Monday, October 12, 2020   
Mississippi State maintains partnership with Nobel Peace Prize winner
The 2020 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, announced on Friday, has a longstanding working relationship with Mississippi State University. The World Food Program, a United Nations agency, works to provide food for undernourished populations, particularly in countries at war. The MSU Office of Public Affairs issued a congratulatory statement from university president Mark Keenum in a Saturday press release. "Addressing hunger and promoting food security is key to facilitating peace and stability across the world," Keenum said. "That is why organizations like the World Food Program are so important to ensuring a peaceful future, and why I have made global food security a focal point of our research and outreach efforts at MSU. Feeding a growing global population is a massive challenge, and this Nobel Peace Prize underscores the need to continue our role in the global fight against hunger." MSU and WFP have worked together since 2010 "on issues related to food safety and nutrition," MSU Chief Communications Officer Sid Salter said. Keenum and two other MSU leaders -- Provost David Shaw and Interim Vice President for Research Julie Jordan -- with U.N. leaders in Rome in November 2019 to discuss solutions to global food insecurity.
Roses and thorns: 10/11/20: A rose to Mississippi State University
A rose to Mississippi State University's agricultural research programs and its greatest supporter, university president Mark Keenum, for their contributions to the United Nations World Food Programme, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize Friday for the organization's efforts to promote food security throughout the world. MSU has been a long-time partner with the organization through its research efforts. When most of us think of colleges and universities, our thoughts are confined to their core mission -- educating our young people. But research universities such as Mississippi State play an important role beyond that. Its research solves problems and provides solutions that can have positive impacts throughout the world. No doubt, the Nobel Peace Prize honors the United Nations World Programme for its contributions. Mississippi State can be proud of its role in the program. It is, indeed, a proud moment for Mississippi State.
2020 IEP 'Place' Award Finalist Spotlight: Mississippi State
This article is included as part of APLU's Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Designation and Awards Perspectives Blog: When the COVID-19 pandemic began significantly impacting higher education earlier this year, Mississippi State University, like so many others, had to work creatively to continue providing core services for the student body and the greater community. For MSU, this includes the many ways the university supports economic activity in the state. Because of our institution's longstanding commitment to economic engagement and outreach, we were -- and still are -- well positioned to help meet the diverse needs of our local and statewide communities. ... MSU is a key asset to the state economically during this pandemic because we have developed the capabilities, expertise, and institutional mindset needed to make an economic impact in good times and in bad.
Starkville shop hosts pumpkin painting party for residents
The Mississippi State University Idea Shop hosted a free pumpkin painting activity for kids in the Starkville area on Saturday. The downtown business had 100 small pumpkins donated by Twigs Nursery. The children decorated their pumpkins with glitter and stickers. Brooke Lammert, program coordinator at the MSU E-Center said all children had to wear masks while inside and did not share supplies. Organizers also put sanitizer on each table. Lammert said the Idea Shop wanted to give children the opportunity to express their creativity in a fun and safe way. "Kids see the beauty and the fun in just simple activities like painting a pumpkin," said Lammert. "It's just a chance for them to use their creativity and get out of the house."
MSU administers free flu shots to students
Mississippi State University looked to help students battle through this flu season by offering free flu shots to students. On Friday from 8:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. nurses from the Longest Student Health Center had a table in the library to offer students the opportunity to vaccinate against the flu. Nancy Ball is the nurse manager at the health center. The process of receiving a flu shot took a little over a minute for students according to Ball. She said the number of students receiving the flu shot this year has increased in comparison to previous years. Ball said getting vaccinated will not only keep you safe, but it will also help the medical workers this year. "I think if everybody would get vaccinated and we could eliminate some of the flu, that would help cut down on trying to tell the difference between COVID and flu," said Ball.
The Impact of COVID-19 in the Grocery Stores' Meat Fridges
When COVID-19 became a national emergency in the United States, many U.S. consumers not only found certain products (i.e. paper towels, toilet paper, cleaning materials) hard to come by, but they also found beef products changing in price and type on shelves. This became a hot topic in the media but also within the beef industry. New research says that the weekly number fed cattle slaughtered dropped by approximately 246,000 head. The bottom was ≈438,000 which was 35% lower than the same time in 2019. The result of this lowered number of head being slaughtered led to chain reactions for beef consumers and beef producers. In the new article "Beef Cattle Markets and COVID-19" released in the Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, Charles Martinez from the University of Tennessee, Joshua Maples from Mississippi State University, and Justin Benavidez from Texas A&M University analyze the impact of the pandemic across all sectors of the cattle industry. Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists.
