Friday, June 5, 2020   
MSU College of Arts and Sciences appoints inaugural faculty fellows
Mississippi State's College of Arts and Sciences is announcing the recently created positions of Dean's Administrative Faculty Fellows and the two faculty members appointed to this role earlier this year. Melanie E. Loehwing, associate professor in the Department of Communication, and Kathy M. Sherman-Morris, professor in the Department of Geosciences, are the inaugural selections named by Dean Rick Travis after their respective department heads nominated them to focus on projects enhancing production level within the college. Tommy Anderson, associate dean for academic affairs for the College of Arts and Sciences and director of the Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College Office of Prestigious External Scholarships, said the fellowship positions were designed for two reasons. "One, the college is working on specific projects that require unique leadership and administrative skills, and we know many members of our faculty possess these traits. Two, it is an important goal to develop administrative leaders with experience to shape the future of the college," said Anderson, who will work closely with the fellows.
The critical role white parents play in shaping racism -- and eradicating it
More than 100,000 Americans have died from the COVID-19 pandemic, the vast majority of them African-Americans. But studies also show that this group, especially black men and boys, face the highest risk of being killed by police, three times higher than whites. As cities nationwide boil over in protest over these twin epidemics, one expert says solutions lie not only with systemic reform, but with individual families. She is Margaret Hagerman, assistant professor of sociology at Mississippi State University, and the author of "White Kids: Growing Up with Privilege in a Racially Divided America." She spent two years embedded with white families in a Midwestern town, looking into the relationship between white privilege and racism, even in families that view themselves as progressive.
Living Shorelines: A Way To Help Combat Hurricane Season?
Mississippi State University's Sara Martin, an Extension associate, and Eric Sparks, an assistant Extension professor, write for Turf Magazine: As we enter the 2020 hurricane season, landscapers who work in areas with large coastlines know potential storm damage is about more than just fallen trees and debris. Flooding and erosion can cause some of the costliest and irreparable destruction to a property. Even without a storm event, the progressive erosion of a coastline by wave action over years can be just as damaging. To complicate matters further, coastal sea levels in the U.S. are rising -- and at an accelerating rate, according to a "report card" released this past February by researchers at William & Mary's Virginia Institute of Marine Science. The U.S.'s most visited national park, the National Mall Tidal Basin in Washington, DC, is just one example of how rising tidewaters are submerging walkways, eroding soil, and damaging the roots of DC's famed cherry trees. ... While living shorelines may seem complicated, installing one is a relatively straight-forward task, especially in low wave energy areas like bayous, creeks, and small rivers. While every property is different, the same steps necessary to plan a successful landscape design will create a successful living shoreline: site evaluation, plant selection, permitting, and implementation.
MSU Offering Telehealth Psychology Services
Mississippi State University's Psychology Clinic is providing a new "Telehealth at the Psychology Clinic" service within the university's Department of Psychology to give community members access to mental-health assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. The services use an online format and include individual, couples, group, family and behavioral sleep therapy. MSU has trained clinicians on telehealth and has started contacting existing clients to restart services, a release from the university says. To be eligible, clients must be physically living in the state of Mississippi. Faculty within the department and doctoral students within the American Psychological Association-accredited clinical psychology doctoral program are staffing the telehealth services. Student clinicians are second-, third- or fourth-year students in a practicum course. Seventeen doctoral students provide services under the direction of six faculty members and must complete training materials and participate in mock sessions with supervisors.
By predicting new COVID-19 strains, scientists direct search for a vaccine
A new collaboration between the USC Leonard Davis School, Mississippi State University and Utrecht University in the Netherlands aims to predict new strains of the novel coronavirus by examining how its genes mutate, which could help create more effective vaccines for COVID-19. "A precise measurement of the mutation rate is critical to model the future evolution of the virus, so that we can predict the emergence of new strains that may cause a second wave of the pandemic or acquire resistance to a vaccine," says USC Assistant Professor of Gerontology Marc Vermulst. His collaborators include Jean-Francois Gout of Mississippi State University and Anne Wensing and Monique Nijhuis of Utrecht University in the Netherlands. The project is funded by the National Science Foundation with funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
New members announced for AUVSI's board of directors
The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) has announced its newest and returning members for its board of directors who provide representation across the domains of unmanned systems, air, ground, and water. Mark Gordon, Stratom, will continue to serve as the board chair. Other board members who will maintain their positions on the board's executive committee are Executive Vice-Chair Virginia Young from the University of Alabama, Huntsville, and Treasurer Bill Irby from L3Harris . Dallas Brooks from Raspet Flight Research Laboratory at Mississippi State University, will continue to serve on the executive committee as immediate past chair.
