we now have a plan for returning to on-site campus operational status -- slowly and carefully over the summer, and, more importantly, in time to welcome students back in the fall," Chancellor Joe Steinmetz said Monday in an email to the campus. UA's plan comes as some other large public universities have in the past few days released details about fall operations and a return of students to campus, with some schools giving more information than others about new requirements and procedures created in response to covid-19.
U. of Florida releases draft plan for reopening
The University of Florida released the draft of a reopening plan on Monday that anticipates students and faculty returning to classrooms in the fall wearing masks, keeping some distance from each other, and getting regular tests for coronavirus infection. The "UF Reopening Plan" was released late Monday afternoon on the university's website. It is clearly marked as a draft that is subject to continued revision. Last week, the governing body of the state's 12 public universities approved a blueprint for colleges to follow throughout the semester to aid the safe return of students and faculty in just months. The state is allowing each public university to make plans that account for the seriousness of the pandemic in their region. Representatives will present their plans to the Board of Governors on June 23. "We have decided that we must learn to live, study, and work in the midst of COVID-19," UF's plan states.
U. of South Carolina student who used 'racist and hateful' language no longer enrolled, officials say
The student who made comments that were called "racist and hateful" by University of South Carolina President Bob Caslen is no longer enrolled at the school, officials said. Additionally, all incoming USC students will have to participate in anti-discrimination and anti-harassment training, Caslen said. As of Monday, the person who made the comments on social media over the weekend was no longer a student at USC, spokesman Jeff Stensland said in a news release. The university did not publicly identify the student, or the content of the post, citing federal student privacy laws. But the former student's Snapchat post led to a quick response from Caslen. "We are aware of the social media post containing racist (and) hateful language," Caslen tweeted Sunday. "At USC, we absolutely condemn this racist post (and) are actively looking into the incident."
Texas A&M expert: Future of pandemic difficult to predict
An expert from the Texas A&M School of Public Health says no one can predict what happens next with the COVID-19 pandemic. "The bottom line is that until we have a vaccine and a uniform containment plan, the future waves of COVID-19 and its effect on our health and economy will remain fairly uncertain," said Tiffany Radcliff, associate dean at the school and member of the university's Emergency Management Advisory Group, during a pre-recorded online discussion with other experts from the School of Public Health. Last week's virtual presentation was part of the school's effort to help people better understand COVID-19 and its impacts. "Most experts agree that once the current wave of the pandemic ends, we can expect at least another year or two of COVID-19 outbreaks and hotspots in a variety of geographic areas," she said. Radcliff noted the severity of future waves will be affected by mutations of the virus, availability of vaccines and treatments and how people's habits change to incorporate improved hand hygiene and social distancing and wearing face masks during outbreaks.
Incoming freshman in controversial Snapchat video no longer attending U. of Missouri
An incoming freshman who appeared in a controversial Snapchat video will no longer attend the University of Missouri this fall, according to a campus email from Interim MU Chancellor Mun Choi. The student made the decision to "rescind her enrollment at Mizzou" on Monday after MU informed her she would be suspended during an investigation by the MU Office for Civil Rights & Title IX, according to the email. Choi said the investigation process was triggered because of possible violations to MU's nondiscriminatory policies. "Our process ensures that we learn the facts of a situation and that they are carefully considered within the context of the First Amendment, which protects a wide range of expression, including some that many of us find reprehensible," Choi said. The video was widely criticized on social media as mocking the death of George Floyd. "We have received numerous emails and social media posts from members of our community and the public who felt hurt and dehumanized by the video," Choi said.
Study: Alcohol Affects College Women's Academics More Than Men
A study of college students' alcohol consumption and cognitive function found that the academic performance and mental health of women who drink frequently is impacted more than those of men who drink in excess. Men are more likely to engage in impulsive, risky behaviors as a result of high alcohol use, researchers found. Researchers who conducted the study and wrote a paper published in the journal Trends in Neuroscience and Education surveyed anonymous U.S. college students online and asked about their alcohol use, academic performance, lifestyle habits and mental distress. The research found that both men and women who said they drank in excess exhibited "an increase in impulsive behaviors" but determined that the longer-term cognitive functions and decision making of women, controlled by the brain's prefrontal cortex, were affected more by alcohol use than men, according to a news release from Binghamton University. Lina Begdache, assistant professor of health and wellness studies at Binghamton, was one of the study's researchers.