Classes help floral artists create seasonal motifs
Two online workshops this fall will help floral enthusiasts create seasonal designs for their homes. Jim DelPrince, horticulture specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, will present the "Fresh Fall Floral Design" course Nov. 19, from 10 a.m.-noon, and "Deck the Halls! Swag, Centerpiece and Garland" Dec. 4, from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. In the fall floral design webinar, he will demonstrate how to design a buffet table arrangement and provide time for students to recreate their versions while receiving critiques to help improve their skills as they complete the project. The registration deadline for the course is Nov. 5, and the $175 fee covers all course materials, including flowers that will be shipped one to two days in advance. Participants in the daylong Christmas floral course will create three designs using fresh evergreens to decorate their homes for the season, including a door swag in a floral foam cage, a fragrant evergreen table centerpiece and a garland. The deadline to register is Nov. 20, and the $250 fee covers the greenery and supplies that will be shipped before the workshop.
Molina Healthcare of Mississippi partners with Alcorn State, MSU for supply bag giveaway
Molina Healthcare of Mississippi has partnered with Alcorn State and the Adams County Extension Office of Mississippi State University for a bag distribution on Oct. 12. The bags distributed will contain household essentials to community residents and Molina members. The three organizations hope to distribute 300 bags containing basic supplies such as paper towels, tissues, hand soap and liquid dishwashing soap. The bag distribution will be held at Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church in Natchez on Monday from noon until supplies last. The event is free and open to the public. All attendees will be required to wear a face mask and bring a valid ID.
Amazon AI developer brings tech hub to Jackson
Driving through the edges of downtown Jackson as a kid, Nashlie Sephus was fascinated with a particular abandoned factory warehouse she called "the barn." The barn is still stark in size and stature, towering over a major thoroughfare that's more highly trafficked than nearly every other street in the city, but has suffered from decades of divestment despite being flanked by Jackson State University and the city's business district. Dissected by the state's main railroad corridor that houses Jackson's Amtrak station and Town Creek that winds through downtown to feed the Pearl River, Sephus says North Gallatin Street is the perfect spot for the city to re-envision its future and to invest in her home. But until recently, the property sat abandoned like much of the street and surrounding area. Sephus, 35, bought it in September along with 12 accompanying acres to create what she's dubbed the "Jackson Tech District" -- a block of now-unused industrial property she's morphing into a technology district, mixing non- and for-profit space to create a resource, playground and potential development anchor for the community. A Mississippi State University graduate in computer engineering, she now works for Amazon reconfiguring data patterns that show implicit bias.
McDonald's, Chipotle and Domino's Are Booming During Coronavirus While Your Neighborhood Restaurant Struggles
The coronavirus pandemic is splitting the restaurant industry in two. Big, well capitalized chains like Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. and Domino's Pizza Inc. are gaining customers and adding stores while tens of thousands of local eateries go bust. Robert St. John, an owner of restaurants and bars in Hattiesburg, Miss., closed his restaurants in March when the state ended dine-in service, and filed a mass unemployment claim for his 300 employees. Banks restructured some of his loans, Mr. St. John said, and he received a PPP loan of roughly $600,000. But with sales down about 70% across the six restaurants, he said, he couldn't justify bringing back many employees. An attempt at socially distanced dining at his Italian restaurant ended due to insufficient demand. By the summer, Mr. St. John decided to close his flagship Purple Parrot Cafe. He has also since closed a cocktail bar and a high-end doughnut shop, as business from Hattiesburg's University of Southern Mississippi dried up with the school's shift to virtual learning. Mr. St. John, who described himself as an optimist to a fault, is applying for a $500,000 small-business loan to build a new restaurant with a big patio where he can serve people outdoors. "It's scary, I'll tell you," he said. "I would refuse to think that I would have to shut down more."
Hurricanes pose growing risk to Coast industrial sites with toxic chemicals
When Hurricane Sally seemed poised to make landfall in western Jackson County, Walter Abram was nervous. He works at the Mississippi Phosphates Corporation superfund site, where the accumulated byproducts of decades of fertilizer production cover about 300 acres, spread over two piles called stacks. When a single inch of rainfall hits the area, it can generate up to nine million gallons of contaminated water. It's Abram's job to make sure all of that water is held in a system of ditches and ponds and then treated before it can be safely released into the surrounding waters of Bayou Casotte. If the system fails for any reason, like excessive rainfall, phosphoric acids, heavy metals and radioactive material can spill into the bayou, killing fish and vegetation. So Abram was watching the forecasts -- storm surge of up to 11 feet and tremendous rainfall dumped for hours by the slow-moving storm -- warily. Studies have shown that climate change is likely to make hurricanes in the Gulf are stronger, slower, wetter, and more prone to rapid intensification. This season, Sally, moving at a snail's pace and dropping tons of rain, and Delta, intensifying rapidly, were perfect illustrations of those trends.
