Thursday, June 11, 2020   
Mississippi State's Dennis Truax elected to lead national civil engineering organization
Dennis Truax, head of Mississippi State University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has been elected to serve as the president of the American Socithe nation's leading civil engineering organization. Dennis Truax will be inaugurated as president-elect of the American Society of Civil Engineers at the organization's annual meeting this fall. He will serve as president-elect of ASCE in 2021 before becoming president in 2022. In addition to his role as the civil and environmental engineering department head, Truax holds the James T. White Endowed Chair. He is director of the Mississippi Department of Transportation's Transportation Research Center, located at Mississippi State, and was responsible for launching the Mississippi State Engineering Without Borders student chapter.
The National Weather Service issues highly accurate thunderstorm forecasts. The public doesn't understand them.
If you've ever encountered a severe weather forecast, odds are it originated from the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. The colorful bull's eye risk maps, tornado and severe thunderstorm watches, thunderstorm outlooks -- they all come from SPC. It's the center of the meteorological universe for severe weather, so to speak; its products are viewed thousands of times a day. But in recent years, the agency has come under scrutiny for how it communicates severe thunderstorm risk, with many meteorologists arguing the long-standing risk scale is as confusing as it is helpful. Now, emerging social science research suggests that there are bona fide issues -- but the path toward remedying them remains unclear. Meteorologists know the system like the back of their hand. But the public does not. That's according to Alex Forbes, an undergraduate at Mississippi State University. He worked on research for his senior capstone project aimed at probing the effectiveness of the SPC's categories. His findings reveal the ongoing struggle.
Understanding and predicting coronavirus genetic mutations
A Mississippi State faculty member is part of an international team working to understand and predict coronavirus genetic mutations, which can aid in the development of potential treatments and vaccines for COVID-19. Jean-Francois Gout, an assistant professor of computational biology in MSU's Department of Biological Sciences, is a co-principal investigator on the National Science Foundation-funded research. Using SARS-CoV-2 samples from Europe, Africa and the U.S., the research team will first study how often genetic mutations occur in the new coronavirus genome, and then examine the effects of different mutations. After finding a lab able to culture the virus cells, the research team applied for and received $198,000 in NSF rapid response funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
U.S. meat processing making strides
Across the cattle, swine, and broiler sectors, processing facilities are operating at more than 95% of their average capacity compared to this time last year, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said Tuesday. Beef facilities are operating at 98%, pork facilities are operating at 95% and poultry facilities are operating at 98% of their capacity compared to the same time last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported. Josh Maples, agricultural economist and assistant professor at Mississippi State University, noted during a recent webinar that beef processing at its lowest point during the COVID-19 pandemic was 35% below year-ago levels, and pork capacity was also 35% below 2019 levels. Broiler capacity was 6% lower, which equates to a decline of about 20 million birds. Despite the recovery, the processing challenges led to delayed animal sales, heavier weights at a time when they typically decline and lower prices that will continue to affect the sectors, particularly producers, for some time. "The effect is just not at that end animal production stage, when they're about to be turned into meat; it really filters all the way back up the supply chain to the original producer," Maples said.
Leading Through Change at USPOULTRY's Women's Leadership Conference
The professional world is always in motion, with generational shifts, cultural differences and economic stressors constantly changing the status quo. USPOULTRY's Women's Leadership Conference offers a series of topics to assist female professionals in keeping up with these changes and cultivating the skills for successful leadership. The Conference, scheduled for Aug. 13-14 at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa in Destin, Florida, showcases the experiences of successful women in all levels of the industry who will share their perspectives and insights on effective leadership. As USPOULTRY is currently planning to move forward with the seminar, the health and safety of everyone who attends is a top priority. The 2020 USPOULTRY Women's Leadership Conference program committee includes Michelle Arterburn, House of Raeford Farms, Inc.; Amanda Chosewood (committee chairperson), Fieldale Farms Corporation; Teresa Dunlap, Wayne Farms LLC; Patricia Hawkins, Tyson Foods, Inc.; and Lisa Noffsinger, Mississippi State University.
SOCSD, facing possible shortfall of $2.1M, braces for budget cuts due to pandemic
The Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District could see a funding cut of more than $2 million from the state as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus, district Chief Financial Officer Tammie McGarr told the board of trustees at its Tuesday meeting. The "worst-case scenario" for SOCSD is to receive 20 percent less than full funding for the 2020-21 school year, McGarr said. The district received 9 percent less than full funding last year, and the additional 11 percent would create a loss of about $2,145,000. District officials will find out the exact appropriation amount in the state budget later this month. In other business, Superintendent Eddie Peasant described the district's plan to reopen its buildings for the fall semester as "fluid," since confirmed cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus continue to rise in the county and state. Administrators are mindful of the possibility of a resurgence of the virus in the fall, Peasant said, and the district will survey parents in July to determine how many are comfortable sending their children to school in person in August and how many would prefer to continue distance learning. The district is considering a partnership with MSU's Starkville-MSU Area Rapid Transit system to transport some students to school in the fall, since loading school buses to full capacity would encourage the spread of COVID-19, Peasant said.
UEC Theatre prepares for reopening in Starkville
After about a three-month drought, Starkville's movie theater will reopen June 19. UEC Theatre's general manager Seth Parsley confirmed the theater's reopening and said showtimes and movie lists will be available "as soon as possible." The movie realm will not be business as usual, though. Each auditorium will operate at half capacity. Staff will also encourage moviegoers to socially distance from other guests. Like most area businesses, guests cannot enter if they are running a fever or showing any signs of COVID-19. UEC also will stagger showtimes and encourage guests to wear face masks while in the lobby. Highly frequented areas will be sanitized regularly. Once open, UEC will air "older" movies until newer movies start premiering again around mid-July. Until those new movies are released, the Starkville theater will have $5 movies, all day, every day.
Nonprofit Mississippi 30 Day Fund aims to be 'a quick shot in the arm' for local businesses
Columbus-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce President Lisa James knows a little bit of money can make a big difference for businesses struggling financially. As soon as even a small contribution comes in, James said, the ball starts rolling. "You have customers, and now you can pay your bills. You can pay your bills, and you can be open another day," she said. "Sometimes you just need a little bridge to get to the other side." That's precisely why James is in favor of the new Mississippi 30 Day Fund, a nonprofit that launched Monday to fund businesses who are in need of financial help because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization is fueled by donations, with businesses that receive up to the maximum $3,000 forgivable loan from the fund asked to "pay it forward" later when they're in better financial shape. Marie Sanderson of Ocean Springs, who founded the fund with her husband Brian, said the faster businesses can receive money, the better. "Last month, in a response to a survey by Main Street America, two-thirds of Mississippi small businesses said they feared having to close their doors within five months," Sanderson said in an email. "So time is of the essence here."
