Monday, June 22, 2020   
MSU recognized by Council for Advancement and Support of Education for outstanding development, fundraising efforts
As Mississippi State University nears the end of the most successful educational capital campaign in the state's history, the institution is being recognized by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) for outstanding efforts in fundraising and development. Selected to receive a 2020 CASE Educational Fundraising Award for Overall Improvement, MSU was one of only five universities nationwide to be named in the Public Research/Doctoral Institutions with Endowments Over $215 Million category. The Educational Fundraising Awards annually recognize exemplary development programs based on a blind review by a committee of experienced fundraisers. CASE Educational Fundraising Awards demonstrate the highest level of professionalism and best practice in fundraising. However, MSU Foundation President and CEO John Rush said that such achievements in educational advancement require more than just hard work­ -- they take heart too. "This award is a reflection not only of the dedication of our development staff, but also of the unwavering loyalty and support of our alumni and friends who continue to invest in the progress and betterment of our university," said Rush. "We are passionate about what we do here and it's inspiring to know that those who give toward MSU do so because they believe in the future of this great institution."
Mississippi State breaks ground on new Music Building
Construction on the new Music Building at Mississippi State University officially is underway after a groundbreaking June 15 just north of the campus's current Band and Choral Rehearsal Hall on Hardy Road. The $21 million project will provide a new space for the Department of Music, part of MSU's College of Education. Hoppy Allred with Allred Stolarski Architects in Ocean Springs is the design professional for the facility, and Hattiesburg-based Mac's Construction Company, Inc. is the general contractor. Tim Muzzi, MSU director of planning design and construction, said the project has been a longtime administrative goal and will allow the music department, apart from the band program, to be housed in one location. Trish Cunetto, director of development for the College of Education, said the new building will help the college recruit top music students and faculty. "Music is such a big part of many events held at MSU and with this new facility our students and faculty will have a state-of-the-art environment in which to collaborate, teach and practice," Cunetto said.
Construction begins on new Mississippi State music building
Construction has begun on a new Music Building at Mississippi State University in Starkville. The university says in a news release that the official groundbreaking took place Monday on the building, which is just north of the campus's current Band and Choral Rehearsal Hall. University officials expect construction of the $21 million, 37,000-square-foot facility to be completed by fall of 2021. The building includes classrooms, a choral rehearsal hall, faculty offices, sound-proof practice rooms, a recording studio, a lecture and recital hall, a student lounge and an administrative suite. Professor and Department of Music head Barry Kopetz said the new facility demonstrates to students, parents, alumni and campus visitors that Mississippi State highly values the arts.
MSU's Jeffrey Gore appointed to Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities federal advisory committee
Mississippi State University research professor Jeffrey Gore was recently appointed to the Environmental Protection Agency's Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Committee. He is one of 33 new committee members. Gore, an entomologist with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station and MSU Extension, is based at Mississippi State's Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville. Established in 2008, the FRRCC provides independent policy advice, information, and recommendations to the EPA administrator on a range of environmental issues and policies that are of importance to agriculture and rural communities.
MSU's Dallas Breen named president of Consortium of University Public Service Organizations
Dallas Breen, executive director of the John C. Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State, has been named president of the Consortium of University Public Service Organizations. Breen will serve a one-year term as president of the organization known as CUPSO, which supports university-based public service institutes in their efforts to assist state and local governments on a range of contemporary issues and challenges. In addition to leading the Stennis Institute, Breen serves as an assistant research professor in MSU's Department of Political Science and Public Administration. He is also an honorary research fellow with the university's Social Science Research Center. Breen uses his expertise in local and state government, human resources management, demography, survey research, methodology, and statistics to promote the health and well-being of Mississippi's citizens. Breen is a three-time graduate of MSU, earning a doctorate in public policy and administration from the university in 2014.
Mississippi State's Fred Carl Jr. Small Town Center gains architect
Mississippi State's Fred Carl Jr. Small Town Center is welcoming Architect and Community Planner Fran Pharis to its team. A 2008 Mississippi State University School of Architecture alumna and licensed architect in Mississippi, Pharis previously worked at several private architecture firms, as well as for a company specializing in water purification systems and with a government contractor. She recently assisted in teaching an MSU landscape architecture design studio course. Pharis officially began her new role as the research center's architect in March. While a student in MSU's School of Architecture, Pharis worked at the Carl Small Town Center and even volunteered there after graduating. "My time as a student worker impacted how I thought about communities and their need for good, thoughtful design," she said. "Design should be accessible to everyone and every community regardless of socioeconomic status, history and life circumstances."
4-H to host first-ever Virtual State Congress
With social distancing measures still in place, Mississippi 4-H'ers will participate in the state's first-ever Virtual State 4-H Congress in 2020 instead of the traditional in-person gathering. The event will be held online July 6-31 and is open to senior 4-H'ers who were 14 to 18 years old as of Jan. 1, 2020. The theme is "4-H: Inspires Vision." Each year, senior 4-H members come together from across the state to participate in the three-day event customarily held on the Mississippi State University campus. Participants engage in leadership and educational opportunities. Traditional contests held at State 4-H Congress will not be held on the virtual platform. 4-H'ers can sign up to participate in one or more educational modules. The four modules are Career Readiness, Agriculture and STEM, Leadership and Citizenship, and Healthy Living and Family Consumer Sciences. 4-H is the youth development program of the MSU Extension Service.
State legislators see hope for changing the state flag in light of NCAA ruling
The futures of the Mississippi state flag and Mississippi State University athletics -- and by extension, the city of Starkville's financial health -- are intertwined and in the hands of the state Legislature for the foreseeable future. The NCAA, the governing body of college sports, ruled Friday that Mississippi institutions will not host regional events of any kind until the Confederate battle emblem is removed from the state flag. "There are times when you have to be on the right side of an issue, and I think they are (at the NCAA)," Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill said. "I'm very sad that outside pressure is now coming to bear on something we should have taken care of ourselves." MSU sporting events bring in revenue for the city via its food/beverage and hotel-motel sales taxes, and tourism raises the city's profile, so the NCAA's ruling means Starkville could "lose in multiple ways," Spruill said. "COVID is kicking our butt, and the flag is creating problems that sadly shouldn't be an issue," she said.
