Wednesday, July 29, 2020   
Mississippi State University, Mississippi Delta Community College sign MOU for Bachelor of Applied Science degree program
Mississippi State University and Mississippi Delta Community College signed a memorandum of understanding today [July 28] to formalize partnership programs for students enrolled in technical education programs. The agreement outlines a pathway for MDCC students to complete MSU's new Bachelor of Applied Science program, leveraging the strengths of both institutions to provide more opportunities in technical education and meet current and future workforce demands. "We need more two-year and four-year graduates to move Mississippi forward," MSU President Mark E. Keenum said. "By working together, I believe we'll be able to better assist our fellow Mississippians in gaining the education they need to compete for the jobs of the 21st century. We are committed to helping all of our BAS students excel and earn a bachelor's degree -- building on the excellent foundation they have been given at MDCC."
Rotarians learn to build for baseball
Before the first pitch can fly toward home plate, every major league baseball team needs a place to play. On Monday, Starkville rotarians were treated to an inside look at the work that goes into designing a baseball stadium. Janet Marie Smith, a graduate of Mississippi State University, is renown for her work renovating baseball stadiums, such as Baltimore Orioles' Camden Yards and Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox. Joining Starkville Rotary Club's weekly meeting Monday, Smith shared her approach toward blending existing elements in the stadium with modern amenities to create the ultimate fan experience. When she first started planning renovations to Camden Yard, some 30 years ago, Smith said she was frequently asked how she knew her ideas would work. "I was often asked, when I would go to meetings like this one, how did we know it was going to stand the test of time," she said. "The answer is you don't. You really can't see into the future. You don't know. All you can do is the best you can do for that moment and hope you build in enough flexibility and elasticity that he building can survive changes in human behavior and the business decisions that support these parks." One of the first things she learned, Smith said, was let baseball be baseball.
OCH CEO: Federal relief funds likely won't be used for employee raises, hazard pay
OCH Regional Medical Center employees have been hoping to receive pay raises from the hospital's supply of federal financial relief, but administration and the board of trustees said Tuesday that is unlikely to happen. The hospital received about $13 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) and has used about $5.1 million so far, CEO Jim Jackson said at Tuesday's board meeting. The purpose for the money is to "offset the incremental cost of treating COVID patients" and not to cover extra compensation for employees, who have been asking if that is a possibility, he said. Chief Financial Officer Susan Russell said guidelines for the use of the CARES money will be provided to the administration on Aug. 17. The hospital has to justify its use of the money, and it might be able to claim payments for contract nurses if they were necessary to meet staffing needs, Russell said. Much of the money is in an escrow account, meaning it can't be applied to the hospital's income statements "until we can match those funds up with valid COVID expenses," Jackson said.
4-County using CARES funds for limited broadband buildout
Rural parts of Choctaw, Clay and Noxubee counties will receive broadband internet access from the 4-County Electric Power Association thanks to a state-run grant program distributing federal funding. 4-County executives say the program could bring them closer to meeting the demand for broadband in rural Lowndes and Oktibbeha counties as well. The COVID-19 Connectivity Act, approved by the state Legislature and signed by Gov. Tate Reeves earlier this month, allocated $65 million for Mississippi's 26 member-owned electric cooperatives to provide broadband service to rural areas with little or no internet access. The $65 million came from the $1.25 billion Mississippi received from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the relief package Congress passed in March in light of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. 4-County spokesman Jon Turner said the cooperative chose the portions of its nine-county service territory -- northeast Choctaw County, west Clay County and north Noxubee County -- that are currently in the most need of service.
2nd quarter outlook for 2020 economy in state takes a definite upswing, University Research Center says
Mississippi's economy is responding positively to the loosening of coronavirus pandemic restrictions. The outlook issued recently by the University Research Center (URC) of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning calls for the gross domestic product (GDP) to contract 4.1 percent in 2020. The GDP is the total monetary value of goods and services produced. But how is shrinkage a good thing? That's because that negative outlook is far better than the one the URC issued three months earlier, which called for a contraction of 5.8 percent for the year. The self-induced recession was brought about by a two-month "lockdown" across the country in which many companies closed altogether and others to a lesser degree. Mississippi's stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Tate Reeves was issued April 3 and ended on May 11. By June 1, all businesses could open, some with restrictions, especially restaurants and retail. The latest URC outlook calls for the U.S. economy to shrink by 6.1 percent, .7 of a percentage point less than was predicted in the previous quarter. Still, in the topsy-turvy pandemic world, "if realized, this decrease would be the largest annual contraction in the U.S. real GDP since 1946," the outlook stated.
