Monday, June 29, 2020   
Mississippi State ranks fourth in U.S. academia for supercomputing power
Mississippi State University is again among the nation's elite in supercomputing power. MSU's Orion supercomputer is the fourth most powerful academic data center in the U.S., according to rankings released this week by Orion is ranked at No. 68 on Top500's list of the world's most powerful computing systems. Managed by MSU's High Performance Computing Collaboratory, Orion was installed on campus last summer with the support of $22 million in grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "MSU has a longstanding history of being a leader in high performance computing, and I am proud that we continue to be ranked among the best in the country and the world in this area," MSU President Mark E. Keenum said. "More importantly, I'm proud that our world-class researchers, along with numerous distinguished scientists in the national government, are using Orion to drive innovation, solve critical problems and create new opportunities in our state as we collaborate with government and industry partners. I'm so very pleased that high performance computing is an area where Mississippi excels."
MSU Dean of Libraries Frances Coleman retires after a 51-year career that transformed MSU's libraries, collections
After a career that spanned over a half-century and witnessed the services and offerings of Mississippi State University Libraries evolve from traditional to digital to virtual, MSU Dean of Libraries Frances N. Coleman is retiring from the university June 30, MSU Executive Vice President and Provost David R. Shaw announced June 15. Shaw said MSU College of Arts and Sciences Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Thomas P. Anderson will serve as interim MSU Dean of Libraries while a national search for a permanent dean is conducted. Coleman, responsible for the university library system that includes Mitchell Memorial Library and branch libraries at MSU's College of Veterinary Medicine, School of Architecture (Starkville and Jackson campuses) and MSU-Meridian, led unprecedented expansions of facilities, technologies and programming throughout the system. "Dean Coleman provided visionary leadership for our MSU Libraries that not only improved library services on our campuses, but in libraries across Mississippi. My mother was a small-town librarian, and she and all her colleagues knew and respected Frances Coleman," said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. "On her watch, our libraries became larger, stronger, more technologically accessible, and more sophisticated in terms of our museums and special collections. In short, Frances has left indelible fingerprints on our library system, and I am profoundly grateful for the outstanding work she has done for our university."
CAST Releases New Commentary on Economic Impacts of COVID-19 on Food and Agricultural Markets'
The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) and the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) have partnered together on a new paper, "Economic Impacts of COVID-19 on Food and Agricultural Markets." This publication contains insights from 29 experts and is now available for download. COVID-19 disrupted nations around the world in 2020. People have had to alter their typical lifestyle, and the measures put into effect to reduce the spread of COVID-19 have had an immense impact on economic activity, employment, food consumption, and workplace environments. The paper's authors discuss the following topics: macroeconomics, trade, supply chain, consumer behavior, food service/grocery, meat processing, forestry and wood products, local food systems, food waste, food insecurity, major commodity crops, agricultural finance, agricultural labor, rural health care, and research and outreach priorities. Keith Coble, the department head for agricultural economics at Mississippi State University, said, "Between food producers and consumers lies a complex and often-ignored food supply chain. It is ignored in part because it has consistently provided safe and plentiful food supplies." Most of the time people's attention is on food-borne illnesses instead of looking at shutdowns that could affect the labor supply.
MSU stargazers Angelle Tanner, Claire Geneser part of new planet discovery
A Mississippi State physics and astronomy faculty member and graduate student are among authors of a paper published in the journal Nature June 24 announcing their discovery of a new planet orbiting a nearby star 31.9 light-years away. The discovery positions astronomers to increase their understanding of how stars and planets form and evolve. A research team that includes MSU Associate Professor Angelle Tanner and MSU physics doctoral student Claire Geneser of Argenta, Illinois, utilized NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, known as TESS, and the recently retired Spitzer Space Telescope to find the Neptune-sized planet. Tanner said the research team still is collecting data on the AU Mic system to see if other planets may be detected and to measure the orientation of the spin and orbital axes of the star and planets. "It has been an exhilarating time, and I have been lucky to get to enjoy a discovery like this right now," Tanner said. "I am reinvigorated to push the boundaries of these observations and find more Earth-like planets to better appreciate where we come from and if we are alone."
Isolation vs. quarantine: Know the difference
Knowing the difference between quarantining and isolating is critical in preventing the spread of COVID-19. On June 15, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported the COVID-19 case total exceeded 20,000, with more than 900 deaths. Rising along with those numbers is the seven-day average of cases by date when the patients became sick. MSDH data indicate an average of around 300 cases per day through the first half of June compared to approximately 250 daily at the beginning of May. Mississippi State University Extension health specialist David Buys said the most important message to take from any data maps and charts is to continue practicing social distancing as much as possible while following all health guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Buys said isolation is required for those who test positive for COVID-19 and are known to be contagious, while quarantine is recommended for those who have possibly been exposed to the virus.
