Monday, July 6, 2020   
FAA selects MSU's Raspet Flight Research Lab to lead UAS safety efforts
Mississippi State University once again is leading a major federal unmanned aircraft systems research, testing and development initiative. MSU's Raspet Flight Research Laboratory was recently designated as the Federal Aviation Administration's UAS Safety Research Facility, placing the research center as the helm of studying and developing safety and certification standards as UAS become increasingly integrated in the U.S. airspace. "Mississippi State University is a national research leader in many fields, and our foundational work with unmanned aircraft has positioned us, as this selection demonstrates, to help write the flight safety plan for this potentially transformational aspect of the aviation industry," said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. "This designation further solidifies MSU and the state of Mississippi as a leader in unmanned aircraft systems, which will bring more academic, research and economic opportunities to our state."
Mississippi State issues revised academic calendar for fall
Mississippi State is announcing a revised fall academic calendar, keeping the health and safety of the university family top-of-mind while delivering the highest quality academic experience possible for students. Considering the potential effect of a late fall peak of the coronavirus, the restructured calendar has students beginning classes on Aug. 17 with commencement set for Nov. 25 in Starkville and Dec. 1 at MSU-Meridian. "As we all know, this is an unprecedented time for Mississippi State, and we are taking a proactive approach to designing our path forward. With the directive to resume operations from the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, this university has been at the forefront in working to set policies and procedures to best meet the needs of students this fall," said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. The new fall calendar substitutes Fall Break (Oct. 8-9) with class days and class days (Nov. 23-24) with final exam days.
Extension programs teach tomato growing
Knowing that many Mississippians share a love for home-grown tomatoes, two Mississippi State University Extension Service agents designed programs just for them. Crayton Coleman, Extension agent in Noxubee County, has 45 members in a 4-H Virtual Garden Club this summer. 4-H is the Extension development program for young people ages 5 to 18 that creates supportive environments for culturally diverse young people and adults to reach their fullest potential. "In our virtual garden club, members are growing their very own 4-H container garden," Coleman said. "Our 4-H'ers planted two varieties of tomatoes, along with squash or cucumber and okra from seed in their 4-H Container Garden." Jim McAdory, Extension agent in Winston County, is also hosting a biggest tomato contest in cooperation with a local farm supply store. "My reason for doing that is, since tomatoes are so popular, it will generate some interest in the public learning better growing practices of tomatoes and other vegetables," McAdory said. "The Extension office is an excellent source of information, and this contest will direct attention to the services we offer."
After nearly 70 years in education, MSU's Bob Wolverton Sr. announces retirement
Distinguished Mississippi State University Professor of Classics Robert E. "Bob" Wolverton Sr. announced his retirement after approximately 70 years in education. Wolverton, 94, stepped down from his full-time role in the Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Literatures effective June 30. He plans to focus on writing his autobiography and return to MSU classrooms on a part-time basis in future semesters. Wolverton has been a fixture on the MSU campus since coming to Starkville as the university's vice president for academic affairs in 1977. "Dr. Wolverton has served as the touchstone for more than a generation of faculty at MSU," said Rick Travis, dean of MSU's College of Arts and Sciences. "His life-long dedication to the pursuit of knowledge, the love of wisdom, the intellectual development of students and preparing them for a life well-lived is at the heart of the mission of the College of Arts and Sciences. That is why we named our highest award the 'Robert E. Wolverton Legacy Award.' We celebrate his retirement with the hope that it is only for a short time before he can return to us on a part-time basis and continue his work with our students and faculty."
Local leaders weighing face mask mandates in light of COVID spikes
Starkville aldermen will consider Tuesday evening approving its second mask requirement of the pandemic, and Mayor Lynn Spruill said she is confident the measure will pass. "For our economy to go back to nobody being able to go anywhere or do anything is just a horrendous option for us, so how do we prevent that? Apparently masks are going to be one of the ways we do our best to keep that from happening," Spruill said. "To me, it's an easy decision and a simple thing to ask residents and citizens to do." Spruill and several aldermen agreed that masks should help Starkville contain the virus before thousands of Mississippi State University students return in August for the new semester. Ward 4 Alderman Jason Walker said it is "in Starkville's best interest" for MSU classes and sporting events to be safe to attend. Aldermen Hamp Beatty of Ward 5 and Sandra Sistrunk of Ward 2 both said a mask requirement would reduce the risk of exhausting resources at OCH Regional Medical Center.
