Wednesday, July 22, 2020   
NSF grant to study skeletal samples helps MSU anthropologist advance syphilis research
New funding from the National Science Foundation is aiding a Mississippi State biological anthropologist using human skeletal samples to discover more about syphilis. With the goal of helping mitigate the spread of the disease, this current research could provide clinical guidelines for the screening and diagnosis of modern cases. Molly K. Zuckerman, an associate professor in MSU's Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures, is investigating which characteristics of human hosts -- and their immune system responses -- led to early resolution of the syphilis infection or were associated with persistence into late-stage infection, which can have serious and sometimes fatal symptoms. Zuckerman serves as principal investigator for the $260,000 four-year project with colleagues from University of South Carolina and the University of Louisville. Her team is studying more than 300 skeletons from U.S. collections of 19th to early-20th century specimens diagnosed with syphilis prior to death. The researchers are examining how chronic stress, age, health conditions and immune status relate to either recovery from infection or late-stage disease development.
Dallas Breen gives Stennis Institute presentation at Rotary
It's the mission of the Mississippi State University John C. Stennis Institute of Government to help government work more smoothly in the state and the nation. The Starkville Rotary Club heard a presentation on that very subject on Monday from the institute's Executive Director Dallas Breen. Along with helping the government with its work, Breen also discussed some of the institute's ongoing and past programs and projects. Breen also spoke at length about the MSU Stennis- Montgomery Association, which offers MSU students the chance to learn about multiple levels of government from the inside out. Breen was the first in-person speaker the Rotary Club has hosted since the COVID-19 pandemic began. However, several members of the club still attended the meeting via Zoom.
SOCSD board members raise questions about COVID-19's effect on school year
The COVID-19 pandemic and the various ways it will affect students and teachers in the rapidly approaching school year dominated discussion at Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District's Board of Trustees' meeting Tuesday night. The board unanimously approved a Return to School Guide, which allows parents and students to choose whether the students will take classes in-person, virtually, or, in the case of grades 10-12, a hybrid of the two. School buildings and buses will be regularly cleaned and all students and staff are required to wear masks on school property. However, prior to the vote, board members and administrators discussed the details of the guide for roughly 30 minutes of a more than three-hour meeting. Board president Debra Prince presented a list of questions she said she'd received from parents, which included questions about what would be allowed on students' masks -- nothing that isn't already allowed on a shirt or other clothing worn at school, SOCSD Superintendent Eddie Peasant said -- to whether asthmatic students will be allowed to carry their inhalers with them throughout the day.
Aldermen hire new parks director on second try
Starkville hired a new Parks and Recreation executive director Tuesday with a unanimous board of aldermen vote and several statements of confidence. Brandon Doherty hails from Illinois, and his background includes providing parks and recreation activities for the U.S. Army. He had met with Mayor Lynn Spruill and six of the seven aldermen in person prior to Tuesday so they could interview him for the position. Open containers of alcohol are now allowed on the streets of much of downtown Starkville and the Cotton District. The board voted 3-3, with Spruill breaking the tie, to create a temporary leisure and entertainment district in an attempt to bolster businesses that have struggled due to the COVID-19 pandemic limiting activity. The city indefinitely furloughed 47 employees in April as a cost-saving measure to counteract the anticipated sales tax revenue shortfall, and the board voted unanimously at the July 7 meeting to restore them to full employment if the city's sales tax revenues by July 17 were no more than $135,000, or 20 percent, less than they were at the same time last year. The furloughed employees will return to their regular work schedules Aug. 3, and the city will resume twice-weekly garbage pickup the same week but will not resume curbside recycling.
Horn Lake mayor: New Amazon facility 'will mean so much to our city'
Online retail giant Amazon is planning yet another facility in the Memphis metropolitan area, this time in an 860,000-square-foot building in Horn Lake, officials confirmed. The new facility is expected to open at 1615 Commerce Parkway. No timeline for when the facility would open was available but several jobs have already been posted, some labeled seasonal. It's unclear how many employees the company will hire in Horn Lake. Specific pay information was also unavailable but Amazon pays all of its employees at least $15 an hour. News of the facility was first reported by the Memphis Business Journal. This facility comes less than one year after the company announced plans for a new warehouse in the Legacy Park industrial center in Olive Branch off Mississippi 302. And that announcement came short after the first northern Mississippi warehouse was announced in Marshall County. "We are looking so forward to it," Horn Lake Mayor Allen Latimer said of the latest planned facility. "It is going to mean so much to our city."
Specialty paper products company to open distribution center in Marshall County
Specialty paper products company IG Design Group Americas, Inc. is locating distribution operations in Marshall County. IG Design Group and an affiliate of Panattoni Development Company together are investing a total of $49 million in the project, which will create 35 jobs. "The state of Mississippi is proud to welcome IG Design Group as our newest business partner and the newest member of Marshall County's business community," Gov. Tate Reeves said. "Mississippi's workforce is second to none, and I am confident that the 35 skilled Mississippians joining IG Design Group will work hard to ensure the company's success in Marshall County for many years to come." IG Design Group specializes in premier paper products, including stationery, gift wrapping, and gift bags, and serves retailers worldwide, from design to distribution. "When public-private partnerships work to bring new companies such as IG Design Group to our state, the results are new investments and more jobs for Mississippians – both of which are vital to building stronger economies and communities throughout Mississippi," said MDA Interim Director John Rounsaville.