'Mississippi's image is on the ballot' with state flag design referendum
State leaders took historic steps this year to retire Mississippi's divisive state flag, which featured a Confederate battle emblem; in November, voters will get the final say in how the new state flag will look. Mississippi's Nov. 3 election will feature three statewide ballot referendums. Ballot measure 3 will ask voters to approve or reject a proposed design for the new state flag. If a majority of voters approve the design, the Mississippi Legislature will then vote to formally adopt it as the new flag. If a majority of voters reject the proposal, a state-sanctioned commission will again design a new flag for voters to either approve or reject. Either way, voters in November won't have any mechanism to bring back the former state flag, which was the last in the nation to feature the Confederate battle flag. Instead, voters face the choice of what will replace the now-retired flag. Jack Reed, Jr., the owner of Tupelo-based Reed's department store, said the difference in the debate in 2001 versus now is almost unbelievable. His father served on the 2001 flag commission, and as a result, people boycotted his store over the family's participation. "It just shows you that this really can be done," Reed said of the current flag proposal.
Dr. Thomas Dobbs visits DeSoto County, expresses disappointment in abandonment of public health guidelines
State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs, during a visit to the DeSoto County Health Department on Wednesday, warned of another statewide surge in coronavirus cases because of the abandonment of social distancing guidelines and mask wearing. "DeSoto County is an area that has a heavy burden of coronavirus and has throughout the entire pandemic," Dobbs said. "We've got a long way to go with this. The vaccine's not going to be here for a little bit. Let's be patient with coronavirus." For the majority of the pandemic, DeSoto County has maintained the second-highest caseload among Mississippi counties. Last week, DeSoto County had the highest number of new cases statewide. Dobbs said the county's 9% test positivity rate is alarming and indicates a significant amount of transmission. "The sad part of this tale is it's just not that hard to beat back. But for some reason, this mask thing has got people sort of twisted in knots," Dobbs said. "And it's just a simple, easy, effective, proven way to prevent transmission or acquisition of coronavirus."
Amy Coney Barrett hearing expected to focus on health care, with pandemic looming over proceeding
Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation hearings this week offer President Trump and Senate Republicans one of their final chances before the election to shift the fall agenda away from the coronavirus pandemic and toward an issue they believe is more politically beneficial: solidifying a conservative majority on the nation's high court. But reminders of covid-19 will be inescapable. The mere circumstances of the confirmation hearing -- usually a packed affair on Capitol Hill that draws hundreds of supporters, protesters and observers -- will be bare-bones, with rigorous social distancing guidelines in place to prevent any transmission among the few allowed inside the Hart Senate Office meeting room. At least two members of the Judiciary Committee will participate in the proceedings remotely, after being diagnosed with the coronavirus or to protect themselves from the virus. And Democratic senators, realizing that their most potent weapon against Barrett is a sustained attack on how the appeals court judge may rule on the Affordable Care Act, have crafted a strategy narrowly centered on health care and efforts to paint Republicans as recklessly rushing to confirm Barrett as the pandemic continues to consume the nation.
Dr. Anthony Fauci says Trump campaign ad takes him 'out of context,' insists he didn't endorse anyone
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the most popular face in fighting the coronavirus, released a statement Sunday disputing being used in a new advertisement from President Donald Trump's reelection campaign meant to tout the White House's handling of the pandemic. The 30-second spot seeks to highlight how Trump, who caught COVID-19 this month, and the U.S. economy are recovering from the contagion. It tries to portray the president as taking decisive action despite previously downplaying the disease in public. But Fauci rebuked the use of the small snippet in the ad on Sunday, which made it seem as if he was endorsing Trump's effort. He said in his "nearly five decades of public service" he has never endorsed a candidate publicly. "The comments attributed to me without my permission in the GOP campaign ad were taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials," Fauci said in a statement provided to CNN.
The W announces academic calendar for spring 2021
Mississippi University for Women has modified the Spring 2021 Academic Calendar to the reduce spread of COVID-19 associated with travel. The W will continue with a predominantly online course structure. Classes will begin Monday, Jan. 11 and end Friday, April 23. The Spring Break Holiday was canceled to lessen the spread of COVID-19 from travel, resulting in a shorter semester. "The response of our campus throughout this pandemic has been incredible. We believe continued vigilance combined with a de-densified campus is the best strategy to sustain the health and safety of our campus community," said Scott Tollison, provost and vice president of academic affairs. The university is continuing to require all faculty, staff, students and visitors to wear face coverings unless walking alone in an outdoor space or working alone in a personal office space. Any person experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (or any other illness) should stay home.
