Tuesday, October 13, 2020   
Mississippi State linked to World Food Programme's Nobel Peace Prize
Mississippi State President Mark E. Keenum congratulated the United Nations World Food Programme for receiving the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, which was announced last week by the Norwegian Nobel Committee. In addition to MSU's partnerships with the United Nations and the World Food Programme, Keenum's professional background and national leadership in promoting global food security have facilitated numerous engagements with the organization. In 2016, Keenum wrote a letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee nominating the World Food Programme for the Nobel Peace Prize. "I would like to personally congratulate the World Food Programme and its outstanding executive director, David Beasley, on this well-earned recognition," Keenum said. "As the Norwegian Nobel Committee noted, addressing hunger and promoting food security is key to facilitating peace and stability across the world. That is why organizations like the World Food Programme 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."
Maker impact: Study examines grassroots response of local makers to pandemic
Researchers are asking local makers to weigh in on why their response to the start of the pandemic was to help others. Three sociologists at Mississippi State University and the University of Northern Iowa are looking at the grassroots efforts communities started to help others. Sociologists Marybeth Stalp, Braden Leap and Kimberly Kelly all noticed how people put aside their differences to make masks and PPE for anyone who needed it, and wanted to see what else they can learn by hearing people's stories. "We decided that we would try to document this and try to honor the people who had the time and ability to make," said Stalp. Kelly said they're already noticing trends among gender. She said women tend to work in groups and focus on sewing, while men tend to work alone and focus on 3D printing or using brew kits to make hand sanitizer. This team has received several hundred survey responses, and talked to about 70 people on the phone about why they started making masks and PPE.
Student Association holds Sit Down to bring attention to racial injustice
Outraged by the injustices surrounding Black lives, Mississippi State University sophomore Aspen Humes decided to organize The Sit Down. The event was initially planned to be held at the MSU Amphitheater, but it was relocated to Bettersworth Auditorium in Lee Hall due to inclement weather. MSU President Mark Keenum served as a guest speaker and did not shy away from the controversial topic. Keenum expressed the need for more events and conversations like the movement Starkville Stand Up held during the month of June. He spoke on the evil nature of racism and prioritized coming together to face the problem. "We have to do all we can to emphasize the good that we have and overcome the evil. Racism is an evil. Racism is a sin," Keenum said. "Unfortunately, this world that we live in will always have sin and evil, but when we see evil, we have to address it swiftly and with justice." MSU's Black Voices choir took the stage and sung their rendition of "Lift Every Voice and Sing." MSU Student Association President Tyler Packer followed by defining racism as a problem within someone's heart.
MSU begins work on new Bulldog Way with planned finish in 2022
On Oct. 6, Mississippi State University broke ground on Bulldog Way, a road construction project intended to alleviate traffic on heavily used roads such as Blackjack Road, Hardy Road and Stone Boulevard. The two-mile Bulldog Way will connect to the intersection located near the Baptist Student Union on Lee Boulevard and run alongside the Campus Trails apartment complex and connect to Blackjack Road. There will also be a connection to the road behind the Industrial Education Building as well as sidewalks, bike lanes and improvements to the existing traffic lights. The contractor for the project is Burns Dirt Construction, a Columbus-based company with a history of working with MSU and Oktibbeha County, and the engineering firm in charge is Pickering Firm Inc. out of Flowood, Mississippi. According to Nic Parish, Burns' vice president of operations and contracting for Burns Dirt Construction, the plan will be completed in phases since active roads will be replaced with most of the work being done in the summer while students are away.
Flag commission member: Magnolia is 'something people would recognize' for Mississippi
Sherri Bevis remembers the exact date Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann called and asked her to be a member of the state flag selection commission: June 30, which happens to be Hosemann's birthday. "I was very emotional because I knew the magnitude of the position and what it meant, but I also knew what an honor to serve it would be, and I was truly humbled by that request," Bevis, who also is president of the Mississippi State University Alumni Association, told the Starkville Rotary Club at its Monday meeting. The commission chose the magnolia surrounded by 20 stars, representing Mississippi as the 20th state in the union, on a navy background with red vertical banners on Sept. 2. Graphic designer Rocky Vaughan of Starkville co-designed "The New Magnolia Flag." The flag needs a majority of "yes" votes in order to be adopted, and if not, the commission will go "back to the drawing board" and it will be another year before Mississippi has a flag, Bevis said. Businesses and universities across the state have embraced the new flag design, she said, and she believes "the numbers look pretty good" for the design to be approved next month. "You're going to have 30 percent of people who will vote for no flag, no matter what it is, because it's not the old one," Bevis said. "That's just the reality, but we're hoping we can really focus on the positive side and get people who are excited about this flag and move forward and vote for this one."