Mississippi's Sales Tax Holiday weekend is coming up
Now that school districts set opening dates, it's time to stock up on clothing and supplies during Mississippi's annual Sales Tax Holiday. Sales of qualifying clothes, shoes, pencils and other supplies won't be taxed between 12:01 the morning of Friday, July 31, through midnight Saturday, Aug. 1. That 7% savings -- combined with special sales featured those two days -- typically packs stores with shoppers buying for the kids, for themselves and getting an early start on Christmas shopping. The sales tax holiday also applies to online, phone and mail orders placed that weekend. To qualify, each item purchased -- not the total cost rung up at one time -- must cost less than $100. Many of the schools provide a list of necessary supplies on their websites, and stores have lists available by school district.
Mississippi sees record jump in reported COVID-19 cases
Mississippi on Tuesday saw by far its largest single-day increase in reported cases of COVID-19, as health officials continued to warn that hospitals face dire circumstances as caseloads keep growing. It was the first time that the state Health Department reported an increase of more than 1,600 cases over the previous day. Mississippi has had several recent days with increases of more than 1,000 cases. Republican Gov. Tate Reeves and the state health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, have been pleading with people to take steps to slow the spread of the coronavirus, including wearing masks in public and avoiding large crowds. "We're going to have to recognize that none of us are invincible," Reeves said during a news conference Monday.
As COVID testing increases, some see nearly two week delays on results
When a person tests for COVID-19, the first thing they want to know is whether they have contracted the virus. More and more, the answer is yes. On Monday, Mississippi State Department of Health reported 1,635 new cases, shattering the previous high single-day case record. Given the increase, the next logical question posed at a lab, clinic or drive-in test site is how long it will take to get the results. Short answer: Longer than it used to take. "When we first started testing, back in March, it took three to five days pretty much for everybody," said Amy Bogue, President of Allego Clinic in Columbus. "In some cases we were getting results back in three days. But about two weeks ago, everything changed. Now, it's 10 to 13 days. I've talked to a lot of the other clinics in the area and they're saying the same thing." Bogue said the longer delay is partly a function of more testing. Another factor -- Bogue believes it to be the biggest factor -- is a back-up at the labs used to analyze the tests.
Mississippi flag group could meet without gov's appointees
The commission that will design a new Mississippi flag without the Confederate battle emblem will meet for the first time Wednesday, possibly without full membership. Republican Gov. Tate Reeves on Tuesday still had not appointed his three members to the nine-person commission. He said during a news conference Monday that he's spending most of his time on response to the coronavirus. Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and House Speaker Philip Gunn, who are also Republicans, announced their appointees last week. "Gov. Reeves' top priority right now is ensuring the health and well-being of all Mississippians during this unprecedented pandemic, working around the clock with our state health experts to limit transmission," his spokeswoman, Renae Eze, said in a statement to The Associated Press on Tuesday. "The Governor will announce his appointees once he's had the opportunity to review the limited options from which he's able to choose."
State flag commission to meet with or without governor's appointees
The commission tasked with recommending a new state flag for voters to decide on during the Nov. 3 election will hold its first meeting Wednesday, with or without Gov. Tate Reeves' appointees to the panel. Lawmakers tasked Reeves, House Speaker Philip Gunn and Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann with appointing three members each to the nine-member commission that will decide the new design. Gunn and Hosemann met the July 15 deadline to announce the appointees, but Reeves still has not announced his picks. On Tuesday, Gunn and Hosemann announced that their six appointees to the commission will meet at 10 a.m. on Wednesday at the Two Mississippi Museums. It is not clear whether Reeves' appointees will be announced by then and at the meeting. The law mandates that the Legislature's two presiding officers call the first meeting.
Flag design commission to hold first meeting
A commission to propose a new state flag design will meet for the first time Wednesday morning, though Gov. Tate Reeves has not yet named the appointments to the commission he is required by law to make. Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and Speaker of the House Philip Gunn have jointly called for a 10 a.m. Wednesday meeting of the commission that will select a new flag design to go before voters in November. The commission's membership includes Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill. By state law, appointments to the commission were to be made by July 15. Hosemann and Gunn each announced their three selections by the deadline. Almost a week now since that deadline elapsed, Reeves has yet to publicly named any of his three appointments. Of his three appointments, one must be a representative of the Mississippi Economic Council, one a representative of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and one a representative of the Mississippi Arts Commission.
'They've failed us': Inside the battle for control of the Mississippi Democratic Party
A former judge says he has the votes to replace Mississippi Democratic Party Chairman Bobby Moak, but that Moak has been trying to sandbag the process to prevent his ouster. Tyree Irving, former longtime Mississippi Court of Appeals judge, told Mississippi Today that 45 of the party's newly elected 80-member executive committee have pledged support to him, and another eight have told others they'll vote for him. "I've just heard total disappointment and disillusion and unhappiness with the current chair," Irving said. "... Well over a majority of people on the current committee have said they are going to vote for me, and since most don't know me, the singular driving force is dissatisfaction with Mr. Moak." Many Democratic leaders and candidates have decried a lack of leadership in the party and support for candidates, particularly amid the party's dismal showing in the 2019 statewide elections. Republicans swept all statewide offices last year, solidifying supermajority control of the state Legislature and increasing down-ticket wins on the local level.