'Uncertain Times': National poet laureate, Pulitzer winner to headline 32nd Welty Symposium at MUW
As it has with so many events of 2020, COVID-19 will affect the 32nd annual Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium hosted by Mississippi University for Women in Columbus. The global pandemic, however, will not cancel the banner celebration of Southern writers. The symposium has instead elected to go virtual. U.S. and Mississippi poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winner Natasha Trethewey will be the keynote author for the Oct. 22-24 event accessible via Zoom and live-streamed on Facebook through the Welty Symposium group, where viewers may also post questions. Symposium Director Kendall Dunkelberg of The W's Department of Languages, Literature and Philosophy expressed excitement at the prospects of a virtual presentation. "Though we are sad not to gather together in the lovely Poindexter Auditorium this year," he said, "we know from live-streaming Master of Fine Arts readings this summer that this gives us the opportunity to expand our audience."
CMSD, MUW plan partnership at renovated Hunt campus
Columbus Municipal School District hopes to reopen the Hunt campus -- destroyed by the February 2019 tornado -- as Hunt Experience Center in 2022, with a focus on both technology-assisted learning and hands-on workforce development, Superintendent Cherie Labat told The Dispatch. The project aims to provide CMSD students with both on-site and online learning experiences, Labat said. The district will also partner with students at Mississippi University for Women and East Mississippi Community College to offer training for CMSD students and staff. While the east side of the building will be dedicated to career development through the district's ongoing partnership with EMCC, the west wing will be focused on academic training, with MUW education majors serving as instructors who teach CMSD students in a hybrid learning environment, Labat said. Most of the teaching can be conducted online, said Martin Hatton, dean of the School of Education at MUW, but students can collaboratively solve problems while physically being in classrooms.
Community members ignore U. of Mississippi's asymptomatic testing program
Over a month has passed since the University of Mississippi created an asymptomatic testing program for university community members -- which will end this month -- but the majority of students, faculty and staff invited to participate are ignoring the invitation. Approximately 21,952 university community members have been invited to receive a free test, according to the university's COVID-19 dashboard. Only 2,589 of those invited have received tests. Students have received tests at a much lower rate than faculty and staff. Out of the 18,630 students invited to receive a test, only 8.99% actually received one. Over 16,000 students did not respond, and 620 opted out. In addition to students, 2,057 staff members and 1,265 faculty received invites, and 27.13% and 28.14% received tests, respectively. The university created the testing program in early September to gain a grasp on what percentage of people on campus are asymptomatic carriers of the coronavirus. Provost Noel Wilkin has sent numerous email updates to the university community, urging members to participate in the program.
Facing extreme declines in income, high school booster clubs get creative
Louis Sharp knows there's always a project. It's become clear to Sharp in more than five years as president of Heritage Academy's sports boosters that there's always something that needs to be done. That isn't limited to the Patriots' athletic programs, either -- Sharp said the booster club's role extends to the entire school. The club even bought a security system to ensure students' safety. "Just anything to make Heritage Academy better for our students is kind of our mission," Sharp said. This year, though, Sharp and the Patriots' sports boosters won't get to everything. They'll likely have to put a plan to replace the bleachers in the gymnasium on the back burner because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The money needed for the project isn't there, and it's giving Sharp and Heritage Academy's sports boosters a "different feel," he said. "We'll tighten our belts and push through it, but it certainly has made us take a step back," Sharp said. It's just one of the consequences of the pandemic on booster clubs at Golden Triangle area high schools, and there might be more to come. With fewer home sporting events and attendance limits, concession sales have dropped significantly. Donations from parents aren't coming in as usual, and local businesses that sponsor teams are understandably pulling back.
Local Folks: Katelyn Jackson hopes to use medical education to invest in Mississippi
Even though she's only in her first year of medical school, Katelyn Jackson wants to leave Mississippi better than she found it. Jackson, who has lived in Northeast Mississippi for much of her life, is a recent recipient of the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship, which provides around $30,000 per year to recipients enrolled in medical school. Jackson said she was thrilled when she was awarded the prestigious scholarship because she's wanted to become a pediatrician ever since she was a young girl. Jackson is a graduate of the Mississippi School for Math and Science and Mississippi State University, and she currently enrolled at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine.
$2.5 million renovation of Pearl River Community College's Seal Hall to begin in December
One of the main academic buildings on the Poplarville campus of Pearl River Community College is about to get a major makeover. Seal Hall, which was built in 1967, will be renovated, beginning in December. It's a $2.5 million project. "(It) will include brand new classroom space, upgraded office space for our faculty, new lobbies, new entrance, it's right in the heart of our campus and I think it's going to be a great addition," said Adam Breerwood, president of Pearl River Community College. Meanwhile, PRCC just opened a new science building annex about six weeks ago. It was part of a construction project that also involved the renovation of the college's existing science building, which was built in 1966. The total cost of that project was about $5 million.