More Students Are 'Stacking' Credentials en Route to a Degree
The menu at the Henderson, Nevada, diner where Amy Nelson likes to take a break from work is notable for its side dishes, including caramelized bananas, cinnamon apples, and mushrooms and onions. Each can feed an appetite in its own right. Together with an entrée, they add up to breakfast. That's much like the radically new way Nelson and a small number of other pioneering students have been experiencing college. First they get a credential in a skill they need, then another, and another. Each can quickly pay off on its own by helping to get a job, raise, or promotion. Over time, they can add up to a bachelor's degree. The concept, known variously as "stackable credentials" or "microcredentials," she said, "almost seemed too good to be true." That's one reason it's been painfully slow to take off: Consumers have trouble understanding it. Even after Nelson began the program in which she racks up microcredentials while on the path to a bachelor's degree, she didn't entirely get it. Then she started stacking up high-demand industry certifications in subjects such as technical support, cloud technology, and data analysis while on her way to a bachelor's degree in data management.
'My Gut Response Is Fear and Dread': Thoughts on Returning to Campus This Fall
Many colleges have announced their fall plans now that the spring semester, diverted into chaos by the new coronavirus, is winding down. After months of uncertainty, as students, faculty, and staff were kept away from campuses to slow the virus's spread, some institutions are planning a return to in-person instruction and operations. The Chronicle is tracking colleges' fall plans, and about 65 percent of those in our sample say they are planning to start the new academic year face to face. Several leaders have made confident statements. Their employees and students seem less certain about a homecoming anytime soon. We asked readers to tell us how they felt about returning to campus. More than 1,300 of you responded. Our survey was anonymous and not scientific. Still, the responses paint a picture of educators' fears and the decisions they are weighing. "I don't trust my university to provide what we need to stay safe," one said. "Our students need us," wrote another. "I'm afraid that my choice," someone said, "will come down to either losing my position or being forced to work in dangerous conditions."
College Students Want Their Money Back. It'll Be Tough to Get It.
The coronavirus left Grainger Rickenbaker, a 21-year-old Drexel University student and hockey goalie, without in-person lectures, seminars or labs as the school switched to remote learning. So he sued. Rickenbaker is suing the Philadelphia university for the pro-rated price of his tuition, saying he didn't get what he paid for. His lawsuit is one of at least 100 closure-related suits filed against colleges and universities in federal and state courts. In total, more than 2,000 pandemic-related lawsuits against a variety of businesses, groups and officials had been filed by the end of May, according to the law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth, which has been tracking the cases. Many involve plaintiffs seeking compensation for what the pandemic has taken, as well as taking aim at governments and politicians for their restrictive orders. Some legal experts say cases such as Rickenbaker's will be tough to win. Experienced lawyers and professors say signing up for college may or may not constitute a legal contract. Education has been ongoing, albeit in a new format. The cost to the college of providing that education remotely may be more, or less, depending on how it's calculated.
Online college classes are here to stay. What does that mean for higher education?
Of the many things that are uncertain about how American higher education will look in fall 2020, one thing is not: Online learning is here to stay. That doesn't mean that there will be no in-person instruction. Whether or not they are offering some in-person instruction, colleges will need to enable students to participate remotely. This is true despite the announcements by multiple colleges of plans to resume on-campus classes in the fall. Why? Because splashy "we're going to re-open!" announcements by some institutions notwithstanding, many -- if not most -- colleges will decide to keep all of their fall 2020 instruction online. And even for those that do manage to welcome students back to campus, new social distancing rules will greatly reduce classroom capacity. As a result, in fall 2020 and likely well beyond, there will be two categories of courses: 1) courses in which some of the students are in a classroom and others are online, and 2) courses offered exclusively online. Both formats raise major challenges for the higher education ecosystem.