Mississippi Center for Public Policy announces departure of CEO Jon Pritchett
The Mississippi Center for Public Policy announced today that its CEO, Jon Pritchett, is leaving at the end of July. Board member Lesley Davis, a lawyer, activist, and native Mississippian, will serve as interim CEO while the Board conducts a national search for a replacement. Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts from Mississippi State University and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Baltimore. She has worked as a law clerk and attorney for the late Honorable Arlin M. Adams, U.S. Office of Independent Counsel, Washington D.C. She later served as a partner in a leading Baltimore law firm. In addition to the MCPP Board, Davis serves on numerous boards including the Cline Centers, MSU Alumni Advisory, MSU Honors College, Delta Gamma Fraternity Jackson Alumnae Chapter, Bully Bloc Executive Committee, Young Life Executive Committee, and the Jackson Preparatory School's Global Leadership Institute. Davis is married to Dr. John D. Davis IV. They have three children and are members of First Presbyterian Church in Jackson.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says next COVID-19 relief bill will include stimulus checks
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that Republicans want to include a second round of stimulus checks and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding as part of their forthcoming coronavirus proposal. "Speaking of building on what worked in the CARES Act, we want another round of direct payments, direct payments to help American families keep driving our national comeback," McConnell said from the Senate floor. McConnell, during his floor speech, did not provide details on who would qualify for the next round of stimulus checks. But traveling across Kentucky during the two-week July 4 recess, he repeatedly referenced individuals who make up to $40,000 per year, suggesting Republicans could place a lower income ceiling to qualify for the direct assistance in the next coronavirus bill. The movement toward a second round of checks comes as the economy remains rocky as the country's coronavirus cases continue to climb. Unemployment also remains stuck in the double digits.
Rock, meet hard place: Senate appropriators' dilemma
As House lawmakers start debating most if not all of the dozen spending bills for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 over the next two weeks, they are leaving their Senate counterparts in the dust. The Democrat-led House Appropriations Committee has marked up all 12 bills, with floor action getting underway later this week. The GOP-controlled Senate Appropriations Committee has not marked up any of its bills, and it appears unlikely to do so before the November elections. The ostensible holdup is the lack of an agreement between Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., and ranking member Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., on what amendments will be offered in committee. But election-year politics appears to be the real underlying culprit, according to budget experts. They say Democrats want to use amendments to score political points to try to reclaim control of the Senate, and Republicans see no point in taking those shots if there is no expectation the bills will be passed before the elections.
Americans tune in to 'cancel culture' -- and don't like what they see
One of the few things that Barack Obama and Donald Trump agree on is cancel culture. In the last year, as numerous public figures have become the targets of online campaigns by social media swarms, the former and current president have spoken out against the practice. "That's not activism," Obama said last November. "That's not bringing about change. If all you're doing is casting stones, you're probably not going to get that far. That's easy to do." In a Fourth of July speech at Mount Rushmore, Trump said, "We want free and open debate, not speech codes and cancel culture. We embrace tolerance, not prejudice." There's significant disagreement about what cancel culture is or even whether it exists. Cancel culture is generally discussed as being performed on social media in the form of group shaming. A plurality (46%) of Americans believe that cancel culture "has gone too far." About a quarter of Americans -- many of whom are perhaps blissfully offline -- said they didn't know or had no opinion on the matter. When they are removed from the results, a clear majority -- across almost every demographic category -- says that cancel culture has gone too far.
Millsaps College prepares to reopen campus for fall semester
On May 13, 2020, Millsaps College in Jackson announced it would be open for the fall semester. By all accounts, the college seems to be on target to do just that. Annie Mitchell is the chair of Millsaps' Campus Readiness Committee. She said they have been working on the college's reopening plan for months. The plan is based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Mississippi State Department of Health guidelines. Millsaps leaders said they feel prepared and confident to welcome students back in August. "We are currently working on our Isolation and Quarantine Plan. So more than likely, what that is going to look like is an independent residence hall. The CDC and the health department recommend that we hold five to ten percent of our student population. Allow for that in preparation for students who test positive," explained Mitchell. The campus has been blanketed with signage that reminds students to wear face masks. The face coverings will be required of all faculty, staff and students. The signs also remind them to social distance and practice effective hygiene.
Northeast Mississippi Community College issues Guide to a Safe Return to Campus
Northeast Mississippi Community College officials have issued the college's Guide to a Safe Return to Campus. Northeast's "Guide" includes information on Health & Safety, Academic Life, Campus Life, Finance and Business Operations, Human Resources, and a section on Athletics Return to Play. Officials also address safety measures for campus operations and events in the multi-page document. Northeast president Dr. Ricky G. Ford said the purpose for the "Guide" is simply to have all the information regarding the college's plans for any COVID-19 related issues available to students, their families, faculty and staff in one document. "My cabinet and I have been meeting weekly since the beginning of the pandemic to make certain the college is as prepared as it can be for any scenario that may become reality due to the virus," Ford said. "We wanted the entire college community to be on the same page as we moved forward toward having students and visitors back on campus this fall."