As Symbols of the Confederacy Fall, Activists Say Mississippi's Flag Should Be Next
In the long, passionate debate across the South over rooting out Confederate symbols, Mississippi's flag remains one of the most conspicuous holdouts -- with the battle flag of the Confederacy vividly embedded at the heart of the state flag. And for decades, many in the state have resisted recurring efforts to change it, seeing in the flag a proud reminder of their ancestors' bloodshed in fighting for Mississippi. Now as Confederate monuments and symbols are being furiously toppled yet again, the debate over the Mississippi flag has been reinvigorated. Supporters of removing the battle flag, once and for all, say the national ferment set off by the death of George Floyd has provided a level of momentum they have not had before. "When recruiting against other regions for employers, image matters," John Hairston, the president and chief executive of Hancock Whitney, a banking company with branches across the region, wrote in an essay published in The Sun Herald newspaper in Biloxi. "We need a brand that showcases our capable work force, competitive cost of living, and superb quality of life. Simultaneously, we should be mindful that there are images which create division and distraction. One of those images is the current state flag."
Delta Council latest to disown state flag, urging it be changed quickly
In another sign that momentum is building among civic institutions for ridding the Mississippi flag of the Confederate battle emblem, the Mississippi Delta Council has concluded the flag must change to reflect today's Mississippi. Otherwise, Mississippi is left with a flag that reflects slavery and a rebellion against the United States, contend the Council and other civic and business organizations arguing for change. In particular, neither the state's economy nor its reputation can afford to maintain such unpopular symbolism, the Council said after a vote of its executive committee. The Delta Council issued a special release Wednesday announcing the executive committee supports adopting a new state flag. The change, the committee said in the press statement, would be "a timely and important message that would help the economy and the reputation of the state."
Lawmakers consider adopting second state flag or letting voters decide
As pressure mounts to change the state flag, which features the Confederate battle emblem, legislative leaders spent the day Friday discussing several options, including adopting a second official state flag or letting voters decide the current flag's fate. Speaker of the House Philip Gunn and Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, as well as top ranking lawmakers on both sides of the building, met to discuss the issue on Thursday, according to several people with direct knowledge of the meeting. Multiple sources on Friday told Mississippi Today that one option lawmakers are considering is some type of referendum to allow a vote of the people on the issue. The exact details of that potential referendum, including when the vote would occur and what exactly would be placed on the ballot, remain undecided. A second option being discussed is a possible two-flag solution. In the past, some legislators have discussed retaining the current flag but also officially adopting another banner. Under that approach, governmental entities could then choose to decide which banner to display.
Leaders consider letting voters decide state flag. Are they sidestepping?
Let voters decide. This has long been a refrain from many elected state leaders when they're asked about stripping the Confederate battle emblem from the Mississippi state flag. It's been echoing through the halls of the state Capitol in recent days as Mississippi, the state with the highest percentage population of African Americans, is again in the national spotlight for having a symbol tied to white supremacy in the canon of its official banner. While a popular vote on the flag might sound like a nod to egalitarian ideals, for many state lawmakers -- and the last three Mississippi governors -- calling for a referendum on the flag or noting that one was already held in 2001 has been something of a dodge. It appears to be a way to sidestep taking a clear stance on an issue that has roiled the state for decades. Many state officials and political observers have noted that holding another public referendum on the flag would garner Mississippi much terrible worldwide publicity, no matter the outcome.
No more 'Stennis flag': Creator removes name from popular alternative to Mississippi flag
As debate about Mississippi's state flag rages on, many residents have adopted the Stennis flag as their personal state flag. It appears on front porches, bumper stickers and is even an option on Mississippi's license plates. But the creator of the flag has asked that it be renamed, noting the attachment of her last name could evoke pain and discomfort. Laurin Stennis, who first created the flag alternative six years ago, announced on social media Sunday that she is stepping away from being the name behind the flag, writing, "In a continued effort to be of service, I will be stepping away from this endeavor as I understand the hurt and potential harm my last name may cause." The name has now been changed to the "Hospitality Flag." Mississippi is known as the "Hospitality State." The flag has 19 blue stars in the center on a white background, circling a larger blue star, representing Mississippi as the 20th state. Red vertical bars are on either side of the stars. Stennis previously told the Clarion Ledger the bars represent Mississippians' "passionate differences" on the flag issue.
Analysis: Doctor calls Parchman conditions 'deplorable'
Living conditions in the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman are "are sub-human and deplorable in a civilized society," according to a physician who has evaluated the prison on behalf of inmates who are suing the state. Dr. Marc Stern specializes in correctional health care and has evaluated dozens of jails, prisons and immigration detention facilities in the United States. Conditions at Parchman "are the worst conditions I have observed in any U.S. jail, prison or immigration detention facility in my 20 years working in this field," Stern wrote in papers that attorneys filed June 8 in federal court. "To say that the Mississippi Department of Corrections warehouses human beings at Parchman would be insulting to proper warehouses," wrote Stern, who is a professor at the University of Washington School of Public Health and was previously the lead physician for the Washington State Department of Corrections.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms vetted for potential Joe Biden VP pick
As Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms confronts a global pandemic and unrest over police brutality at home, she has steadily emerged as a legitimate contender for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden's running-mate. Bottoms is one of a handful of potential picks undergoing vetting from Biden's campaign, which has reached out to several Bottoms associates, according to multiple people in the state Democratic Party. Backgrounding vice presidential candidates is highly confidential, requiring extensive financial disclosures and lengthy interviews. The party sources asked The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for anonymity because they are not authorized to talk about the process. No Georgia Democrat has played a more prominent role promoting Biden's campaign than Bottoms, a first-term mayor who endorsed him in July, campaigned for him in Iowa before, and worked on his behalf in spin rooms after Democrat debates. Biden has promised to select a woman as his running mate, and is under increasing pressure to select an African American woman.