MSU President Mark Keenum praises lawmakers on flag decision
Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum issued this statement on the recent decision by the state Legislature to retire the existing state flag: “I heartily commend the Mississippi Legislature for their vision, commitment, and courage in voting to give our state a new flag in which all Mississippians can feel unity and pride. I am also appreciative for the support of our governor in this endeavor. Our elected officials provided a thoughtful, engaged audience to university leaders and to our MSU contingent who traveled to Jackson to respectfully advocate for change. Yes, a new flag promises to make a difference in how the rest of the world views our state -- but I believe the real value of this change will be in the way that we view ourselves. The Bulldog family played a significant role in bringing this change about. Whether among our lawmakers or as citizens engaged as advocates at the Capitol, on the phone, or on social media, Mississippi State was effective in joining a sweeping coalition of Mississippi stakeholders in making this victory possible. Now, we must continue the long and complex work of effecting meaningful racial reconciliation, ensuring social justice, and providing opportunities for economic prosperity for all Mississippians.”
Reactions on lawmakers' vote to replace Mississippi state flag
Mississippi politicians, university presidents and the Southeastern Commissioner are speaking out after a historic vote led to the removal of the Mississippi state flag. Mississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum also released a statement regarding the bill's passing. "I heartily commend the Mississippi Legislature for their vision, commitment, and courage in voting to give our state a new flag in which all Mississippians can feel unity and pride. I am also appreciative for the support of our governor in this endeavor. Our elected officials provided a thoughtful, engaged audience to university leaders and to our MSU contingent who traveled to Jackson to respectfully advocate for change. ... Now, we must continue the long and complex work of effecting meaningful racial reconciliation, ensuring social justice, and providing opportunities for economic prosperity for all Mississippians."
Mississippi surrenders Confederate symbol from state flag
Mississippi will retire the last state flag in the U.S. with the Confederate battle emblem, more than a century after white supremacist legislators adopted the design a generation after the South lost the Civil War. A broad coalition of lawmakers -- Black and white, Democrat and Republican -- voted Sunday for change as the state faced increasing pressure amid nationwide protests against racial injustice. Mississippi has a 38% Black population, and critics have said for generations that it's wrong to have a flag that prominently features an emblem many condemn as racist. Former Mississippi Gov. William Winter, who is now 97, served on then-President Bill Clinton's national advisory board on race in the 1990s and was chairman of the Mississippi flag commission in 2000. Winter said Sunday that removing the Confederate symbol from the banner is "long overdue." “The battle for a better Mississippi does not end with the removal of the flag, and we should work in concert to make other positive changes in the interest of all of our people,” said Winter, a Democrat who was governor from 1980 until 1984.
Mississippi Legislature Passes Bill to Change State Flag
The legislature in Mississippi, the last state with the Confederate battle emblem on its flag, voted by a wide margin Sunday to change the state's flag after 126 years. The bill now heads to Republican Gov. Tate Reeves, who has pledged to sign it, saying the argument over the flag had become as divisive as the flag itself. The Republican-dominated House of Representatives and Senate voted 91 to 23 and 37 to 14, respectively, on Sunday to replace the flag. The flag causes pain for many people and has cost Mississippi jobs. "If you care about economic development," the current flag needs to go, said Sen. Briggs Hopson, a Republican. The bill would require the current flag to come down within 15 days and would charge a state agency with devising a plan for a "prompt, dignified and respectful" removal. The measure would also create a nine-member commission to design a replacement, which must include the words, "In God We Trust."
Mississippi lawmakers vote to remove Confederate emblem from flag
With a pair of Sunday afternoon votes capping off weeks of tense expectation and speculation, the Mississippi Legislature has now approved a bill to replace the state's flag and only the governor's action awaits before a banner first adopted in 1894 is furled. Following a vote by the state House, the state Senate took the matter up in short order with a majority of both chambers backing legislation to retire the current flag and commission the design of a new flag to go before voters in a ballot referendum this November. Before the House vote, Northeast Mississippi's Rep. Jerry Turner, R-Baldwyn, announced he was one of those who would support the bill after previously voting on Saturday to fulfill past campaign promises. Turner expressed hope that the bill will initiate "a destiny called unity" for the state. "This has been something most of us have had to wrestle with over the years," Turner said. "It's been a long haul." Across the two chambers, Turner wasn't the only legislator from Northeast Mississippi to vote differently on Saturday than on Sunday.
Mississippi lawmakers vote to change state flag: No Confederate emblem
The Mississippi flag with its Confederate battle emblem is expected to come down across the state in the coming days as lawmakers voted overwhelmingly Sunday to choose a new banner. House Bill 1796 removes the current flag and begins the process of picking another design. The bill now goes to Gov. Tate Reeves, who has pledged he will sign it. The House voted 91-23 and the Senate 37-14 to approve the flag-change legislation. The historic vote followed days of heated debate and pressure from business and religious leaders, government officials, colleges and athletes to remove it. The NCAA and SEC said championship events would not be held in the state until the flag changed. Mississippi's is the only flag to include the Confederate battle emblem in its design. Sen. Angela Turner-Ford, who heads the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus, said future Mississippians will look back on Sunday as a day of progress. "Yesterday I was emotional. Now, I am relieved," Turner-Ford said. "I'm happy, but I'm also sad for those who have engaged in this struggle, who had to live under this flag from 1894."