COVID-19 positives at U. of Alabama up slightly
The number of COVID-19 cases rose this week at the University of Alabama but still fall well below the peak of the on-campus outbreak of late August and early September. There were 45 positive tests on the Tuscaloosa campus this week after recording 24 a week earlier. Since classes opened Aug. 19, UA has reported 2,419 positive tests. The increase was more noticeable at UAB where 49 students tested positive from Oct. 2-Oct. 8. That's up from 19 the previous seven days. UA-Huntsville had just three positive cases this week after 12 were reported last week. The numbers released weekly on Friday afternoons don't include the context of how many tests were administered. In terms of isolation space, the Tuscaloosa campus is at 0.97% or five of 518 rooms. UAB is at eight of 100 rooms while none of the 87 at UA-Huntsville are being used.
U. of Alabama's museums and galleries re-open for in-person visits
Visual art thrives on presence, from full dimensionality, which is one reason Daniel L. White is pleased the Paul R. Jones Museum of American Art and University of Alabama Gallery, both in downtown Tuscaloosa, have re-opened to visitors. Though UA museums and galleries, like many visual arts purveyors during the coronavirus pandemic, have been creating virtual programming, offering an online a window into those worlds, being in the room where art happens, or is happening, should be an immersive experience. "It's like if you sit in the stands at a baseball game, you hear the crowd around you, smell the popcorn," White said. "All your senses are activated." A painting that stretches 5f feet by 6 feet just isn't going to strike someone the same when displayed across a 20-inch computer screen. Though both UA-operated downtown spaces began opening for limited hours in August, hours of operation have returned now closer to normal. Despite the "appearance of a sense of normalcy," patrons should remain aware of mask and social-distancing requirements, along with the reduced capacity numbers, White added.
Toomer's Corner group sit-in stands for justice, tops 100-day mark
Kelli Thompson sat by herself more than 100 days ago on Toomer's Corner to protest racism and oppression. Now, she is joined by a core group of five or six people who sit on the corner with her every day, rain or shine, to create a positive space for open conversations about the larger social movement going on throughout the United States and help community members get registered to vote. "It's what I wanted from the get-go and to see that other people get it is really -- that's been the most joyful thing," Thompson said about the people joining her. Thompson, a Lee-Montgomery and Auburn University graduate, first started sitting on the corner alone in the days that followed the George Floyd protests in Auburn and throughout the country. She grabbed a "stop racism now" sign out of her car and went to sit. She was scared and nervous but knew it was the best way for her to process the emotions surrounding the social movement. "It felt right for the moment, so I brought it (her sign) and I sat down and it was terrifying, it was scary, my hands were shaking," she explained. "I brought music with me to distract from the scary thoughts in my head and I had no idea what to expect."
U. of Florida ends use of prison labor after student pressure
Prison labor at the University of Florida's agricultural research sites around the state has ended, a change from the initial plan to dissolve the labor contracts by July 2021 at the urging of several student groups. UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences officials confirmed Friday that as of Sept. 11, the program severed all its contracts with state and county correctional facilities that authorized inmates to work for free on IFAS research fields across the state. While UF President Kent Fuchs vowed to end the university's reliance on inmate labor in June as part of the school's racial equity goals, the deadline to terminate the contracts was set for July 2021, more than a year later. Salil Bavdekar, a 2019 UF graduate, felt like that was too long to wait. The mechanical engineering graduate helped co-found the Coalition to Abolish Prison Slavery (CAPS) at UF to build pressure to terminate the contracts. The September termination, Bavdekar said, is a "great victory."
Three UF fraternities suspended, one sorority disciplined due to COVID-19 violations
Three University of Florida fraternities were intermittently suspended and one sorority was disciplined for COVID-19-related violations. Phi Delta Theta and Theta Chi have been placed on an interim suspension for Fall due to violations of UF's student behavioral expectations for students in response to COVID-19, according to the UF Interfraternity Council dashboard. An interim suspension temporarily restricts a student organization until an investigation and hearing of its violations are completed, according to university regulations. Sigma Alpha Epsilon is also on interim suspension, wrote UF spokesperson Steve Orlando in a text message. Sigma Alpha Epsilon's status has not been updated on the dashboard as of Sunday night. Delta Gamma, a sorority, has been placed on a "limited activity directive" for Fall. The order bans the sorority from hosting in-person events, meetings and new member orientations. This is due to the sorority hosting a big-little reveal with a large crowd without masks being worn or social distancing in place, according to a sorority dashboard from the UF Dean of Students' Office.