Kamala Harris Is Seen As The Clear Front-Runner To Be Joe Biden's Running Mate
More than a month before former Vice President Joe Biden's stated deadline for naming his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris is seen as the consensus front-runner to become the Democrat's vice presidential nominee. Speculation about running mates can be wrong, of course. Ultimately, the choice is Biden's and Biden's alone -- just as it was Barack Obama's call to tap Biden in 2008. But Harris is often the first name mentioned by Democrats inside and on the edge of the Biden campaign's orbit. She topped a recent national poll asking respondents for their preferred Biden running mate. And, for what it's worth, she's the runaway favorite on online betting sites. That's all despite the fact that Harris's own presidential campaign was a disappointment, having never even made it to the Iowa caucuses. Still, Harris allies see the first-term California senator and former state attorney general and San Francisco district attorney as bringing needed demographic balance to Biden's ticket.
Mississippi university presidents call for flag change
Joint statement from the institutional executive officers of Mississippi's eight public universities: Mississippi's public universities respect the NCAA's position as it relates to the State of Mississippi's flag. Several years ago, our universities recognized that the Mississippi state flag in its current form is divisive and chose to lower the flag on our campuses. Today, we are committed to continuing to do our part to ensure Mississippi is united in its pursuit of a future that is free of racism and discrimination. Such a future must include a new state flag. In keeping the current state flag, Mississippi will potentially forego the millions of dollars in economic impact that NCAA postseason events bring to our state. This is unfortunate. Our student-athletes and coaches, who devote so much of their time, talent, hard work and dedication to their sports and our universities, will potentially be negatively impacted through no action of their own. This is more than unfortunate. We are looking forward to a time when our state flag represents the full and rich diversity of Mississippi, a diversity that is reflected in our student-athletes, our student bodies, and the friends and fans of our athletics teams. We look forward to a time when Mississippi's state flag unites Mississippians, rather than divides us.
The W will celebrate summer graduates virtually
or the health and well-being of students, faculty, staff and the community, Mississippi University for Women will recognize summer graduates during the 2020 Virtual Summer Commencement Exercise set for Saturday, Aug. 1 at 10 a.m. "When we announced our plans for a traditional ceremony later this summer, it was pending the status of the public health emergency. While we eagerly want to recognize the achievements of our graduates on our campus, we must recognize that current health guidelines limiting gatherings will not allow us to do so at this time," said Scott Tollison, provost and vice president for academic affairs. "We are excited to recognize our summer graduates through a virtual commencement and when appropriate, we remain committed to holding in-person commencement exercises for our spring and summer graduates." The ceremony will broadcast from a link on the university's homepage.
The W announces modified fall academic calendar
Mississippi University for Women has announced modifications to its fall 2020 academic calendar for the health, safety and well-being of the campus and broader community. The W's fall academic calendar has been condensed with the semester beginning Monday, Aug. 17 and ending Tuesday, Nov. 24, prior to students' Thanksgiving holiday. The modified schedule also eliminates the traditional Fall Break for students in October. Semester exams will begin Wednesday, Nov. 18 and end Tuesday, Nov. 24. Public health guidelines will determine future plans for large gatherings, including Fall Commencement. Further decisions concerning the fall semester are being finalized by the Campus Renewal Task Force.
Oxford Sees COVID-19 Crisis as ER Visits Up Statewide; State Blames Fraternities
Mississippians are not doing enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs warned at yesterday's press event. Dobbs acknowledged the concerns of Dr. Bhagyashri Navalkele, University of Mississippi medical director of infection prevention and control, that even the current level of hospital usage spelled impending disaster for Mississippi if it continues into the fall. "The scenario is very possible that someone has a heart attack, and they're gonna show up at a hospital, and there's not gonna be a ventilator, because they're all taken," Dobbs said with audible tension bubbling in his tone. "This is now. This is the summer. This is the slow time." Dobbs blamed today's COVID-19 realities on noncompliance with social-distancing rules. Oxford has seen a large COVID-19 outbreak this week, suspected to be spreading among summer fraternity rush parties, which Dobbs suggests are hosting an illegally large number of attendees. The state health officer was visibly frustrated with the lack of adherence to distancing guidelines.
IHL voted yes. Now what?
Shortly after the state college board voted on Thursday morning authorizing the University of Mississippi to relocate its Confederate monument, students, professors and community members grew angry and disappointed as details of the university's plans circulated. Included on the last page of the 156-page proposal that Chancellor Glenn Boyce sent to IHL were two renderings of the renovated Confederate cemetery with the relocated monument. These images fueled the outrage among community members who support relocation. The university's proposal listed the Associated Student Body (ASB), the Ole Miss Alumni Association, the UM Foundation, Ole Miss Athletics Foundation and all three university Greek councils among those who had provided "written endorsement" for the plan. However, ASB leadership released a statement saying they were never made aware of these plans "to beautify the Confederate cemetery," and if they were, they would not have approved. Carl Tart, the university's first homecoming king, was among the alumni who took to social media to express their disdain. In a thread on Twitter that included the university's renderings of the updated cemetery, Tart said he could no longer help the university recruit African American students if "this shrine commemorating the Confederacy is erected."
UM students, faculty fume over plans to renovate Confederate cemetery
What began as a day that felt victorious for everyone who wanted the Confederate monument relocated from its prominent position at the University of Mississippi quickly turned confusing and disappointing. After the Board of Trustees of the Institutions of Higher Learning voted on Thursday morning to relocate the Confederate monument at the University of Mississippi, a rendering of what appeared to be a plan for the relocated statue began circulating. The rendering depicts the monument in the center of a broad brick pathway on a manicured landscape surrounded by in-ground lighting that would presumably illuminate it. "There's a bench in the picture. Are you going to sit down on the bench and look at it? That's not education, that's glorification," said Josh Mannery, Associated Student Body president at UM. "I think that somehow if this ends up being true they managed to make the relocation worse."