House Speaker Philip Gunn tests positive for coronavirus
House Speaker Philip Gunn said Sunday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus as state health officials reported more than 200 new infections and five deaths linked to the pandemic. Gunn, a Republican from the Jackson suburb of Clinton, said in a video posted to Facebook that he got tested because he had been in close proximity to another member of the House who tested positive. "I felt like I needed to go get myself tested just because I had been with this person and this morning was informed that I too have tested positive for COVID," Gunn said. "I feel very fortunate that I don't really have very many symptoms and feel fine." One other legislator has reported testing positive for the virus as well. Democratic Rep. Bo Brown of Jackson told the Clarion Ledger on Thursday that he had received a positive test result for COVID-19. Brown, 70, told the Ledger he took a test about a week earlier because he was feeling a little unsteady and weak.
House Speaker Philip Gunn latest Mississippi lawmaker to confirm positive COVID-19 test
Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, announced Sunday in a Facebook video that he tested positive for the coronavirus. In the video, Gunn said that he has informed Mississippi House members that he has been in close proximity with and will self quarantine for 14 days. "Last week I was in close proximity with one of the individuals who has tested positive so, I felt like I needed to go get myself tested just because I had been with this person," Gunn said. "This morning, it was revealed that I tested positive for COVID-19. Over the weekend, a Department of Health spokeswoman said the agency is aware of several ill and positive cases among House members, though she did not have a specific number and no further details were immediately available. Gunn said he feels fine and is "very fortunate" that he does not have many symptoms.
House Speaker, lawmakers test positive for the coronavirus
The Mississippi Legislature, finishing a historic stretch last week where it voted to replace the state flag to remove the Confederate battle emblem from its design, now faces a new challenge as members are testing positive for the coronavirus. On Sunday, House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton confirmed that he has contracted COVID-19, as did at least one other member of the House. House Ways and Means Chair Trey Lamar, R-Senatobia, also confirmed Sunday that he had tested positive. And on Friday, Rep. Bo Brown, D-Jackson, revealed he had tested positive. Various sources have indicated that other members of the House have tested positive for the coronavirus. In the Senate, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann's deputy chief of staff Leah Rupp Smith said "A staff member has tested positive, and is now under quarantine. Senators and staff have been notified, and we are following instructions from the state Health Officer."
Gov. Tate Reeves: Protests to blame for spike in COVID-19 cases
Gov. Tate Reeves on Sunday blamed protesters for the "uptick" in coronavirus cases in the state and the "liberal media" for citing "family BBQ's on Memorial Day" instead. On Twitter, Reeves wrote that the "Liberal media is trying to claim the increase of coronavirus was just caused by family BBQ's on Memorial Day. They completely ignore the fact that our uptick (and other states) began within days of massive protests all over -- which they have celebrated." However, state health officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said Wednesday in the governor's coronavirus update on video that there was no evidence of coronavirus being spread through the protests. "We don't have any evidence to that effect," he said. Instead, he said the spikes are occurring areas where there are denser populations of people, such as Hinds, DeSoto and Harrison counties. "What we are seeing is our population centers are having increases in cases," he said. "The trend now seems to be a lot in populated areas."
Wear a mask? Many Mississippi lawmakers and public officials do not
As Jackson's mayor held a downtown news conference last week declaring a new citywide mask mandate, a few blocks away inside the Mississippi Capitol, numerous lawmakers and other officials opted not to wear one. "You can look around here right now, and see people walking around with no masks," a masked Rep. Omeria Scott said Tuesday, sitting at her desk on the House floor. The Democrat from Laurel, a member of the public health committee, noted lots of recent "chatter" on social media critical of lawmakers and other public officials for not wearing masks -- even as state health leaders urge their use to slow surging coronavirus infections. Gov. Tate Reeves has also faced scrutiny for going maskless. Few senators or attendees wore masks at a recent Senate Public Health Committee meeting, though chairs were spaced out for audience members to social distance. At a House Rules Committee meeting, about half of the lawmakers and a third of the attendees who packed shoulder-to-shoulder in the small room went without face coverings.