Record day in deaths as 1,342 new COVID cases are reported
Mississippi's total of presumptive cases of COVID-19 now stands at 54,299 after the Mississippi Health Department reported 1,342 newly identified cases on Friday. It was the 11th time in the last 14 days there have been more than 1,000 cases in a day. The verifiable single-day high for number of cases was 1,635 on July 21 as nine of the top 10 single days highs have come since July 16. There have been 1,543 total deaths reported (42 new). Cumulatively thus far, Hinds County has the most cases with 4,737, followed by Desoto County with 2,882, Madison County with 2,139, Rankin County with 1,920, Harrison with 1,868, Jackson with 1,638 and Jones County with 1,621. Counties with the most deaths are Hinds with 93, Lauderdale with 85, Neshoba with 83, Leflore with 57, Jones with 56, Madison with 50, Monroe with 49, Forrest with 48, and Holmes with 45.
Mississippi governor, Tupelo mayor feud over state's response to COVID-19
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves and Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton are again exchanging sharp jabs with one another over the state's pandemic response. At a press briefing on Monday, Reeves accused Shelton of playing a "blame game" during the pandemic instead of working to respond to the virus in a beneficial way. The first-term Republican governor's rebuke came after a reporter at the press briefing said that Shelton and Chokwe Antar Lumumba, the Democratic mayor of Jackson, had both indicated that Reeves and his office have not communicated effectively with mayors about the state's efforts to slow the spread of the virus. "You've got mayors like the one in Tupelo who has decided that he'd rather play politics in the middle of this pandemic than actually focus on doing what's right for his constituents, and that's certainly his prerogative," Reeves said. "He wants to attack, attack, attack and, quite frankly, play the blame game." Shelton, a second-term Democratic mayor, told the Daily Journal in a statement that the city of Tupelo has led the way in responding to the virus and has listened to local, state and national healthcare providers as a way to properly respond.
Expert tells Mississippi state flag redesign commission: 'Keep it simple.'
The commission charged with presenting a new Mississippi state flag to voters in November on Tuesday heard from a vexillologist, or expert on flags. "Simplicity," Mississippi vexillologist Clay Moss told the commission, is the first rule of flag design. "A small child should be able to draw it from memory. Less is more ... Keep it simple." The other four basic principles of flag design are to use meaningful symbolism, use only two to three basic colors, refrain from using lettering or seals and to be either distinctive or related. Moss noted that the Mississippi Legislature has mandated the commission violate one of the principles -- the commission must include the words "In God We Trust" on whatever design it approves and puts before voters. Moss said this could still be done in an aesthetically pleasing way -- perhaps in a ribbon or emblem -- and noted both Florida's and Georgia's flags include the same words. "I'm jealous of you, as a flag nerd," Moss told commissioners on Tuesday. He also urged them to "be wide open" to designs and "have fun."
Here's how Mississippi's flag commission plans to narrow down more than 1,000 submissions
Mississippi's flag commission faces an aggressive deadline: narrow more than 1,000 flag ideas down to a final choice in about one month. The nine-member commission agreed Tuesday on the protocols it will use to sift through the flag designs submitted by the public. Those submissions will continue to trickle in through a Saturday deadline. Commissioners are also allowed to design their own flag, or pull themes from multiple submissions. They may receive guidance from a graphic designer and a vexillologist, or flag expert. There are only two design mandates for the new banner: It cannot include the Confederate battle emblem, and the words "In God We Trust" must be visible. But Clay Moss, a vexillogist, urged the commissioners to also follow several other basic flag design rules. Rule No. 1? Simplicity. Commissioners agreed to a multistep process of narrowing down the flag submissions that have been made to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
Barr hearing: Democrats seek to shame AG over politics at the Justice Department
Democrats clashed with Attorney General William P. Barr on Tuesday at a congressional hearing marked by angry recriminations over racial justice protests in Portland, Ore., and around the country, as the nation's top law enforcement official said additional agents were needed to subdue aggressive, violent crowds. The hearing before the House Judiciary Committee was acrimonious from the outset, as liberal lawmakers accused the conservative attorney general of politicizing the Justice Department through his deployment of federal agents to U.S. cities, his involvement in high-profile prosecutions of people connected to President Trump, and his posture toward the upcoming presidential election. Lawmakers spent months seeking Barr's testimony on a host of issues related to the Trump administration's interactions with the Justice Department. With the attorney general finally seated at the witness table, Democrats mostly made speeches or talked over him as he attempted to answer their questions, seemingly squandering any chance of getting new information or an admission out of him. "This is a hearing; I thought I was the one who was supposed to be heard," Barr said in exasperation.