After flying 126 years, the Mississippi state flag is removed by lawmakers
Lawmakers voted on Sunday to remove the Mississippi state flag, the last in the nation featuring the Confederate battle emblem, more than 126 years after it was adopted. The House and Senate passed a bill on Sunday that will immediately remove the state flag, and Gov. Tate Reeves said he would sign the bill into law. A nine-person commission will be appointed to develop a single new design by September, and Mississippi voters will approve or reject that design on the November 2020 ballot. In the meantime, Mississippi will have no official state flag. The historic vote brought tears to the eyes of many lawmakers. Cheers echoed in the halls of the Mississippi State Capitol shortly after the final votes were cast, and many Mississippians who visited the building to witness the moment openly wept. "We are better today than we were yesterday," said Speaker of the House Philip Gunn, who authored the bill that passed on Sunday. "Today, the future has taken root in the present. Today, we and the rest of the nation can look on our state with new eyes, with pride and hope." "We are not betraying our heritage," Gunn continued. "We are fulfilling it."
The Daily 202: Mississippi removing Confederate icon from flag shows power of pressure campaigns
Walmart stopped flying Mississippi's flag at its stores. The NCAA announced that no championship events would be held in the state so long as the Confederate battle emblem remained prominently in its flag, and the Southeastern Conference said it would consider following suit. A star running back at Mississippi State, Kylin Hill, threatened last week to transfer if the state did not change its flag. The Southern Baptist Convention joined the calls supporting change. The pressure campaign worked. Both GOP-controlled chambers of Mississippi's legislature voted overwhelmingly on Sunday to pass a bill to become the final state to get rid of the Confederate icon in its flag. A commission will design a new flag, which voters will decide whether to accept with a ballot referendum in November. Some conservative legislators explained changing their position on the hot-button issue by warning that the Magnolia State might otherwise miss out on economic development opportunities.
How local and state health care systems are preparing with numerous outbreaks increasing COVID-19 cases
The number of COVID-19 cases was already trending upwards when the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reported the highest single day increases this past week. Thursday saw the highest single day total, with 1,092 new cases. Previous highest totals also occurred in that time period, with 611 cases reported Tuesday and 550 cases reported Friday. These combined numbers outpaced a combined five-day total of 1,646 total cases from June 17-21. In an interview with the Daily Journal, State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs said MSDH has seen a steady increase over the past few weeks, but several factors have led them to anticipate increased numbers. A recent outbreak in Lafayette County among those ages 18 to 24, consistent with college students, was tied largely to fraternity parties and other social gatherings. Additionally, Lafayette County and Oktibbeha County, home to the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State respectively, have some of the largest case numbers within the region even despite the fact that students who are temporary residents are not currently counted in overall case counts. As of June 25, Oktibbeha County has 488 cases, and Lafayette claims 303 cases. "When we look at Ole Miss and State, I understand kids are wanting to get back to normal, but it's just not time for normal," Dobbs said. "We just do not need to be meeting in large groups and we don't need groups meeting together where you're in close proximity for any period of time where you can spread it to one another."
Some Mississippi ICUs are full. Doctors worry what that means for surging COVID-19 cases
As coronavirus cases and hospitalizations surge in Mississippi, health care professionals worry what that will mean for hospitals -- some of which have intensive care units that are filling up or already full. University of Mississippi Medical Center's ICU has been full since February, said Dr. Alan Jones, UMMC's assistance vice chancellor for clinical affairs. In addition to providing care for normal ICU illnesses and trauma, such as heart attacks, strokes and car accidents, the hospital now also has a unit full of COVID-19 patients, who oftentimes require complex and resource-intensive care. "We're very concerned," Jones said. If the number of COVID-19 cases continue to ramp up, near full or already full hospitals will be stretched thin and it could hamper the level of care they provide to all patients, he said. He pointed to New York City as an example of what could happen: "People lined up outside and they can't get in, hospitals providing care in parking lots....Those are just really scary situations to look at .... We don't want to get to that point."
Mississippi reports 675 new COVID-19 cases, 20 deaths
The Mississippi State Department of Health on Monday reported 675 new cases of COVID-19, the second highest single-day total of cases reported so far. The state also reported 20 new deaths as a result of the virus. Of those deaths, 18 occurred between May 5 and June 22 and were identified from death certificate reports. Clay, Oktibbeha and Union counties in Northeast Mississippi each reported one new death. The total number of confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases now stands at 26,567 with 1,059 deaths attributed to the virus. As of this week, MSDH reported an estimate of 19,388 people are presumed to have recovered from the virus. In Northeast Mississippi, the following counties reported new cases: Benton (2), Calhoun (4), Chickasaw (11), Clay (2), Itawamba (4), Lafayette (7), Lee (8), Marshall (10), Monroe (2), Oktibbeha (11), Pontotoc (1), Prentiss (3), Tippah (3), Tishomingo (1) and Union (5).