OCH gives up-close look at virus ICU, care for patients from mental health facility
Passing through the double doors on the third floor of OCH Regional Medical Center into a specific wing of the hospital, one is greeted with a surprising atmosphere of calm and quiet. Apart from gentle tapping on keyboards, and random beeps by machines hanging from IV poles, the scene is a tranquil one -- a far cry from the overwhelmed hospitals depicted in pandemic-inspired Hollywood fiction. But to the untrained eye, the calm on the surface can easily mask the nuances encountered every day by the hospital's staff. Considering this small corner of the Starkville hospital is the local ground zero for a deadly global pandemic, unwavering nurses go about their business taking care of patients in what many on the outside may consider a terrifying place -- the intensive care unit reserved solely for critical COVID-19 patients. The nurses on this unit, though, will tell anyone who asks that fear is not a word in their vocabulary. "This is just the new normal," said OCH registered nurse Foley Graham. "The new way of nursing." On Thursday, five patients were being treated in the virus ICU, while two other COVID-19 cases required inpatient treatment on the hospital's normal floor. What makes this situation unique, however, is that all patients are from Rolling Hills Developmental Center, a mental health facility in Starkville that specializes in care for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
2020 Neshoba County Fair canceled; grounds open for cabin construction, maintenance
The Board of Directors of the Neshoba County Fair Association announced Thursday it has canceled the 2020 fair due to the COVID-19 pandemic and health and safety concerns of its patrons. "This decision was made with a tremendous amount of thought, discussion and consideration," the board wrote in a statement. Cabin construction and maintenance may continue at the fairgrounds, according to the board. The gates will open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day, starting Friday, June 5. The racetrack, pavilion and other Neshoba County Fair Association facilities will be closed effective immediately, the board stated. Utilities will remain disconnected to the cabin and camper areas. RV and camper patrons whose utility fees have been paid will have their payment rolled over to cover the 2021 event or a refund can be requested through the Fair office, the board stated. Tim Moore, executive director of Philadelphia-Neshoba County Chamber of Commerce, said the Neshoba County Fair Board made the decision that was best for everyone. Moore said even though he agrees with the decision to cancel the fair it will affect the area financially.
Neshoba County Fair canceled over coronavirus
The 2020 edition of "Mississippi's Giant Houseparty" is being canceled because of concern about the coronavirus pandemic. Directors of the Neshoba County Fair said in a statement Wednesday that they've been consulting with public health officials and determined it would not be possible to ensure that people "safely and effectively" follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control. "For these reasons, the unfortunate decision has been made to cancel the Fair with no plans to reschedule it in 2020," the board said. The fair typically attracts tens of thousands of people to the red clay hills of east central Mississippi. Extended groups of families and friends live in cabins on the campgrounds for more than a week, and crowds are even larger on the two days that politicians speak under the main pavilion on the fairgrounds. The fair also has a midway, musical performances and horseracing.
Mississippi Department of Archives and History To Reopen Museums & Library
On Tuesday, July 7, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) will reopen the Eudora Welty House & Garden, Museum of Mississippi History, Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, and William F. Winter Archives and History Building in Jackson, and the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians in Natchez. "We are excited to reopen our museums and welcome the public at this historic moment. As our nation deals with COVID-19, economic hardship, and the legacy of racial injustice, MDAH has an ever more important role to play," said Reuben Anderson, president of the MDAH Board of Trustees. In a continuing effort to stem the spread of COVID-19, each site will limit the number of visitors inside. Visitors will be required to wear masks, and masks will be available on site. "We are especially eager to welcome visitors to our brand new exhibit at the Two Mississippi Museums -- Mississippi Distilled -- which explores our state's tumultuous relationship with alcohol," said MDAH director Katie Blount. "As soon as it is safe to gather in larger numbers, we will celebrate this exhibit with a series of public events."
La-Z-Boy closes Newton manufacturing plant
La-Z-Boy Inc. announced Thursday it is permanently and immediately closing its upholstery manufacturing facility in Newton. The Monroe, Michigan-based company, which specializes in residential furniture, said it would be reducing its global workforce by about 10%, around 850 employees, across its manufacturing, retail and corporate locations. The company cited the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in its decision. The Newton upholstery plant, built in 1960, employs about 300 people, accounts for approximately 10% of the La-Z-Boy branded business total upholstery production and manufactures La-Z-Boy recliners, motion sofas and classics (high-leg recliners), according to the news release. The Newton-based integrated internal supply functions will remain in operation, the company stated. Approximately 170 people work across these areas and will remain with the company, the company stated. The Newton facility furloughed workers this spring because of the pandemic, but brought some back to make face coverings for medical workers.
Defying predictions of historic losses, economy gains 2.5M jobs and unemployment eases to 13.3% as businesses start to reopen amid COVID-19
The economy unexpectedly gained 2.5 million jobs in May after record losses the prior month as states began allowing businesses shuttered by the coronavirus to reopen and many Americans returned to work. The unemployment rate fell to 13.3% from April's 14.7%, which was the highest since the Great Depression. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had reckoned that eight million jobs were shed last month following 20.7 million losses in April. "The biggest payroll surprise in history, by a gigantic margin, likely is due to a wave of hidden rehiring," says Ian Shepherdson, chief economist of Pantheon Macroeconomics. Stocks jumped on the news. In early trading, the Dow Jones industrial average rallied 700 points and Standard & Poor's 500 climbed 2%. May's shocking increase in payrolls upended virtually every economist's predictions for another month of massive losses, though less severe than April's. Although states have started letting businesses gradually reopen in phases, the Labor Department's survey was conducted in mid-May, relatively early in that process.
Deadline for public comments on Yazoo Pump Project approaches
The deadline for public comments on a new review of the Yazoo Pump Project is approaching. Through June 15, you can submit your comments to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as they prepare a "Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement" for the project, which proponents say could help to ease flooding concerns in the Mississippi Delta. "Significant input from Mississippians, who understand how the lack of the pumps has harmed homes, property, and the environment, will make a difference in the steps the Army Corps takes on the Yazoo Backwater pumps," said Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Army Corps. The Senator went on to say that the pumps could go a long way in addressing an issue that has continued to impact the region. "In the past, the voices of Mississippians and residents directly affected by catastrophic backwater flooding in particular, have been drowned out by outside groups with little to no connection to or understanding of the importance of this effort. We need to correct that," she said.
Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus calls for local change after George Floyd's death and protests
Mississippi African American lawmakers on Thursday called for changes in the state and country in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd and others at the hands of law enforcement. Mississippi could be a role model for the rest of the nation if state and local communities adopt policies to stamp out police use of excessive force, bias and other forms of discrimination, said Rep. Kabir Karriem, D-Columbus. Legislative Black Caucus Chairwoman Sen. Angela Turner-Ford said during a conference news briefing that the nation is in a time of fiscal, economic and social unrest, and that COVID-19, economic hardship and police brutality are pressing hard on communities. The Mississippi lawmakers on Thursday said legislation they proposed this year, including measures to require city and county law enforcement to have body cameras, to require appointment of special prosecutors for officer involved shootings, and to require written consent before searches, has died in committee. Rep. Cheikh Taylor, D-Starkville, said, "We are in a state of mourning in Mississippi and across this country ... The sad truth is we have seen too many George Floyds, far too many Ahmaud Auberys and too many Breonaa Taylors."
Public retirees likely to lose ability to serve in Legislature without losing retirement benefits
The board that governs Mississippi's public employees retirement system could revisit and reverse its ruling that retired educators and state and local government retirees can serve in the Legislature while continuing to draw their pensions. The Public Employees Retirement System Board had requested an IRS ruling on whether its decision could negatively impact the federal tax exempt status of the system, which could be detrimental for the system and its members. The board had voted in 2019 to change its regulation to allow the public retirees to serve in the Legislature and draw their pension as they do in other states, such as Florida. But in making the change, board members said they needed approval of the IRS. In a letter sent to the PERS Board in early May, officials at the IRS said: "In this particular instance we have determined that we cannot issue a ruling based on the factual nature of the matter involved." When contacted, the IRS refused to provide any additional details. And PERS officials only referenced the letter and indicated the issue would be discussed by its governing board as early as its next regular meeting on June 23.
Legislation could die as collateral damage over session extension squabble
Last week, the Mississippi House unanimously passed a resolution extending the 2020 session until the end of the year. The state Senate did not follow suit as a sufficient number of Senators made it clear that they were not on board. A majority of Senators were reluctant to bring it to the floor over concerns of both cost and precedent. Extending the session and not adjourning would mean lawmakers and, by virtue of their offices, Speaker Philip Gunn and Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, would have more control over when and what legislation could be brought before the bodies. This would essentially derail the ability of the Governor to set a limited agenda in a call for a special session. State Rep. Jeramey Anderson (D-HD 110) said as much in a statement issued last Wednesday on Twitter. Anderson wrote, "By extending the session, we will not be forced to rush bills through the process, or to meet in a special session with a very narrow agenda." Rumblings within the Senate chamber asserted that the House is now holding "good, conservative legislation" hostage and is willing to let bills die in House committees if the Senate does not approve HCR 69.
Dropping case of white ex-cop a 'knife' to trust, rep says
A Mississippi lawmaker on Thursday criticized the state attorney general's decision to drop the prosecution of a white former police officer who was indicted in the 2015 shooting death of an African American man after a traffic stop. "It really puts a knife in the trust of the judicial system," Democratic state Rep. Kabir Karriem of Columbus said at the state Capitol. Karriem exchanged letters Thursday with Republican Attorney General Lynn Fitch, who filed papers last week to drop the manslaughter charge against former Columbus officer Canyon Boykin in the killing of 26-year-old Ricky Ball. The case was dropped "with prejudice," meaning it cannot be revived. Fitch announced her decision about the Mississippi case May 28, as protests about police violence against African Americans were starting across the U.S. after video showed a white Minneapolis police officer pressing his knee into the neck of a black man, George Floyd, for nearly nine minutes. Floyd died. The Mississippi Poor People's Campaign is planning a protest about Fitch's decision. It's set for Friday near the attorney general's office in downtown Jackson.
Tupelo mayor announces intent to seek third term in office
Current Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton in a social media post Thursday morning announced that he intends to run for re-election and seek a third term as mayor of the All-America City. "For the next year I will continue to work hard to earn your trust and support, but I will not make decisions because they are politically popular or politically expedient to bolster my chances of getting re-elected," the post read. The announcement does not mean the mayor is officially in the race. The qualifying period for Tupelo municipal elections begins in January 2021, and the election will take place in June 2021. Shelton was first elected as mayor in 2013 after receiving nearly 60% of the vote. Shelton, an attorney, was first elected at 37 years old, and was the city's first Democratic mayor in nearly three decades. Many viewed the election an accomplishment for the Democratic party, as Tupelo is largely considered a GOP stronghold. If Shelton were to win a third term as mayor, he would be the first mayor to serve three consecutive terms since Jack Marshall, who served as mayor for 12 years from 1985-1997.