Analysis: Ex Rep. Henry set path to Mississippi flag change
Momentum built rapidly in the past month for Mississippi to decommission the last state flag in the U.S. with the Confederate battle emblem. Marching toward change took decades, and it took work by thousands. An important advocate was the late Democratic state Rep. Aaron Henry of Clarksdale. "He deserves credit," said current Democratic Rep. Bryant Clark of Pickens. As part of a long effort by the Legislative Black Caucus, Clark researched bills that sought to change the flag. The earliest he found was filed by Henry in 1988. Henry was elected to the 122-member House in 1979, joining a small number of other African Americans -- including Clark's father, Rep. Robert Clark of Ebenezer, who had been elected in 1967 as Mississippi's first Black lawmaker of the 20th century.
Long on a limb regarding state flag, Speaker Philip Gunn waited for 'perfect storm' to furl the banner for good
Yard signs sprang up across the state the summer of 2015 proclaiming: "Keep the flag. Change the speaker." For many Mississippians that summer, no politician was a bigger foe than House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, who had publicly said he supported changing the official state flag, the last in the nation displaying the controversial Confederate battle emblem. Five years later, Gunn is still the speaker -- in the first year of his third term as the House's presiding officer -- and the flag has been removed after lawmakers overwhelmingly passed the historic legislation last weekend. "He was out there by himself (in 2015)," said Rep. Hank Zuber, R-Ocean Springs. "There was a sense it would take a very long period of time to change it, and through his leadership, you see where we are now." Over the years, few other Mississippi Republicans voiced support for changing the flag. The most notable Republican politicians to announce support for changing the flag since Gunn did were U.S Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker, but as federal officials all they could do was offer their opinions. They had no direct impact on changing state law. But as the leader of the state House, Gunn did.
Sen. Joey Fillingane discusses bill allowing alcohol possession in Miss.
Earlier this week, Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill that will make it legal to possess alcohol in every county in Mississippi. "Currently, if you purchase wine or beer or alcohol in some format, and you transport it into a dry county, or even if you live in a dry county and you carry it home, currently, that's a violation of the law," said District 41 Sen. Joey Fillingane. House Bill 1087 will now change that. Under current Mississippi law, counties are dry by default, requiring a vote to allow the sale or possession of alcohol. The bill signed by Reeves will allow for the possession of alcohol in counties that continue to prohibit the sale of it. Fillingane says the new bill will allow people who buy alcohol legally in the state to carry it to or through dry counties without consequences. "This law just brings everything up to date to say, look if you're in a wet city or a wet county and you purchase the alcohol legally, when you transport it through a dry county, just the simple possession of that is not going to be a violation of the law," Fillingane said.
Group calls for Neshoba Confederate monument to be removed
A local group identifying with Black Lives Matter protesting racism for a month since the police strangulation death of George Floyd in Minnesota in June on Saturday called for the removal of the Confederate monument in front of the Neshoba County Courthouse. The Black Empowerment Organization of Philadelphia on July 4 started a petition on By 6:25 p.m. on Sunday, 149 people had signed the petition that has a goal of 200. The monument was dedicated in July 1912 by the Daughters of the Confederacy in memory of the citizens of Neshoba County who fought in the Civil War. The Confederate soldier atop the monument was damaged by a windstorm in 1990 and was restored in 2006.
Supreme Court rules presidential electors can be forced to uphold popular vote
The Supreme Court sought to eliminate one of many potential problems facing the 2020 race for the White House Monday, ruling that states can block members of the Electoral College from ignoring the popular vote on Election Day -- and risk altering the course of history. The unanimous decision will prevent most of the 538 presidential electors from seeking to change the results of the presidential race when carrying out their ministerial duties a month after the election. Thirty-two states already require the people chosen on Election Day to cast ballots for the winner of their states' popular vote. In some of those states, rogue electors can be replaced or fined. Eighteen states have no such requirement. The court ruled in cases from Washington and Colorado, where challenges to the rules for presidential electors resulted in opposite lower court rulings. "The Constitution's text and the nation's history both support allowing a state to enforce an elector's pledge to support his party's nominee -- and the state voters' choice -- for president," Associate Justice Elena Kagan wrote in an opinion that name-dropped Alexander Hamilton and the TV series "Veep."