UM community objects to 'Confederate shrine' after seeing monument relocation plans
After numerous students and organizations at the University of Mississippi worked for more than a year to ensure that the 29-foot Confederate monument standing in the center of Mississippi's flagship university was relocated to a more secluded space, several of those students now say the university is using the relocation process to glorify the Confederacy. On Thursday morning, the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning voted to allow the university to relocate the 40,000 pound monument, which has stood in the Circle since 1906. The approved proposal was supposed to be a culmination of the university's long history of protests and organizing by students to try and encourage university leaders to distance themselves from Confederate iconography on campus. But what at first was a feeling of triumph quickly turned to anger and disappointment when more details of the University Cemetery's renovation were revealed.
U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith welcomes $1.27 million for UMMC and USM to increase health workforce
U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) on Friday reported the award of more than $1.27 million to the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) and the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) to support the training of health workers to serve in rural and underserved communities. UMMC and USM can use the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) grants to provide financial and professional support to dentists, nurses, and students as they pursue careers in health care settings, particularly in high-needs and disadvantaged communities. "A strong health workforce is more necessary than ever as this coronavirus pandemic is showing us. UMMC and USM have very strong and established programs that can help our state meet the demand for qualified health care professionals," said Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over HHS and related agencies.
Co-Lin, all Mississippi community colleges to open in fall
All 15 community colleges around the state will resume traditional classes in the fall. According to a statement released by the Mississippi Association of Community Colleges, all schools will resume regular operations by the time August rolls around. This will include all three campuses of Copiah-Lincoln Community College. As for Co-Lin, they plan to reopen in the fall, but not without a plan. If necessary, the college can switch to an online format in the case of another COVID-19 outbreak. "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," said President Jane Hulon. "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. 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."
Auburn President Jay Gogue promises hard look at campus, building names
Auburn University has joined the growing list of schools moving to assess who has been memorialized on campus and who hasn't. Student Ashley Henton has started a petition on to rename Wallace Hall two weeks ago. She has attracted more than 11,500 signatures so far to remove segregationist Alabama Gov. George Wallace's name from the building. University President Jay Gogue has promised Auburn followers there will be constructive action to address the concerns. "While we all have a lot of questions, it is clear that something has to change, both in society and on our campus," Gogue said. "As your president, I commit that we as an institution will seek meaningful action to confront the pain, fear, systemic racism and injustice faced by the black community." Gogue reiterated to campus faculty Tuesday his plans for a task force to address campus culture concerns.
Auburn Panhellenic announces revised recruitment plan
The Auburn University Panhellenic Council posted a revised recruitment schedule on its social media pages on Tuesday, June 16. There are three options for the new sorority recruitment schedule, which will be held the week of Aug. 8-15, according to Auburn Panhellenic. Option one, the preferred option, will have the ice water tea and philanthropy rounds done virtually with the sisterhood and preference rounds done in-person. Option two will take place in the event of an elevated risk of COVID-19 on campus, in which the ice water teas, philanthropy and sisterhood rounds will be done virtually and the preference round will be done in-person. Option three will take place in the event of immediate risk of COVID-19 on-campus, in which all rounds will be done virtually, except for Bid Day. In any of these three cases, the council has made the decision to not allow parents, family, or guests to attend Bid Day as done in the past.
Alabama scientists say supercomputer is new Saturn V that could launch a cure for COVID-19
Huntsville scientists are using a supercomputer to search for natural compounds that can fight the COVID-19 virus on a mission they liken to a Moon shot. "We are looking at molecules that can block the so-called 'spike proteins' that look like a crown around the virus under a microscope," University of Alabama in Huntsville researcher Dr. Jerome Baudry said this week. "The spike proteins are why the virus is called a 'corona virus' or 'crown virus.'" The project has "a very ambitious goal, not a lot of time to achieve it, a lot of pressure to do so and the need for very powerful new technology to do it," Beaudry said. In this case, the technology is Hewlett Packard Enterprise's Cray supercomputer in Texas. The analogy is that it is "as fast as the Earth's entire population doing 20,000 calculations every second" with storage capacity for 45 years of high-definition videos. Machines this special are given names, and this one is Sentinel. The work in Huntsville isn't the only scientific attack on COVID-19, and Beaudry said the virus has "the scientific community coming together around the world in a kind of synergy of effort and good will."
Should students be required to take Race and Racism? UF says no.
Despite propositions, The Good Life is not going anywhere. Sarah Klein, a 22-year-old UF alumna, emailed UF President Kent Fuchs on May 31 urging the university to change the freshman required course from IDS1161: What is the Good Life to ANT3451: Race and Racism. Despite UF students' support of Klein's proposal, UF decided Race and Racism will not become the required course, according to Angela Lindner, Assistant Provost for Undergraduate Affairs. Instead, UF is already in the process of transitioning from one required course to many courses from which a student can choose, Lindner said. As of June 20, Race and Racism is not listed as a Quest option for Fall 2020, according to the UF Quest website. In her letter, Klein pointed out the need for UF to address its underrepresentation of Black students on campus. A demographic breakdown of the university community reveals that non-Latinx white students make up 56.62 percent of the student body, while Black students make up only 6.97 percent.
Texas A&M AgriLife study targets contamination hotspots in food processing
Pathogens such as E. coli and salmonella can survive in many areas throughout the food supply chain, but a Texas A&M University professor is working to solve that problem. Sapna Chitlapilly Dass, meat science research assistant professor in the A&M College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, told AgriLife Today that her study is focused on identifying "hotspots" of contamination throughout the food processing industry by finding out where pathogens survive so that they can be prevented or treated. By tracking hiding locations, Dass told AgriLife Today, the hotspots can be eliminated before they infect food. Testing for the research will happen at A&M, Stanford University and the USDA-Agricultural Research Service U.S. Meat Animal Research Center's pilot meat processing facility in Nebraska. Cliff Lamb, head of the Department of Animal Science, told AgriLife Today that he and others are excited about what the research will reveal that could improve food chain safety.