Scientists get closer to blood test for Alzheimer's disease
An experimental blood test was highly accurate at distinguishing people with Alzheimer's disease from those without it in several studies, boosting hopes that there soon may be a simple way to help diagnose this most common form of dementia. Developing such a test has been a long-sought goal, and scientists warn that the new approach still needs more validation and is not yet ready for wide use. But Tuesday's results suggest they're on the right track. The testing identified people with Alzheimer's vs. no dementia or other types of it with accuracy ranging from 89% to 98%. "That's pretty good. We've never seen that" much precision in previous efforts, said Maria Carrillo, the Alzheimer's Association's chief science officer. Dr. Eliezer Masliah, neuroscience chief at the U.S. National Institute on Aging, agreed. "The data looks very encouraging," he said. More than 5 million people in the United States and many more worldwide have Alzheimer's. Current drugs only temporarily ease symptoms and do not slow mental decline.
USM president: Here's what we are doing to chart the course for Fall 2020 amid pandemic
Rodney D. Bennett, president of the University of Southern Mississippi, writes for the Hattiesburg American: As they likely are for you, these are challenging times for higher education and for Mississippi's public institutions of higher learning, including The University of Southern Mississippi. Social unrest, a public health crisis, and economic considerations shape USM's daily decisions in an unprecedented manner, as we continue our important work educating students and conducting research that helps to improve the lives of Mississippians – all the while doing what we can to ensure that everyone in our community remains as healthy as possible. ... While this year has been particularly challenging for all of us, as the university prepares for the beginning of the Fall 2020 semester, I want to share a snapshot of our plans for the coming months.
Millsaps College to Go Test Optional for Fall 2021
Applicants to Millsaps College will not be required to submit standardized test scores to be considered for admission for at least the next application cycle, the college announced today. The decision was made because of issues related to student access to standardized testing sites across the country because of the COVID-19 pandemic. "The pandemic has added unfortunate obstacles to the lives of our prospective students and their families," says Vice President of Enrollment Beth Clarke. "Limited access to testing sites across the country and day-of testing cancellations have added an additional layer of difficulty. We want to do everything we can to reduce anxiety and increase access to Millsaps." The removal of the requirement for standardized test scores has an additional benefit of increasing educational opportunity for first-generation and underrepresented students.
As Gov. Tate Reeves works to save School Recognition Program, critics say it 'intensifies already serious inequality'
Five years ago, New York native Nicole Moore graduated from college in Atlanta, packed her bags and moved to the Mississippi Delta to teach. The Teach For America member was placed at Coahoma Early College High School, formerly an agricultural school deemed low performing. The new teacher had her work cut out for her at a school where less than a third of students were proficient in reading, according to the Mississippi Department of Education. Moore and her colleagues made a commitment to improve student achievement at the school, and in a two-year period students saw results. Originally rated a D, the school's accountability rating climbed to a C -- a marked improvement. As a testament to her hard work, two years later, the high school English teacher received a one-time $1,000 reward in 2019. Moore was one of thousands of teachers to receive money from the School Recognition Program, a merit pay program the state Legislature created in 2014. Today, the program is at the center of a power struggle between the executive and legislative branch, and it's the reason why the K-12 budget has not been appropriated this year.