Democrats, Joe Biden look to accelerate Southern political shift
From Mississippi retiring its state flag to local governments removing Confederate statues from public spaces, a bipartisan push across the South is chipping away at reminders of the Civil War and Jim Crow segregation. Now, during a national reckoning on racism, Democratic Party leaders want those symbolic changes to become part of a fundamental shift at the ballot box. Many Southern electorates are getting younger, less white and more urban, and thus less likely to embrace President Donald Trump's white identity politics. Southern Democrats are pairing a demographically diverse slate of candidates for state and congressional offices with presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden, a 77-year-old white man they believe can appeal to what remains perhaps the nation's most culturally conservative region. Republicans, for the most part, aren't as quick as Democrats to frame 2020 as a redefining year. Still, they acknowledge obvious shifts that began with suburban growth in northern Virginia and extended southward down the coastline and westward to Texas.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) emerging as a contender to be Joe Biden's running mate
As Joe Biden pushes ahead with his search for a running mate, Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) has quietly emerged as a serious contender, according to three people with knowledge of the selection process, one of several developing dynamics as the search enters its final weeks. Duckworth is a Purple Heart recipient and veteran of the Iraq War, the only finalist with military combat experience -- and as a woman of Thai and Chinese descent, one of several candidates of color under consideration. While she has a lower profile than some rivals, she is being taken seriously by Biden's team, according to the people with knowledge of the search, one of whom said she has lately received strong consideration. Duckworth's emergence comes as some Biden allies say former senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), a close friend of Biden's, is taking a primary role in the search process. It is also unfolding as Republicans prepare to launch fierce attacks on whoever is chosen as running mate, believing that person might present an easier target than Biden himself.
Medicaid enrollment increase puts pressure on state budgets
Medicaid experts and public health officials are pushing Congress to increase federal funding for the program for low-income people, as the COVID-19 pandemic pushes more individuals into government-sponsored coverage. Total Medicaid enrollment was up 5.8 percent over the past three months, data on 15 states by the Georgetown University Center on Children and Families found in June. In Florida, the increase was almost 10 percent. Earlier this year, Congress authorized a 6.2 percent increase in federal Medicaid matching rates for states in the second COVID-19 law (PL 116-127) during the national emergency, but public health officials worry this is not enough. "As the pandemic continues to unfold and as we see economic conditions kind of deteriorate across the nation and start hitting states' general revenues and tax sources, the budget challenges that state governments across the board are facing are pretty significant and are really increasing going into the future," said Jack Rollins, program director for federal policy for the National Association of Medicaid Directors.
NIH Preparing Instant-Result Corinavirus Test for Students, Athletes
The National Institutes for Health hopes to have a new type of immediate-result Covid-19 diagnostic test available this fall for use by university and school students and perhaps also by professional athletes, the agency's director told a Senate panel Thursday. NIH Director Francis Collins said the agency's goal will be to "have an additional one million tests per day available" by this fall through an experimental NIH program seeking to develop new kinds of Covid-19 diagnostic tests. Now, roughly 500,000 diagnostic tests per day for the new disease are being given across the U.S. "I do believe this should be possible," Dr. Collins told senators during a hearing by the Senate Appropriations Committee. He was responding to questions from Sen. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) about what this new technology might mean for universities, schools and sports teams. Dr. Collins also predicted that at least one of several vaccines being evaluated by the federal government will be available to the public on a large scale by the beginning of 2021.
Victoria 'Vic' Jones named W archives and special collections librarian
Victoria "Vic" Jones was recently named archives and special collections librarian for the Beulah Culbertson Archives and Special Collections inside Fant Memorial Library at Mississippi University for Women. "We are so incredibly fortunate to have Vic Jones on board in this exciting new era for our archives and special collections. Her expertise and leadership are critical for the library as we are becoming the center for the study of Mississippi women's history and leadership, sharing our collections with the world in through our new Institutional Repository, Mims Digitization and Conservation Lab and the database we are building of Mississippi Women's Archives," said Amanda Powers, dean of library services. As an archivist Jones will identify, preserve, collect, maintain and share items that reflect the university's history, mission and values. Jones joined The W in 2019 as a library associate. She earned her bachelor's degree from Nova Southeastern University and master's degree from the University of North Florida.
Campus tours now available at The W
Mississippi University for Women will begin offering on-campus tours for prospective students starting Wednesday, July 8. For students interested in enrolling for the fall 2020 semester, the Office of Admissions at The W will offer tours daily from 9-11 a.m. and 2 p.m. "One of the essentials when making your college selection is visiting campus. The summer is the perfect time to experience The W and view our beautiful historic campus," said Dwight Doughty, coordinator for International Student Services and admissions. Campus tours will include a guided tour of campus, a session with an admissions counselor and upon request a virtual meeting with a college navigator or faculty member. All staff members and campus visitors are required to wear a mask.