$90M program to support low-income families in Mississippi
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced a new $90 million program to reimburse families of Mississippi children who usually receive subsidized meals at school but missed out on the benefit due to the coronavirus pandemic. The program will provide assistance to families of approximately 340,980 students eligible for free or reduced-price meals at school, Mississippi Department of Human Services spokesman Danny Blanton said Wednesday. On average, families will receive around $5.40 per student, per day of missed meals, Blanton said. Payments will be retroactive from March 19, the day schools closed due to the pandemic in Mississippi, through the end of the school year in late May. The initiative is funded through a federal COVID-19 relief package.
After court order, Mississippi releases list of nursing homes with active coronavirus outbreaks
Families who have been in the dark about coronavirus spread in their loved one's nursing homes now have limited insight into facility outbreaks. The state health department released a list of 116 facilities that have current outbreaks -- considered one case among residents and staff – late Wednesday, after a judge ruled last week that the agency had to disclose the names. In total, MSDH is reporting 1,718 resident cases, 1,003 employee cases and 310 resident deaths in long-term care facilities with active outbreaks. Of the 116 facilities with active outbreaks, 27 facilities -- about a quarter -- have only had one case among staff or residents, despite the disease's quick-spread in residential facilities. State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs said on Wednesday that facilities with proper infection control can either keep the virus out or keep it to minimal spread once it does come in, adding that a good rule of thumb in facilities is to assume everyone has it and protect staff and residents accordingly.
Farmers Find Ways To Save Millions Of Pigs From Being Euthanized
A month ago, America's pork farmers were in crisis. About 40 percent of the country's pork plants were shut down because they had become hot spots of coronavirus infection. Pork producers who had been shipping, collectively, almost half a million hogs each day to those plants suddenly had no place to send of all their animals, and little space to house the equal number of new piglets that are born every day. Pork producers and industry analysts said that if factories didn't re-open quickly, they'd be forced to euthanize millions of hogs on their farms. But that worst case scenario seems to not be happening. According to estimates of pork producers and officials in the hardest-hit states of Minnesota and Iowa, hog farmers have been forced to kill and dispose of fewer than 200,000 animals so far. "Farmers are pretty inventive people," says David Preisler, CEO of the Minnesota Pork Producers Association. He says farmers made some quick adaptations--they converted older buildings into additional housing for hogs, fed the animals low-energy rations that kept them from gaining weight rapidly, and sent some of their animals to local butcher shops. Others hogs were shipped halfway across the country, from Minnesota to Pennsylvania or California, to processing plants that could handle them.
On sad anniversary, few to mourn the D-Day dead in Normandy
At least the dead will always be there. All too many have been, for 76 years since that fateful June 6 on France's Normandy beaches, when allied troops in 1944 turned the course of World War II and went on to defeat fascism in Europe in one of the most remarkable feats in military history. Forgotten they will never be. Revered, yes. But Saturday's anniversary will be one of the loneliest remembrances ever, as the coronavirus pandemic is keeping almost everyone away -- from government leaders to frail veterans who might not get another chance for a final farewell to their unlucky comrades. "I miss the others," said Charles Shay, who as a U.S. Army medic was in the first wave of soldiers to wade ashore at Omaha Beach under relentless fire on D-Day. Shay, 95, lives in France close to the beach where he and so many others landed in 1944. He knows of no U.S. veterans making the trip overseas to observe D-Day this year.
U. of Mississippi hosts dialogue series to address racial injustice
Over 200 members of the university community, including Provost Noel Wilkin, women's basketball coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin, Associated Student Body President Joshua Mannery and Black Student Union President Nicholas Crasta, gathered in a Zoom meeting on Tuesday night to "unpack the manifestations of racism throughout America." "Time has proven that my color is deemed a threat in today's society, despite the intelligence, culture and excellence my color brings to the world every day," Crasta said. "The goal of this dialogue series is to allow our community to heal, process and move forward in light of all the recent national events." The event was the first in the Stronger Together Dialogue Series hosted by the University Counseling Center, the Black Student Union, the Associated Student Body and the University Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, and it was largely organized by Crasta and Mannery. E.J. Edney, the director of the Center for Inclusion and Cross-Cultural Engagement, acted as one of the discussion leaders. He explained the baseline expectations for participants of honesty and respect, but he also expressed personal frustration about the cyclical way in which the UM community and the nation as a whole handles racial injustice.
Hundreds attend march from Square to UM's Gertrude Ford Center
Residents of Oxford gathered once again for a peaceful march that started on the Square and ended at the Gertrude Ford Center Thursday night. This marks Oxford's second march in response to the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis, Minn., man who died while in the hands of police officers. The march is a follow-up of Saturday's protest rally and was organized by Tracey Williams. The march began at 7 p.m. on the Oxford Square. Hundreds of people lined the street with their signs saying "Black Lives Matter," "I Still Can't Breathe" and "Justice for George Floyd" held high. The march ended at the Gertrude Ford Center on the Ole Miss campus with marchers taking a knee for a community-wide prayer.
Work Continues: UMMC pediatric hospital still on schedule to open in fall despite slowdown from pandemic
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the expansion of the state's only children's hospital is on schedule to open this fall. The challenge of responding to a pandemic shows why Mississippi needs a state-of-the-art pediatric hospital, University of Mississippi Medical Center experts say. "We knew in 2016 when the Campaign for Children's of Mississippi was launched that we had outgrown the children's hospital," said Dr. Mary Taylor, Suzan B. Thames Chair, professor and chair of pediatrics. "Now, seeing the medical needs of the state during this pandemic, we can see how having an up-to-date children's hospital is needed in a crisis as well as for the patients we see every day in pediatric care." Under construction since early 2018, the seven-story tower is still on schedule, said Brian Reddoch, UMMC's construction project manager. The $180 million expansion includes an outpatient specialty clinic, 32 larger pediatric intensive care rooms, a dozen operating suites and an imaging center designed for children. Brasfield & Gorrie is the project’s construction manager.