How Higher Ed Can Fight Racism: 'Speak Up When It's Hard'
Over the past week, protests against police officers' use of force against black men and women have rocked American cities. American institutions are facing a reckoning, and higher education is not excluded. That's because colleges have their own problems with racial inequity, says Sirry Alang, an associate professor of sociology and health, medicine, and society at Lehigh University. She spoke with The Chronicle on Monday about how academe can meet the most pressing problems of the moment: the disproportionate toll that Covid-19 is taking on black and Latina/o Americans, as well as harsh policing in black and brown communities. She offered recommendations for college leaders on how to respond to racial bias on and off campus. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Wayne State U. starts national training center to reduce deadly encounters between police and citizens
Wayne State University is reacting to the death of an African American man in police custody in Minneapolis as demonstrations continue across the country, including in Detroit. On Friday, President M. Roy Wilson announced the establishment of the National De-escalation Training Center headquarters on the campus as he told students he would gather with them in a virtual meeting next week to mourn the death of George Floyd, who died Monday in police custody. WSU police announced the establishment of the National De-escalation Training Center headquarters on the campus, aimed at reducing deadly encounters between police and citizens. The training, however, will differ from other de-escalation efforts by personalizing and individualizing responses to situations, said WSU police Chief Tony Holt. "It's not a one size fits all," Holt said, adding that the training will be based on numerous personality traits. The WSU police have already begun de-escalation training of officers and have filed for nonprofit corporation status with the state. Holt said regional training centers will be set up in North Carolina, Florida and one other to-be-determined location.
Black Liberty University alumni want Jerry Falwell Jr. to resign after blackface tweet
Nearly three dozen black alumni of Liberty University denounced school President Jerry Falwell Jr. on Monday, suggesting he step down after he mocked Virginia's mask-wearing requirement by invoking the blackface scandal that engulfed the state's governor last year. In a letter to Falwell, shared with The Associated Press, 35 faith leaders and former student-athletes told Falwell that his past comments "have repeatedly violated and misrepresented" Christian principles. They said they would stop urging students to attend Liberty, would no longer donate to the university, and would urge fellow people of faith to avoid speaking at the school unless Falwell changes his behavior or steps aside. In response, Falwell said his comment about the blackface scandal was made in defense of Liberty students, including minorities, who would be affected by tuition assistance cuts proposed by Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat. Falwell said his involvement in politics was in the spirit of Jesus Christ, "who was not silent about the establishment political folks of his era."
Universities to Their Alumni Networks: Give Our Grads Jobs
With the class of 2020 entering a job market ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, many colleges and their alumni associations are stepping up to help, tapping their extensive networks of former graduates to create job-matching programs for seniors who have yet to find positions. The efforts are aimed at sparing the class of 2020 from the lasting effects of graduating into a recession. College grads who entered the job market during the early 1980s recession had, 15 years after graduation, wages that were 2.5% lower than graduates who didn't start out in a slowdown, according to research by Lisa Kahn, a University of Rochester economist. Other schools are expanding internship programs amid the pandemic, leaning on alumni to provide students with short-term paid projects, some which can be done remotely. While some schools are offering extra career support, others are providing recent graduates with financial assistance to ease any Covid-19 related challenges they may face as they transition into work life. Using a $2 million donation from a consortium of alumni formed in 2019, Eastern Michigan University is giving each of its 2,200-plus spring graduates a monetary gift of $599.
Pandemic highlights importance of telehealth and medical research
U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, writes: When the coronavirus outbreak first reached America, experts warned that a flood of new cases could push hospitals to the breaking point. Yet several months later, it is now clear that our early actions and months of sacrifice have prevented such an outcome. We have made real progress in flattening the curve, allowing hospitals to begin resuming elective procedures on a case-by-case basis. Recent advances in technology and medical research have played a major role during this crisis. Continued investments in telehealth, testing, and vaccine development will be critical to overcoming COVID-19 and preparing for future health challenges. ... Beyond developing a vaccine and improving testing, we should expect to face more hurdles in our fight against the coronavirus. To address unforeseen challenges, I recently requested that the Trump Administration host prize competitions to spur innovation among private companies and researchers. I first began to champion these competitions in 2015 when I introduced the EUREKA Act. As a result of this law, three prize winners are now developing technologies to improve the lives of Alzheimer's patients. In the same way, government should harness the power of American ingenuity to meet the challenge of COVID-19.