Why the U. of Alabama wrote fewer parking tickets in recent years
College campus parking is as much of a sport as anything Nick Saban coaches. There's never an open spot, and ... is that a boot on your tire? The dozen or so in the parking ticket squad are perhaps the least popular members of the University of Alabama community, but they're not quite as busy as they once were. Chris D'Esposito, the executive director of transportation services at UA, took a few minutes from a busy July schedule to explain the changing dynamics of parking at the crowded Tuscaloosa campus. Of note, the parking citations are down considerably. As recently as 2012-13, reported nearly 55,000 tickets were written with an enrollment of 33,500. That's 1.6 tickets per student with fines ranging from $25 to $500. Citations fell each of the past three years of data D'Esposito had. The number of spaces was up to 24,425 in 2019 with evolving options leading to the dip in tickets written. Only 40 percent of students have permits costing $345 for commuters and $400 for residents. So, what's the deal with the other 60 percent? And why are tickets down? D'Esposito points to the new strategy with hour parking, pay stations and new parking garages.
Auburn Panhellenic announces fully virtual recruitment
Potential new members of Auburn sororities will be welcomed into their chapters somewhat differently this fall than in other years. The Auburn University Panhellenic Council announced its decision to make all rounds of recruitment virtual, including Bid Day, on Tuesday morning via social media. "Due to the ongoing concerns surrounding COVID-19, Auburn University, in conjunction with the Auburn Panhellenic Council is moving to option three, hosting all rounds virtually," said the post. The post continued that it was not an easy decision, but that it is the safest possible way to welcome new members into their sororities. Recruitment week will still be held Aug. 8-15, and chapters will be able to host virtual meetings with parents of new members after Bid Day. New members will be able to visit the chapter who offered them a bid, and they are recommended to wear light clothing. Masks are required.
Cyber attack hit Auburn University Foundation vendor
The Auburn University Foundation revealed Monday that one of its vendors was hit with a cyberattack earlier this year. South Carolina-based Blackbaud handles donor information for non-profit entities around the world, including the foundation. It was held to ransom and paid an undisclosed sum to cyber-criminals, according to the BBC News website, which added that the company received proof that the hackers destroyed the data they had obtained. Christopher B. Roberts, interim president of the foundation and dean of Auburn's Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, notified the university's extended community Monday of the breach. "According to Blackbaud, sensitive personal information, such as Social Security numbers and credit card data, was not impacted as a result of the Blackbaud incident. Moreover, Social Security numbers are not stored by the Auburn University Foundation in this system," Roberts stated in an email.
U. of Florida students use down time to create commerce
University of Florida students are getting down to business. With little to do when the world seemingly closed down in mid-March, some students turned their boredom into creativity and started social media businesses. Jamie Kraft, the administrative director of the University of Florida's Entrepreneurship Program, was not surprised to hear that students are using this time to create businesses. Creativity can stem from necessity, by economic strain, for example, or from sheer boredom, such as that brought on by the pandemic. "Typically, the first thing we tell everybody is that you want to look for opportunity, where there are unmet needs and gaps in offerings," Kraft said. "This is where entrepreneurs can move into the market with a solution in the form of a product or service."
Report: Texas A&M President Michael K. Young says '100 new infections a day' discussed as measure for shutting down in-person classes this fall
Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that A&M hasn't set a threshold to shut down in-person classes this fall, but 100 new infections a day has been mentioned as a mark to warrant a shutdown. A shutdown, Young said, might also be dependent on whether its students or faculty are getting sick. "If it was 100 professors a day, it would be game over," Young told the Wall Street Journal. "We can't lose 20% of professors and continue to run the university." Young said drafting a plan to unify East and West Germany while working for the U.S. State Department in the 1980s was easier than figuring out how to bring back A&M's students, faculty and staff to campus this fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, A&M is slated to begin its fall semester on Aug. 19. A&M Provost Carol A. Fierke said earlier this month that more than 50% of the fall course sections at A&M will be offered in-person. On Monday, Fierke announced A&M is in the process of setting up 40 to 50 tents across the main campus with tables and WiFi to provide additional study space.
Curators approve merger of system president and U. of Missouri chancellor
The UM System Board of Curators voted to combine the roles of University of Missouri System president and MU chancellor Tuesday, approving a new governing structure that aims to centralize authority and reduce costs. Mun Choi will serve in the combined chief executive role, granting him unprecedented authority since the UM System's creation in 1963. The curators extended his contract by two years -- to June 30, 2026 -- but his pay remains the same. The vote confirms Choi as permanent MU chancellor. He will directly oversee all operations at the Columbia campus while supervising the campuses in St. Louis, Kansas City and Rolla. In the weeks prior to Tuesday's vote, faculty at three of the system's four campuses publicly opposed the decision. Councils representing faculty at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Missouri-St. Louis expressed concerns about potential conflicts of interest and undermining of their campuses' authority and funding.