Runoffs will fill 2 seats in Mississippi Senate, 2 in House
Runoffs are happening Tuesday for special elections to fill four seats in the Mississippi Legislature, and winners will serve the rest of a four-year term that ends in January 2024. In Senate District 15, businessman Bart Williams and educator Joyce Meek Yates are running in Choctaw, Montgomery, Oktibbeha and Webster counties. Republican Sen. Gary Jackson of French Camp resigned June 30 because of health concerns. He had served since 2004. In House District 37, Lynn Wright, a former superintendent of the Lowndes County School District, and pool service owner David M. Chism are running in Clay, Lowndes and Oktibbeha counties. Republican Rep. Gary Chism of Columbus resigned June 30 after serving since 2000. He had a stroke in 2017 and said he had not enjoyed legislative service as much since then. Gary Chism and David Chism are cousins.
Voters return to polls today for legislative runoffs
When the final tally came in from the special election for District 37 House of Representatives, Lynn Wright had finished tantalizingly close to winning the seat outright, falling just 47 votes of a majority in the three-candidate race. Instead, he's meeting David Chism in a runoff today. As voters go to the polls for that runoff, neither candidate is taking anything for granted. "We've got to keep going, keep working as hard as we can," Wright said. "The votes don't carry over. People have to show up and vote. So we're doing everything we can." Chism, a Lowndes County businessman who won the most votes in the Clay and Oktibbeha parts of the district, but was badly beaten in the larger Lowndes County portion, said he hasn't spent much time reflecting on the Sept. 22 results. "We're still in this, absolutely," he said. "I'm looking at this like a clean slate. I won big in Oktibbeha and Clay." In another special election runoff today, Bart Williams meets Joyce Meek Yates for the District 15 Senate seat vacated by Gary Jackson who also retired after this year's legislative session. In some circles, today's District 15 Mississippi Senate runoff between Williams and Yates could be billed as a country vs. city competition. Williams has been a business owner in Starkville, the largest municipality in the district, for 27 years while Yates lives in Eupora. For both candidates, broadening their support beyond their hometown is essential, they said.
Mississippi Supreme Court candidate looks to bring diversity
A challenger in a Mississippi Supreme Court election said Monday that she would bring diversity of perspective and experience to a court that has had only four women among the 137 justices who have served during the state's history. Judge Latrice Westbrooks of Lexington is seeking to become the first Black woman to serve on Mississippi's nine-member high court. She was elected in 2016 to serve on the 10-member Mississippi Court of Appeals. She previously worked at different times as an assistant district attorney, public defender and municipal judge. Westbrooks is challenging Justice Kenny Griffis of Ridgeland, who was appointed by then-Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican, to fill a vacancy on the nine-member Supreme Court in early 2019. The two candidates spoke Monday during an online forum hosted by Mississippi State University's Stennis Institute of Government and the Capitol press corps.
Kenny Griffis, Latrice Westbrooks tout qualifications ahead of Mississippi Supreme Court election
Challenger Latrice Westbrooks says she would bring needed diversity to a Mississippi Supreme Court that has been dominated throughout its history by white men. Incumbent Kenny Griffis said voters should consider only experience and "judicial philosophy" on Nov. 3 and not race or gender. The two judges, both with lengthy appellate court experience, participated in an online forum hosted by the Stennis Institute of Government and the Capitol Press Corps on Monday, outlining their experience and qualifications in what is considered a very competitive race for the District 1, Place 1 high court seat for central Mississippi. The district of about 1 million people is nearly evenly divided by race, partisanship and urban/rural population. Westbrooks, of Lexington, was elected to the Mississippi Court of Appeals in 2016. She previously served as an assistant district attorney for Harrison, Hancock and Stone counties -- the first African American woman to serve there as assistant DA. Griffis, of Ridgeland, was appointed to the Supreme Court by then-Gov. Phil Bryant to fill out the term Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr., who left the bench at the end of January 2019.
Mississippi lawmakers hear from doctors on what they'd like to see in next Medicaid tech bill
Doctors with different backgrounds are giving their opinions on how Medicaid is working in the state before lawmakers get down to the details of how it will run for the next three years. Doctors aren't asking for a full overhaul of the Medicaid system but do want some tweaks made. One thing Dr. Dustin Gentry says should remain is no cap on how many times those on Medicaid can go to the doctor. That was removed in 2018. "It's in your best interest to keep it that way because Just as soon as you start capping, they're going to go into the emergency room and be put into the hospital on a more frequent basis," said Gentry who is with the Mississippi Academy of Family Physicians. Another takeaway is that it's not just care for adults they're considering. "Pediatricians are your Medicaid workforce," described President of the Mississippi Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics Dr. John Gaudet. "2/3 of the children in Mississippi are on Medicaid." While Medicaid expansion wasn't brought up by lawmakers, the president of the state medical association ended his remarks with this request. "Inexcusably, we have forgone billions in federal assistance that would've helped our most vulnerable citizens," said Dr. Mark Horne. "We ask the Legislature to act on expanding coverage in the upcoming session."