First multimillion-dollar Mississippi lottery winner bought ticket in Gautier
After Tuesday night's Mega Millions drawing, someone who purchased a ticket in Mississippi is a Mega Millions winner. The Mega Millions website shows that one person who purchased a ticket in Mississippi, two people in New York and one person in South Carolina won the Match 5 + Megaplier. According to the Mississippi Lottery Corp., the ticket was sold in Gautier. It matched all five white ball winning numbers normally worth $1 million. For an additional dollar, the player purchased the Megaplier game feature that multiplies winnings by two to five times depending on the number drawn. Tuesday night's Megaplier number was 2, doubling the prize to $2 million. "We are thrilled to announce our first multimillion-dollar lottery winner in Mississippi in just a little over four months since Mega Millions sales began," Mississippi Lottery Corp. President Tom Shaheen said in a news release Wednesday. Shaheen added that the lottery retailer that sold the winning ticket is eligible to receive $5,000. The name of the retailer will be released once the lottery completes a series of verification checks at the retailer location.
Mississippi opens grants for businesses hurt by pandemic
Mississippi is opening a grant program for small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Republican Gov. Tate Reeves said Wednesday that the application process begins at noon Thursday at Grants of $1,500 to $25,000 are available to businesses with 50 or fewer employees. The grants can cover mortgage interest, rent, payroll, utilities and other expenses related to the pandemic. They cannot cover businesses' lost profits. Mississippi has received $1.25 billion in coronavirus relief money from the federal government. Legislators voted last month to use $300 million of that to help businesses, and Reeves signed off on the plan. One part had $60 million to provide $2,000 grants for businesses that were forced to closed by government orders. The other had $240 million for the grant program that's is opening for applications Thursday.
Small businesses impacted by coronavirus can apply for $25,000 grants
Thousands of small business owners in Mississippi can apply for grants up to $25,000 for expenses they incurred in the coronavirus pandemic starting at noon on Thursday. "The pandemic was not just a public health emergency," Gov. Tate Reeves said Wednesday, announcing the start of taking applications for the grants. "It plunged our country into the greatest job losses we've seen since the Great Depression." The grant program will go live Thursday, with applications and information available at the website Meanwhile, the state continues to cut checks of $2,000 in coronavirus relief to small businesses and as of Wednesday had sent 10,797 checks totaling nearly $22 million. The two programs are part of a $300 million small business relief act the Legislature passed in mid-May, funded by the $1.25 billion Mississippi will receive from the federal CARES Act passed by Congress.
Small business grant applications open at noon. Here's how to get assistance and apply.
Gov. Tate Reeves on Wednesday announced that small business owners can apply for grants from the state starting at noon on Thursday. Business owners wanting to apply for the funds must apply and submit necessary documents on the website "We need to always remember: the pandemic was not just a public health emergency. It plunged our country into the greatest job loss since the Great Depression," Reeves said. "The economic damage -- and the human cost of it -- has been incalculable. We need to do everything in our power to take care of our neighbors." Reeves' announcement comes as several local groups are joining together to help small business owners in Northeast Mississippi apply for the funds. The city of Tupelo, Lee County, Three Rivers Planning and Development, the CREATE Foundation and the Community Development Foundation are all joining together to help guide small business owners through the application process. Mike Clayborne, the president of the CREATE Foundation, said that the foundation typically does not get involved in business development issues, but this workshop was an area of interest for the foundation because it has the potential to improve the quality of life for a lot of people.
Back to business in Mississippi: Grant applications open soon
Gov. Tate Reeves said small business owners impacted by the coronavirus pandemic can apply for up to $25,000 worth of grant money starting noon Thursday. Small business owners will have to complete an application through a portal at The Legislature last month set aside $300 million of federal CARES Act money for small business owners, of which $240 million was dedicated to this grant program. For the first 21 days of the program, the state will be considering applications exclusively from businesses that did not receive coronavirus relief funding through the federal Paycheck Protection Program. For the first 60 days of the program, $40 million will be specifically reserved for businesses owned by people of color and women.
Mississippi governor to lift curfew on bars, restaurants
Mississippi bars and restaurants that serve alcohol will soon be able to stay open later as Gov. Tate Reeves prepares to lift a curfew he set because of the coronavirus pandemic. Cases of COVID-19 are still rising, and the state health officer continued warning people to be cautious. A new executive order that takes effect Monday will lift the current 10 p.m. curfew for places that serve alcohol as long as they "do their best" to reduce customer capacity to 50%, Reeves said Wednesday. The new order will also allow fitness centers and gyms to increase their customer capacity from 25% to 50%. "That should allow many workers to get closer and closer to a normal paycheck and closer and closer to normal hours," Reeves said. Before the governor's news conference, people from the restaurant, bar and entertainment industry stood outside the state office building where Reeves would be speaking. They said they had been hurting financially under the curfew.
'Everybody was just going crazy': Mississippians buying record level of alcohol
At first there was a run on groceries, then hand sanitizer and now wine and bourbon. Liquor sales continue to peak at a high level after the onset of the coronavirus. Some liquor stores we talked to say their sales are up 8-10 percent since early March. David Rushing of Joe T's in Ridgeland said, "The volume was unbelievable. I think at first people were concerned that they were going to close us down and that hit real hard so everybody was just going crazy to make sure they loaded up on something." The demand so great the Mississippi Alcoholic Beverage Control is seeing record numbers of orders from vendors. They've already delivered 140,000 more cases than they did last year. The Mississippi Alcoholic Beverage Control says they're shipping at capacity from their warehouse and are adding shifts to meet the demands. ABC officials say it could take weeks to work through the backlog of orders and are asking stores to be patient.