How Mississippi State sports community has responded to racial unrest in America
The streets of Starkville have stayed silent, but the Mississippi State social media scene hasn't. Peaceful protests and violent riots have occurred across America in recent days in response to the death of George Floyd after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on Floyd's neck for several minutes during an arrest. While a peaceful protest took place in Oxford over the weekend, no groups had convened in Starkville as of Monday morning. The administrators, coaches and players who call Starkville home, though, have expressed their feelings about the current climate of racial tension in the United States. Mississippi State athletic director John Cohen released a statement on Twitter Saturday night. He wrote that he is having a hard time trying to process the "senseless loss of lives, racial violence and social injustice" that continues in the U.S. today. Cohen wrote that everyone in America must do their part to set into motion a collective change in the way citizens of the country approach the issue of racism. University president Mark Keenum released a statement Sunday, saying racism is a reality that still threatens the country's future. Keenum called on the Mississippi State community to lessen the burdens young African Americans face in trying to become successful members of a society that still seems to be heavily stacked against them.
Conference USA baseball championship returns to USM's Pete Taylor Park in 2022
No baseball facility in the history of Conference USA has played host to the league's postseason tournament more than Pete Taylor Park. The annual event returns to the Southern Miss campus for the seventh time, May 25-29, 2022. "We are pleased to announce the return of the C-USA Baseball Championship to Hattiesburg and Pete Taylor Park," said Southern Miss Director of Athletics Jeremy McClain. "Our fans and the entire Pine Belt have always helped to make sure we put on a first-class event. In 2022, we will look forward to welcoming back fans from around C-USA to enjoy our great South Mississippi hospitality." Southern Miss last hosted the event in 2016 and defeated Rice 3-2 in the championship game in front of 3,219 fans. The 2020 event was cancelled due to COVID-19. Louisiana Tech will play host to the event in 2021.
Former Auburn coach Pat Dye dead at 80
Legendary former Auburn head coach Pat Dye passed away Monday morning. He was 80-years old. Dye passed away from "complications of renal and hepatic failure" at the Compassus Bethany House in Auburn, according to Lee County coroner Bill Harris. Dye had recently tested positive for COVID-19 while hospitalized in Atlanta with kidney issues. His son, Pat Dye Jr., told ESPN that his father was asymptomatic. "People will talk about all of the games Coach Dye won, all the championships and bowl games, but his greatest contribution is the difference he made in the lives of his players and the people who worked for him," former Auburn athletics director David Housel told AL.com. "I am one of them. He made a difference in my life. He came to Auburn at a time when Auburn needed leadership and focus. He provided that leadership and focus, and Auburn will be forever because of him." He famously helped move the Iron Bowl from Legion Field to Jordan-Hare Stadium in 1989 after the game had been played annually in Birmingham since 1948. It was immediately a priority for Dye after he was named head coach in 1981.
'He embodied what Auburn is about': Community remembers Pat Dye
K.J. Britt never played for Pat Dye, but he still called him "Coach." The same goes for countless others in the Auburn football family and the extended family beyond -- whether they be current on-field stars like Britt, ripping a helmet off during a heated practice to chat with Dye on the sideline, or they be two young graduates holding hands at their wedding on the farm Dye opened up as an event center in recent years. Dye's reach spread far through the Auburn family, stretching out to welcome more and more for almost 40 years. Dye played at Georgia and got his first coaching job at Alabama, but after he became Auburn's head coach in 1981, he took the program to great heights and found a home he'd keep forever after his coaching days. He died in Auburn on Monday. "Just like his football teams, Pat Dye the athletic director was tenacious, never backing down from a fight when he believed Auburn's good name and best interests demanded it," current Auburn athletics director Allen Greene said. "Thanks to his tenacity, I'll always treasure my first home Iron Bowl, celebrating victory on the field that bears his name."
LSU players and coaches use their voices to denounce racism and inequality: 'We must all do more'
Skylar Mays stood on the Louisiana State Capitol steps with his left arm draped behind the backs of fellow protestors. Mays, a former LSU basketball player who graduated last month, participated in a peaceful demonstration, protesting racism and excessive police force. He walked through downtown streets Sunday with hundreds of other Baton Rouge residents, stood alongside his siblings and chanted "George Floyd." "We're just trying to make change the best way we know how," Mays said in an interview with WBRZ. Floyd died one week earlier when a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for several minutes during an arrest. Floyd, 46, laid face down on the pavement in handcuffs. He gasped for air, repeatedly saying, "I can't breathe." Floyd's death, the latest of an unarmed black citizen at the hands of police, sparked outrage throughout the country. As protests and unrest swept across America, LSU athletes and coaches spoke out against racism and inequality. Multiple coaches released statements seeking positive change. Some athletes used social media to share their feelings. They hope to make a difference.