Mississippi reports 713 new COVID-19 cases, 14 deaths
The Mississippi State Department of Health on Tuesday reported 713 new cases of COVID-19 and 14 deaths related to the virus. Lee, Marshall, Monroe and Tishomingo counties in Northeast Mississippi each reported one additional death on Tuesday. The statewide total number of cases since March 11 now stands at 105,941, with 3,115 total deaths. Around 94,165 people are estimated to have recovered from the virus as of October 11. Most counties in the Daily Journal's coverage area reported additional cases. The additional case counts are: Alcorn (5), Benton (4), Chickasaw (9), Clay (3), Itawamba (12), Lafayette (12), Lee (31), Marshall (14), Monroe (8), Oktibbeha (3), Pontotoc (2), Prentiss (9), Tippah (13), Tishomingo (8) and Union (9).
Doctor: Mississippi virus indicators go 'unwanted direction'
Mississippi's state health officer said Monday that he's troubled by the state's recent rise in COVID-19 cases, including a significant increase during the past week of people hospitalized because of the highly contagious coronavirus. Dr. Thomas Dobbs said six hospitals have no beds available in their intensive care units, and clinics are seeing an increasing number of patients with COVID-19 symptoms. "All of the indicators are starting to turn in an unwanted direction," Dobbs said during an online news conference. Although Republican Gov. Tate Reeves ended his statewide mask mandate Sept. 30, Dobbs said it's important for people to voluntarily do simple things to slow the spread of the virus -- wearing masks, keeping social distance of at least 6 feet and avoiding large gatherings. "I will say, personally, I've been a little bit disappointed just hearing from churches and businesses that they feel like they are no longer empowered to have their members or visitors wear masks," Dobbs said.
Health officials concerned about potential second wave of coronavirus
The number of Mississippians testing positive for the coronavirus is up, and so is the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations. State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said he is concerned about the state's healthcare system being strained once more. "I do have a network of people who do just kind of keep me informed of what they're seeing in the ERs and hospitals, and they all over the weekend were telling me 'hey, it's starting to creep up. We're getting busy, we don't have space, we're seeing more patients show up in the ER with COVID-19 like symptoms.' So, I do think we're on the front end of something that could be bad," said Dobbs. Over the summer, community transmission led to rapid spreading of the virus, but after the statewide mask mandate, those numbers went down. State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers says several counties have seen a resurgence in cases lately, and this could be a sign that community transmission is increasing. "Under most circumstances when we start seeing increases in a county, it's because we're starting to see community transmission. It's nothing mystical, it's the fact that we see more people being infected, and more people transmitting," said Byers. "Remember that even in the counties where we're not having a lot of activity right now, that doesn't mean that there's no COVID-19 there."
Almost two weeks without mask mandate, COVID-19 indicators trend in 'wrong direction'
The seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases in Mississippi is now at 646, a 24% rise in the last week alone, and a 25% increase since Gov. Tate Reeves lifted the statewide mask mandate on Sept. 30. State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs discussed during a Monday press conference whether the mandate's absence is directly attributable to the rise in cases. "We started to see numbers creep up before really there would've been a potential impact from the mask mandate," Dobbs said. "I will say, though, that it could certainly be part of the problem as time goes forward. Personally, I've been a little bit disappointed hearing from churches and businesses that they feel like they're no longer in power to have their members or visitors wear masks, and I think that does increase risk, unfortunately." It's now been 12 days since Gov. Reeves let the statewide mask mandate expire. According to the CDC, the incubation period, or the time between someone's infection and when they experience symptoms, is typically two weeks at the longest.
Top health expert 'very concerned' Mississippi is about to have second COVID-19 surge
All the coronavirus indicators are going in the wrong direction in Mississippi, Dr. Thomas Dobbs said Monday. "The last time we saw that was before the summer surge," the state health officer said via Zoom at an afternoon press conference. Dobbs said he is "very concerned" this could be the start of another phase of the pandemic. Six major hospitals in the state have no more capacity in their intensive care units, he said. None of those hospitals are in South Mississippi. Dobbs said his network of health professional from around the state are telling him more people are coming into emergency rooms with COVID-19 symptoms and hospitals are filling up. "I do think we're on the front end of something that could be bad," he said. Mississippi can turn around the escalating numbers. "It's not that hard," he said. Mississippians just have to have patience and follow the measures that reduced the numbers after the spike this summer -- wear masks, social distance and keep to small groups.