Majority of local delegation supports flag change legislation
Since 2015, bills filed in the Mississippi Legislature to remove the state's current flag, adopted in 1894, have died in committee in both chambers. That may be changing. With a renewed demand from coast to coast to address racial injustice, which has included marches and protests throughout the state, the state flag -- with the conspicuous Confederate battle flag emblem emblazoned in the upper left corner -- is facing a real challenge for the first time since 2001, when voters rejected a change in the flag by a 2-to-1 margin. Of the seven members of the Golden Triangle delegation, only Reps. Gary Chism and Dana McLean (both R-Columbus) said they would not support legislation to change the flag, both saying it is a decision that should be left to Mississippi voters at the polls. Both of the delegation's senators, Republican Chuck Younger (Columbus) and Democrat Angela Turner-Ford (West Point) said they would support legislation, although Turner-Ford qualified her support. "It depends on the contents of the bill," Turner-Ford said. "I would be concerned about the new design and how the flag would be changed. I would support the appointment of a commission to design a new flag. I would not support change by referendum." Rep. Rob Roberson (R-Starkville) said he's fine with changing the flag by either legislative action or referendum.
House leaders say they have half the votes needed to change Mississippi state flag
Speaker of the House Philip Gunn said on Wednesday that some legislators are "looking at what can be done" to change the Mississippi state flag, the last in the nation containing the Confederate battle emblem. Gunn, who has long been one of the few Republican state leaders who has said the flag should change, said that changing the flag this late in the legislative session will be difficult. "It would require a lot of work," Gunn said. "I tell people you need to remember it's a two-thirds vote." Because key legislative deadlines have passed this session, any flag change would require a two-thirds vote of both the House (80 of 120 members) and the Senate (34 of 52 members) to suspend the rules to allow a bill to change the flag to be considered. That threshold would likely require a little fewer than 40 Republicans to be on board with changing the flag -- a difficult number to reach, Gunn and other lawmakers acknowledged.
'Racist relic of the past': Powerful teachers group pushes to change state flag
The president of the Mississippi Association of Educators, the state's teachers union and powerful education lobby, asked teachers across the state to call lawmakers and demand they change the state flag, the last in the nation containing the Confederate battle emblem. Erica Jones, president of the association, sent an email early Thursday morning to the organization's thousands of members asking them to "call your state representative and state senator and ask them to support suspending the rules to allow for a bill to change the flag to be considered." Lawmakers this week said they had already been bombarded with calls and emails from Mississippians about changing the flag. Jones' call to action on Thursday will likely exacerbate that reality. "It is our duty as educators to continue standing up for our students and advocating for what we know to be right," Jones wrote. "Changing the flag is not a partisan issue. This is a matter of right and wrong. This flag is wrong, and it's time to take it down."
Secretary of state: Mississippi not yet ready for vote by mail system
Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson said Tuesday his opposition to a statewide mail-based voting system is because he's not sure it's the safest option for Mississippi -- or if it's even a legitimate possibility anytime soon. Speaking with the Rotary Club of Columbus via Zoom, the first-term Republican recounted a recent conversation he had with Kim Wyman, secretary of state for Washington, one of five states where elections are conducted entirely by mail. Wyman, a fellow member of the GOP, has long been a proponent of the system, which is significantly more popular nationwide with Democrats than Republicans. On the call, Watson had one major question for Wyman regarding Mississippi's voting future: "Could we even get there if we wanted to?" "Michael, it's impossible," Wyman told him. "It took us five years to implement a vote by mail system. If you try to do it now by November, it's going to be a catastrophic failure. Don't even try it." Watson said a state in which 60 percent of voters currently vote by mail could likely set up a complete system by Election Day on Nov. 3. In Mississippi, just 3.5 percent of ballots are mailed in, showing the state isn't near ready to set up a universal mail-in voting system just yet. "There's no way in the world logistically that we could get there," Watson said.
Poll places Cindy Hyde-Smith up eight points on Mike Espy in Senate race
A new poll shows incumbent Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith leading 49-41 over Democratic challenger Mike Espy in November's U.S. Senate race that is a rematch from their 2018 special election battle. While the poll, conducted by North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling, appears to place Hyde-Smith in a commanding position, the Espy campaign views the poll results as a positive for their underdog campaign. Joe O'Hern, campaign manager for Espy, said Hyde-Smith has been trying "to ride it out" to the November general election, depending on her incumbency and the built-in electoral advantage the Republican Party has in the state to win the election with limited campaigning. "If this poll is any indication before paid media has started, she is not going to just ride it out," said O'Hern. Justin Brassell, a spokesperson for Hyde-Smith, said the campaign had not seen the PPP poll, but said the polling it has seen has placed the incumbent in an even more commanding position. But Brassell said Hyde-Smith intends to start campaigning more in the coming weeks.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants 11 Confederate statues removed from Capitol
Speaker Nancy Pelosi is calling for the removal of 11 Confederate statues from the Capitol's National Statuary Hall Collection. In a letter sent on Wednesday, Pelosi asked the Joint Committee on the Library -- led by Senate Rules and Administration Chairman Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, and House Administration Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat -- to direct the Architect of the Capitol to remove the statues of soldiers and officials who represent the Confederacy. Pelosi specifically mentioned two prominent Confederates -- Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens -- who served as president and vice president of the Confederate States of America, respectively, and who were charged with treason against the United States. Stephens' statue was given by Georgia and Davis' by Mississippi. Mississippi is the only state with two Confederates in the collection: Jefferson Davis and James Z. George. Neither was born in Mississippi.
'He has to get back to his life': President Trump looks past crises to resume his routine
The United States is embroiled in disputes and anger: divided over how to restart the economy, anxious over fresh coronavirus spikes, and raging over police brutality and racial injustice. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump is planning to resume his prepandemic routine, arguing it will send a positive message that the country's problems are under control. For the first time since before the coronavirus gripped the United States and protesters took to the streets, Trump is lining up in-person fundraisers, trips to his luxury resort in New Jersey and campaign rallies. It's a sign of the president's approach to a series of historic crises that lack easy solutions and the longstanding comfort he draws from being bathed in adoration by rally-goers, donors and the rest of his base. Next week, he will headline a campaign rally next week in Tulsa, Okla. He also expects to hold rallies in Florida, Arizona and North Carolina in the coming weeks. Plans are also being made for larger fundraisers in the Hamptons, as well as in Tampa the first week of July and in Mississippi the last week of August.
U.S. voter registration plummets during coronavirus pandemic, challenging both parties
The registration of new voters dropped dramatically in the U.S. amid the coronavirus pandemic, challenging efforts of both major political parties to enlist new supporters in battleground states ahead of the 2020 election. The number of new voters registered across 11 states in April 2020 decreased by 70% compared with April 2016, according to a report from the nonpartisan Center for Election Innovation & Research released Thursday. Voter registration was well ahead of the 2016 pace in most states through February. It started to decline in March, when states began enforcing stay-at-home orders and social distancing requirements to fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus. By April, registration plummeted as the two most popular methods of signing up new voters -- third-party at schools and other public venues and "motor voter registration" -- virtually halted. The latter refers to a federal law that requires states to give individuals the opportunity to register to vote when they apply for or renew a driver's license.