U. of Missouri picks new diversity officer
Maurice Gipson, vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, has been hired as the new vice chancellor for inclusion, diversity and equity at the University of Missouri. Gipson starts his new position July 15. At Arkansas State, Gipson increased minority student enrollment for three consecutive years, increased community partnerships by 50 percent and developed strategic partnerships with 10 historically Black colleges and universities as a graduate school pipeline, a news release from the university stated. He also taught undergraduate history courses there. Gipson was chosen from among three finalists that also included Tamra Minor, chief diversity officer and assistant vice president for the office of diversity and inclusion at State University of New York-Albany, and NaTashua Davis, who has been interim vice chancellor. Gipson is expected to receive a doctorate in history in December from the University of Mississippi in Oxford. He holds a doctorate in law from Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, La. and a master's degree from Missouri State University in Springfield.
Differing views as states consider whether colleges should test all students for COVID-19
Last month, a group of college presidents and higher education leaders in Connecticut considered the question of how the state's governor should handle the return to campuses of thousands of college students in the fall. Some obviously will need to be quarantined because of fevers, coughs or other signs of COVID-19. But what worried the college leaders most were infected students who feel fine but still could spread the disease. Many higher education leaders, including Senator Lamar Alexander, the Republican from Tennessee who chairs the Senate's education committee, have said testing is key to not only containing the spread of the virus as campuses reopen but to reassuring students it's safe to come back. Despite the concerns of Connecticut college leaders and warnings from public health officials, including the top infectious disease expert at the University of California, San Diego, no state thus far has required colleges to test everybody. One factor in why states aren't going that far is cost. As colleges move up their fall schedules, with many now planning to reopen in August, they face uncertainty about how many tests will be available as well as an evolving view of who should be tested.
In person, online classes or a mix: Colleges' fall 2020 coronavirus reopening plans, detailed
Michigan State University President Samuel Stanley says he knows coronavirus will spread if students come back to campus in the fall. While safety is "paramount," managing this risk is a chance worth taking for MSU, he said. "The one thing that's going to be really important, then, is confidence in our students, faculty and staff and their willingness to abide by a number of the things we're going to be asking them to do on campus," Stanley said. Like Stanley, most college administrators are mulling over how to restart their programs, with no end in sight for the public health crisis. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, which is tracking more than 860 institutions' plans, two-thirds of colleges are planning to welcome back students in person, while only 7% are planning to hold classes only online. Many other colleges have yet to make a decision. Their approaches are as diverse as the roughly 3,000 four-year colleges and universities that span the United States.
Working paper models COVID spread at university
Questions about the fall -- whether to open campuses, how to deal with residence halls -- have been swirling since instruction first went remote in March. Researchers are now trying to answer some of those questions, or at least, to provide some suggestions. A new working paper from professors at Swarthmore College and the University of Pennsylvania models the spread of COVID-19 in a large university setting to examine what mitigation efforts are most effective against the spread of the disease. "It's very anxiety-producing to read lots of op-eds where people are doing their best to sort things out," said Philip Gressman, a mathematics professor at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the co-authors of the paper. "Every time I read one, I just want to know, where's the science? We just weren't seeing it, so we decided we would jump in." The model examines a hypothetical large university of 20,000 students and 2,500 instructors who interact daily for 100 days. The mean class size in the simulation is 24 students, with 90 percent of classes having 50 students or fewer.
'Way Too Fast': As Purdue Pushed to Reopen, Parents and Alumni Urged Caution
Purdue University was quick to declare its intent to reopen after halting classes in person because of the coronavirus. But after that spring announcement, parents and alumni urged the administration to put on the brakes. Mitch Daniels, Purdue's president and a former governor of Indiana, has been one of the loudest and earliest voices in favor of reopening campuses in the fall. He wrote in April that the university was "determined not to surrender helplessly" to the virus. Such a stance has received a big megaphone. Daniels was invited to the White House with roughly a dozen other presidents to talk about reopening, and he spoke at a Senate committee hearing about Purdue's plans. But as Purdue publicized its ambitious plans, the administration was receiving skeptical feedback from parents and alumni -- much of it mirroring the anxiety that the faculty and others nationwide feel about returning to their campuses.
Colleges reverse admissions offers
Three years ago, Harvard University rescinded offers of admission to 10 students who participated in a highly offensive Facebook group called "Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens." The group included jokes about abusing children and the Holocaust and insulting remarks about members of various racial and ethnic groups. Last year, Harvard rescinded an offer to Kyle Kashuv, a survivor of the Parkland, Fla., shootings who is pro-gun and pro-Trump. He lost his spot at the university over racist writings when he was 16 -- comments he said no longer reflected his views. The incidents at Harvard attracted considerable attention and debate, but much of the discussion ignored a simple fact: Harvard is not the only institution to rescind offers of admission. It turns out that these actions are rare but not unheard-of, and they are more common at private than at public institutions. Four percent of admissions directors at independent colleges said their institutions had rejected students or revoked acceptances at least four times in the last two years, according to an Inside Higher Ed survey of admissions deans in 2017. And at 14 percent of private colleges, that has happened at least once.
Republicans let Trump spend more than Obama
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: In December 1985 President Ronald Reagan signed the Gramm-Rudman Act mandating a balanced federal budget by fiscal year 1991. "The American people expect their elected officials to take action now to reduce the size of government and to set upon a reasonable and equitable course to eliminate federal budget deficits," the conservative, Republican president said. It took until 2001 and it happened under President Bill Clinton, but Gramm-Rudman started a fiscal discipline process that eventually brought the budget in line. Then came President George W. Bush and fiscal discipline went out the window through unfunded war spending, Medicare expansion, and TARP. After Bush, the Tea Party pushed Republicans back on board the fiscal discipline wagon, e.g. in 2009, all Republican members of the House voted "no" on President Barrack Obama's $800 billion Great Recession bailout bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. That was followed by years of Republicans lambasting Obama for huge deficits as his administration coped with the economic devastation of the Great Recession. The influx of Tea Party Republicans in Congress helped Republicans take control of the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014. Now comes President Donald J. Trump and fiscal discipline is once again out the window. (Where is the Tea Party?)