U. of Alabama system to resume in-person learning for fall semester
In-person learning is set to return to the three University of Alabama System campuses starting this summer. The board of trustees on Thursday voted to resume limited in-person learning this summer with a full return to the classroom for the fall semester. Reading from the resolution, Chancellor Finis St. John, said the trustees has extensively reviewed a task force plan to reopen. "Based on current conditions," the resolution reads, "the Board of Trustees believes that the UA System can best fulfill its core mission of teaching, research, and service by resuming on-campus activities in the Fall 2020 semester." The limited classes can begin after June 22 on the Tuscaloosa campus only, the second summer term. The fall semester is scheduled to begin Aug. 19 on all three campuses -- Birmingham, Huntsville and Tuscaloosa. "They are premised on cutting edge technology developed by the UAB health system experts including a COVID-19 symptom tracker," St. John said.
Troy University suspends police chief over George Floyd comments
Troy University has suspended its police chief after he posted "inflammatory" comments on social media. A now-deleted Facebook post from Chief John McCall questioned the protests over the police-involved death of George Floyd. In the post, McCall said "more white people are killed by police every year." "Where is the media screaming about that? People die in police custody from time to time. Did the officer make a mistake? Yes. Was he intentionally trying to kill George Floyd? I don't think so," the post said. Screenshots of the post were shared by a Troy University student. The university later issued a statement "strongly condemning the inflammatory comments made recently on social media by Troy University Chief of Police John McCall" and saying he had been suspended while an investigation is underway.
Cheerleader who used racial slur on social media will not attend U. of Tennessee
The incoming cheerleader at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, who used a racial slur on social media has been removed from the team and will not be attending UT in the fall, the university announced Thursday. A Twitter thread showing the student using a racial slur twice began drawing attention on Wednesday. The tweets asked people to reach out to the university and express their concerns. Screenshots and recordings of the posts attracted attention on Twitter, with a video recording of the student using the slur being viewed over 30,000 times Wednesday. The university said Wednesday evening it was investigating the posts. The incident was reviewed through the university's bias reporting process, which addressed incidents "as they come up with the individuals involved," the statement said. Several similar incidents occurred around the country recently. A student at Marquette University, a private university in Milwaukee, had their admission rescinded earlier this week after screenshots of a Snapchat she posted about the death of George Floyd drew outrage on social media.
UGA students' grades higher in pandemic-altered semester
Students at the University of Georgia got more A's this spring semester than in spring 2019, according to an analysis by the University System of Georgia, the state's network of public colleges and universities. Students at Georgia's 25 other public colleges and universities also got higher grades, the analysis revealed. Meanwhile, preliminary figures also indicate that summer school enrollment at UGA will be higher than it's ever been, topping last year's record high of 17,971, UGA announced Wednesday. Almost all courses will be online this summer. Thousands of students had petitioned the state Board of Regents for a pass-fail grade option after the state's campuses closed in March and switched to distance learning methods to slow the growth of the coronavirus pandemic. "Our faculty and staff pivoted quickly to deliver outstanding online learning experiences, and our students have shown extraordinary resilience in a difficult time," said UGA Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost S. Jack Hu in a news release.
U. of Florida probes social media posts seen as racist
University of Florida officials are looking into allegations of prospective and enrolled students posting racist messages on social media, a concern heightened by protests across the nation in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minnesota. Liberty Woodley, 17, recently graduated from Cape Coral's Mariner High School and had a clear path to her dream of becoming a Gator. Now, that may not materialize. That's because someone dug up a social media post from almost two years ago, when the then 16-year-old posted a racist Instagram photo that referred to two black girls in her class, with the caption reading "I really try so hard not to be a racist person, but I most definitely am, there's no denying it." The post blew up on social media Tuesday night and had garnered more than 400 retweets by Wednesday. It has caused many UF students to push for the university to rescind Woodley's acceptance offer. UF officials say they are investigating more than one case, beyond Woodley's, that's caused a stir on UF Reddit and Twitter threads.
UF trustees hear plans for reopening campus this fall
Face masks, stickers with arrows on the floor encouraging physical distancing and testing wastewater could all be part of the UF experience this fall as more details are revealed as part of the university's reopening strategy. The university's officials fleshed out the "UF Reopening Strategy" to the Board of Trustees on Thursday morning, giving slightly more detail on how to safely return students to campus this August. The state university system has ordered all of Florida's public higher education institutions to make similar drafts to present to the state board later this month for approval. The Board of Governors will hear the plans on June 23. Under the plan, all returning students and faculty will be screened and tested for COVID-19 prior to coming on campus. Appointments must be scheduled ahead of time. Top UF leaders have spoken confidently that UF Health's test and trace program is the best possible way to return students to campus in August.