Free Food, Free Speech and Free of Police: Inside Seattle's 'Autonomous Zone'
On the streets next to a police precinct in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood, protesters and officers spent a week locked in a nightly cycle of standoffs, at times ending with clouds of tear gas. But facing a growing backlash over its dispersal tactics in the aftermath of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis, the Seattle Police Department this week offered a concession: Officers would abandon their precinct, board up the windows and let the protesters have free rein outside. In a neighborhood that is the heart of the city's art and culture -- threatened these days as rising tech wealth brings in gentrification -- protesters seized the moment. They reversed the barricades to shield the liberated streets and laid claim to several city blocks, now known as the "Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone." What has emerged is an experiment in life without the police -- part street festival, part commune. Hundreds have gathered to hear speeches, poetry and music. While Mr. Floyd's death in Minneapolis drove most of the energy in the streets toward ending police violence and racial injustice, some of those here in recent days have pushed for a wider focus. Some of the messages mirror the 2011 Occupy movement and seemed aimed at targeting corporate America for its role in social inequities.
UM Dean of Students Emeritus pens letter urging change of state flag
University of Mississippi Dean of Students Emeritus Sparky Reardon is urging alumni to continue the push to change the Mississippi state flag. Reardon, along with two former leaders at Mississippi State University and the University of Southern Mississippi, co-wrote a letter to former students urging them to advocate for change in Mississippi, starting with the state flag, which features imagery of the confederate battle flag. Mississippi is only state in the country that features the symbol on its state flag. Jimmy Abraham, former vice president for student affairs and alumni association executive director at Mississippi State, and Joe Paul, vice president for student affairs emeritus as Southern Mississippi, helped write the letter. According to Reardon, the decision to pen the letter was in the works long before this week and began after he posted a frame around his Facebook profile picture. Paul contacted Reardon and planted the seeds of what it might be like if they could rally former students of their respective universities around the cause.
UM IFC executive member refuses to sign Greek statement in support of statue relocation
The vice president of programming for the University of Mississippi's Interfraternity Council did not sign the joint letter from the UM Greek community calling for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees to vote on the relocation of the Confederate monument on campus. This letter comes over a year after the Associated Student Body (ASB) introduced a resolution for the relocation to the Confederate cemetery behind the Tad Smith Coliseum. The resolution passed unanimously there and in several other votes held by university governing bodies. Last year, Greek life leadership did not comment on the decision. All other current council members and chapter presidents of the Interfraternity Council (IFC), Panhellenic Council (CPH) and the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) signed the letter. The letter, originally proposed by Delta Psi president Drew Leopard, asked the IHL board that the "matter be handled swiftly." Leopard posted the first draft of the statement on June 4, and by June 10, all Greek members who were charged to sign but one had signed it. The only signature missing was that of Ryan Mohr, a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity.
National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Foundation will induct 2 notable Jackson State alums
JSU alums Dr. Walter L. Reed and actress Mara Hall have been selected as honorees for the upcoming 2020 National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Foundation, Inc. Both Reed and Hall will be officially inducted during the 35th Annual Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on September 25 in Atlanta. Reed's multifaceted career as an educator, coach, athletic director and administrator included a position at Lawrence Elementary School (MS); N.H.Pilate High School (MS); Jackson State University, Mississippi State University; Greater Miami Legal Services; Florida International University; Florida A&M University and the University of Miami (FL). Hall is best known for her recent co-star roles in the ABC hit show "Scandal" and the BET popular television series "The Quad." She's had supporting role in "A Question of Faith" (Silver Lining Entertainment), lead role in the comedic film "Loqueesa," and her role as nurse Kathleen on the award-winning ABC series "Grey's Anatomy."
MACC: Mississippi community colleges resume traditional classes for fall
Mississippi's 15 community colleges plan to resume traditional operations and classes on their campuses this fall, according to the Mississippi Association of Community Colleges. "Along with much excitement about getting back to campus, all of our colleges are taking the proper precautions to help keep our students, faculty, staff and visitors safe and healthy," Steve Bishop said. Bishop will soon begin a term as MACC's president. He's also the president of Southwest Mississippi Community College. Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College President Mary Graham, current MACC president, said, "Mississippi community colleges are looking forward to students returning to our campuses and dorms in the fall of 2020 for an exceptional college experience. We are following recommended safety protocols to create safe learning, living, and working environments for all."
Copiah-Lincoln Community College plans to offer on-campus classes in fall
Copiah-Lincoln Community College and the Mississippi's other community colleges plan to resume traditional operations and classes this fall. "It is Copiah-Lincoln Community College's intention to reopen our campuses this fall and offer on-site instruction along with the traditional residential experience for our students," Co-Lin President Dr. Jane Hulon said. Hulon said the school has been making preparations for the opening of the school's Natchez campus and Co-Lin's campuses in Wesson and Mendenhall. "Our team has been busy doing a lot of background work to ensure we are ready to institute the necessary safety precautions in all areas of the college that will be part of the new normal as students return to campus," Hulon said. "We are being proactive in ensuring that our fall plans are fluid in the instance we need to react to stricter health guidelines and recommendations all while continuing to provide a quality education."
'The most nutritious meal they'll get': How Mississippi districts are feeding kids in a pandemic
When schools first closed because of the pandemic, the most pressing issue for many districts wasn't figuring out how to continue education. "It wasn't, 'Oh my gosh how are we going to teach these kids?' It was, 'Oh my gosh these kids are going to starve without these meals,'" said Sunny Baker, co-director of the Mississippi Farm to School Network. Before coronavirus, schools were a dependable place for thousands of children to receive a free and nutritious breakfast and lunch. The pandemic made this service even more crucial, as school buildings closed this spring and the virus wreaked havoc on the state and the nation's economy, putting many parents' jobs and economic futures in peril. In Mississippi, 75 percent of children qualify for free or reduced meals, which means they live in households with income levels between 130 and 185 percent of the poverty line. Because of this, the majority of children are dependent on the free breakfast and lunch they get at school everyday. When schools abruptly closed, so did that food supply.