State health experts cite community transmission to recent COVID-19 spike in Lee County
Mississippi's top public health experts on Monday said an increase in community transmission is likely the source of an uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases in Lee County and other Northeast Mississippi counties. Lee County, which is the highest populated county in Northeast Mississippi, reported 374 new positive cases of coronavirus from Oct. 1-12, including a single-day report of 131 new cases on Oct. 6 and 42 new cases on Oct. 10. Dr. Paul Byers, the state's epidemiologist, said Lee County's situation is "basically the same story we say everywhere," and an increase in community spread will lead to a periodic influx of new cases in a certain county. "It's nothing mystical," Byers said. "It's the fact that we see more people being infected and more people transmitting. If you think about the way that the virus is transmitting person to person through close interaction, it's not surprising that periodically we're going to see some uptick."
Mississippi Ag Commissioner announces organic certification cost-share program
The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce is offering a cost-share program for Mississippi organic producers and handlers receiving certification or continuation of certification by a United States Department of Agriculture accredited certifying agent. "This is a great opportunity for farmers that have received the USDA Organic Certification in the past year to help offset some of the costs associated with this certification," said Commissioner Andy Gipson. "I am glad that we are able to offer this program again for 2020, and I encourage our farmers to take advantage of this opportunity during these unprecedented times." Funding is available for those that received the certification between October 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020. Applicants must be Mississippi organic producers and handlers located within the state. Funds are available on a first-come, first-serve basis until the funds are depleted.
Sean Suggs leaving Toyota Mississippi for headquarters role
Sean Suggs is leaving his role as president of Toyota Mississippi after three years to take on a new full-time corporate position. In July, Toyota named Suggs group vice president, chief social innovation officer for Toyota Motor North America, or TMNA, effective Sept. 1. In the announcement, the company said he would remain as Toyota Mississippi president, but the larger role with the company necessitated a move to Plano, Texas, where TMNA is headquartered. He'll remain as Toyota Mississippi president until a replacement is named, which should be announced soon. In his new role, Suggs is responsible for TMNA's philanthropic efforts, the Toyota USA Foundation, and the corporate diversity and inclusion strategy. Suggs serves on the Mississippi State Board of Education, the Mississippi Economic Council's executive committee, the Mississippi Manufacturers Association, and he supports several other nonprofit and economic development boards in Northeast Mississippi.
Lots of partisan sniping, but not a lot of mystery, at Supreme Court confirmation hearing
Senate Judiciary members sharply criticized each other during the opening day Monday of the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, who now faces a long day of questions on her legal views and previous judicial decisions. With 10 minutes each to make a statement on President Donald Trump's consequential pick who would further solidify the Supreme Court's conservative tilt, Democrats and Republicans firmly established their main strategies for a week of hearings that appeared poised to collapse into partisan sniping. Democrats used their time to focus relentlessly on the policy implications of Barrett's appointment, particularly the potential for the Supreme Court to wipe out the 2010 health care law in a case backed by the Trump administration and set for argument Nov. 10. And Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham and other Republicans criticized Democrats for focusing not on Barrett's qualifications, but on the decisions they fear she might vote to deliver. At times, both sides got unusually personal.
Anti-Trump, but not fully for Biden: Will Gen Z vote?
When Bernie Sanders -- political darling of Generation Z -- ended his presidential candidacy, Joe Biden spoke to his supporters: "I see you, I hear you, and I understand the urgency of what it is we have to get done in this country." Roughly three weeks from the election, a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll and interviews with two dozen youth voting experts and grassroots organizers suggest he's had only mixed success with that message. The youngest citizens are eager to make a difference, driven by strong anti-Trump sentiment and the tumult of 2020. But they're not fully sold on a Biden-led Democratic Party and still have concerns about voting. The poll surveyed 1,000 eligible Gen Z voters, people between 18 and 23 years old, and found that they were twice as likely to vote for Biden as President Donald Trump: 51 percent to 25 percent. Meanwhile, registered voters of all ages had just a 6-point preference for Biden. Two-thirds of Gen Zers disapprove of the job Trump is doing in office, with many pointing to the Black Lives Matter protests and the pandemic as reasons why they were more likely to vote for Biden. But Biden isn't inspiring much loyalty.