Lawsuits attempt to put Mississippi in mainstream on felony voting, Legislature avoids issue
Bobby Harrison writes for Mississippi Today: In the coming days, the Legislature most likely will take up bills to restore the right to vote to felons -- one felon at a time. It is a strange process -- a holdover from the 1890s' racially charged Mississippi Constitution -- that gives the Legislature the authority to restore voting rights. But it is done on a case-by-case basis. It takes a bill for each person whose rights are restored. Often the felons getting their rights restored are those who have some type of political connection or the wherewithal to navigate the maze that is the legislative process. For instance, in 2019 the Legislature restored voting rights to Patrick Joseph Fick of Harrison County, who was convicted of crimes almost 30 years ago. Fortunately, Fick's friend was a relative of state Rep. Richard Bennett, R-Long Beach, who agreed to file the bill restoring his rights. If Fick did not have connections to Bennett, he said in a 2019 interview he would not have known about the legislative process to restore voting rights.
Real movement on the Mississippi flag issue... and what everyone needs to understand
Alan Lange writes for Y'all Politics: First the good news. There is a real effort in the Mississippi legislature that has the involvement of House and Senate leadership to make changes to the state flag. The bad news is that it remains a steep uphill climb. First, let's talk about where the issue actually is from a public opinion perspective. Chism Strategies came out this week with a poll immediately gushed over and totally embraced without question by media outlets, both local and national, that said the issue is now a coin flip and is essentially within the margin of error. This issue of flags and even largely confederate symbolism (monuments and the like) are still "underwater" with Mississippi voters. If you had bet on Chism's polling the last three years for political guidance in the state, you'd be broke. Even the Mississippi Today/NBC/Survey Monkey poll in 2018 said that Mississippi voters were against revising confederate monuments symbols by a 65/33% margin. Real, unbiased polling says that public support for flag change has been a 56 no/44 yes issue for a while and in light of recent events, it's probably trended down to mid single digits but still marginally negative. A really strong funded and organized campaign focused on rural voters in Mississippi might be successful. In other words, changing the Mississippi flag is not a slam dunk by any measure from a voter perspective.

NCAA targets Mississippi flag with latest move
The NCAA's Board of Governors put its clout behind a change in Mississippi's state flag with a dramatic move on Friday morning. That's when the NCAA's top leadership panel expanded its "Confederate flag policy" to prevent any championship events from being played "in states where the symbol has a prominent presence." Most notably, the NCAA's latest move would exclude the state's major college baseball and softball programs – Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Southern Miss – from hosting NCAA regional or super regional playoff games. Also, first- and second-round NCAA women's basketball playoff games would be off the table until the flag is changed. Not holding those kinds of well-attended events in the state will hit the Hattiesburg, Oxford and Starkville communities in the pocketbook. Mississippi State has hosted 14 NCAA baseball regionals and three super regionals, most recently in 2019. Ole Miss has hosted nine regionals, most recently in 2019, and three super regionals. Southern Miss has hosted regionals twice (2003, 2017). MSU's women hosted games in the first two rounds of the NCAA basketball tourney for four-consecutive years beginning in 2016.
University officials, fans react to NCAA ruling on Confederate flag, hosting postseason play
Collegiate athletics in the Magnolia State are feeling the effects of the Mississippi flag debate. Friday, the NCAA announced that championship hosting opportunities earned on merit would no longer be allowed to be held in Mississippi until the state flag, which displays the Confederate battle emblem in its upper left corner, is changed. "Again, it is unfortunate that our hard working student-athletes, staff and coaches could be potentially affected by something beyond their control, but we understand this is much bigger than athletics," MSU Athletic Director John Cohen said in an official statement Friday. "As previously stated, we will continue support for this long overdue change." Last season, MSU's Super Regional matchup against Stanford brought roughly 25,000 fans to Dudy Noble Field over the course of the two-day event. The MSU women's basketball team has also hosted a first- and second-round NCAA tournament regional every season between 2015 and 2019 and was slated to do so once more before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled this year's event.
NCAA backs up SEC by taking stand against state flag of Mississippi
The ball is in the Mississippi Legislature's court. If the state of Mississippi does not amend its flag, the ball will not be on the courts or fields of Magnolia State universities during postseason play. A day after SEC commissioner Greg Sankey released a statement saying the conference's championships will not take place in Mississippi until the Confederate emblem is removed from the state flag, the NCAA put forth an even harsher punishment. In statement Friday morning, the NCAA prohibited postseason events of any kind from taking place in Mississippi until the symbol of the Confederacy is permanently removed from the flag. The announcement came on Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the emancipation of slaves in the United States. Postseason events include baseball regionals and super regionals, of which Mississippi State hosted both a year ago at Dudy Noble Field. Representatives from Mississippi's eight public universities, including Mississippi State University president Mark Keenum and Ole Miss chancellor Glenn Boyce, released a joint statement Friday afternoon. The representatives respected the NCAA's postseason ban.
NCAA Won't Hold Championship Events Where Confederate Flag Is Flown
The National Collegiate Athletic Association became the latest organization to take action in condemnation of the Confederate flag, saying Friday that it would not hold championship events in states where it "has a prominent presence." According to a statement by the NCAA Board of Governors, the ban primarily affects Mississippi, whose flag features the 13 white stars and blue bars of the Confederate flag in the top left corner. The announcement from the NCAA comes amidst a racial reckoning in college sports, sparked by Floyd's killing that prompted college athletes to speak out against injustices within their locker rooms. Of the two Mississippi SEC schools, Mississippi State has hosted the most NCAA championship events in recent years, in large part because of its dominant women's basketball program, runners up in the NCAA championship in 2017 and 2018 and frequent host of first and second-round NCAA tournament games.
Business owners react to ban on hosting NCAA postseason events
Business owners in Starkville say the loss of hosting NCAA championship games will hurt the economy if the state does not change its flag. The NCAA Board of Governors released a statement Friday morning, saying they've expanded the association's confederate flag policy. Mike Tagert the President and CEO of the Greater Starkville Development Partnership released this statement Friday saying: "As Mississippi's College Town, Starkville knows all too well of the importance of college athletics. First and foremost, the flag should be changed for moral reasons and to be inclusive of all Mississippians. Secondly, the revenue generated by tourism helps provide for education, healthcare, and first-responder services in our community. As an economic and community development organization, there is no question that the current state flag is a hinderance to our city and our state. The Greater Starkville Development Partnership is renewing its longstanding position for the removal of the state flag as well."