Document details U. of Alabama system plan to reopen campuses amid pandemic
The University of Alabama System trustees last Thursday voted to reopen campuses for the fall semester. Less than a week later, details for how the plan will be implemented are coming into focus. A 22-page document dated June 9 obtained by on Wednesday morning that outlines re-entry to the three campuses in Birmingham, Huntsville and Tuscaloosa. It touches on the various aspects of campus life from classrooms to dorms and athletics. It's a fluid guide that includes some concrete guidelines as well as recommendations for implementation. Amending the calendar is among the possibilities. Ending in-person instruction by Thanksgiving is on the table to avoid the likelihood of students bringing the virus back to campus after returning home. Limiting in-semester holidays and breaks is also on the table. All students, faculty and staff will be required to wear masks when social distancing cannot be achieved. That is subject to any changes in guidance from medical professionals and the CDC. The face coverings should be worn in classrooms, labs, communal office spaces and at gatherings "where social distancing is difficult to maintain."
U. of Alabama removes Confederate monument
Workers on Tuesday began removing a Confederate monument at the heart of the University of Alabama campus. The move came less than a day after UA officials announced three plaques honoring students who fought for the Confederacy will be removed. Linda Albritton and her three granddaughters were taking a bike ride on the Quad when they saw the workers. Her husband's grandfather was one of the students memorialized on the plaque. "We're happy about it, we had no idea it would move forward so quickly," she said. "We've been having a family discussion about the Confederate memorials, and we're very much advocates of moving forward from this past." The board of trustees also announced Monday that a group has been appointed to study the names of campus buildings named after slave owners and proponents of white supremacy. "It's just time," Albritton said. "Our culture has changed. We just don't need to memorialize people who were advocates of slavery. People who were were not only advocates of slavery, but also advocates of suppression with Jim Crow and all of the things that followed later."
Auburn University says it will 'avoid' firing employees because of COVID costs
The University said in a statement on Wednesday that it plans to "avoid layoffs" in the upcoming academic year despite the financial restraints that have come as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the letter, which was sent to Auburn faculty and staff from Ronald L. Burgess, the University's executive vice president, the pandemic has cost the school more than an estimated $27 million this year. Furthermore, Burgess said that the University is experiencing "lower net revenue in a number of our operations," like housing, dining and the on-campus bookstore. Many of the original costs incurred from the pandemic were related to the University's transition to remote instruction after spring break and their refunding of some room and board costs. As the University looks ahead to the upcoming academic year, Burgess said that the current financial model assumes that on-campus instruction will resume in the fall. Even though the University will be attempting to avoid layoffs, Burgess said in the letter that they will be taking "cost-saving measures" in the upcoming year.
Auburn history faculty publishes list of campus buildings named for white supremacists
With marches and protests against the historical systems of racial injustice taking place across the country, some local eyes have turned to the names on University buildings. On Monday, Kate Craig, Assistant Professor of History at Auburn, published an interactive map called "(Dis)placing White Supremacy at Auburn University" which include ten buildings across campus that were named for former Confederates or segregationists. "This map locates some of the buildings and places at Auburn named after Confederate officers, segregationists, and white supremacists," an information box on the map states. The first location on the map is Boyd Hall, which was named for the wife of David Boyd, an ardent secessionist and Confederate officer who briefly served as the president of Auburn. Other buildings on the map include Broun Hall, Broun Residence Hall, Comer Hall, Graves Amphitheater, Graves Hall, Langdon Hall, Samford Hall and Tichenor Hall. The last location on the map is Wallace Hall. Ultimately, it is likely that any name changes on campus buildings -- especially on prominent buildings like Samford Hall or Langdon Hall -- will have to be voted on by the Board of Trustees.
Middleton Library to be renamed, pending approval, LSU announces with black student leaders
LSU announced with black student leaders Wednesday evening that it will rename Middleton Library, pending board approval. The proposed change would include removing the bust of Troy H. Middleton and anything associated with his name in the building. The announcement came shortly after LSU leadership met with black student leaders for the fourth consecutive day, discussing ways to bring more racial justice to campus. The LSU Board of Supervisors next meets on June 19. "Our goal is to erase symbols of things that exemplify a racist past," LSU interim President Tom Galligan said. "Any student, or particularly a student of color, that has to go into any building which bears the name of someone not identified with progress and with racist traditions is to inhibit their education. They won't feel safe in that building." Middleton is a former LSU president, from 1951 to 1962, and his troubled legacy surrounds a letter on desegregation he wrote to former University of Texas Chancellor Harry Ransom in 1961 that said LSU still kept black students "in a given area."
U. of Tennessee to require face masks amid coronavirus
The University of Tennessee will be "open for business in August," as it continues to plan for on-campus classes to resume in the fall semester amid the coronavirus pandemic, but Chancellor Donde Plowman acknowledges campus life won't be business as usual. "They're coming back to a campus that's going to feel different. It's going to look different," Plowman said last week during the Big Orange Connect online event. Among the changes: Students, faculty and staff will be required to wear face coverings on campus, according to UT's guidelines for the fall semester included on its coronavirus information website. That includes wearing face coverings during class and while indoors or outside on campus, except within private spaces and controlled environments. The university ordered 100,000 face coverings to provide to students and employees. Students will be expected to incorporate a face covering as part of their campus routine, like they would a phone. In other words, don't leave your residence without it.
What will UGA fall semester look like? Lengthy plan details reopening options, rules
A 225-page plan for reopening the University of Georgia campus to students this fall outlines three scenarios, but tells faculty and students to be prepared even for alternatives defined by UGA task forces, such as changing the start and end dates for semester and altering class periods. The plan aims, in three phases, for a return to in-person instruction, for the most part, when fall semester begins in August. The report lists rules and guidelines for three possibilities -- starting classes this fall with social distancing; starting completely online; and moving temporarily online after classes begin in person again. The report details plans developed by nine "working groups" of administrators in nine areas: workplace and health safety; instruction (which included one faculty member); research; public service and outreach; student life; enrollment management; athletics; communications; and fiscal impact. The university could also see bills totaling millions of dollars directly related to limiting the spread of the coronavirus when classes resume --- such as $300,000 to buy two face coverings for every student, faculty member and staff worker; $350,000 in cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer for fall semester, and a thermometer for every student and worker for self-monitoring at a cost of $513,000. Other costs are unknown, such as barriers to limit exposure in reception or waiting areas.