Mississippi students voted to move a Civil War statue. Now they fear a Confederate shrine
When Joshua Mannery voted last year to remove a statue of a Confederate soldier that has towered over the heart of the University of Mississippi for more than a century, he understood that change takes place slowly on this historic Southern campus. The 21-year-old Black student and president of the Associated Student Body did not imagine, however, that after waiting 15 months for the 29-foot monument to be relocated to a nearby Confederate cemetery, he would be marching through campus holding a placard that said "ABANDON THE PLANS!" Now that construction crews have arrived on campus to move the white marble figure, student leaders are demanding that the project be halted after learning that university administrators plan to spend more than $1.1 million in private funds to renovate the cemetery and erect headstones for the Confederate dead, install security cameras and shine new lighting on the memorial.
Belhaven University renames hall after namesake called segregationist
A university in Mississippi removed the name of a former president from a residence hall after a petition called the man a segregationist. On Friday, Belhaven University in Jackson announced it would change the Guy T. Gillespie Hall to Lakeview Hall, news outlets reported. Gillespie served as president of the private Christian university for 33 years, starting in 1921. According to the petition, Gillespie's segregationist views from the 1950s "have no place" on the campus. In 1954, Gillespie published "A Christian View on Segregation," where he argued against racial integration in schools based on biblical grounds, according to an article in The Journal of Presbyterian History.
Georgia Universities Won't Require Face Masks This Fall -- And Faculty Are Livid
As the coronavirus infection rate in the U.S. surpasses 50,000 new cases a day, colleges and universities around the country are trying to figure out how to educate their students this fall while still keeping their campus communities safe. That balancing act sometimes causes consternation. At the Georgia Institute of Technology, which is scheduled to hold in-person classes, more than 800 of its 1,100 faculty members have published a letter outlining their concerns. The letter, reported by Georgia Public Broadcasting, criticizes the state university system for mandating statewide reopenings this fall that "do not follow science-based evidence, increase the health risks to faculty, students and staff, and interfere with nimble decision-making necessary to prepare and respond to Covid-19 infection risk." Georgia Tech is a public university and is bound by the rules set by the University System of Georgia and its Board of Regents. Most colleges across the country will require masks when they reopen in the fall, the Chronicle reports.
Limit U. of Kentucky police patrols, make reforms, student group demands
A student-led group wants the University of Kentucky to limit spending on its police force, cut back campus patrols and ban use of rubber bullets, tear gas or military-style equipment. Furthermore, the student group, Movement for Black Lives University of Kentucky, is pushing for a community oversight committee of students, faculty and community leaders that would review on-campus police actions. The student group -- in partnership with a vocal union of university workers and many of the groups behind Lexington's larger downtown protests -- is also seeking a bevy of on-campus changes to greater support students of color. "We share the goal of creating and sustaining a more just, equitable and accepting campus for everyone," said UK spokesperson Jay Blanton in a statement. "We hope the students who are asking questions and raising thoughtful concerns will be part of these efforts along with what we expect will be hundreds directly involved in this critical process." UK's Movement for Black Lives' police-related demands include restricting the department's year-over-year budget growth, only allowing the department to grow when there's a large increase in the university's overall student population.
Anxious students eye U. of Florida fall term
When the University of Florida shifted online almost overnight in March because of COVID-19, biology major Aneesah Melaram knew her lab and campus experience would be much different. "It was awful... . I do way better with in-person lectures," said the 19-year-old rising sophomore from Port St. Lucie about online classes. But while she said she's excited to possibly return to Gainesville and a sense of normalcy in the classroom next month, she can't shake the feeling that not all 50,000 students will follow social-distancing rules or even wear masks. "I don't trust everybody to follow all the social-distancing rules and wear their mask everywhere," she said. "Under the posts UF makes on Instagram, people are saying Gators don't wear masks ... and I'm like, 'This is for everybody's own good.'" COVID cases are spiking statewide, causing officials from the governor's office to roll back reopening plans in Florida. And it's thrown into disarray the things often associated with UF's fall semester: football Saturdays, homecoming weekend and parties.