Donnie Caughman appointed to the Mississippi Community College Board
Donnie Caughman of Braxton has been appointed to the Mississippi Community College Board. His term began on July 1, 2020 and expires on June 30, 2026. "Donnie has been a close friend for years. His strong commitment to improving Mississippi has never wavered," said Governor Tate Reeves. "With a solid background in education, and having served in economic development as well as local government, he will be a valued member of the Mississippi Community College Board. I am grateful for his willingness to serve." Donnie is currently serving as the Simpson County Development Foundation's Director. The Foundation is the recruiting arm for economic development, community development, and retention of existing business in the county. He also served in various elected positions in municipal and county government, most recently as County Administrator of Madison County. Caughman is a graduate of Mendenhall High School and has a Bachelor of Science Degree and Master's Degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in Secondary Education Administration.
How much is your school district receiving in stimulus funds?
Mississippi's school districts are facing unprecedented decisions about how and when to reopen this fall. They're also facing decisions on how to spend an unprecedented amount of federal money designated specifically to help schools with pandemic relief efforts. This spring, Mississippi received over a billion dollars through the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to provide states with money to address the pandemic. The CARES Act contains $30.75 billion specifically designated to states for education. That money is separated into different pots for the governor, higher education and K-12 each to address the impact of COVID-19. To learn more about how much the governor's office and Mississippi colleges and universities received, click here. The K-12 monies come from a category called the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. Mississippi's portion of this money comes out to $169,883,002, which the Mississippi Department of Education subgrants directly to school districts, including charter schools. Each district receives money based on Title I funding, which are federal dollars given to schools with a high number of low-income students enrolled.
From move-in day to masks, changes are coming to housing at UT-Knoxville
Students living on campus at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will see several changes to on-campus housing, starting when they move into dorms. Efforts are being made to limit the number of people in dorms throughout the semester, with changes to the visitation policy and how many people can gather at once. Students will also be expected to wear a face covering any time they are outside their rooms. For move-in, students will sign up for a three-hour time slot. Face coverings will be required, and the number of people who can help students move in will be limited to two, said Chandra Myrick, executive director of university housing. "We're really trying to limit the number of people in the halls to allow for as much social distancing as possible," Myrick said. However, UT plans on making use of outdoor spaces so that students can still connect with their fellow Vols, said Frank Cuevas, vice chancellor for student life. "Our staff will still engage with students, and the RAs on the floors are still going to engage face to face, but also virtually," Cuevas said.
U. of Kentucky reveals COVID-19 testing requirements for up to 30,000 students
Through a combination of drive-through and walk-up options, the University of Kentucky expects to be able to test up to 2,000 students per day for COVID-19 in the weeks leading up to the first day of classes. UK, with an enrollment of around 30,000, is requiring students who have at least one class on campus to get tested. Students -- undergraduate and graduate, living on campus and off -- will be able to schedule free tests from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. between Aug. 3 and Aug. 22, according to the university. Testing will continue on weekends, and results should be returned within 24 hours. Employees do not have to be tested before returning to campus, UK said. Depending on guidelines set by individual departments, some employees will be asked to work completely remotely. According to Tyler Gayheart, the director of strategic communication and enterprise salesforce operations, employees are currently directed to be tested when they're symptomatic.
U. of Florida launches $70 million artificial intelligence partnership
The University of Florida has entered a $70 million partnership that officials say will catapult the school's artificial intelligence curriculum, and house the fastest supercomputer in higher education. Tuesday, UF announced it has joined efforts with Silicon Valley-based technology company NVIDIA to bolster and incorporate artificial intelligence, or AI, across the university's programs. Through artificial intelligence, a science discipline that prompts machines to mimic human actions, officials hope to study and address 21st century issues such as rising seas, aging populations, urban transportation and food insecurity. UF alumnus and NVIDIA co-founder Chris Malachowsky gave $25 million to the initiative, and his company donated an additional $25 million. The partnership, top UF officials said Tuesday, will allow 100 AI-centric faculty members to help achieve the university's goal for every student to encounter artificial intelligence in at least one of their classes.
U. of Arkansas, Fayetteville plans to seek state's consent on pay raises for 585 employees
The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville will seek state approval to raise the pay of 585 full-time staff members earning less than $30,000 annually, a spokeswoman said. UA Chancellor Joe Steinmetz in March said the university has "been alarmed by higher turnover in some positions," stating a goal to raise salaries to at least $30,000 for all full-time appointed employees. University spokeswoman Amy Schlesing said in an email that a request to increase the workers' pay will be submitted for approval "in the next few months" to the state Division of Higher Education. Clerical workers, housekeeping and groundskeeping staff members and "physical plant" maintenance employees make up the bulk of full-time employees at UA earning less than $30,000, said Michael Pierce, vice president of the UA-Fayetteville Education Association/Local 965 union. Pierce is an associate professor of history at the university.