Mitch McConnell and Amy McGrath spar on Supreme Court, COVID-19 aid, police reform in Monday debate
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democrat Amy McGrath fired off answers about COVID-19, the Supreme Court, police reform and other issues Monday night during a fast-paced, hour-long debate -- the first and likely last one they'll both do before the Nov. 3 election. Both candidates kept hammering on the major points they each wanted to get across to Kentucky voters as they fielded an array of questions from WKYT news anchor Bill Bryant. McConnell's main message: He has used his clout to bring significant funds -- $17.5 billion, he said, during his most recent term -- to Kentucky and gives the state an influential voice in Congress. "Look, the question is: Who can be effective for Kentucky?" he said. "I give Kentucky an opportunity to punch above its weight on national issues and to bring home things for this state that it would not otherwise get." Meanwhile, McGrath repeatedly stressed what is perhaps the biggest theme of her campaign: McConnell -- who was first elected a senator in 1984 -- has been in office too long and has not used his clout in the ways he should have to help Kentucky.
Tommy Tuberville dealings include failed hedge fund, charity
Tommy Tuberville's quest for a seat in the U.S. Senate is powered by the reputation he gained as Auburn University's football coach, where he led the team to an undefeated season. But in the years since, the Republican has been mired in business failings, a lawsuit and even a questionable charity that raises money but gives very little away. A hedge fund Tuberville helped start in 2009 was the subject of a criminal investigation in which Tuberville's business partner pleaded guilty to fraud. Tuberville, who denied wrongdoing, later settled a lawsuit filed by investors who lost millions. In 2014, Tuberville started the Tommy Tuberville Foundation, which has given only a small portion of its money to charity while spending tens of thousands of dollars to stage annual golf tournaments. Those financial dealings are now in the spotlight in the closely watched Senate race as Republicans push to recapture the once reliably red state of Alabama. Tuberville, a Trump-backed political newcomer, won the GOP primary by besting former longtime Sen. Jeff Sessions, who failed to reclaim the seat he'd left to become Trump's attorney general.
The Man Who Speaks Softly -- and Commands a Big Cyber Army
In the years before he became America's most powerful spy, Paul Nakasone acquired an unusually personal understanding of the country's worst intelligence failures. Growing up, he was reared on his father Edwin's recollections of December 7, 1941: how Edwin, then age 14, was eating a bowl of cornflakes with Carnation powdered milk when he saw Japanese Zeros racing past the family's screen door on Oahu on their way to attack Pearl Harbor. They were so close that Edwin, who would grow up to become an Army intelligence officer, could see one of the pilots. "I can still remember to this day," Edwin would recall years later, "that he had his hachimaki -- his headband -- around, goggles on." Decades later, Paul himself experienced another disastrous surprise attack on America at close range: He was working as an intelligence planner inside the Pentagon on the clear September Tuesday when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the building. He remembers evacuating about an hour after the attack and looking over his shoulder at the giant column of black smoke rising from the building where he went to work every day. Over the next 15 years, as America waged the resulting war on terror, Paul Nakasone became one of the nation's founding cyberwarriors -- an elite group that basically invented the doctrine that would guide how the US fights in a virtual world.
Ole Miss administrators hold virtual Parents and Families Town Hall
University of Mississippi administrators held a virtual Parents and Families Town Hall Monday to address the frustration and concerns of some parents over online classes and other issues related to the coronavirus pandemic. Before the question and answer session, Chancellor Glen Boyce and Alex Langhart, Director of University Health Services gave an overview of what Ole Miss is doing to adjust to the changes forced by the pandemic. There was a panel of 10 administrators, representing a wide variety of university departments. Many parents joined in from other states to express their concerns. The first question, "If masks work, why are 99-percent of classes online or virtual?" In part of his response, Noel Wilkin, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, said they are still following the guidelines of public health officials. Wilkin said, "They still require the six feet social distancing within classrooms which cuts down our classroom capacities. We do teach over 4,300 sections in a semester, so that's a large number of sections being offered by over a thousand faculty members and instructors. It may interest you to know that we have classrooms of lots of different sizes on campus."
USM announces new organizational structure, vision for Coast operations
The University of Southern Mississippi is charting a bright future for its Mississippi Gulf Coast operations with a new organizational framework and vision statement. According to a Friday letter from Rodney Bennett, the university's president since 2013, the detailed plan to advance coastal operations -- which have been in place for 73 years -- will solidify the university's position "as the education and research leader on the Mississippi Gulf Coast ... for not only the next 73 years, but the next 110 years." The refreshed vision statement positions the university as the "national leader addressing issues relevant to people in coastal and maritime settings," wrote Bennett. The university will create several leadership positions to head the new coastal effort, and all coastal operations will be led by a senior associate vice president for coastal operations. Additionally, two new associate vice president positions -- one in academic affairs and one in research -- will manage coast-based functions for those areas.