Following athletes, NCAA takes aim at Confederate flag
Emboldened by the athletes it serves, the NCAA is taking another stand on a social issue. The NCAA on Friday expanded its policy banning states with prominent Confederate symbols from hosting its sponsored events, one day after the Southeastern Conference made a similar declaration aimed at the Mississippi state flag. Mississippi is the only state currently affected by the policy. The expanded ban -- supported by all eight public universities in the state -- means that even when sites of NCAA events are determined by performance, as they are in baseball, women's basketball and softball, Mississippi schools will not be permitted to host. In a joint statement, the presidents and chancellors of Mississippi's public institutions vowed to work to change the state flag. "In keeping the current state flag, Mississippi will potentially forego the millions of dollars in economic impact that NCAA postseason events bring to our state. This is unfortunate," they said. "Our student-athletes and coaches, who devote so much of their time, talent, hard work and dedication to their sports and our universities, will potentially be negatively impacted through no action of their own. This is more than unfortunate."
NCAA, Mississippi universities pressure state to drop flag
The NCAA and Mississippi's public universities took a stand against the state for its flag that features the Confederate battle flag. The state won't be able to host championships and could lose out on millions of dollars if it chooses to keep its flag as-is. The NCAA, in a statement on Friday, announced that its Board of Governors expanded the association's Confederate flag policy to "prevent any NCAA championship events from being played in states where the symbol has a prominent presence." The only state the policy affects is Mississippi, which features a Confederate battle flag in the upper left corner. If Mississippi keeps its flag, it could potentially forego millions of dollars in economic impact that NCAA postseason events bring to the state, said the leaders of Mississippi's eight public universities in a statement. The universities sided with the NCAA and urged the state to get a new flag. They said they decided to lower the flag on their campuses years ago because it's "divisive." "We are looking forward to a time when our state flag represents the full and rich diversity of Mississippi, a diversity that is reflected in our student-athletes, our student bodies, and the friends and fans of our athletics teams," the university presidents wrote. "We look forward to a time when Mississippi's state flag unites Mississippians, rather than divides us."
Why dozens of athletes asked NCAA to further address Mississippi flag
Brian Adams was one of the most sought after high school basketball players in the country in 1996. A McComb native and a top 20 recruit, he was recruited by schools across the nation but knew he wanted to play ball in his home state. Once the recruiting process started, he became more aware of the Mississippi state flag, which contains the Confederate battle emblem, and how fans flew it proudly in some arenas during games. At the University of Mississippi, players wore jerseys with the phrase "Rebels" adorned across their chests. Those things shaped his decision on where to play basketball. "A lot guys really wanted to stay and put on for the state of Mississippi," said Adams, who ultimately chose to attend Alcorn State University. "I think that flag is a reason why a lot of guys left the state of Mississippi to go play elsewhere." Adams and 30 other current and former student athletes at Mississippi colleges and universities sent a letter on Thursday to NCAA leadership requesting the organization ban colleges in the state from hosting all postseason games until lawmakers change the state flag. A day later, the NCAA, which oversees college athletics for the nation, announced it would ban all postseason college athletics events from being hosted in Mississippi until the flag changes.
How Mississippi State's Tyson Brown grew during his son's cancer battle
Tyson Brown is built to be strong. A big, burly frame enables Brown to instruct others to be strong as Mississippi State's strength and conditioning coach, too. But five years ago, Brown had to look to others for strength. It was a rare moment in which he couldn't find it on his own. He searched for the sort of strength you can't gain by squatting with a barbell suspended over your back or pushing one repeatedly toward the ceiling while laying on a bench. It's a type of strength that's attained through fellowship and fondness, not ferocity and force. Brown's son, Brody, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2015, just a few days after his third birthday on Dec. 1. Brown likened the words flowing from the doctor's mouth to a "gut punch." Shocked, he needed some space. He walked into the hallway at the oncology unit at Sacred Heart Children's Hospital in Spokane, Washington, for a breather. This one required much more recovery time than a typical break between sets in the weight room. He looked around and saw fathers and sons, mothers and daughters who were all going through a battle he just learned his family would have to fight as well. He reentered the room with the look of a man who had already changed.
Mississippi State's Tyson Carter signs with Lavrio Aegean Cargo (Greece)
Tyson Carter is officially starting his professional basketball career. He's not short on confidence, either. "I thought it was a good opportunity to make a name for myself on a professional level," the former Mississippi State standout guard told The Dispatch. Carter signed with Lavrio Aegean Cargo, a basketball team located in Greece, last week. "It came about because they watched the season last year, and I thought it was a good opportunity," Carter said. The Starkville native is expected to report to the team's training camp sometime in August. Despite living in Starkville all his life, Carter said he doesn't anticipate being overwhelmed by living in a foreign country. "Not really, because I've been planning for this moment for a while," Carter said. "I knew I couldn't stay forever. I've dreamed of being a professional, so I knew that I was going to have to leave soon. I don't know too much about Greece; I've never been there. But it should be pretty fun. There might be a little bit of a language barrier right away, but I don't think it'll be too big of an adjustment."
Dak Prescott to sign Cowboys' franchise tender, work on long-term deal
The Dallas Cowboys will have quarterback Dak Prescott under center this season, even if the two sides are unable to come to terms on a long-term contract. Prescott plans to sign his exclusive $31.4 million franchise tender by Monday, a person with knowledge of the negotiations confirmed to USA TODAY Sports. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. Prescott's decision was first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter. The two sides have until July 15 to agree to a long-term contract. If they are unable to come to terms, Prescott will be obligated to report to training camp on time and play this season under the stipulations of the exclusive franchise tag.