Texas A&M expands on COVID-19 plan for fall semester
As Texas A&M students gear up for the upcoming school year, department of residence life leaders are equipping themselves with plans to keep Aggies safe in the event that someone contracts COVID-19. Carol Binzer, director of administrative and support services in the department of residence life, said the process has been exhausting but fruitful as she and her team try to think of how to take action in any potential scenario. She said students returning to campus also have a responsibility to do their part in helping prevent illness. "It's going to require everybody's participation," she said. "Students are being recommended to bring some cleaning supplies with them. ... Be diligent about your mask, be diligent about washing your hands and observing physical distancing. That's the best safeguard."
U. of Missouri officials address return to campus with faculty, staff
University of Missouri faculty and students won't necessarily find out if they're in a class where a student tested positive for COVID-19. That was one of the issues discussed Tuesday during an hour-long virtual town hall for faculty and staff about the return to campus in what is being called "Show Me Renewal." There were 171 attending at one point in the Zoom meeting, which was live-streamed on YouTube. A virtual town hall for students and families is scheduled for Wednesday. Face coverings will be required in campus buildings under the plan. Instructors will wear face shields so students with hearing impairments can read their lips. MU officials rejected some more rigorous measures that some other universities have adopted, including mandatory testing of students, said Mun Choi, University of Missouri System president and interim MU chancellor. "We did consider having mandatory testing," but it's not recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services, Choi said.
U. of Missouri students not required to report positive tests to university this fall
University of Missouri students who test positive for COVID-19 while on campus this fall are not required to report that information to the university, campus leaders said Tuesday while addressing questions on the university's safety procedures in a virtual town hall. Because positive test results are medically protected information, students are able to self-report, but it is "possible that a person could test positive and we would not get to know on campus," said John Middleton, chair-elect of MU's faculty council. That stipulation could complicate MU's tracking of the virus's spread on campus this semester, which begins Aug. 24. MU will track all positive cases confirmed by the MU Student Health Center and will have an online dashboard making that data publicly available, Middleton said, but students who get tested elsewhere will not be included in that tool.
Senator Lamar Alexander proposes student loan relief and FAFSA simplification
Nearing the end of his tenure in Congress, Senator Lamar Alexander, the chairman of the Senate education committee, proposed excusing those with no income from making student loan payments, as well as enacting one of his longtime goals: simplifying the forms used to apply for federal student aid. Alexander, a Republican from Tennessee who is retiring at the end of the year, noted Tuesday in a speech on the Senate floor that the reprieve the CARES Act gave student loan borrowers from making payments during the coronavirus pandemic will run out on Sept. 30. Under his proposal, Alexander said those without incomes, excluding unemployment, will not have to make federal student loan payments. Those who are continuing to make money would have to pay no more than 10 percent of their remaining income after paying for essentials like rent and food. Under either scenario, loans will be forgiven after 20 years for undergraduate loans or 25 years for graduate student loans.
Colleges plan for full-capacity residence halls
Students and faculty members from campuses within the University of North Carolina system are demanding an explanation for why residence halls will be occupied at full capacity in the fall despite a warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that doing so would put on-campus housing at the "highest risk" of spreading coronavirus. Lauren Whitehouse, a senior at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, signed up to live in an on-campus apartment with three other students before the pandemic intensified in March. Whitehouse said she will not be living in the apartment this fall; she considers the risk of living in a full-capacity dorm room to be too high. She was grouped with random roommates, who she said are "very social" and whom she's recently seen on social media out at clubs and not adhering to public health guidelines. "I'm really concerned about living with people who I think won't follow restrictions," said Whitehouse, who has one semester remaining before she graduates in December. "I know they'll be going out when we come back as well. I know a lot of people in our age group are not taking it seriously." Plans for full-occupancy residence halls appear to be consistent among several universities within the UNC system.
Colleges Spent Months Planning For Fall, But A COVID-19 Surge Is Changing Everything
When Irem Ozturk got the email from Dickinson College in mid-June announcing "we intend to bring all students back to campus," she was elated. She's originally from Turkey, but after two years on campus, she's come to think of Carlisle, Pa., as home. "I was thrilled because I felt like I was returning back home, excited to see friends and faculty," she says. "I felt happy. I felt like I had something to look forward to." That happiness lasted a little more than a month. Last week, Dickinson announced a new decision: "we have come to the very difficult decision that the fall 2020 semester will be remote." "It's heartbreaking for me, but I can't necessarily be mad at them," says Ozturk, a junior who's majoring in biology, and spending the summer in Pennsylvania, afraid to leave the U.S. for fear she wouldn't be able to return. She says she understands the reasoning to go remote: The testing capacity isn't there, there's no hospital on campus and the virus is spreading. But she's frustrated by the uncertainty. "Four weeks from now, we're supposed to have our first classes. I have only four weeks to come up with a plan." As the start of classes inches closer, more and more colleges are rolling back their earlier, more optimistic proclamations of an in-person or hybrid fall. Those initial plans are now more likely to include hefty virtual options. Some call for classes that would be mostly remote while others are calling for the semester to be entirely online.