'Please listen to us': Black students demand change, say they feel unsafe and unwanted at UF
Thousands of phones across Gainesville lit up with a University Police alert: Suspect, black male, it said. Deionte Harvey stayed in his dorm. He didn't want to be racially profiled. During his four years on campus, the 21-year-old UF Spring 2020 graduate said he felt unsafe. He was never the suspect in those alerts, but he took longer routes to his dorm, Murphree Hall, to avoid UPD presence around Midtown anyway. "It feels horrible," Harvey said. "I'm always watching my back." Harvey isn't the only one. Students across UF are calling on the university to address racial inequality on campus amid national demands to end systemic racism. Four students and one professor told The Alligator they're tired of solidarity statements from university administrators -- they want action. More than 4,750 people have signed a petition created by the UF Black Student Union demanding that the university implement a zero-tolerance policy for hate speech, require diversity training for administrative faculty and reduce the presence of UPD on campus to improve the experience of Black students at UF.
U. of South Carolina prof knocks out book about COVID-19's crushing impact on travel sector
A tourism expert and professor at the University of South Carolina didn't waste time in penning a book about the coronavirus pandemic's devastating impact on the hospitality sector. Simon Hudson's "COVID-19 & Travel: Impacts, Responses and Outcomes," is out now, though many destinations -- South Carolina included -- are still figuring out what their outcomes will be. Given how much is still to unfold, Hudson suggested last week that it might already be time for him to start working on a second edition. "Who knows what's going to happen," Hudson said. "This is not short-term. Things are really going to change." Hudson teaches part-time at USC's College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management. He's written multiple books on travel-related topics including golf tourism, the ski industry, tourism marketing and customer service. The new book is broken into six chapters, each with two case studies. He starts off with a discussion of the cruise ship industry during the early part of the outbreak, explaining how the "golden child of the tourism sector" became a "symbol of the deadly disease."
Texas universities are moving more classes online, but keeping tuition the same. Students are asking if it's worth the money.
Sarah Ramos has spent her summer anxiously awaiting a fall return to Texas A&M's campus at College Station. She is hoping for some normalcy after she and her classmates were abruptly forced off campus last semester and into Zoom-based classes for the remainder of the spring due to the coronavirus pandemic. But as Texas scrambles to address a soaring number of COVID-19 cases, Ramos is worried her upcoming course load could once again be moved online. That's just not the college experience she's looking for. So now, Ramos says she's considering withdrawing from A&M for the fall and delaying her upcoming graduation. Texas universities are finalizing their fall reopening plans as August approaches. The state's major public universities are generally all offering some in-person classes, though most schools have moved sizable portions of the fall course schedule online or are offering classes in a hybrid format. But while school will look different, the tuition rates for many of Texas' largest universities, including UT-Austin, University of Houston, University of North Texas and Texas Tech, will stay the same.
121 University Of Washington Students Infected In Greek Row Outbreak
The University of Washington announced on Sunday that at least 112 fraternity house residents north of its Seattle campus have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of students infected on Greek Row so far to 121. The nine additional students who tested positive were close contacts of the residents, but do not live in the fraternity houses, according to a statement from The University of Washington. The number of confirmed cases has risen steadily since the outbreak was first announced on June 30. At that point, 38 students living in 10 fraternity houses had tested positive. By July 3, at least 117 residents of 15 fraternity houses had self-reported positive test results. As of Sunday, 171 students, seven faculty members and 35 staffers at the university had tested positive for the coronavirus. The cluster underscores the risks of bringing students back to campus, a decision colleges and universities across the country are grappling with as they announce tentative reopening plans against the backdrop of a COVID-19 resurgence. Greek life has also been tied to an outbreak in the South, where state officials linked a cluster of cases to fraternity parties at the University of Mississippi in June.
Colleges Gear Up for an Uncertain Fall Semester Online
Colleges and universities across the country made the hasty transition to distance learning this spring. And as the fall approaches, with Covid-19 cases spiking in some areas and no certainty of a vaccine on the horizon, schools must confront the question of how to resume classes safely. Since physical distancing guidelines limit the number of students that can occupy one classroom, the question for many colleges and universities across the country isn't whether to implement some form of online learning, but how. For their part, schools, faculty, and administrators are making decisions about reopening amid a fog of unknowns. The many unanswered questions about the coronavirus, from how it's transmitted outdoors to how it attacks the body, make planning for the future a slippery proposition. Students who are currently quarantined in strained home environments have an uncomfortable prospect ahead of them. One University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill student who asked to remain anonymous says that while she is also fearful of students flouting physical distancing guidelines, she's ultimately relieved that UNC will be reopening its campus with a mix of online and in-person instruction. At home, she says, she can't get access to the mental health resources she needs.