JSU's Ashley Robinson named FCS ADA president; first African-American to assume role
The Division I Football Championship Subdivision Athletics Directors Association (FCS ADA) has selected Ashley Robinson, vice president and director of athletics at Jackson State University (JSU), to serve as President for the 2020-21 membership year. "It's an honor to serve as the President of the FCS ADA for the upcoming year," said Robinson, who begins his second year at the helm at JSU. "Our highest priorities remain giving voice to our members while supporting both the incredible sport of football and the FCS brand. We are dedicated to building upon the outstanding work of the FCS ADA and ensuring our student-athletes have the first-class academic and athletics experiences they so deserve." Robinson is the first African American to serve as FCS ADA President. In addition to Robinson, the following athletics directors will serve as FCS ADA Officers for the 2020-21 membership year: 1st Vice President Nicki Moore, director of athletics at Colgate University; 2nd Vice President Tom Michael, director of athletics at Eastern Illinois University and 3rd Vice President Milton Overton, director of athletics at Kennesaw State University.
Jackson State men's basketball manager 'Snacks' wins ESPY
"Snacks" now has a new trophy to add to his collection. Former Jackson State men's basketball team manager Thomas "Snacks" Lee won the "Can't-Stop-Watching Moment" category during Sunday night's ESPY Awards. It is the university's first ESPY. "It makes me feel good," Lee told he Clarion Ledger. "Anytime I can bring good publicity to the program, it's a blessing." Lee was watching the virtual award show on ESPN when he saw his highlight got the highest amount of votes in the category. His friends joined him in the celebration. "It was high energy in here," Lee said. "Everyone was into it, everyone was excited, so it was definitely a special moment." Lee became an instant celebrity on March 2 when Jackson State coach Wayne Brent put the team manager in a game on senior night after years of dedicated service. Lee sunk a deep 3-pointer from the Southwestern Athletic Conference logo, which sent the crowd into a dizzy. Lee's basket went viral and received attention from the likes of Kevin Durant and DeMar DeRozan. His highlight appeared on "SportsCenter," "Good Morning America," and "TODAY with Hoda & Jenna."
LSU may require masks in Tiger Stadium this fall, athletic director Scott Woodward says
LSU may require fans to wear a mask inside Tiger Stadium this fall, athletic director Scott Woodward said Friday, one of many precautions the school has considered to limit the spread of coronavirus. As LSU approaches crucial decisions on football season next month, Woodward said masks are "definitely in play" during an appearance on The Paul Finebaum Show. He said LSU will listen to guidance from medical and public health experts. Woodward said he wears a mask in public, and he recommended everyone to do the same. "This isn't a political statement," Woodward said. "This is a health statement. We're trying to save lives here. "I think about my parents. I think about elderly folks and people with immune systems that are compromised. We have to do these things to curtail this pandemic. The more we deal with it, the better chance we're going to have to have an unaffected football season." LSU will reach a decision on football season and whether or not fans can enter Tiger Stadium in mid-July, Woodward said during a town hall with The Advocate earlier this month.
Dozens of Football Players Test Positive for Covid-19, Giving Colleges a Possible Preview of Fall
As colleges scramble to decide on their fall-reopening plans, one aspect of campus life could provide early insight on what works and what doesn't: football. The first phase of the big-time college football season -- voluntary workouts -- has begun, with several campuses this month welcoming players back in phases. Major sports conferences and the National Collegiate Athletic Association have laid out guidelines for how colleges can restart athletic operations even as the pandemic surges in some parts of the country. Dozens of athletes at several colleges have already tested positive for Covid-19, presenting a preview of what the early days of a fall semester could look like. But at some campuses, the very testing procedures that have produced positive diagnoses are more rigorous -- because of the limited number of students involved -- than those likely to be deployed in the fall. That disparity raises questions about whether colleges are prepared to contain sudden outbreaks.
College football programs hit by COVID after resumption of voluntary workouts
The coronavirus is hitting big-time college football teams, which were allowed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association to begin voluntary practices June 1. Louisiana State University, the defending national champion, confirmed that at least 30 players are in quarantine because they tested positive for COVID-19 or were found to have contact with individuals who tested positive, according to WAFB Channel 9, a CBS affiliate. Some players were quarantined after visiting LSU-area bars, which have been linked to an outbreak of COVID cases. The spate of positive tests involving college football players coincided with a warning from the United States' leading infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, that football may not be possible this fall, at least not without isolation of the players in their own "bubble." The NCAA did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday. The association recently approved a football preseason plan that allows required workouts to start in July, according to ESPN. The first games of the season are scheduled to be played Aug. 29.
Student-athlete experience at mid-majors could drastically change over COVID-19
Ashley Lahey plays on picturesque courts overlooking the ocean, works out in a fully stocked gym and travels to the most competitive tournaments. The Pepperdine women's tennis player has coaches who know her game better than anyone, teammates who support her and a strength and conditioning staff that builds her up. "There's very few places in the world where you get to train with that kind of environment," said Lahey, the No. 1-ranked NCAA women's tennis player last season. As athletic departments across the nation brace for the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, student-athletes are caught in the crosshairs of potentially significant budget cuts. For mid-major schools already without lavish resources to spend on multi-million-dollar facilities or chartered flights, trimming could quickly turn into amputating. "We have smaller resources, but the people are great," said Lahey, a three-time Intercollegiate Tennis Assn. All-American. "The way we use our resources is what makes us really special."
Mike Bianco: State flag debate is 'bigger than baseball, hosting regionals'
Mississippi sports columnist Rick Cleveland writes: Mike Bianco, the winningest active coach in the three major sports in the SEC, is a transplanted Mississippian. Born in New Hampshire and schooled in Florida and Louisiana, Bianco moved to Oxford and Ole Miss 20 years and 671 Ole Miss baseball victories ago. He and his wife Camie have raised their five children in Mississippi. It is home. Bianco, recently named National College Baseball Coach of the Year for the abbreviated 2020 season, just signed a new contract that would keep him at Ole Miss through 2024. Bianco would much prefer to be here under a new state flag. "This is bigger than baseball, bigger than hosting NCAA regionals," Bianco said in a phone conversation Saturday. "The old flag needs to go. We need a change." ... Bianco is right. The flag issue is far bigger than baseball, affecting the way outsiders view Mississippians and how we feel about ourselves.

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