Mizzou Athletics cutting $5 million with layoffs and salary reductions
An email sent to Missouri athletic department employees by athletic director Jim Sterk late last week said the department will save $5 million with layoffs, furloughs and salary reductions, according to a story by Dave Matter in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The athletic department was preparing to take a financial hit in the fiscal year's budget after receiving sanctions from the NCAA, the Missourian reported previously. After operating in the red for the last three years, the department needed to cut some of its budget for the remaining year. Sterk said last week that this was likely to happen at some point, but the department intended to eye operations, travel and salaries for its cuts. "We are working to complete our budgeting process and as Jim indicated earlier, we will likely have layoffs, furloughs and salary reductions as part of balancing our budget for 20-21," deputy athletic director of communications Nick Joos said in an email to the Missourian on Saturday afternoon.
Dabo Swinney walks back controversial 2016 words: 'That was probably a harsh statement'
In September 2016, against the backdrop of then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's protest against racial injustice and police brutality, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney spoke his mind. Kaepernick had been kneeling during the national anthem before games. "Everything is so bad, and this world is falling apart," Swinney said, referencing Kaepernick's grievances. "Some of these people need to move to another country. Some of them need to move to another country." This past weekend the country descended into protest after a white Minnesota police officer was caught on tape kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man. Floyd died and the officer, Derek Chauvin, was charged with third-degree murder. Swinney publicly addressed the Floyd case for the first time Monday, and was asked if he stood by his 2016 comments. "That was probably a harsh statement, for sure," he said on a Zoom teleconference. "I still believe in the good of people and I just, as a person of faith, I believe in that. And I do believe we have lots of problems, for sure. I still think we have the best country in the world. It's up to us to make it better. It's up to us to create the positive change that we want to see in this world."
Texas coach Tom Herman opens up on race relations as his Longhorns speak up in team meeting
It's a simple question, but the answer forces some hard truths. Does the average fan truly understand what it's like to be a black athlete at Texas? "Absolutely not. No. No way," Texas coach Tom Herman told the American-Statesman on Monday. "Well, one, if you're white, we can't (understand)," Herman said. "I will never know, you will never know, none of us will ever know what it's like to have that genuine fear. When I make an illegal U-turn and get pulled over, I fear about what the cost of the ticket is going to be. I don't fear that I'm going to get dragged out of my car and maybe killed because of something I said or did. And that's real for them." Herman said the Longhorns had a three-hour virtual team meeting on Monday after a weekend full of nationwide protests and riots. There was virtually no football discussed. Herman opened the floor to a group of mostly black athletes who were frustrated and angry over policy brutality, senseless killing and what it's like being black in politically divided America.
Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren creates Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism coalition
Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren, the first African-American commissioner of a Power Five conference, announced Monday that he is forming an Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism Coalition for the Big Ten. In the announcement, Warren wrote, in part: "George Floyd's death cannot be in vain. "I have made the decision to create the Big Ten Conference Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism Coalition and invite student-athletes, coaches, athletic directors, chancellors, presidents and others to join me. I have already received powerful notes of support and interest in joining this coalition and look forward to partnering with the existing diversity councils on our various campuses. It is critical that our student-athletes possess their rights to free speech, their rights to peaceful protest and we will work to empower them in creating meaningful change." Warren was the first COO of an NFL team when the Minnesota Vikings hired him in 2015. He had been associated with the Vikings since 2005, and lived full-time in the Minneapolis area more than 15 years as he worked as an executive with the team.

The Office of Public Affairs provides the Daily News Digest as a general information resource for Mississippi State University stakeholders.
Web links are subject to change. Submit news, questions or comments to Jim Laird.
Mississippi State University  •  Mississippi State, MS 39762  •  Main Telephone: (662) 325-2323  •   Contact: The Editor  |  The Webmaster  •   Updated: June 2, 2020Facebook Twitter