Harvard Will Ask Most Undergraduates To Stay Off Campus In The Fall
This fall, Harvard College will only invite 40% of its undergraduates to Cambridge -- an effort to reduce density on the campus and contain the coronavirus pandemic. In an email sent to the Harvard community Monday, President Lawrence Bacow acknowledged that "there is an intrinsic incompatibility" between the university's tradition of in-person learning and the need for social distancing. Last month, Harvard rolled out a rule that all instruction this fall will take place remotely, regardless of where students are staying. Every student who comes to campus will be given a room of his or her own, but will still share bathrooms with peers. Among the 40% welcomed back this fall: all Harvard's incoming first-year students. If similar measures are necessary in the spring, the email says, seniors concluding their time at Harvard will be given a blanket invitation to return to campus.
How the protest movement could help HBCUs through higher education's financial crisis
On the first day that college applications opened last August, Daja Snipes applied to Clemson University. The big South Carolina public university had been her first choice for months. She was big on school pride and sports at the time, and she fell in love with the campus when she visited. She did apply to another school: North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, a historically black university about an hour from home. But it was her "fallback," she said. "It was last on my list." As her senior year went on, though, Snipes kept hearing from the staff and students at N.C. A&T. She began to waver. And then the Black Lives Matter protests began. "They were treating me like I was family, and I wasn't even a part of their family yet," Snipes said. "And the protests happening definitely makes me want to go to not only attend A&T but an HBCU even more." The enduring protests of police violence and institutional racism could offer a boost to HBCUs, according to university officials and economists, swaying black and other students of color to choose schools where they feel protected and a sense of belonging.
Campuses remove monuments and building names with legacies of racism
College leaders are reconsidering the names of campus buildings and monuments that memorialize white supremacists, in reaction to the current movement against racial injustice.Black college students, faculty members and visitors have long been expected to simply "shrug their shoulders" when they pass by statues on campus honoring Confederate figures and proponents of white supremacy, or buildings or monuments named for them, said Erika Wilson, a professor of law and chair of public policy at the University of North Carolina School of Law. But the highly publicized and unjust killings of Black people this year, and the widespread protests across the country over the May killing of George Floyd, has prompted new introspection among many college leaders, who are quickly taking steps to remove the names of such controversial figures from buildings and to move the monuments off campuses -- never mind that repeated calls by students and faculty members for these very actions were ignored for many years. There is a new urgency from college presidents and boards of trustees to examine how campus policies and structures can perpetuate racism and white supremacy, said Lynn Pasquerella, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities.
Gov. Tate Reeves put himself in a no-win political position during state flag debate
Bobby Harrison writes for Mississippi Today: Gov. Tate Reeves was not a participant Wednesday in the momentous occasion where the state flags that flew over the Mississippi Capitol were removed -- the official retirement of the banner featuring the Confederate battle emblem that had flown over the state since 1894. As Speaker Philip Gunn and Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann delivered the flags to the Mississippi Museum of History in a ceremony officiated by the Department of Archives and History, Reeves was holding his first news conference since June 18 to give an update on the COVID-19 pandemic. Reeves already had scheduled his news conference before the legislative leaders set a time and date for the flag furling ceremony. Both Gunn and Hosemann spoke of the significance of the day where the flag was retired. Perhaps it could be argued that the absence of the governor at such a pivotal event in the state's history was itself symbolic. The flag debate that culminated on the weekend of June 27 with the Legislature voting to replace the flag put Reeves in a near-impossible political situation -- a situation he most likely never saw coming until it was on top of him like a ton of bricks.

How the Mississippi State strength coach prepares football players to 'get your mind right and attack'
Tyson Brown remembers their eyebrows raising. During the first team meeting as Mississippi State's strength and conditioning coach, Brown laid out his plan to transform the Bulldogs into players fit for football coach Mike Leach and his systems. Brown can't forget their reactions to his presentation. "I think they were a little bit shocked by the structure and the discipline of our program," Brown said. "But at the end of the day, I know myself, I crave structure and discipline and clear boundaries. It's important to pass that along to the players." Soon thereafter, Brown had the Bulldogs waking up before the crack of dawn for team jogs to Davis Wade Stadium where they ran up and down the bleachers and did various conditioning drills on the field. Rain, cold, wind. It didn't matter. Accountability. It's one of the tallest pillars of Brown's strength and conditioning program.