Texas A&M takes part in #3DAY to raise mental health awareness
Kyle Field stood silent as the third quarter began Saturday. Many rambunctious fans refrained from yelling and instead held up three fingers as Kellen Mond hit Isaiah Spiller for an 18-yard pass. The moment was held in honor of Tyler Hilinski, a former Washington State quarterback who died by suicide in January 2018. Texas A&M was one of 16 schools, including nine from the SEC, to take part in the inaugural #3DAY on Oct. 3, focused on raising mental health awareness. The #3DAY initiative was formed by the Hilinski's Hope Foundation, which aims to promote mental health in college athletes in honor of Tyler and others lost, and culminated with World Mental Health Day on Saturday. A&M players wore a lime green ribbon on their helmets with a "3" in the middle in the game against Florida. "The cause is completely organic, and it's as genuine as you can get from the Hilinski family," said Ryan Pittsinger, A&M's director of counseling and sport psychology. "There's a number of us within the SEC that are doing a lot to help generate awareness for that, but also generate awareness of mental health."
As pandemic continues, U. of Missouri's in-person commencement ceremonies are off
The University of Missouri announced Friday it will host a virtual celebration for December graduates rather than in-person commencement ceremonies because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Details of an in-person ceremony for the December class of 2020, which will include May and August graduates as well, will be announced later, Provost Latha Ramchand said in an MU news release. "At this time, we cannot set dates for an in-person ceremony, but we will do so as soon as it is logistically feasible and safe from a public health perspective," Ramchand said in the release. She acknowledged this is a difficult message for students and families to receive. "They deserve to be celebrated and have earned their status as a successful graduate, completing their studies under extraordinarily challenging circumstances," the release noted. The virtual celebration will be a lot like what was done in the spring, when all in-person commencement ceremonies were postponed.
No Home, No Wi-Fi: Pandemic Adds to Strain on Poor College Students
Trapped between the financial hardships of the pandemic and the technological hurdles of online learning, the millions of low-income college students across America face mounting obstacles in their quests for higher education. Some have simply dropped out, while others are left scrambling to find housing and internet access amid campus closures and job losses. "Every part of this pandemic is hitting low-income students hardest, and they were already in bad shape to begin with," said Sara Goldrick-Rab, the founding director of the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice at Temple University, which studies the economic challenges facing college students. The impact on struggling students can be seen most clearly at the nation's roughly 1,400 community colleges, where nearly half of students start seeking degrees. Enrollment there declined by 8 percent this fall, compared with a 2.5 percent drop in undergraduate enrollment over all, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center in Herndon, Va., which tracks college enrollment data.
How Colleges Can Ease Students' Fear and Anxiety in Quarantine
Just seven weeks into her college career, Rhiana Brownell has become all too familiar with the Georgia Institute of Technology's quarantine and isolation hotel. Within the first month of the fall semester, Brownell's roommate was sent to the hotel twice. For two weeks, the freshmen were reunited -- and then Brownell tested positive for Covid-19. While in isolation at the hotel, she was allowed to leave her room only to take out the trash or use the microwave. She opened the lone window and stuck her head out occasionally to get some air. She paced around the room for exercise. One lap was about 25 steps, she said. After a couple of days, she looked at Georgia Tech's online Covid-19 dashboard and saw the number of quarantine beds in use: one. She was the only student there. "It did feel weird and lonely," she said. But there was a bright spot in Brownell's weeklong isolation: the little bag hung on her door when she arrived. It was put together by a Georgia Tech student organization called Smile. Inside were coloring sheets and crayons, information about mental-health resources, stress-relief tips, and a collection of handwritten and typed messages from fellow students. Care packages like these are among the ways colleges are trying to support students in on-campus quarantine, a key strategy for mitigating the spread of Covid-19.
Medical Residents Want Training In How Climate Change Affects Their Specialties
It was low tide on the north shore of Boston when Steve Kearns felt the mosquito bite that would land him in a hospital with West Nile Virus disease for a week. "For at least six months after that, I felt like every five minutes I was being run over by a truck," Kearns says. "I couldn't work, I couldn't walk very well and I couldn't focus. I wondered for a bit if I'd ever get better." Kearns, 71, recounted the experience during a check-up with his physician, Dr. Gaurab Basu, and Dr. Charlotte Rastas, a third year resident in primary care at a Cambridge Health Alliance clinic in Somerville, Mass. Basu had never seen West Nile in a patient before Kearns. The first reported case in Massachusetts was in 2002. By 2018, the year a mosquito bit Kearns, there were 49. "When someone comes in with a fever and is confused, it's not what my mind thinks of as the diagnosis right away," Basu says. "This case has really taught me how much I need to be informed about the ways in which climate change is changing the patterns of infectious disease around the United States." He's part of a nascent effort to make sure climate change is part of the curriculum in hospital residency programs across the country. There's already a push, backed by the American Medical Association, to teach medical students about health risks tied to a warming planet. Now some doctors say that education should continue during residency, when doctors tailor what they've learned to a specialty.