WHO warns coronavirus pandemic is speeding up as countries ease lockdown rules: 'The worst is yet to come'
The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating around the world as many countries that reopened their economies see a resurgence in Covid-19 cases, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said Monday. "Although many countries have made some progress, globally, the pandemic is actually speeding up," he said during a virtual news conference from the agency's Geneva headquarters. "We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives, but the hard reality is that this is not even close to being over." The virus has infected more than 10.1 million people around the world and killed more than 502,000 people so far, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. More than 60% of daily new cases came from countries in the Americas on Sunday, according to data published by the WHO. More than 23% of the 189,077 new cases reported globally on Sunday came from the U.S., according to the WHO's data.
Billy Mounger, philanthropist, 'architect' of today's Mississippi Republican Party, dies at 94
Billy Mounger, philanthropist, West Point graduate and a main architect of the modern Republican Party in Mississippi, died on Friday. He was 94. "With the passing of Billy Mounger, our state and nation have lost a patriot, a fighter, a job creator, a philanthropist and so much more. He will be remembered as one of the most consequential leaders in the development of Mississippi's modern Republican Party," U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi said in a statement. Mounger, who passed away at St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson, was a stalwart supporter of his alma matter, the United States Military Academy, or West Point, and invested heavily in programs that would help others make their way there, including the academy's civilian prep school program. Mounger was inspired to contribute his time and resources when he realized cadets from Mississippi were behind their peers, said Steve Guyton, longtime friend and military representative for Wicker and U.S. Rep. Michael Guest.
Supreme Court strikes down abortion clinic restrictions in Louisiana, a defeat for conservatives
A narrowly divided Supreme Court struck down state restrictions on abortion clinics Monday for the second time in four years, signaling that its conservative shift under President Donald Trump has not eliminated a deep split over abortion rights. The court ruled 5-4 that a Louisiana law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals would unduly burden women. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the four liberal justices in the result. The court reached the same conclusion in 2016 regarding a Texas law, but since then Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh had succeeded retired Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, giving abortion opponents hope for even more substantial restrictions. Associate Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the main opinion for the four liberal justices. He agreed with a federal trial court that found Louisiana's law "poses a 'substantial obstacle' to women seeking an abortion" and "offers no significant health-related benefits."
A Sun Belt time bomb threatens Trump's reelection
The explosion of Covid-19 cases in Sun Belt states is becoming another albatross for President Donald Trump's reelection hopes -- and creating a new opening for Joe Biden and Democrats in November. Republican governors in Florida, Arizona and Texas followed Trump's lead by quickly reopening their states while taking a lax approach to social distancing and mask-wearing. Now each of them is seeing skyrocketing coronavirus caseloads and rising hospitalizations, and Republican leaders are in retreat. It's hard to overstate the gravity of the situation for Trump: Lose any one of the three states, and his reelection is all but doomed. It's still too soon to tell how the pandemic will affect voters in the three states. While Real Clear Politics lists Texas as a "toss up," Trump has led two of the last three polls in the reliably red state. Arizona was trending toward Democrats before the pandemic and polls show Biden with a small lead there, but Democrats expect a battle.
Chancellor's Advisory Committee on History and Context clarifies its involvement in university's relocation plans
Since the state Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees approved the university's request to relocate the Confederate monument, members of the university community have spoken out against certain details of the plan, including the addition of headstones to the cemetery and the creation of a memorial for the U.S. Black Troops from Lafayette County that fought for the Union Army. Chancellor Glenn Boyce has pointed to recommendations that were issued by the Chancellor's Advisory Committee on History and Context (CACHC) on June 16, 2017, in an effort to explain these details. Now, the original members of the committee have issued a statement for release through The Daily Mississippian to clarify their involvement with the university's plan for Confederate monument relocation.
USM president says changing state flag a 'historic' first step
The University of Southern Mississippi's president said Sunday's historic vote by the state Legislature to retire the state's current flag provides an opportunity to move Mississippi forward. "This is a time for each of us to listen to one another with empathy and civility, and to build on the foundation this decision lays for us to move forward, together," USM President Rodney Bennett said in a statement released Sunday evening. "If we do not, permanent positive change will continue to elude us, and we will only perpetuate the divisiveness of the past." The current flag, which features a Confederate battle emblem, has flown over the state for more than 120 years. The bill would create a committee to oversee the design of a new flag, which once completed, would be presented to Mississippi voters to approve or reject. "I am excited about what this decision could mean as an opportunity to remove barriers to advancing our state's growth and development at national and international levels," Bennett said in his statement.