U. of Missouri curators adopt federal Title IX rules that empower accused
Those accused of sexual harassment, assault or misconduct at University of Missouri System schools may cross-examine their accusers through an intermediary under new federal Title IX regulations approved Tuesday by the University of Missouri Board of Curators. In general, the federal regulations weaken the position of accusers and strengthen the position of those accused in Title IX hearings. The university is required to provide supportive measures for both parties in a complaint. A formal, written complaint is required to start an investigation. During hearings, cross-examination must be done by advisors. There was a rush to make the changes, board chairwoman Julia Brncic said during the news conference. It provides due process, she said. "There's a lot of review and not a lot of time to get it right," she said. The new federal regulations take effect Aug. 14.
Trump Administration Will Reject New DACA Applications While It Reviews Program
The Trump administration announced Tuesday that it will reject new applications to the Obama-era program that protects certain undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. It will consider renewals on a case-by-case basis but limit them to one year instead of two while it conducts a legal review of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. The latest move by the White House defies a federal judge's ruling this month that the administration must start accepting new applications to the program that has shielded around 700,000 immigrants from the threat of deportation and allowed them to work. Along with rejecting initial DACA requests, the White House will turn down all associated applications for work authorization documents -- a move that will add to the economic stress and uncertainty facing undocumented families hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the White House's efforts to immediately end the DACA program, saying it hadn't provided adequate justification for doing so. The Trump administration continues to contend the program is illegal.
Aid for DACA students becomes a sticking point in relief package debate
The proposal for the next coronavirus relief package unveiled by Senate Republicans Monday would continue to exclude college students who are undocumented immigrants from receiving emergency aid during the pandemic, potentially setting up a politically charged debate with Democrats. Democratic lawmakers have strongly condemned Education Secretary Betsy DeVos's controversial decision in April to exclude the students from receiving any of the $6 billion set aside in the CARES Act to help with expenses like housing and food. In laying out their own $3 trillion proposal for the next COVID-19 package, through the HEROES Act passed by the House in May, Democrats are pushing to reverse DeVos's decision by making it clear that a federal law prohibiting people who are not U.S. citizens from receiving virtually all kinds of aid does not apply to the student grants. However, in what's considered to be an opening bid as Congress races to try to reach a bipartisan bill before beginning a break in two weeks, the Republican proposal was silent in defining which students should receive the emergency aid, leaving in place DeVos's exclusion of many students, including an estimated 450,000 college students who were brought illegally to the U.S. as children and are allowed to stay in the country under the Deferred Action for Childhood Approvals program (DACA).
Back-to-College Plans Devolve Into a Jumble of Fast-Changing Rules
With fall semester just a few weeks away, the Covid-19 pandemic has stumped the brightest minds at universities across the U.S. There is no consensus about how college campuses are going to open, and what they will look like if they do. There are as many plans as there are institutions, and their guidebooks are being written in pencil, leaving families and students in limbo. At stake are the health and well-being of more than 20 million students, faculty and staff -- as well as billions of dollars in revenue from tuition, dormitories, dining halls and sports competitions. If colleges allow students back on campus, they could be inviting a public-health nightmare. Yet keeping classes online risks a drop in enrollment by students transferring elsewhere or sitting out the year. "College presidents are basically in an impossible situation," said Robert Kelchen, an associate professor of higher education at Seton Hall University.
'The virus beat us': Colleges are increasingly going online for fall 2020 semester as COVID-19 cases rise
Call it coronavirus deja vu. After planning ways to reopen campuses this fall, colleges are increasingly changing their minds, dramatically increasing online offerings or canceling in-person classes outright. This sudden shift will be familiar to students whose spring plans were interrupted by the rapid spread of the coronavirus. Now, COVID-19 cases in much of the country are much higher than in the spring, and rising in many places. In many cases, the colleges had released plans for socially distant in-person classes only a few weeks ago, hoping to beat the coronavirus. "Instead," said Robert Kelchen, a professor of higher education at Seton Hall University, "the virus beat us." In deciding whether to reopen, colleges must consider more than just their local COVID-19 case rate. Many of their students come from across the country. So while the college's city or state might be seeing flat or dropping case rates, administrators must weigh the country's rising caseload as a whole. The bottom line: College students are frustrated, no matter what option their university is currently taking.