U. of Arkansas, Fayetteville students get federal virus aid
The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville has distributed more than 95% of the approximately $7.7 million in federal emergency student grant aid provided as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, a university spokesman said. Data as of Saturday provided by UA shows that about $7.4 million has been distributed to 14,173 students. The student total includes 37 students who declined the grant aid and another who partially declined the aid, UA spokesman Mark Rushing said. Students receiving Pell grants -- federal aid reserved for those with exceptional need -- were to be given grants of $725 under UA's method and criteria for distribution announced May 4. Other UA students eligible for the grants have received amounts ranging from $300 to $625. The amount varies depending on their ability to pay for college as calculated on applications for federal financial aid.
Students urge more research into U. of Florida's history
Gabriella Paul flipped through notes she had written as a University of Florida student in 2018. One in particular caught her attention: "UF ties to slavery?" Paul, a UF journalism alumna, never imagined that one-inch note would turn into a research project uncovering UF's expansive history with slavery, she said. "I think that it is a testament to what a few people can do when they care about justice," Paul said. "If we can do something even as little as discovering what that history is and see it continue to live on, it would be the proudest moment I would have looking at my alma mater." UF Student Government passed a resolution, or a declaration of opinion, June 2 that asks the university to investigate its history. The resolution fostered a movement of almost 45 sponsors of the bill, or people who signed in support, including history professors, student organizations such as the Indigenous American Student Association and SG senators. However, the research began over a year before the resolution passed.
Sul Ross statue vandalized as debate rages about monument's place at Texas A&M
Texas A&M University employees covered the campus statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross with a tarp and fenced it off Wednesday morning after discovering it had been vandalized with graffiti overnight. The word "racist" and the acronyms BLM and ACAB had been painted in red at the base of the statue in the university's Academic Plaza. There also was red paint on the face and body of the statue along with a rainbow-colored wig. Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young issued a statement Wednesday morning regarding the matter: "We became aware of the incident this morning and have immediately begun to engage experts to assess damage to the statue. We ask our Aggie community for peaceful discourse." Ross was a Confederate general who later served as governor of Texas before becoming A&M’s president, where he served from 1891 until his death in 1898. He is credited with saving the struggling university in its early years, boosting enrollment and securing additional funding to improve infrastructure.
No early starts on U. of Missouri campuses
The University of Missouri will decide in October whether to bring students back to the system's four campuses after Thanksgiving or transition to online learning, President Mun Choi told a Board of Curators committee meeting Wednesday. No campuses are considering an early start to classwork, Choi said to the Academic, Student Affairs and Research & Economic Development Committee. He noted the overwhelming vote last week by the MU Faculty Council against changing the calendar. Later in the day, a meeting of the board's Health Affairs Committee heard from leaders of MU Health Care that it continues to record strong profits and has improved its cash position despite cutbacks in care and patient revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan rejected by the faculty council would have started classes on Aug. 12 instead of Aug. 24, with in-person classwork ending at the Thanksgiving break and online final exams from Nov. 30 to Dec. 14.
Colleges face evolving cyber extortion threat
Cybercriminals have found a new way to extort universities -- stealing sensitive information and then threatening to share it on the dark web unless a bounty is paid. Three institutions were successfully targeted by hackers using this approach in the past two weeks. The first was Michigan State University, then the University of California, San Francisco, and, most recently, Columbia College Chicago. None of the institutions have shared how much ransom was requested. All were targeted using malicious software known as NetWalker and given a deadline of six days to pay. Michigan State University stated publicly that it would not pay ransom to the hackers last week -- an unusual declaration, as many institutions do not choose to make their response to ransom demands public. On June 4, hackers reportedly began publishing the data they stole from Michigan State, making it available to download on the dark web. The decision not to pay the ransom has been "generally supported by the MSU community, especially with the understanding that paying such amounts perpetuates the practice," Ayala said. But students are understandably concerned about what information may have been stolen, said Brianna Aiello, vice president for academic affairs at the Associated Students of Michigan State University, the institution's student government organization.
$135 for a Plexiglass Shield: Purdue Asks for Donations to Fund a Safe Return to Campus
Purdue University is outlining how much money it needs for plexiglass barriers, Covid-19 protection kits for students, and lab masks when it returns to instruction in person this fall -- and it's using those estimates as a basis for a fund-raising campaign that's already collected over $100,000. "All funds raised will benefit the areas of greatest need across campus, equipping Purdue's leaders to move nimbly to address a range of anticipated and unanticipated needs resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic," the Protect Purdue Initiative fund-raising page reads. But the fund-raising campaign has sparked questions among faculty-member donors who received an email in Daniels's name on Tuesday. Stephen Martin, a professor of economics at Purdue and a donor to the university, received the Tuesday message at a personal email address, but promptly deleted it. He already gives a lot of money to the institution, he told The Chronicle, but "I wouldn't give money to support this in any event, because I'm not convinced it will work." Purdue administrators, Martin said, are "asking the faculty to take this program on faith."
Masks required and fewer parties (allegedly): What college will look like this fall
Students who move into Virginia Tech's residence halls for the fall term are on notice: They must wear face masks indoors except in their own bedrooms or bathrooms or when eating a meal. They also must follow a regimen of "physical distancing" from people and other measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. "We know there are new expectations to follow now, but to be together we need to work together for the safety of all in our campus community," the public university states in a housing contract rewritten to meet the pandemic moment. Those who don't sign it won't get a bed on campus. Those who flout the rules face possible eviction. Welcome to the weird new reality of campus life under a public health crackdown. As more colleges and universities announce how and when they will resume operations -- following the abrupt shutdowns of March -- most are making clear that students will share in the duty of protecting classmates, faculty and staff from a contagious disease that has killed more than 100,000 Americans.
Scientists strike for black lives, a more inclusive academia
Only 3 percent of bachelor's degrees in physics go to black students. In 2017 some fields, such as structural engineering and atmospheric physics, graduated not a single black Ph.D. On Wednesday, over 4,500 STEM faculty and students pledged to forgo research and meetings to instead focus on a day of action dedicated to protecting black lives and dismantling antiblack systems in academe and STEM. The effort was led by Particles for Justice, a group of physicists, and specifically spearheaded by Brian Nord, an astronomy and astrophysics professor at the University of Chicago and scientist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, a physics and astronomy professor at the University of New Hampshire. The group created the hashtag #Strike4BlackLives and was in dialogue with other groups including #ShutDownSTEM, #ShutDownAcademia and #VanguardSTEM, a web series featuring women of color in the sciences.