Southern Miss cancels commencement set for August
Class of 2020 graduates from the University of Southern Mississippi are facing yet another delay in getting their diplomas. The university said Friday that it was forced to cancel graduation ceremonies that had been scheduled for August amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and an increase in infections in Mississippi. "We extend our sincere apologies to our Class of 2020, and we share in the disappointment of this difficult decision," according to a tweet from the university. In late March, the university rescheduled the spring commencement for Aug. 20 and Aug. 21 because of the growing coronavirus outbreak, WDAM-TV reported. USM said 2020 graduates will now be invited to walk in the next set of commencement ceremonies that can be hosted on campus.
School districts making tentative plans to reopen buildings for 2020-21
Mississippi Department of Education released a set of guidelines on June 8 for districts to consider for their reopening plans. MDE presented three options: a traditional school schedule, in which students are physically present at school but follow a strict set of health and safety rules; a virtual schedule, in which teachers will present their entire curriculum online for students to learn at home as they did from March to May; and a hybrid schedule, which combines online and in-person instruction. Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District will issue its own survey to parents in July. Administrators want to make the final decision about reopening schools "as close to August as possible," Superintendent Eddie Peasant said, because parents' willingness to send their children to school can change as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases changes daily. Classes will start Aug. 6 for SOCSD and CMSD. Allison said LCSD will "start around the same time" but has not set an exact date yet.
LSU updates fall calendar: Fall holiday canceled, no in-person classes after Thanksgiving
LSU's fall semester will start on Aug. 24 as planned, but there will be several major changes to the schedule because of the coronavirus, officials announced Friday evening. "Since we can't predict what the pandemic may look like this winter, we need to take precautions now and address the calendar early so that our employees and students can plan ahead," a statement from the university said. The fall holiday from Oct. 8-9 will be canceled. Then, after the Thanksgiving Holiday between Nov. 25-27, students will not return to campus and all remaining classes will be held online. Exams will also be conducted remotely. Decisions concerning residence halls, December commencement and campus events are forthcoming, university officials said.
Texas A&M's new student conferences move online to limit COVID-19 risks
New student conferences at Texas A&M University are in full swing -- and for the first time, they're completely online. The two-day orientation program required of all new undergraduates typically draws thousands of incoming students and their relatives to College Station, but due to safety concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the university decided in April to transition to a virtual experience to prevent spreading the novel coronavirus. Emily Ivey, director of New Student and Family Programs, which coordinates the NSCs, said about 10,500 freshmen and 2,200 transfer students are registered this year. The numbers, she said, are similar to past years. There are about 700 students in each conference. So far, Ivey said, the move online has been smooth, with the large majority of people attending their required online sessions. She noted that the effort of providing helpful materials for new Aggies has remained constant through the change.
U. of Missouri opts to keep landscapers
After two weeks of employees picketing to keep their jobs and a show of support from the Faculty Council, the University of Missouri decided it will keep 31 landscapers after reviewing bids from contractors. A news release announcing the decision was issued just as the latest demonstration by members of Laborer's Union Local 955 was getting underway outside Jesse Hall. The union said it would not disrupt university operations after receiving a warning they could be disciplined for doing so. MU received eight bids from companies seeking the landscaping and snow removal contract. No decision has been made on whether to accept any of the 10 bids for custodial services, which would replace about 250 employees. The decision means the 31 landscapers who could have lost their jobs will be retained. In a message to the staff, Vice Chancellor for Operations Gary Ward wrote that the decision to reject the bids was unanimous.
College presidents increasingly worried about perceived value of degrees
As Inside Higher Ed has surveyed college and university presidents several times over the course of this COVID-19-dominated spring, some things have remained constant. The leaders' sometimes conflicting concerns about student and employee health and institutional finances. Uncertainty about if and when they will reopen campuses and resume sports programs. Awareness that difficult financial decisions, driven by the recession, are ahead. But certain issues have taken on greater magnitude as a fall like no other nears. A new iteration of the survey of campus leaders by Inside Higher Ed and Hanover Research, published today, finds presidents likelier than they were two months ago to expect their institutions to reduce their portfolio of academic programs (55 percent versus 41 percent in April). Majorities of presidents remain confident in their colleges' ability to educate students safely and well, whether they're on campuses or off this fall. But far fewer believe their institutions can ensure the safety of vulnerable people in their surrounding communities (39 percent) or ensure that students will behave responsibly when they're not being watched (29 percent). And nearly three-quarters of presidents (72 percent) are either very or somewhat concerned about a "perceived decrease in the value of higher education" because of COVID-19, up sharply from 60 percent of respondents in April and 48 percent in March.
Trump puts skills over degrees in federal hiring; college groups confident in value of degrees
In signing an executive order Friday revamping how the federal government does hiring, President Donald Trump took aim at the necessity of having a college degree. Trump, in ordering that the government move away from requiring that applicants have degrees, said he wants to make it easier for those without a higher education to get federal jobs. But higher education leaders said they didn't take the move as a blow. The government still will want applicants who have the skills they get from going to college. "I don't think the federal government is going to start hiring public health specialists without a public health background or engineers without an engineering background," said Terry Hartle, the American Council on Education's senior vice president for government and public affairs. Trump is ordering that the federal personnel management office within six months revise qualifications it requires for jobs with the U.S. government. The move appeared to be a nod to voters without college degrees who strongly supported Trump in his election and are key to his re-election hopes.