Texas A&M professor joins online panel on racial disparities in COVID-19 testing
More government action in combating racial disparities with COVID-19 testing is needed, those participating in a livestream panel said Thursday. Hosted by Texas-based research and advocacy charity Children at Risk, the discussion illuminated health risks and barriers to testing present in minority communities. Among the participants was Angelica Delgado-Rendon, an assistant professor of health promotion and community health services at Texas A&M University. The nine panelists shared personal and data-based observations of the coronavirus' effects on people of color, and spoke of how organizations such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control have reported disparities among racial groups. The CDC website notes that a recent student of coronavirus patients in New York City identified African American and Hispanic/Latino coronavirus death rates as considerably higher compared to the death rate of whites and Asians.
U. of Missouri Faculty Council rejects proposal to start, end fall term early
Members of the University of Missouri Faculty Council on Thursday rejected an administration proposal to start and end the fall term early. The vote was 23-6, with many members saying they needed more time to consider the proposal and possible options. The proposal may be reconsidered, but other alternatives also were presented. The move was being considered to avoid a possible resurgence of COVID-19. At MU, the proposal needs the approval of the Faculty Council and the University of Missouri System Board of Curators. The proposed new schedule would start the semester 10 days early, on Aug. 12, with in-person class work ending right before Thanksgiving on Nov. 20. Online final exams would take place Nov. 30 to Dec. 14. The university would remain open on Labor Day, Sept. 7. "We remain focused on having in-person teaching, research and engagement in the fall and this schedule change would help to limit exposure due to travel during the semester," MU Provost Latha Ramchand stated in a news release.
Tulane to open up campus for fall 2020 semester, but with these changes in mind
Tulane University on Friday announced face-to-face instruction would resume for the fall 2020 semester after closing the campus for months due to the spread of coronavirus in New Orleans. Officials said the fall semester would start and end earlier than usual, with school beginning Wednesday, Aug. 19 and ending Tuesday, Nov. 24, the same day that school would normally let out for Thanksgiving break. Joining other universities in Louisiana and across the nation, Tulane leaders chose to end the semester the week of Thanksgiving to limit travel of students leaving for break then returning to campus for a couple more weeks of instruction. Most final exams will be administered online after the Thanksgiving break, the release said. The university plans to frequently test campus members, and Tulane leaders are working to create an on-campus infirmary to quarantine sick students. To lessen the number of people in dorms, officials are looking at off-campus single room options to house students as well.
As Racist Posts Circulate, Some Colleges Rescind Admissions Offers. Others Say Their Hands Are Tied.
As protests and unrest roil the country following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, more than a dozen colleges have publicly responded to outrage over racist social-media posts by incoming students -- and several, mostly private institutions, have swiftly rescinded admission offers. Marquette University and Xavier University (Ohio), and the University of Denver, are among the colleges that quickly kicked out incoming students when they learned the rising freshmen had used racist language in online posts or in videos about Floyd, a black man killed in police custody last week. Each institution released a statement that said, in effect: This student didn't uphold our values and is not welcome on our campus. Admission offices have long received reports of bad behavior by incoming students, but consequences were carried out more slowly, said Marie Bigham, a former admissions officer and college counselor who founded the advocacy group Admissions Community Cultivating Equity & Peace Today. Over the past week, many cases have played out publicly, where students have tagged or direct-messaged the university on social media, and action has been swift.
Students' admission rescinded in response to racist online speech
At least two colleges have rescinded athletic and admissions offers to incoming freshmen who made racist comments about black people on social media in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, a black Minneapolis man. Other colleges have begun investigations or said they will discipline students who also posted hateful and racially offensive messages. Heated debates about the controversy continue to take place on social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. While many students are speaking out against racial injustices, others have made statements in defense of Derek Chauvin, the police officer charged with Floyd's murder; promoted violent acts against protesters; and said black people should "get over it." "In America you are allowed to be racist as long as you don't act on it," tweeted Sean Glaze, who was set to attend Xavier University this fall as a freshman on the cross-country and track and field teams. Gabe Warren, a rising sophomore on the Xavier cross-country and track and field teams, said he couldn't "believe this kid would say something so egregiously bigoted. In a phone call with Inside Higher Ed, Glaze said he is "deeply regretful" and that he has sent an apology letter to Xavier.
Republicans encourage campuses to reopen; Democrats want safeguards
As colleges decide whether to resume classroom instruction as soon as two months from now, Republican senators on Thursday emphasized the importance of campuses reopening, saying it would help restore a sense of normalcy, allow higher education employees to return to work and prevent students from falling behind or dropping out entirely. But illustrating a division with Democrats, who called for the creation of stronger health-care regulations for reopening, Senator Lamar Alexander, the Republican chairman of the chamber's education committee, said colleges should be able to make their decisions with little government interference. An exception, he said, is the creation of policies pushed by college groups and backed by Senate Republicans to protect colleges from being sued should they reopen and students or workers contract COVID-19. Otherwise, Alexander said at the Thursday hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, "decisions should be left to individual colleges." But Democratic senators, noting the inevitability of the virus appearing on college campuses, criticized the Trump administration for not creating rules aimed at protecting the health of faculty or other college workers, or releasing more detailed standards for institutions, like how much coronavirus testing should be done.