APLU Report Identifies Steps Universities & Policymakers Can Take to Broaden Efforts to Increase Diversity of STEM Faculty
A new report and accompanying guidebook from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) released today finds that far too many individuals from underrepresented backgrounds stop pursuing STEM faculty positions at critical junctures along the varied and complex pathways to the professoriate. The report, titled Strengthening Pathways to Faculty Careers in STEM: Recommendations for Systemic Change to Support Underrepresented Groups, outlines a series of steps higher education leaders, researchers, and policymakers can take to address these loss points to better attract, retain, and develop individuals from underrepresented groups in the STEM faculty. The new APLU analysis was supported through a National Science Foundation INCLUDES grant. Just 10 percent of STEM faculty at four-year institutions are from underrepresented backgrounds. Faculty diversity is particularly important because research shows students taught by individuals with similar backgrounds are more academically successful.
OP-ED: So, the goal is to get a new flag, right? Here's how to do it fast.
Alan Lange writes for Y'all Politics: Wanna change the flag? I'm with you on that. Have been for a long time. But here's what I know for a fact -- a majority of Mississippi voters and politicians aren't there. Yet. I think there are several issues regarding both strategy and tactics that folks, particularly Mississippians who aren't Republicans, need to understand. People who want to change the flag have to embrace the fact that not everyone in Mississippi who doesn't want to change the flag is a knuckle-dragging racist. I can't emphasize this enough. It doesn't mean there's not a subset of folks who want to keep the flag for the wrong reasons (because there are), but by vilifying everyone on the other side, it makes people dig in -- even those that might be willing to privately vote your way. The reason to change the flag is not that its supporters are racists; it's that it doesn't represent all of us. I won't get into the hate vs. heritage thing, but there are folks that feel like the more folks are "cramming something down their throat" the harder they should fight it.

Mississippi State's Justin Foscue, Jordan Westburg selected in MLB Draft
Mississippi State's double-play tandem were both drafted in the 2020 MLB draft on Wednesday night. Second baseman Justin Foscue was selected 14th overall by the Texas Rangers, while shortstop Jordan Westburg was drafted 30th overall by the Baltimore Orioles. Foscue becomes the 16th first round draft pick in program history. Westburg was the first pick of the Competitive Balance Round A. A junior from Hunstville, Alabama, Foscue played in 141 games during his three-year career with the Bulldogs. He is MSU's highest draft pick since Hunter Renfroe was picked 13th overall in 2013. "In just the last year, I know Texas has built an impressive stadium that's going to attract a lot of people," Foscue said in an interview post draft. "I've heard they've invested in a lot of technology to help player development, so that's one thing that stands out to me. I feel like with my game, I can always improve on something. ... I've heard a lot of great things and I'm excited to get to work."
Mississippi State infielder Justin Foscue picked by Texas Rangers in MLB Draft
What a rapid rise. Two years ago, Justin Foscue went 1-for-15 in the 2018 College World Series as Mississippi State was eliminated from Omaha in four games. Now, Foscue has joined the elite ranks of MSU Bulldogs who have been selected in the first round of the MLB Draft. The Texas Rangers selected Foscue, a Huntsville, Alabama, native who was undrafted out of Virgil Grissom High School, with the No. 14 overall pick in the draft Wednesday. Foscue's selection has a slot value of $4,036,800. Foscue became the 16th Mississippi State Bulldog to get picked in the first round in program history. Foscue also became the highest State draft pick since Hunter Renfroe went No. 13 overall to the San Diego Padres in 2013. Those are feats Foscue could only dream of.
Baltimore Orioles pick Mississippi State's Jordan Westburg in MLB Draft
The second member of Mississippi State's middle infield has come off the 2020 MLB Draft board. Shortstop Jordan Westburg was selected by the Baltimore Orioles with the No. 30 overall pick in the draft. Second baseman Justin Foscue was picked by the Texas Rangers with the No. 14 overall selection. Westburg, a junior from New Braunfels, Texas, started 113 of the 124 games he played at Mississippi State. He started his college career at third base and as a designated hitter before starting his final 82 games at shortstop. Westburg's slot value with the 30th pick equates to $2,365,500. At the plate, the right-handed Westburg got better every year. He had a batting average of .248 as a freshman but upped that mark to .294 as a sophomore. In 16 games as a junior, Westburg was hitting .317 before the season stopped because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mississippi State's Justin Foscue and Jordan Westburg taken in 1st round of 2020 MLB Draft
Mississippi State University was one of three schools to have two players picked in the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft. 2nd baseman Justin Foscue went to the Rangers at 14 and shortstop Jordan Westburg went to the Orioles at 30. This is the first time since Will Clark and Rafael Palmeiro that two Bulldogs were drafted in the first round. MSU commit Austin Hendrick from West Allegheny High School in Pennsylvania was drafted 12th overall by the Cincinnati Reds. Pitcher J.T. Ginn was in the running to go in the first round but will have to wait one more day. Rounds two through five take place on Thursday starting at 4 p.m.
Jim Ogletree thrilled his son Andy's PGA Tour debut is finally here
Jim Ogletree isn't sure how he'll follow his son make his first appearance on the PGA Tour, but he hopes he'll get to see something. Andy Ogletree, the Little Rock native and Union High School alumnus who captured the United States Amateur Championship last August, will make his PGA Tour debut Thursday at the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. He'll be participating in the first PGA event in three months as the Tour had been shut down since March and tournaments were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He was initially slated to make his PGA Tour Debut at the 2020 Masters, into which winning the U.S. Amateur gave him automatic entry, but his introduction was delayed when The Masters was postponed and the Tour was put on hold. Additionally, his senior season at Georgia Tech was ended when the NCAA canceled all spring sports. Due to rules and guidelines implemented for the Charles Schwab Challenge in regard to the coronavirus, Jim Ogletree cannot attend his son's debut as players are only allowed to bring their coach and caddie. He said he plans to keep track of Andy's progress in the tournament through live scoring, but hopes he'll get to see glimpses of him through a TV broadcast.
Michael Prather named new head men's basketball coach at Millsaps College
A Mississippi liberal arts college has a new, but familiar, coach at the helm of its men's basketball program. Millsaps College has named Michael Prather to lead the program, the school announced Tuesday in a news release. He replaces Jimmy Smith who resigned in April after three seasons at Millsaps for a post at Trinity University. Prather served as an assistant coach at Millsaps during the 2017-2018 season. For the past two seasons, Prather served in that same role at Louisiana College. He also worked for 10 years as an assistant at his alma mater, East Texas Baptist University. "I am grateful to Director of Athletics Aaron Pelch and President (Rob) Pearigen for the opportunity to continue to build Millsaps basketball into a consistent winner in the Southern Athletic Association," Prather said in the statement.