How Will Covid-19 Affect the Next Round of College Applicants? Here's an Early Look.
Most rising high-school seniors planning to attend college believe that campuses will be back to normal by fall 2021.Bbut many are concerned about how the pandemic has affected their qualifications for admission. Amid continuing disruptions in the standardized-testing process, a sizable percentage of prospective students would welcome later application deadlines. And though Covid-19 has had a wide-ranging impact, it has hit low-income and underrepresented minority students especially hard, widening the disparities in the higher-education pipeline. Those findings come from a report on a national survey published on Monday by the Art & Science Group, a higher-education consulting firm. It, worked with the College Board to survey 1,975 collegebound high-school seniors in June. The results provide a snapshot of how Covid-19 has affected the next round of college applicants -- and how it could influence their behavior during the uncertain months ahead.
Student Behavior Key To Reopening Colleges During Coronavirus Crisis
When asked if he could imagine a college party where everyone is wearing masks, Jacques du Passage, a sophomore at Louisiana State University, laughs. "No. I don't think they would do that," he says. "I think [students] would just have the party and then face the repercussions." That's exactly what Apramay Mishra, student body president at the University of Kansas, is worried about when it comes to reopening campus amid the pandemic. "Right now it's kind of slipped from most people's minds," he says. Students "don't really think it's a big deal." Around the U.S., coronavirus cases are rising among young people. The spread of the virus has been connected to college-related events such as fraternity parties, drinking at off-campus bars and athletic practices. For colleges planning to bring thousands of students together in the fall, student spread is a real worry. And the stakes are high: If there are outbreaks, campuses may once again be forced to shut down, scattering students and disrupting academics and college finances all over again. To keep that from happening, schools have created robust guidelines --- but those plans rely on a major wild card: students following the rules.
New MIT Press Journal to Debunk Bad COVID-19 Research
To understand and prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers are working at a rapid clip. As funders scale COVID-19 research grants and expedite application processes, publishers too are trying to move quickly to ensure that academics, policy makers and the public can access the latest research developments in a timely fashion. This rush to disseminate information is exposing cracks in the scholarly research system. Academic journals have not been fast-moving historically, and traditional peer review can take months. To make research findings available quickly, many researchers are publishing versions of papers that have not yet been peer reviewed on preprint servers such as arXiv, bioRxiv and SSRN. To combat this, MIT Press and the Berkeley School of Public Health are launching a new COVID-19 journal, one that will peer review preprint articles getting a lot of attention -- elevating the good research and debunking the bad.
'An Inappropriate Namesake': Princeton Strips Woodrow Wilson's Name From Public-Policy School
After years of activist demands and administrative resistance, Princeton University announced on Saturday that its governing board had voted to strip Woodrow Wilson's name from its public-policy school, now to be known as the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. The decision -- which cites Wilson's racist views and legacy -- comes amid national protests over police violence toward Black Americans. Four years ago, the university made the high-profile decision to leave Wilson's name on the school. But in his announcement of the name change, Princeton's president, Christopher L. Eisgruber, noted that times have changed. "When a university names a school of public policy for a political leader," Eisgruber wrote, "it inevitably suggests that the honoree is a model for students who study at the school. This searing moment in American history has made clear that Wilson's racism disqualifies him from that role." In removing Wilson's name from the school, Princeton joins a host of campuses nationwide that are swiftly renaming buildings and removing Confederate statues in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
State flag, COVID-19 could have reverberations in November Espy vs. Hyde-Smith tilt
Bobby Harrison writes for Mississippi Today: Mike Espy has been forced to take some detours from the roadmap he developed last fall to challenge United States Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith. When Espy mapped out his plans to challenge the Republican incumbent, no one had heard of COVID-19 and few people were talking about changing the Mississippi state flag to remove its controversial Confederate battle emblem from its design. Now both of those issues could be major factors in November when the Democrat Espy and the Republican Hyde-Smith are on the ballot in a rematch from their 2018 special election that was held to replace longtime Sen. Thad Cochran who resigned for health reasons in April 2018 and who died in May 2019.
Hope on the horizon for independent restaurants
Robert St. John, a Mississippi restaurateur, chef and author, writes: Since the pandemic hit America, the question I'm most often asked is, "How are you doing? How are the restaurants?" My standard answer is, "It's not a great time to be in the restaurant business. It is, however, a great time to be in the grocery store business." Actually, it's probably the worst time in the history of the restaurant business to be in the restaurant business. Though three months into this mess, things are starting to look a little better. ... In walked Sen. Roger Wicker to save the day. Last week I was honored to be a part of a press conference that announced a bill that, if passed, will save the restaurant industry. It's a bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon with bipartisan support, and my home-state senator, Wicker, a Republican who also has bipartisan support. Wicker lives in Tupelo, the birthplace of the King of Rock 'n Roll. He has, in a matter of weeks, become King of the Restaurant Business. If his bill passes, he will have saved an entire industry, not only in Mississippi but also in the U.S. There are 500,000 independent restaurants in America and a majority of them were looking at forced closure and bankruptcy just a few weeks ago.