USM Children's Center using virtual fundraiser to help children with disabilities
Children with disabilities in South Mississippi receive critical assistance from the Children's Center for Communication and Development at the University of Southern Mississippi. In addition to the children served on the Hattiesburg campus, about 50 young children benefit from therapies provided free of charge at the Gulf Park Campus in Long Beach. On Monday, a few of those kids and their families got together with chefs from local restaurants at Lynn Meadows Discovery Center to record "Here We Grow," a virtual fundraiser for the children's center. Sarah Myers is the executive director for the Children's Center, and she believes the donations raised could make a lifelong impact. "It's essentially the difference between a child having a voice or not having a voice, and it's the difference between a family getting to hear that voice," Myers said. "It's tremendous when you're able to donate to a program like the Children's Center because you can see it in action. You can see and hear these kiddos developing and learning, and it's beautiful to be a part of."
Auburn's Bee Lab begins annual honey sale
The primary purpose of Auburn University's Bee Lab, according to assistant professor Geoffrey Williams, is research and instruction. Housed in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, the Bee Lab's charge is to promote bees through research, teaching and outreach. However, in order to support its efforts in research and instruction, the Bee Lab sets aside certain apiaries, or plots of land with bee colonies, for the production of honey. These apiaries are scattered across Auburn's campus, and some may even be owned by Auburn residents. "We have the Bee Lab, a physical structure, but then we also have a Bee Lab as our bee yard, or apiary, where we keep bees," Williams said. "So that's what we call the Bee Lab yard. But we do have several other yards scattered within 10 miles of campus. Some of those yards are only used for research, some are used for honey production, and some are used for both." This year, the apiaries allotted for honey production were the Bee Lab's home apiary, the colonies maintained by Raleigh and Jane Jones, and the colonies maintained at the Mary Olive Thomas Demonstration Forest. Combined, they produced more honey this year than in years past.
Alabama colleges back away from using ACT/SAT scores for admission
The majority of Alabama's four-year universities are doing away with requiring college admissions test scores in 2021 school year terms, continuing a new policy that began in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. "I am glad the campuses have signaled their intention for test-optional admission criteria for the 2021 school year," Dr. Jim Purcell, head of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education told AL.com in an email. "With the pandemic making testing more problematic, it is a good choice for the current situation." The University of Alabama announced it is waiving standardized test score submission requirements last week, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham made the same announcement Tuesday. Auburn University made the decision to waive test score submissions in August. Auburn then took it one step further and declared "any valedictorian or salutatorian from an accredited Alabama school with 50 or more graduates will qualify for admission and will be accepted into the Honors College."
U. of Tennessee among first universities to announce fall graduation ceremonies
Like most things this year, graduation plans have been derailed by the coronavirus at colleges and universities across the country. A few universities, however, have decided to host socially distanced graduations. The University of Georgia, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Clemson University and Texas A&M University all will hold in-person ceremonies this fall. The University of Tennessee at Knoxville has announced plans for 12 in-person graduation ceremonies in November. Even those will look different – ceremonies that normally pack Thompson-Boling Arena will be capped at 200 graduates with a limited number of guests allowed for each graduate. Attendance will be around 1,000 for each ceremony with masks required, Provost John Zomchick said. After seeing plans from the University of Alabama's summer graduation ceremony and speaking with other SEC provosts, Zomchick said UT administrators felt confident they could host a safe, in-person graduation.
U. of Florida suspends two fraternities, one sanctioned after virus-rule accusations
Two University of Florida fraternities have been suspended and one faces disciplinary sanctions amid accusations they violated the school's COVID-19 behavior guidelines. Theta Chi and Phi Delta Theta fraternities have been placed on interim suspension pending results of a future conduct hearing, according to UF's Dean of Students' Office. Sorority Delta Gamma is now under a "limited activity" directive after being accused of hosting a big sister/little sister reveal event that drew a large crowd without masks. Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity is also on interim suspension after accusations the organization hazed new members or potential new members. UF's Dean of Students Office's interfraternity dashboard, which tracks Greek organizations' status, said all three houses had an incident violation this semester that violated the school's COVID-19 guidelines.
State higher ed's biggest gift: Missouri S&T receives $300 million
Missouri University of Science and Technology received a gift of $300 million, the largest in the history of state higher education, the Rolla campus announced in a news release Monday. The gift from St. Louis businessman Fred Kummer and his wife, June, will be used to create the Kummer Institute Foundation. The mission of the Kummer Institute is to transform S&T into a hub of teaching, research and public engagement in technology-focused innovation and entrepreneurship. It also aims to elevate S&T's stature among technological research universities in the U.S. and energize the economy of Rolla and the state. Fred Kummer is a 1955 civil engineering graduate of S&T, which was named then Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy. He met his wife during his time in Rolla, and they both have been major donors to the school for decades, according to the S&T release. "I owe much of my success to the education I received at Rolla," he said. "My Rolla experience taught me how to think, how to work hard and how to manage my own career. June and I believe in the mission of this great university, and that's why we have chosen to invest in S&T's future success."