Students Ready to Return to College, Report Finds
Most college students plan to return to school in the fall, and they feel comfortable doing so, according to a report released Tuesday. The report from Sallie Mae and Ipsos, a market research company, found that more than 60 percent of families believe that the COVID-19 pandemic will not have a long-term impact on their student's education. Only 7 percent of students have decided to take time off or enroll in a different college or university. Sallie Mae, the student loan company, has released a version of its "How America Pays for College" report for 13 years. More families than ever have a plan to pay for college, the survey found. Fifty-eight percent of families report having a plan during the 2019-20 academic year, compared to 44 percent of families in the 2018-19 academic year. Families spent an average of $33,017 in the past academic year -- more than a third of families used a college savings account. More than 40 percent of a student's college costs are paid for by the parents. A quarter of costs are funded through scholarships and student aid, 13 percent are paid through student borrowing, and 8 percent are paid through a student's income and savings.
As the pandemic upends higher education, is residential college worth the cost?
Video: The pandemic has upended the traditional model of higher education, particularly for residential colleges. As many schools announce plans to charge full tuition while continuing with remote learning, some students and parents are questioning whether the price is worth it. Hari Sreenivasan reports on a new effort to rethink the value, and the cost, of traditional college in the coronavirus era.
Historically Black colleges leading the charge with coronavirus testing
Delaware State University is hoping its new COVID-19 testing model, which includes regular testing and a "quarantine dorm," can serve as an example to other universities about how to safely reopen campus this fall. The school, whose on-campus classes are scheduled to start on Aug. 25, is working with the new nonprofit Testing for America to provide regular coronavirus tests for students, faculty members and school personnel that return results in 24 to 34 hours. Testing will be free to all students and faculty. Delaware State also will have a "quarantine dorm" where students who test positive will live while receiving meals, medical care and continuing their academics. The aim is to have the plan implemented at 10 other historically Black colleges and universities across the country using funds earmarked from the CARES Act passed by Congress in March, according to The News Journal. The issue is particularly acute for HBCUs like Delaware State amid the pandemic, which has disproportionately affected the Black community and other communities of color, but officials feel it can serve as a prototype for any university.
More Than 6,300 Coronavirus Cases Have Been Linked to U.S. Colleges
As college students and professors decide whether to head back to class, and as universities weigh how and whether to reopen, the coronavirus is already on campus. A New York Times survey of every public four-year college in the country, as well as every private institution that competes in Division I sports or is a member of an elite group of research universities, revealed at least 6,300 cases tied to about 270 colleges over the course of the pandemic. And the new academic year has not even begun at most schools. There is no standardized reporting method for coronavirus cases and deaths at colleges, and the information is not being publicly tracked at a national level. Of nearly 1,000 institutions contacted by The Times, some had already posted case information online, some provided full or partial numbers and others refused to answer basic questions, citing privacy concerns. Hundreds of colleges did not respond at all. This data, which is almost certainly an undercount, shows the risks colleges face as they prepare for a school year in the midst of a pandemic.
Why the move to online instruction won't reduce college costs
As COVID-19 swept across the country in March, colleges shuttered and millions of students and instructors were propelled into a world of distance education. Institutional leaders are now grappling with how to provide a quality education over the academic year ahead while also guarding the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff. Online instruction is a core component of many colleges' strategies, with a growing number abandoning in-person plans for the fall. Questions about the feasibility, quality, equity, and costs of online instruction sit front and center. Our recent analysis suggests that the difficulty of shifting instruction online is likely to vary across fields of study, and that movement to online education is unlikely to reduce instructional costs.