Students push back against in-person bar and medical college exams amid coronavirus fears
Designed to measure fitness, character and competence, the bar exam is a grueling 12-hour test typically administered over a two-day period to thousands of recent law school graduates. But with coronavirus cases still surging in many parts of the nation, some law school graduates view this communal experience not as a shared rite of passage but as a potentially life-threatening risk. One person worried about the uncertainties of the in-person bar exam is aspiring child protection lawyer Mollie McGuire of Chicago. McGuire, along with Dalton Hughes and Steven Tinetti, formally filed a legal petition with the Illinois Supreme Court, asking the state's highest court to grant 2020 law school graduates diploma privilege, meaning they could practice law without sitting for the bar exam. Nearly 1,400 law school graduates, faculty members, lawyers and health care workers signed on to support the effort. In a different sphere of academia, prospective medical students across the country are fighting a required in-person entrance exam. Organizers of the group Students for Ethical Admissions have asked not to be named publicly because they worry it would jeopardize their admissions chances in a process that, as one of the students put it, "tends to have a heavy focus on 'professionalism.'"
Budget cuts, layoffs, furloughs: COVID-19's effect on colleges will shape higher ed for decades
In January Emerson College seemed poised for a great spring semester. The glass and concrete renovation of the Little Building dormitory, perched on the edge of Boston Common, was open after a multi-year renovation that breathed new life into the historic building. The school's Los Angeles campus was financially solid, and enrollment was strong. The school had taken on significant debt to finance the renovation, but administrators were confident that strong demand for their well-known arts and media programs would allow them to use 2020 to begin to recover from the expensive building project. By March, with the coronavirus pandemic sweeping across the country, everything changed for Emerson -- and virtually every other institution of higher education in the country. Local colleges and universities, including Emerson, Boston University, UMass Boston, and smaller schools, such as Springfield Technical Community College, have all imposed cuts with varying levels of severity, as they struggle to ready their institutions for an uncertain fall and beyond. "It's painful," said Emerson president Lee Pelton in a phone interview. "But we are guided by the values, which are health and safety, and understanding that the people are our focus."
Colleges and universities grapple with decision to return to campus
Video: U.S. colleges and universities are scrambling to finalize their fall plans as coronavirus infections continue to rise in much of the country. While some students, faculty and staff are looking forward to returning to campus, others are raising serious health and safety concerns. Hari Sreenivasan reports on how schools are approaching the decision, as part of our annual Rethinking College series.
Filthy lucre? U.S. coin circulation shortage makes my penny stash look better and better
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: I have a huge old six-gallon glass water bottle that I inherited from my father. I use it for the same purpose that he did -- as a container for pennies. Our grandchildren are fascinated by the large glass bottle containing my treasure much as I was over a half-century ago when watching my dad's stash grow. Nix, the youngest grandson, peered at the container and exclaimed recently: "You are rich!" The appropriate word would more likely be "frugal." I still pick up coins on the street. It's a habit my father taught me about how pennies grow into dollars. But my old penny stash is looking better and better these days, even though all our grands have at some point tried to stake their claims to it. The COVID-19 virus has produced all manner of strange behavior among our fellow Americans, not the least of which is the hoarding or at least the declining circulation of coins and paper money. The Federal Reserve estimates that there should be about $48 billion in coinage alone in circulation. But that's the trouble, the coins aren't circulating as they normally would. According to experts, some fear catching the virus from touching coins or bills.

Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill given key to his hometown
Sometimes what a college football player does off the field is just as rewarding as what he does on it. For Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill, that held true when he was presented with the key to his hometown Tuesday evening. Mayor Robert Smith awarded Hill the ceremonious key to Columbus during a city council meeting. Smith commended Hill for his heroism when he tweeted that he will not represent Mississippi as a college football player until the Confederate battle emblem was removed from the state flag. Hill's tweet and pressure from the SEC and NCAA led to key college athletics figures from the state of Mississippi -- including MSU athletic director John Cohen and football coach Mike Leach -- to lobby legislators to change the state flag. "Kylin is a courageous young man who did a bold and brave thing," Cohen said during the presentation. "He shared an emboldened belief held by many Mississippians that a paradigm-shifting change needed to be made. It was time for a new flag."
MSU women's basketball notebook: McCray-Penson reflects on Confederate flag lobbying, recruiting online and more
Nikki McCray-Penson had been there before. Previously an assistant coach at South Carolina when the Palmetto State removed the Confederate flag from government buildings, McCray-Penson spent a major chunk of Tuesday night's Virtual Road Dawgs Tour segment reflecting on her experiences with the changing of the Mississippi state flag in late June. McCray-Penson was among a slew of coaches donning the maroon and white who lobbied legislators at the state capitol in Jackson to remove Confederate iconography from the state flag. She was also the lone MSU coach who addressed a number of reporters and legislators from the steps of the capitol building as she was flanked by coaches from all eight of Mississippi's public universities after the NCAA announced it would no longer allow Mississippi schools to host postseason events unless the flag was changed. "To go through it again, to see it happen in South Carolina and to see it happen in the state of Mississippi was very special," McCray-Penson said Tuesday. "Now, it's not up to the flag that's going to keep us from being in postseason play, it's up to us."