As the Pandemic Grinds On, Here Are 5 Big Worries of College Presidents
It's a bleak time to be a college leader in America -- and a new survey of nearly 300 presidents suggests that as the pandemic wears on, many are simply focused on their institution's survival. The American Council on Education, in conjunction with the TIAA Institute, reached out to presidents September 14-22 and asked them to identify their most pressing concerns. Here are five of the survey's top findings: Campus mental health is the No. 1 worry. Financial viability is in question. Enrollments are down, but maybe not yet at the bottom. Layoffs are the new harsh reality. Revenues are dwindling, and pandemic costs are rising. At the same time that colleges are witnessing a drop in revenues, the task of reopening during Covid-19 has created additional expenses. Some colleges are proactively conducting surveillance testing of asymptomatic individuals, which can cost millions of dollars. The survey results show that most college presidents aren't going quite that far.
Colleges use freebies to encourage COVID-19 testing and screening
Now that students are back on some college campuses and settled into the fall semester, early efforts to keep them vigilant about staying healthy and coronavirus-free during the pandemic are losing steam. Infection reduction and monitoring strategies that are heavily promoted by institutions just aren't cutting it anymore. Students are already tired of being constantly reminded by emails and signs all over their campuses that this is not a normal college year, and they're badly missing the ordinary routines that used to be part of the college experience. College administrators and student activities officials are reaching back to classic student engagement tactics, such as gift freebies and prize giveaways, to encourage students to participate in COVID-19 testing and screening and to stay motivated about their institutions' efforts to prevent infection outbreaks. Stephen Cutler, dean of the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy, said students on the campus in Columbia are experiencing "testing fatigue" due to how often they are encouraged to participate in voluntary COVID-19 tests. Cutler said university health, student affairs, athletics officials and student body leaders responded by collaborating with President Robert Caslen's office to offer prizes to students who randomly get tested.
Colleges Pledged to Follow the Science. But Divides in Reopening Plans Reflected State Politics.
Institutional decisions about whether to reopen colleges in-person this fall correlated most strongly with state politics, not the regional public-health conditions that campus leaders said were front and center in their considerations, new research suggests. The finding, from a pre-peer-review research and policy brief published by the College Crisis Initiative at Davidson College, reveals that both public and private institutions in Republican-led states were less likely to say in early August they would operate online this fall. County case numbers of Covid-19 did not have as strong of a correlation to campus decisions. Over the summer, administrators cited their on-campus public-health expertise and data on the pandemic as central to decisions. But researchers found little evidence that state and county case rates were a "strong piece" of decision making, broadly. Administrators were in a tough position, said Daniel Collier, the paper's lead author and a research associate at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
Nobel Peace Prize spotlights the links between hunger and conflict
The 2020 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the United Nations World Food Program for its efforts to combat hunger, foster conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war. This choice starkly underscores growing concern about increasing global food insecurity and the clear connections between hunger and conflict. Today, more than 820 million people -- about 1 in 9 worldwide -- do not have enough to eat. They suffer from food insecurity, or not having consistent access to the right foods to keep their bodies and brains healthy. Humans need a varied diet that includes a range of critical nutrients. Food insecurity is especially important to young children and unborn babies because improper nutrition can permanently stunt brain development and growth. The World Food Program was created in the early 1960s at the behest of U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower. While the U.S. was already providing direct food aid to needy countries, Eisenhower urged other nations to join in creating a system to provide food to member states through the United Nations. The WFP is now one of the world's largest humanitarian agencies. In 2019 it assisted 97 million people in 88 countries.
Higher Education's Nightmare Scenario
Public colleges face two crises: the impact of Covid-19 on their operations and a downturn in state funding brought on by the current recession. And based on what state budget offices are saying, the funding problem for higher education is about to get a lot worse. Without action by the federal government, higher education in most states will be facing severe cuts, very likely larger than those incurred during the recession of 2008-9. There has already been a large contraction in our industry's work force, and state systems are feeling the pain: In Pennsylvania, for instance, a plan to lay off approximately 350 faculty members has reportedly been expedited. All of that may merely be prelude to a looming, historic decline in the sector. There is time to act, but the window is closing. Academic leaders are planning now for unprecedented cuts. There's only so much state policy makers can do to support our sector right now. The solution lies with the federal government, which must step in to avert cuts that could imperil higher education's ability to fulfill its mission.