A genuine political change agent, activist Charles Evers was a walking contradiction
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: Charles Evers, who died last week at the age of 97, changed Mississippi politics in ways that are profound and enduring. Yet Evers was for most of his life a walking contradiction in both his public and private lives. Civil rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King -- with whom Evers later worked -- were perceived as spiritual leaders who sought justice on the strength of ideals. But Charles Evers was a street fighter, who demanded a piece of the American pie and was willing to do whatever he had to do to get it. ... But on June 12, 1963, Charles Evers saw his life change when his younger brother Medgar Evers – the charismatic field secretary of the Mississippi NAACP – was gunned down in the driveway of his Jackson home, by segregationist zealot Byron De La Beckwith. Charles Evers said his brother's murder ended his proclivities toward making a living through vice and set his sights on civil rights and social justice.

Mississippi State's Chris Lemonis reflects on season's sudden end on Tuesday's Virtual Road Dawgs Tour
Chris Lemonis has had ample time to work on his swing, though not on a baseball diamond. After Mississippi State's season fell victim to the COVID-19 pandemic after the Bulldogs swept a two-game set off then-No. 4 Texas Tech, Lemonis has spent much of his offseason on the golf course alongside assistant coach Jake Gautreau. "I shot an 81 yesterday," he said through an ear-to-ear grin on Tuesday night's Virtual Road Dawgs Tour episode. "That's my highest ever." While Lemonis' golf game has assuredly improved since the nation shut down in mid-March, the second-year head coach took the time Tuesday to discuss the final hours of MSU's 2020 season and the shock surrounding the squad when they were alerted to the state of affairs around the world. Beyond reflecting on last season's end, Lemonis explained how the coaching staff has attacked the recruiting trail in recent months. As youth baseball tournaments have persisted nationwide despite the ongoing pandemic, the MSU baseball staff has spent countless hours watching games through live broadcasts nationwide in an attempt to maintain the usual flow of summer recruiting season.
Sports cancellation hurting Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum
The cancellation of college sports does not just hurt college towns and avid fans. Locally, it also is having a detrimental impact on the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. The hall sponsors annual awards to honor the top athletes in college sports. These awards programs also serve as major fundraisers for the museum, which use the proceeds to cover operational costs and to promote sports across the state. This year's C Spire Ferris Awards program, for instance, was canceled because there was no college baseball. Meanwhile, whether or not the state will present the Conerly Trophy, the annual award given to the state's top college football player is still up in the air. "Who knows what's going to happen with the Conerly Trophy," said Bill Blackwell, the hall's executive director. "We had the Howell and Gillom trophies for basketball. We had those ceremonies before we closed down." The hall shut down in mid-March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Along with it, many of the museum's major fund-raisers were canceled or postponed.
NCAA president Mark Emmert concerned about starting fall sports
As the start of college football season continues to inch closer, NCAA president Mark Emmert said Tuesday he remains "very concerned" about the status of fall sports and thinks a delayed start and shortened schedule might "make sense." "We do get to see what happens when people return to campus," he told ESPN during an interview that focused on the continued impact of the coronavirus pandemic on college sports. "You get to learn a lot from what's going on with professional sports. We get to see how the testing protocols emerge and how that can be more effective, especially if we can get antigen testing going, for keeping track of the virus on campuses. The fact a delay could provide us with time to do all that could be very, very useful." Emmert's comments come during a pivotal week in which the 15 ACC presidents and chancellors are expected to make a decision on the league's scheduling model -- a move on Wednesday that could have a significant impact on the SEC, Big 12 and Notre Dame.
'Nothing's going to break our spirit': College cheerleaders, dance squads prepare for fall of unknowns
After 39 years at the University of Central Florida, Linda Gooch walked through the stands at Spectrum Stadium for the first time last week. Gooch is entering her 36th year as the head coach of the Knights' cheer program, which won the 2020 UCA National Championship. Before that, she spent four years as a cheerleader. For 39 years, Gooch has been on the sidelines, but never in the stands, for every UCF home game. This year -- if football is played at all -- that will change. On June 24, the American Athletic Conference announced that marching bands and spirit squads -- which include cheerleaders, dance teams and mascots -- would not be allowed to travel to away games and that at home games, they would not be allowed on the field. So Gooch, along with the band director and the school's marketing team, had to get creative. Among her ideas include building platforms in the stadium to allow for social distancing, using remote cameras or filming performances in advance. But even the best-laid plans come with an air of uncertainty.

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