Mississippi State's Slater Richardson wins Green Street Mile
he chance to get out and break a sweat early Saturday morning proved irresistible for runners in the 35th annual Green Street Mile. Mississippi State's Slater Richardson, from Starkville, won for the second time in four years as he led a field of 126 competitors in 4 minutes, 30 seconds. MSU teammate Benjamin Craw (4:31) and TCPS cross country standout Brock Kelly (4:32) were close behind. In the women's race, Saltillo high schooler Madison Jones, running in the July 4 tradition for the first time, led the way in 5:32, outkicking Mississippi State's Audrey Honiotes (5:33). It was warm and humid when the race on South Green began promptly at 7 a.m. Richardson, 20, improved on his winning time of 4:44 from three years ago. "It's fun to find a race like this in the summer," Richardson said. "There's no strategy, it's just man vs. man."
How bars could kill the college football season
At least 100 positive COVID-19 cases from the Tigerland bar district in Baton Rouge, La. In East Lansing, Mich., at least 85 patrons have tested positive for the virus at Harper's Restaurant and Brew Pub. And in Jacksonville, Fla., 16 friends went out to a bar together to celebrate a friend's birthday. All 16 contracted coronavirus. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis blamed his state's recent spike of cases on young people going to bars, lamenting "you can't control them." Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, put it this way Tuesday: bars are "really not good. Really not good." For college athletic departments, it's a particularly tricky quandary to solve. All it takes is one bad outbreak from a party to derail a college football program's season. Prohibiting student-athletes from socializing could be the key to a football season but comes with ethical questions. And yet on college campuses, bars and parties represent a key social component for the young adults 18-to-22 year olds who populate them. Depriving college students of an entire semester of socialization is antithetical to the college experience, but bars and parties could be the biggest hurdle to college campuses not only opening on time this August but staying open for the entire fall calendar.
What could Louisiana businesses lose without an LSU football season? Millions, one expert says
In 2002, Dr. Loren Scott conducted an economic impact study on LSU football and its effects on the Louisiana economy. Scott, a professor emeritus of economics at LSU and president of his own firm, estimated fans who lived outside the Baton Rouge metro area spent about $27.4 million within the capital city during LSU's seven home football games the previous fiscal year. Scott repeated his study in 2013. LSU had won two national championships, played for another and developed into an annual title contender. He estimated fans who lived outside the metro area spent $47.7 million in East Baton Rouge and three surrounding parishes over a seven-game home schedule. The study's findings supported the dependent relationship between the LSU athletic department and the Louisiana economy, especially within Baton Rouge. Now six years after Scott's most recent study, LSU has completed one of the greatest seasons in college football history. But the novel coronavirus pandemic has put that season in jeopardy.
With uncertainty in college sports, Learfield IMG asks several schools to take on more risk
Learfield IMG College, the multimedia conglomerate that spent big over the last decade to buy up radio, marketing and sponsorship rights for top athletics programs, quietly approached several schools this spring amid the COVID-19 pandemic asking for 60-day delays to make scheduled payments before the last fiscal year ended on June 30 and to restructure deals in ways that would reduce or eliminate schools' guaranteed rights fees, according to officials at nine schools that have partnerships with the company. Learfield IMG, according to some of those officials who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation, has even raised the prospect of drastic measures like activating force majeure clauses to get out of contracts if schools aren't willing to renegotiate. Said one Group of Five administrator: "People are madder about this than anything I've seen in my years as an AD."
President Trump criticizes NASCAR ban on Confederate flags, attacks Black driver
President Donald Trump on Monday continued to inflame racial tensions by panning NASCAR's decision to ban the Confederate flag from its races and demanding the sport's top Black driver apologize after a noose was found in his garage, an incident Trump claimed without evidence was a hoax. "Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his side, & were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that the whole thing was just another HOAX?" Trump wrote in a tweet. "That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!" Contrary to Trump's assertion, NASCAR --- one of the first major sports to resume amid the coronavirus pandemic --- saw its ratings increase immediately after banning the Confederate flag from its events. A Fox Sports executive said in a tweet that overnight ratings for the race that took place hours after NASCAR's ban was announced were up "+104% over the comparable race last season." The president's tweet, which was amplified by the official White House Twitter account, comes as Trump has embraced culture wars in an effort to revive his reelection prospects after polling has shown him consistently trailing former Vice President Joe Biden.

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