Q&A: Chad Ramey
For Chad Ramey, there's no place like home -- except when he's on the golf course. The Mississippi State alum was born and raised in Mississippi and calls it home again, while many of his fellow touring professionals have decided to put down roots in Arizona or Florida. Ramey, who sits just inside The 25 past the midway point of 2020, spent a few minutes with PGA TOUR Digital chatting about the love for his home state, how he started marking his ball with a coin from Iceland of all places, and what his big life goal is.
What's next for Jackson State, Alcorn State, MVSU with SWAC football postponed
A fall in Mississippi without SWAC football is a sad thought to ponder. The SWAC announced on Monday that it will be postponing its 2020 football season. The conference is "formalizing plans" to play a seven-game spring football season following an eight-week training period beginning in January, but no schedules or specific dates have been announced yet. "The rapid escalation of COVID-19 cases around the country heavily influenced the decision, as well as data that suggests that the African-American and other minority communities are being disproportionately affected," Alcorn State athletics director Derek Horne said in a statement. "Decisions of this magnitude are made in the best of interest of the health and safety of everyone involved." So what does it mean for Jackson State, Alcorn State and Mississippi Valley State? "We know this is disappointing news to everyone," MVSU president Jerryl Biggs and athletic director Dianthia Ford-Kee said in a joint statement. "However we will continue to monitor and assess the pandemic over the next few months in our effort to return to play for winter and spring sports. We will also review the viability to integrate fall sports during the spring season."
JSU will face financial loss due to SWAC decision
There will be no football in the SWAC this fall due to the rapid spread of coronavirus. The SWAC is the most recent conference to suspend fall sports, and many are concerned what this means for the school financially. Jackson State leads in average attendance, bringing over 33,000 fans for home games last year. With not having a traditional fall sports, this will hurt the Tigers financially. The spring will have all of the major sports at one time. JSU's athletic director said spring may provide just enough financial stability to bounce back. "Basketball will play, baseball will play, softball will play and I'm very optimistic from a financial standpoint if things go to plan I think we'll be okay. Especially with football playing and getting some games and the thing about it-conference games," said JSU's Athletic Director Ashley Robinson.
SWAC football move to spring causes ramifications -- financial and otherwise
Mississippi sports columnist Rick Cleveland writes: The dominos continue to fall in college sports. The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) announced Monday the postponement of all fall sports, including football, until the spring semester. The SWAC follows the Ivy League, the Colonial Athletic Conference, the Patriot League and others in either postponing or canceling the football season because of the pandemic. More will follow. The Pacific-12 and Big Ten, two power conferences, have announced they will play conference games only. More leagues making more decisions are certain to follow. In Division II, Gulf South Conference presidents, including those from Delta State and Mississippi College, held a conference call Tuesday to address the football question. An answer should come as early as Wednesday or perhaps Thursday. Bet on this: A full season will not be played this fall in the GSC. ... The SWAC decision has far-reaching ramifications, including huge financial hits -- inside the SWAC and out.
Governor asks U. of New Mexico, New Mexico State to suspend fall contact sports
Citing the rise of positive COVID-19 cases among young people in the state, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday sent a letter to the leadership of the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University strongly urging both to suspend contact sports this fall, including football and soccer. In the letter reviewed Tuesday by the Journal, Lujan Grisham, who earlier this month ordered the New Mexico Activities Association to postpone all fall contact sports at the high school level until 2021, is now urging the governor-appointed regents and university leadership at UNM and NMSU to take similar steps. The letter states it is "critical that you postpone collegiate athletics in this moment of escalating danger," saying there is potential they could be resumed in late 2020 or early 2021. Both UNM and NMSU have yet to say they will adhere to the governor's request and both have prior contractual agreements that are tied in with multi-million dollar television deals and previously agreed to football games.
Lobos coach unconcerned with last-place preseason ranking
All right, nothing to see here. Please disperse. In the immortal words of movie character Officer Frank Drebin, we discover the true meaning to the University of New Mexico's football coach after his team was picked last in Tuesday's Mountain West Conference preseason polls. "Don't care," said Lobos head coach Danny Gonzales in the wake of an announcement that had his team received few votes in a poll by the league's media members. "We won't be picked last for long around here." This marks the 10th straight year the Lobos have been picked to finish either last or next to last in the preseason poll. The Lobos have finished 8-28 the last three seasons, ending each of those campaigns with losing streaks of seven, seven and nine games. The latest one cost Bob Davie his job as head coach, ushering in the Gonzales rebuilding project that began with a solid recruiting class in February's signing period. The pandemic notwithstanding, New Mexico is scheduled to open its season Aug. 29 at home against Idaho State at Dreamstyle Stadium. Following that is a game Sept. 5 at Mississippi State.