State of Mississippi Athletes Stand Tall as a Banner is Banished
A threat to Mississippi collegiate athletics is removed by replacing a flag. The official and controversial Mississippi flag. Under public pressure to lower the 1894 banner, the Mississippi Legislature scored a win for all state citizens and more so fans of college sports. On final day of this 2020 session, and after heavy public pressures on all fronts, both houses finished the job and sent Governor Tate Reeves a bill he has said will be signed. For now a college sports crisis is averted. Lobbying by Mississippi State University, the University of Mississippi, and public institutions proved decisive after a frenzied week in state politics. These two Southeastern Conference members spoke loudest, motivated by SEC and NCAA. "I heartily commend the Mississippi Legislature for their vision, commitment, and courage in voting to give our state a new flag in which all Mississippians can feel unity and pride. I am also appreciative for the support of our governor in this endeavor. Our elected officials provided a thoughtful, engaged audience to university leaders and to our MSU contingent who traveled to Jackson to respectfully advocate for change," MSU President Mark E. Keenum said.
NCAA, SEC and Mississippi State officials issue statements after legislators vote to change state of Mississippi flag
In the wake of Sunday's historic vote by legislators to change the state of Mississippi's flag, Mississippi State President Mark Keenum, MSU Director of Athletics John Cohen, Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey and NCAA President Mark Emmert all issued statements. Here are those statements in their entirety: Mississippi State President Mark Keenum: "I heartily commend the Mississippi Legislature for their vision, commitment, and courage in voting to give our state a new flag in which all Mississippians can feel unity and pride. I am also appreciative for the support of our governor in this endeavor. Our elected officials provided a thoughtful, engaged audience to university leaders and to our MSU contingent who traveled to Jackson to respectfully advocate for change. Yes, a new flag promises to make a difference in how the rest of the world views our state - but I believe the real value of this change will be in the way that we view ourselves. The Bulldog family played a significant role in bringing this change about. Whether among our lawmakers or as citizens engaged as advocates at the Capitol, on the phone, or on social media, Mississippi State was effective in joining a sweeping coalition of Mississippi stakeholders in making this victory possible. Now, we must continue the long and complex work of effecting meaningful racial reconciliation, ensuring social justice, and providing opportunities for economic prosperity for all Mississippians."
How College Sports Spurred Mississippi to Seriously Reconsider Its Flag
It was just before 9 a.m. last Friday when Philip Gunn, the speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, received a phone call from a lobbyist for Mississippi State University. The National Collegiate Athletic Association, the lobbyist said, might soon take a punitive stand against the state flag, the last in the nation with the Confederate battle emblem, just as the Southeastern Conference had done the night before. Soon after the warning, the N.C.A.A. announced that it had toughened its longstanding opposition to the battle emblem and would more aggressively penalize any state that sanctioned it. In Jackson, the Mississippi capital, Gunn instantly recognized that the state's seemingly intractable debate over its 126-year-old flag would shift. "It hits home with a lot of people because a lot of people follow sports in Mississippi," Gunn, a Republican who was a walk-on football player at Baylor, said in an interview on Friday. "It was kind of a shot across the bow to say, 'Wake up, people: There are real consequences here that are going to happen if you continue to maintain this flag.'"
Mississippi State RB Kylin Hill reacts to Mississippi officially voting to remove Confederate emblem from state flag
The power imbalance in collegiate athletics has long benefited the schools. These universities and athletic departments bring in millions of dollars every year as a product of unpaid student-athletes. And players are basically expected to accept that status quo. But over the past couple weeks, athletes like Mississippi State star running back Kylin Hill realized the power and influence that NCAA athletes truly hold. On Sunday, the Mississippi state legislature officially passed a bill to permanently remove the Confederate battle emblem from the state flag. The symbol had been on Mississippi's flag for 126 years. And while there had long been calls to remove the racist symbol from the state flag, Hill vowing not to play for Mississippi State until the flag was changed led to widespread calls for action from student-athletes and coaches throughout the state. When that news was announced on Sunday, Hill took to Twitter and thanked all those who supported him and joined the movement to change the flag.