What a second Trump term would bring higher education
When the Justice Department sued Yale University last week for considering race and ethnicity as one factor in its admissions policies, it was the latest example of the Trump administration pushing a conservative agenda by targeting colleges over issues like race and protests against conservative speakers on campuses. And higher ed leaders worry that one of the impacts on colleges and universities should Trump be elected to a second term would be more of the same. "I suspect what we'll see is what we've seen over the past year -- an increased focus on populism with attacks on 'elites,'" said Terry Hartle, the American Council on Education's senior vice president for government relations and a top lobbyist for colleges and universities. "More micromanagement through heavy-handed executive orders." However, in other areas, it's less clear what a second term would bring.
Where Trump and Biden Stand on Student Debt, College Costs
President Trump and Joe Biden disagree on how much of $1.5 trillion in federal student debt owed by 43 million Americans should be forgiven -- and how to finance college going forward. The Republican Trump administration has sought to limit opportunities for Americans to have their debt forgiven. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has said that the government must address borrowers' needs while guarding against taxpayer waste. But the administration has improved access to data showing how much students can expect to pay in tuition and how much they are likely to earn after graduation, treating higher education as a marketplace driven by consumer choice. Students and their families would continue to pay the cost of a college education, though low-income students have been given more flexibility on the use of so-called Pell Grants. Mr. Biden, the Democratic challenger, proposes having the government forgive hundreds of billions of dollars in student debt owed by poor and middle-income households. He says that would help to reduce income and wealth inequality. And he says students from low and moderate-income households shouldn't have to pay for a public college education.
Republicans ignore their own plunge into socialism
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: Remember the summer GOP national convention when socialism was the hot topic? ... President Donald Trump wrapped up the socialism charges in his closing speech saying, "This election will decide whether we save the American dream or whether we allow a socialist agenda to demolish our cherished destiny." How ironic that Trump is presiding over a great new plunge into economic socialism that subverts free market capitalism. "Where free markets and the magic of the invisible hand were always the fundamental pride and strongest weapons of the United States in the fight against communism, America now appears to have abandoned its core principles and is leading the charge toward financial socialism," read an analysis in the Japan Times. "The role of government in America's economy is surging and the bigger it gets, the lower the credibility of free market capitalism gets around the globe."
Hosemann and Gunn once supported early voting. Why did they retreat during COVID-19?
Bobby Harrison writes for Mississippi Today: Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and Speaker of the House Philip Gunn once supported allowing all Mississippians to vote early in person. So why, as many Mississippians fear for their safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, did the Legislature's two presiding officers retreat from that position? Various studies show that Mississippi did less than the vast majority of other states to make voting safer ahead of the Nov. 3 general election. The Brookings Institute, which has tracked states' actions on voting during the pandemic, gave Mississippi a D ranking for its 2020 efforts. Other groups that track voting issues gave Mississippi similar or worse grades. It became obvious early on that the Republican leadership in Mississippi was not going to expand mail-in voting options as most other states had done. But history indicated that there was an appetite among key politicians for allowing all Mississippians to vote early in person.

Mississippi State Soccer Remains Undefeated Through Four After Beating LSU
The Bulldogs of Mississippi State soccer found their first win at home of the season against LSU in a 2-1 bout with the Tigers on Sunday in a rainy match. Mississippi State (2-0-2) defeated LSU (0-3-0) to become the first Bulldog win on campus in 127 days. The last time any MSU team had won in Starkville was on March 8. It is the first time a State soccer team has started the conference slate undefeated through four games. It was the program's first defeat of LSU on their home turf. "It was a bit of a scrappy game," said head coach James Armstrong. "I wouldn't say that we played our best soccer today, but once again, there was tons of heart, tons of fight, tons of character in the girls. We had to go deep onto our bench, and everybody played a team-first performance today so I couldn't be prouder. It's a big three-point for us. The fans were fantastic; they were loud, they were energetic, and they did a great job in helping us throughout, but especially there towards the end. I'm really proud of the three points today." The Bulldogs will see the pitch again on Friday, Oct. 16 in Bryan-College Station, Texas when they take on the Texas A&M Aggies.