College Football's Stringent Contact Tracing Protocol Is 'Massive Challenge' to Season
Steven Goodman, an associate dean and professor of epidemiology at Stanford, knows medicine. He's studied at some of the most renowned universities in America -- Johns Hopkins, Washington University, Harvard and NYU. He's won a multitude of awards for his research and teaching contributions to the field of epidemiology. In fact, he's a lifetime fellow of the American College of Epidemiology. His sports knowledge isn't as deep. He's a basketball and tennis junkie, his days as a child on Long Island spent rooting for the New York Knicks and attending US Open championships. He says his Sunday TV football watching is typically a break from epidemiology (concussion concerns aside), but the two sides came together during a recent interview about the Power 5 conference's in-season COVID-19 management plan, a draft of which was obtained last week by Sports Illustrated. The plan requires a mandatory 14-day quarantine for those who have been found to have had "high-risk" contact with a person who tested positive for the virus. According to the document, "high-risk" contact includes collisions in practice. Goodman chuckles when hearing this, the medical and sports areas of his brain colliding. "You could be talking about knocking out a whole team," he says. "It bumps into reality. If you're going to be that cautious -- and I'm not saying you shouldn't be -- does that make football possible? I think there are good reasons to doubt it."
President of SEC details key factors for having college football this fall
Dr. Eli Capilouto is uniquely qualified for this moment. The University of Kentucky president has a doctorate in health policy and management from Harvard and a master's in epidemiology. Before Kentucky, the Alabama native served as the dean of UAB's School of Public Health and later became the school's provost. To put it simply, he's a brilliant guy who can offer a well-reasoned perspective on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Capilouto taps into all of that education and expertise as one of the most influential educational leaders in college sports. He serves as president of the SEC's presidents and chancellors, chair of the NCAA Board of Directors and member of the 25-person NCAA Board of Governors. He'll have a say in many of the most important decisions made involving college athletics this fall, including an upcoming Board of Governors meeting at the end of this week.
SEC, Arkansas holding out hope for fall football season
Conferences are backing out of the fall football season all around the SEC as it holds out hope it can salvage all or parts of the season this fall. On Tuesday evening, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey reiterated the conference is doing all it can to prepare to play a football season on schedule. About the time Sankey was making those comments on ESPN's "College Football Live", many players at the University of Arkansas made their feelings on the season known. A group that began with linebackers Grant Morgan and Bumper Pool -- and included veterans such as cornerback Montaric Brown; offensive linemen Myron Cunningham, Dalton Wagner and Shane Clenin; defensive lineman Xavier Kelly; and linebackers Hayden Henry and Levi Draper --all posted Twitter messages with a similar theme. The basic line was: We want to play. Everyone do your part. Wear a mask. We can do this together. Most of the players tagged Coach Sam Pittman, Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek and Sankey in their tweets. Yurachek told media members on a Zoom call last week that the UA athletes he had talked to said they wanted to play their fall seasons.
Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick wants delayed start, 8-10 games
Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said Tuesday he would like to see the college football season delayed to evaluate the circumstances on campuses as students return during the coronavirus pandemic, but he remains confident that the Irish can still contest a schedule comparable to those of Power 5 conferences in spite of recently losing three major opponents. When the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences announced earlier this month that they were moving to a conference-only schedule because of the ongoing pandemic, Notre Dame lost opponents USC, Stanford and its game against Wisconsin in Lambeau Field. "I don't anticipate a 12-game schedule," Swarbrick told ESPN on Tuesday. "I'd like to start a little later. The value of starting later is you really get to see how your university has done. You have the benefit of all of that information and knowledge, and so I'd like to start a little later." The next two weeks will be critical in determining what the college football season will actually look like -- if there is one -- as the SEC and ACC have benchmarked the end of the month to make some decisions.
Black Lives Matter Protests Spawn Push for Athletes to Attend Historically Black Colleges
On June 2, as Black Lives Matter protesters swarmed America's streets demanding an end to the racist vestiges of America's troubled past, a teenager from a San Diego suburb posted eight words on Twitter that would soon ignite a less visible, though perhaps just as powerful, movement. "Going to an HBCU wouldn't be too bad," he wrote. The person behind the Twitter post, which quickly went viral, is one of the most sought-after college basketball recruits of the Class of 2023: 16-year-old Mikey Williams. If he were to attend a historically Black college or university, Williams would become one of the highest-rated athletes to do so post-integration. Williams's post came as a surprise to college sports recruiters and fans who pore over social media for clues about which schools an athlete might be favoring. To land a recruit like Williams would all but guarantee a team's success and ensure prime TV placement for their games. Williams, who averages 30 points per game for San Ysidro High School, had already amassed offers from some of the country's top basketball programs, including Kansas and U.C.L.A. In the six days following his tweet, he received another 14 -- all from H.B.C.U.s.
The NFL's Pandemic Plan: Daily Testing and High-Tech Contact Tracing
With just days before training camps begin, the NFL and its players agreed to football's most important new rules -- pandemic protocols -- after a period of blistering public criticism about safety standards from stars across the league. The agreement between the NFL and NFL Players Association calls for daily testing at the start of camp, a daunting task in a business with thousands of players, coaches and staffers. It also mandates technologically advanced contact tracing to reduce the coronavirus's spread if it enters team facilities. "Everything we're doing is centered around the concept of risk mitigation," said Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL's chief medical officer. "We know we can't eliminate risk." It's a distinctly NFL approach to a problem the league has become very familiar with: health and safety. Sills called the protocols "living and breathing documents" that he expects to change both as the science evolves surrounding the novel virus and they see it implemented. "This is not going to feel normal," Sills said, "because this is not going to be normal."

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