Commentary: Give sports credit; athletes played a huge role in Mississippi's flag change
The Clarion-Ledger's Nick Suss writes: It's been a hard three and a half months without sports. But in the absence of games and practices, Mississippi's athletes and coaches did more to help create change than ever before. Both chambers of Mississippi's legislature voted to take down the state flag on Sunday. Years of grassroots efforts and statewide activism went into ensuring Mississippi was no longer the only state to include the emblem of the Confederate battle flag on its flag. The politicians, lobbyists and everyday citizens who fought to make this change happen deserve plenty of credit for persisting and persevering. But make no mistake: Sports turned this from a debate to a reality. ... Athletes, coaches and conferences obviously weren't the only institutions to put pressure on Mississippi lawmakers to make this change. Representatives from every walk of life chimed in too, ranging from religious leaders and entertainment celebrities to major businesses and even politicians themselves. But it's important to note just how powerful a united message from the athletic community can be.
Kansas State football players boycotting activities amid uproar over George Floyd tweet
Members of Kansas State's football team say they will boycott all team activities until action is taken against a student who posted an offensive tweet about George Floyd. In a letter posted on social media Saturday by multiple players, which the Associated Press reported apparently represents most of the team, the players vowed to not "play, practice or meet" until the university puts in place a policy allowing a student to be dismissed for racist or bigoted statements. "We are demanding that Kansas State University put a policy in place that allows a student to be dismissed for displaying openly racist, threatening or disrespectful actions toward a student or groups of students," it reads. The uproar follows a tweet from conservative Kansas State student and founder of the campus's "America First Students" organization, Jaden McNeil.
LSU administration, epidemiologists at odds over fan attendance in Tiger Stadium
In late May, LSU Interim President Tom Galligan said he "desperately" hopes to see fans in Tiger Stadium this fall, "staying physically distant, but yelling loudly into our masks." One month after those remarks, as new COVID-19 hotspots pulses and cases rise at an alarming rate across the South, many LSU fans are left wondering if Death Valley can hold spectators, even at limited capacity. "Yes, we do, at least we certainly hope so," Media Relations Director Ernie Ballard said. "However, there is much to be worked out between now and then -- and a lot of that will be determined by where we are as a state with respect to COVID." Edward Trapido, a professor of epidemiology at the LSU School of Public Health, said he would not approve the return at this point. "Certainly, if it were happening now, no," Trapido said. "It's just too big a crowd." If the decision were up to him, he said, Tiger Stadium would be vacant this fall. Trapido's colleague, Susanne Straif-Bourgeois, agreed. "I just don't feel it would be feasible," Straif-Bourgeois said. "Really a logistical nightmare."
Inside the COVID protocol guiding Mizzou athletics
Missouri athletics never expected to be completely immune from the coronavirus. Facing the inevitability that at least some within its population of student-athletes, coaches and staff could be infected with the disease upon their return this month or contract the virus while on campus, the athletic department developed a protocol detailing steps to be followed in the event of positive cases. Over the past three weeks, that plan has been put into action as five individuals within the department have been announced as having COVID-19 out of more than 300 tested. The protocol, which the Tribune obtained Friday afternoon, includes actions to be taken immediately upon diagnosis and also framework for the recovery required for infected athletes to be integrated into team activities. All athletes are being tested for COVID-19 before participating in workouts for the first time, a pivot from the school's original plan to test only those who exhibit symptoms of the virus. The tests cost MU about $150 each, athletic director Jim Sterk said in early June.
Sports broadcasters and coronavirus: Inside the gloomy impact
The virus's tentacles have choked virtually every industry in college sports, and that includes the voices on your radio and faces on your television. Broadcasters, hundreds of them, are out of work. Freelance television crews, some that lost upwards of 70 events, are dipping into their retirement savings, and dozens of school radio play-by-play announcers are furloughed until at least the end of the summer. For many other high-profile TV broadcasters, their multi-year contracts, structured to span a school year, are coming up for renegotiation at a time of economic distress. All of them are fretting about the uncertain future of an industry that, pre-pandemic, was experiencing its golden years -- conference networks and digital avenues providing bountiful opportunities. They're worried about the younger broadcasting generation -- college graduates now entering an uneasy field. Sports Illustrated spoke to more than a dozen radio and television broadcasters as well as a few off-camera crew members about the state of the industry. As is often the case in college athletics, questions far exceed answers.
NFL still plans camps in late July
The NFL still plans to hold training camps on time beginning in late July, though contingency plans are in place. The 32 team owners were updated on a variety of issues on Thursday, many dealing with working through the coronavirus pandemic. Most notably, according to NFL general counsel Jeff Pash, the owners were told about plans to fully reopen team facilities for training camp next month. "The clubs have been advised that training camps are expected to open on the normal schedule," Pash said. Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL's chief medical officer, stressed that what the general public should be doing during the pandemic is exactly what the league and its players should be doing. "We remain in very active discussion with the players association on the protocols dealing with testing and screening and treatment, response and travel," said Sills, a Mississippi State graduate who grew up in Starkville. "And so we updated the ownership about where we stand with those issues and our approach to that. We certainly emphasized through that that testing alone is not going to be sufficient to keep everyone healthy. It's still vitally important that everyone respect physical distancing, the use of masks when possible and overall good health habits of reporting symptoms and limiting contact with individuals that may be sick not only at the team facility, but away from the team facility."

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