Monigo Karnley helps Mississippi State soccer extend unbeaten streak with winning goal against LSU
Mississippi State soccer coach James Armstrong said a great week of practice helped cultivate a bit of "telepathy" between junior forwards Hailey Farrington-Bentil and Monigo Karnley. The duo put their newfound connection to good use in Sunday's home match against LSU. Farrington-Bentil delivered a perfect pass, Karnley slotted the ball home, and the Bulldogs (2-0-2) pulled ahead of the Tigers (0-3-0) in the 78th minute and held on for a 2-1 win. Through its first four regular-season matches, Mississippi State has yet to lose, though Armstrong isn't quite satisfied. "We wish we had four wins, no ties and no losses, right?" he said. "That would be even better." But he's plenty happy with Sunday's win, in which the Bulldogs scored in the ninth minute before allowing an equalizer in the 55th when LSU's Rammie Noel rammed in a shot on a well-executed set piece. Instead of letting the match get away, though, Mississippi State responded with a strong sequence to get the match tied "Today, I thought LSU asked us questions and got back in the game, and I thought we played our best in the 10-minute stretch afterward," Armstrong said.
State Women's Tennis Concludes SEC Challenge On High Note
Mississippi State women's tennis capped its final day at the SEC Challenge Sunday, highlighted by two thrilling three-set singles victories from Alexandra Mikhailuk and Lilian Poling. Play was held indoors at Alabama's Baumgardner Tennis Facility due to rainy and windy conditions outdoors. The Bulldogs went 11-8 overall in their opening weekend of fall action, including an 8-5 record in singles and 3-3 ledger in doubles. Freshman Marta Falceto led State in overall win percentage (.800) with a perfect 2-0 record in singles and 2-1 mark in doubles. The freshman Mikhailuk also contributed four victories to the Bulldogs' win column in the three-day event. In Sunday's singles action, the senior transfer Poling rallied from a set down to oust UK's Salsa Aher. After dropping the first 7-5, Poling claimed the next two sets 6-4 and 6-3, winning the last two games of the second - and last three of the third - for the victory. "Today was a solid day for the Bulldogs. It was highlighted by a couple of gritty wins by Alex and Lilian," MSU head coach Daryl Greenan said. The Bulldogs return home to host SEC and ITA Southern Region foes – Alabama and Ole Miss – in the Hail State Classic this Friday, Oct. 16, and Sunday, Oct. 18.
Dak Prescott's injury mars Dallas win
After Dak Prescott's season ended on a gruesome ankle injury, his running mate for all five of their seasons with the Dallas Cowboys had a hard time getting through the postgame interview. Ezekiel Elliott sounded crushed, even after backup Andy Dalton led a drive to Greg Zuerlein's second game-ending field goal of the season as the Cowboys rallied twice in a 37-34 victory over the winless New York Giants on Sunday. "I can't even think right now," Elliott, the two-time rushing champion, said to no question in particular as he continued trying to absorb the third-quarter injury to Prescott, a two-time Pro Bowl quarterback who was the unheralded fourth-round pick the same year Elliott went fourth overall. "It's hard to kind of put in words," Elliott, who rushed for 91 yards and two touchdowns, said in the middle of an answer about Dalton's role in the rally. "I'm sorry. I'm just struggling a little bit right now." The team said Prescott had a fracture dislocation of the right ankle and was taken to a hospital, where surgery was planned later in the night. Prescott started the first 69 games of his career, from the beginning of his rookie season.
Mississippi State football players react to Dak Prescott's ankle injury
Dak Prescott is a Mississippi State legend. Nobody in program history has thrown for more yards than Prescott did from 2012-2015. That's one of over a dozen passing records Prescott owns at MSU. He quarterbacked Mississippi State to its first ever No. 1 ranking in school history during the 2014 season, too. Sunday, in his fifth NFL season and 69th straight start with the Dallas Cowboys, Prescott suffered a severe ankle injury. He was carted off the field and ushered to a local hospital where he was scheduled to undergo reconstructive surgery Sunday night. The player who threw for 9,376 yards and 70 touchdowns in a maroon and white uniform received support from Mississippi State players past and present on social media in the immediate aftermath of his injury.
University president responds to Dan Mullen's plea to pack The Swamp for LSU
It does not sound like Florida head coach Dan Mullen will get his wish for the LSU game. On Saturday, the Gators went up against Texas A&M at Kyle Field. In a game that came down to the wire, the Aggies kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired. After the game, Mullen went on to give a plea to Florida's leadership to open up the swamp to full capacity with LSU coming to town, citing the A&M crowd as a difference-maker in the tough loss. To this point, Florida has had limited capacity but the state recently gave the green light for venues to be at full capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Though the state may have loosened venue restrictions, Florida President W. Kent Fuchs said the university plans to maintain the restrictions and crowd limitations currently in place on campus.

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