Senators press colleges on safety for faculty, staff and students amid coronavirus pandemic - The Washington Post
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) pressed the president of Purdue University on Thursday for his plans to protect employees from the coronavirus pandemic even as the school trumpets its commitment to bring students back to campus for the fall. Low-wage workers, Warren said, are the ones cleaning dormitories and classrooms and providing food and other services to tens of thousands who attend the public university in Indiana. Many, she said, are particularly at risk for covid-19. "They have the least power," she told Purdue President Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., and they "may not feel safe coming onto a college campus." "Our entire strategy is built around the protection of the vulnerable," Daniels replied, "and that starts with faculty and staff." The exchange came as the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee explored college plans to reopen after a sudden and unprecedented move nationwide to empty campuses in March in an effort to slow the spread of the deadly pathogen. Now, as the novel coronavirus has killed more than 100,000 Americans, educators are racing to develop a blueprint to resume higher education in person.

Several local schools begin summer workouts as questions about season linger
Heritage Academy football coach Sean Harrison holds the business end of the plastic thermometer to Lathan Dunbar-Keys' forehead and peers at the black digits that flash on the tiny screen. 99.1. "You're running a little hot this morning," Harrison jokes with the rising freshman basketball player, whose temperature is well within the normal range. ("I am?" Dunbar-Keys replies.) Satisfied, Harrison goes through the list of questions, trying to make sure the combo guard poses no threat of spreading COVID-19 to the Patriots' male basketball, baseball and football players at the school Tuesday morning, the second day of summer workouts on campus. The encounter was part of a process that is completely new to coaches and players at high schools around the Golden Triangle area but that will become commonplace if there is to be a football season this fall and even a basketball season this winter. Twenty-eight miles away, across the Golden Triangle, the Patriots' chief rivals are starting to get things figured out. Starkville Academy began workouts last week, but head coach Chase Nicholson was on vacation and wasn't able to keep up with his players. Then he got a text from assistant Tate Fischer, who said Nicholson would be proud of how his players took it upon themselves to socially distance. "'They're doing everything the right way,'" Fischer's message read. Upon his return, Nicholson watched Volunteers coming through the field house's side door -- not the front -- just like they were instructed. Filing in after having their temperature taken and being screened for the virus, players formed an "assembly line" their head coach was happy to observe.
College Football Season Could Be Shortened, N.C.A.A. Chief Tells Congress
The president of the N.C.A.A. told congressional Republicans this week that the football season this fall could be shortened, with the regular season perhaps ending by Thanksgiving because of the coronavirus pandemic. In a call on Wednesday with members of the House Republican whip team and other sports executives, the association's president, Mark Emmert, said he anticipated that the college football season would begin around Labor Day as usual if games could be held within the regulations and guidelines of individual states. But Representative Greg Walden of Oregon, who participated in the call, said that Emmert also said the schedule may ultimately be truncated and that certain championships, like conference title games, could be played by Thanksgiving. The N.C.A.A. declined to comment. Bill Hancock, the executive director of the College Football Playoff, which operates apart from the N.C.A.A., said playoff organizers were "planning to play on schedule" in January 2021. Emmert was one of five sports executives to brief influential lawmakers during a call organized by Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the second-ranking House Republican. The leaders of NASCAR, the N.F.L., the N.H.L. and the PGA Tour also participated, congressional officials said.
As College Teams Return, So Does the Coronavirus
College athletes are returning to campus for voluntary workouts following the coronavirus lockdowns. And already, coronavirus cases are coming with them. When the NCAA lifted its monthslong moratorium on organized team activities for all sports on June 1, universities charged ahead with plans to bring athletes back so they could train at pristine campus facilities rather than in basements or backyards. That means athletes and coaches are undergoing an initial round of testing now that will ultimately clear the way for their return. But just this past week, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Marshall, Mississippi and Alabama disclosed multiple positive cases among athletes and athletic personnel. Arkansas also reported one athlete had contracted Covid-19 and is isolating off campus. The quick surfacing of new campus cases reflects a thorny reality for the return of not just college sports, but any group returning to workplaces and schools. The sports programs are quickly learning that there will be positive cases of Covid-19, as it has been impossible to limit athletes from interacting with people not subject to the strict testing regimes many universities are imposing for coaches, trainers and players.
Purdue president Mitch Daniels: If athletic team had COVID-19 outbreak, school would 'shut it down'
Purdue University president Mitch Daniels told a U.S. Senate committee on Thursday that if one of the athletic teams at his school experiences an outbreak of COVID-19, that team would need to stop all activity, at least temporarily. Daniels made the comments in response to specific questioning during a hearing of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that was titled: "COVID-19: Going Back to College Safely" and held through video conferencing. Daniels addressed the issue under questioning from Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who has been a critic of the NCAA on a range of athlete-welfare issues. Murphy asked: "What happens if you have an outbreak over the course of summer training or in the early fall on the football team or on your women's soccer team? What's your protocol? Do you shut that team down? Do they stop playing the season? Do you just segment off the players who have tested positive? This is a potential for a super-spreading environment if you're not careful." Murphy did not say what would constitute an "outbreak," and Daniels did not offer a definition in his response, which was: "I completely agree with you. I think you would shut it down. And I think that somewhere out there, someone may very well face this situation. ... We love sports, too. But first things first. And that starts with the safety of people -- players, coaches."