SEC Media Days to be conducted 'virtually' this year
SEC Media Days will take place in a virtual format for the first time this year due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, it was announced Wednesday. The annual football kickoff event had been scheduled for July 13-16 at the College Football Hall of Fame and Omni Hotel in Atlanta. The dates and times for the virtual SEC Media Days will be announced at a later date. "Conducting football media days in a virtual format will provide us the opportunity to manage the event in a healthy manner as we continue to be impacted by COVID-19, and will provide flexibility for our programs to adjust their preparation for the 2020 football season according to the preseason calendar that is expected to be expanded due to the cancellation of the spring football season," SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said. "We look forward to returning to our traditional media days format in 2021."
Ed Orgeron says LSU football players will register to vote: 'The guys want to take action'
LSU football coach Ed Orgeron spoke on WNXX-FM, 104.5, this week to discuss his players' long-awaited return to summer workouts, saying it "feels like football season." But before diving into football specifics, Orgeron said his team made a group decision to take action amid the worldwide call for change in the wake of George Floyd's death, a black man whose killing by a white Minneapolis police officer has sparked global protests and discussion about racism. "We had a great team meeting," Orgeron said. "I talked to them about specific stuff that's going on in the world today." He says he gathered a leadership committee consisting of 12 players and a few coaches to come up with a solution on how the Tigers plan to use their voice. "One of the solutions we came up with as a team is registering to vote," Orgeron said. "The guys want to take action. All of our players will be registering to vote online."
Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium gets $900,000 for upgrades
A state council has awarded a $900,000 grant to the Division of State Parks for renovations and upgrades at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. The Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council decided Wednesday to distribute $27.3 million in conservation and historic preservation grants to fund 22 requests from six state agencies, 11 colleges and universities, and the treasurer's office for fiscal 2021, which starts July 1, according to state records. Under a contract between the state and the University of Arkansas, a number of improvements must be made to War Memorial Stadium to accommodate future athletic events, include Southeastern Conference-sanctioned games, the parks division said in its grant request. The state already has spent $1.9 million renovating, upgrading and replacing the stadium's infrastructure, Parks, Heritage and Tourism Department spokesman Melissa Whitfield said Friday. "This [$900,000 project] will be the final phase to meet the requirements of the contract with the U of A," she said.
U. of Missouri System athletic leaders assure safe return
Whether fans will be able to watch the Missouri football team play from seats in Memorial Stadium is up to the Southeastern Conference, the NCAA and the Columbia-Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services. During a discussion of the fall academic calendar for all four university system campuses, MU athletic director Jim Sterk told a committee of the Board of Curators on Wednesday that a conference decision about attendance at sporting events is likely to come in late July. The discussion also focused on how to keep student-athletes safe as they return this summer to train for fall sports. Sterk said he's optimistic that fans will be on hand for games this fall. The coronavirus pandemic has subsided in many states but not all. Missouri, for example, is seeing fewer daily new infections than it did at the height of the pandemic but has seen the average daily case count increase for three consecutive weeks. "If we continue along that progress, I think you will see events in the fall as scheduled," Sterk said.
Memphis football expects only season tickets holders will attend games in 2020
The Memphis athletics department announced Wednesday that it is exploring capacity limits for football games this season, including the option that only season-ticket holders will be granted attendance at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. In a statement, Memphis said it doesn't "currently anticipate any single-game ticket sales for the 2020 season." Fans who have purchased season tickets or started a payment plan by June 30 will be given priority for attendance. Fans who attend games will be spaced out with at least 6 feet of separation according to guidelines set by the Tennessee Department of Health. Season tickets are available to purchase via the Memphis athletics department website, The university announced in April that fans can purchase season tickets on a payment plan over the next four months. Football players returned to campus Saturday and began a screening process that included being tested and quarantined during Phase Zero of the athletics department's plan to return all athletes to campus.
After continued criticism, Adidas announces another $100 million for black communities
After continued criticism, Adidas on Wednesday announced an additional $100 million investment in black communities. "It's time to own up to our silence: Black Lives Matter," the company tweeted, as part of a Twitter thread about the new commitment. The announcement came one day after employees and others criticized an initial $20 million commitment, which one employee described to Footwear News as "laughable." Criticisms of Tuesday's commitments included that the $20 million largely benefited sports-based organizations that Adidas already supported, the announcement didn't clearly provide economic opportunity to existing employees and it didn't include any acknowledgement of Adidas' ongoing problems. Adidas employees say the company hasn't done enough to support black employees and the black community despite public calls in advertising and on social media for eliminating racism.
Sports Chases a Changing America in Rush to Address Racism
Nascar's ban of Confederate flags being displayed at its events is the latest abrupt shift by sports in the tug of war over national and cultural symbols, as organizations rush to reposition themselves in a changing America. In ejecting the Confederate flag, Nascar became the first sports organization to cast out an icon associated by its critics with racism and defended by its users as a statement of pride in the American South. The move raises fresh questions for other professional sports leagues and teams about Native American team names, many of which have remained in place even in the face of long campaigns to drop them, as well as shows of support for local police, such as law enforcement appreciation days. The moves all indicate that sports leagues have seen a shift in America that they are scrambling to address. Leagues already knew that their domestic audience was changing ahead of the year that rocked American sports.
Former university leaders ask students to advocate for changing state flag
Mississippi sports columnist Rick Cleveland writes: Three long-time, high-ranking campus leaders at Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Southern Miss, all retired, are reaching out to former students and alumni, asking them to strongly advocate to change the Mississippi state flag. Sparky Reardon, Dean of Students Emeritus at Ole Miss; Jimmy Abraham, former vice president for student affairs and Alumni Association Executive Director at Mississippi State; and Joe Paul, Vice President for Student Affairs Emeritus at USM have written a letter to their former students, which they have published on various social media platforms. ... Paul says he is often introduced to alumni of the other schools as "the Jimmy Abraham or Sparky Reardon of Southern Miss." Both Reardon and Abraham say they have experienced similar introductions. Abraham, Paul and Reardon say they have collaborated often in the past, having shared goals and problems. "In the process we've become close friends," Reardon said. "I know how much Joe Paul is beloved at Southern Miss and the former State students I know would take a bullet for Jimmy Abraham. I'm proud to share this mission with the two of them."

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