'We need football': Scott Woodward's optimistic LSU will play football with fans
Athletic director Scott Woodward continues to believe LSU will play football this fall with fans in the stands, but a final decision will not come until sometime in July. Woodward spoke Thursday during a virtual town hall with The Advocate. He addressed a wide range of topics, from protests of police brutality to financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic and a possible game against Michigan. Woodward thinks LSU will let fans inside Tiger Stadium this fall because he believes they are "willing to assume some risk" with their health. He compared the decision to driving 65 mph on the highway instead of imposing a 15 mph speed limit. "We're willing to assume some risk, and I think fans are getting to that," Woodward said. "I think football is to the point to where fans really want that and they will assume some risk." Woodward has planned for a typical football season, but he recognized LSU may have to alter its strategy if coronavirus cases spike or states re-enter stay-at-home orders. He has prepared for the worst while hoping for the best.
More than 50,000 could attend football games at Texas A&M's Kyle Field this season
More than 50,000 people could attend Texas A&M home football games this fall after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's Phase 3 reopening orders that include 50% capacity for outside sporting venues. Under the guidelines released by Abbott on Wednesday, A&M would have to get the county judge or mayor to approve a gathering of more than 500 along with consulting local public health officials. A&M is scheduled to open the season Sept. 5 against Abilene Christian at Kyle Field. The stadium capacity is 102,733.
UGA extends AD Greg McGarity's contract one year
Greg McGarity is staying on as Georgia athletic director for at least another athletic year. UGA president Jere Morehead had left a decision on McGarity's future up to him. "I'll be happy to have Greg as athletic director as long as I'm president of the university," Morehead said after the meeting, "but he prefers this approach, so I'm just happy that he has agreed to stay on this year and that we have extended it in the same fashion that we've been doing year by year." McGarity's contract that was set to expire at the end of the month was extended Thursday in a vote by the Georgia athletic board at its annual spring meeting held by video on Zoom due to the pandemic. "I believe that continuity is particularly important during this time of uncertainty," Morehead told the board. McGarity, who turns 66 in October, will be entering his 11th school year as athletic director. He is the second longest-tenured AD in the SEC behind Kentucky's Mitch Barnhart and will be the 12th longest tenured nationally in the next school year.
Mizzou announces return dates, testing for all sports
Missouri athletics has announced return dates to campus for all of its student-athletes for voluntary workouts. Alongside the returns of football, men's basketball and women's basketball on Monday, the three remaining sports with fall championships (volleyball, women's soccer and cross country) will start voluntary workouts June 15. The non-basketball winter sports of gymnastics, wrestling as well as swimming and diving will be allowed to resume voluntary workouts June 22. The five remaining varsity sports, all with spring championships, will return July 6, nearly a month after the first student-athletes return to Columbia. Those spring sports are baseball, softball, men's and women's golf, women's tennis and men's and women's track and field. Missouri's policy on testing student-athletes for coronavirus changed this week, as a university spokesperson confirmed that all athletes will be tested upon their return to campus, instead of only those with any symptoms of sickness, which was the school's original plan.
'We shine as one': Alabama gymnasts respond to racism allegations
The University of Alabama's gymnasts are not physically together while their program culture is being challenged, as gymnasts have yet to return to campus for voluntary workouts. But they have banded together virtually. The UA gymnastics Twitter account released a 3-minute, 7-second video of its athletes speaking to unity and equality in its program. The video comes a day after The Tuscaloosa News published a story of former UA gymnast Tia Kiaku describing the racist conduct she experienced while in the program. One of those instances was handled by UA's Title IX office, its Office of Equal Opportunity and its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. "This group of girls is so much more than just teammates. We are family," Jensie Givens said in the video, who was a sophomore on last season's team. "We have each other's backs, we protect one another and we bring everybody's differences to the table. All together, these differences combine, we shine as one."
Citadel coach: New college baseball model could lead to split among NCAA Division I schools
As college baseball sits out the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic, a new model for the future of the sport is being proposed by coaches. It would push back the start of the season from mid-February to the third weekend of March, with the NCAA Tournament starting in early July and the College World Series in mid-July. Michigan coach Eric Bakich is on a five-coach panel of Power 5 conference coaches who put together the proposal as a way to put the sport on sounder financial footing and better protect the health of players. But the proposal could be problematic for smaller NCAA Division I schools such as The Citadel, Bulldogs coach Tony Skole said last week. For one thing, it could lead to a "scheduling nightmare" with the Charleston RiverDogs, the minor league team that shares Riley Park with The Citadel. "I think the (new model) is gaining some momentum right now," Skole said on a Zoom call with Citadel supporters. "For us, from a selfish standpoint, it really would affect us. It would push us into a scheduling nightmare with the RiverDogs. College baseball is at the highest level it's ever been. The players are better, the coaching, the facilities, everyone is making more money. We really have to be careful with what will happen if we keep pushing, and this is a drastic proposal."
Charles 'Buddy' Foster Takes Over MUW Softball
The Owls Athletic Department and Athletic Director Jason Trufant have named Charles 'Buddy' Foster as the new head coach of The W softball program. "We are excited to have Buddy join our staff and continue the success of our softball program," said Trufant of the new hire. "His wealth of knowledge and experience, along with his commitment to academics, will be a tremendous addition to our already amazing staff." Foster comes to The W after spending the past four seasons at Greenville University. While at Greenville his teams succeeded both on the field and in the classroom. The 2019 Panther squad was crowned Academic GPA National Champions by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. On the softball diamond, his team finished 2nd in the Saint Louis Intercollegiate Conference regular season three times in 2017, 2018, and 2019, while winning two consecutive SLIAC Tournament Championships on two occasions.

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