With the air raid screeching to a halt, Mike Leach looking to resuscitate struggling MSU offense
Change is coming to Mike Leach's offense. For the better part of two weeks, Mississippi State's offense has seen nothing but drop eight zone coverage as it struggled to anemic offensive outputs in losses to Arkansas and Kentucky. And while Leach isn't panicking quite yet, there figures to be some shake-up ahead of No. 11 Texas A&M's visit to Starkville on Saturday. "We're going to be competitive at every position," he said during his Monday press conference. "There may be some lineup changes, we'll see, and then we also may play more guys. But if they bring three (pass rushers), we have to consistently win those battles, and I don't think we've been consistent at it." MSU figures to see a change or, at the very least, a short leash under center. After dazzling the nation with his 623-yard, five-touchdown effort against then-No. 6 LSU in Week 1, K.J. Costello has turned into a shell of himself. In the two games since, Costello has completed 69.3 percent of his throws, but seven interceptions and a 6.9 yards per completion rate have bogged down a seemingly high-flying aerial attack.
Why Mississippi State football is at a crossroads under coach Mike Leach
Life comes at you fast. Three weeks ago Mississippi State senior quarterback K.J. Costello set the SEC passing record for yards in a game with 623 against defending national champion LSU. Now it's unclear if Costello will start against No. 11 Texas A&M (2-1) on Saturday. "We'll see," coach Mike Leach said. "We're going to have competition at nearly every position out there because we need to get the most cohesive group." Is Costello a part of that group? The offense hasn't looked very cohesive with him on the field the last two weeks. He has thrown seven interceptions and one touchdown in that span. That's not what Leach brought him in from Stanford to do. Not knowing if a quarterback who has 28 college starts to his name should start over one who has zero is a microcosm for where Mississippi State (1-2) stands three games into the Leach era, but the Bulldogs are trying to stay the course amid the chaos. "I think everybody wants things as fast as it can possibly happen," Leach said. "But then I think it gets revealed what you need to work on then you focus on that. I don't see a huge sense of frustration as much as a kind of diligent determination to work hard and work smart."
After injury, surge of support for Dak
Dak Prescott's brother wasted little time trying to show the upbeat side of the Dallas quarterback in a hospital bed after a gruesome ankle injury that ended his season Sunday. A masked Tad Prescott posted a selfie on Twitter with a smiling Prescott in a hospital bed behind him, writing that the two-time Pro Bowler would be back "STRONGER than ever" and using an expletive for emphasis. The rush of good wishes on social media was even faster during what ended up being a 37-34 victory for the Cowboys over the winless New York Giants. Former Dallas quarterback and Pro Football Hall of Famer Troy Aikman and reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes of Kansas City were among them. Prescott, the former Mississippi State standout, was going down in the arms of New York defensive back Logan Ryan at the end of a 9-yard run in the third quarter. His lower right leg got caught under Ryan. Prescott entered the game leading the NFL in yards passing after becoming the first to throw for at least 450 yards in three consecutive games.
SEC fesses up: Errors made, but replay right, supervisor says
SEC supervisor of officials John McDaid acknowledged Monday there was an incorrect ruling on Auburn quarterback Bo Nix's late attempt at spiking the ball in the final half-minute against Arkansas on Saturday, but he said the collaborative replay process followed correct protocols in reviewing and ruling on the critical play. In an exclusive interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, McDaid said he suspected referee Jason Autrey locked in on Nix's mishandling of the snap, which caused him to throw his flag for intentional grounding, signal incomplete and blow his whistle in the immediate aftermath of the play. Nix mishandled the snap on a third-and-1 play from the Arkansas 19, and the ball fell to the wet grass. Nix picked the ball up, pivoted right and "clocked" the ball backward with 30 seconds left in the game and Arkansas clinging to a 28-27 lead.
Florida coach Dan Mullen brushes aside criticism for wanting to 'pack Swamp' for LSU game
Florida coach Dan Mullen was given several more chances Monday to clarify any confusion regarding his comments about wanting to pack 90,000 screaming fans inside Florida Field during the coronavirus pandemic. He declined each of them, brushing aside criticism and insisting he's focused on defending national champion LSU. He was asked: Did you have any discussions with your boss, athletic director Scott Stricklin, about what you said following a 41-38 loss at Texas A&M? "No, I've been worried about trying to beat LSU," Mullen said. Then: Any regrets two days later? Did you talk with school president Kent Fuchs? "Yeah, I've been preparing for LSU. But, I mean, I'll be honest. I think if you look at what we've been able to do, the safety precautions we have that our players have followed, our coaches follow, our staff follows, you know, I think we're a model of safety of what we've been doing during this time period."
Mizzou vs. Vanderbilt homecoming game postponed
Missouri's homecoming football game against Vanderbilt this weekend has been postponed because of coronavirus-related issues with the Commodores. The Tigers (1-2) were scheduled to face Vanderbilt (0-3) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Faurot Field, but the contest will not be played as scheduled, the Southeastern Conference announced Monday afternoon. The game will now be played in Columbia on Dec. 12, the league's universal open date between the end of the retooled regular season and the conference championship. The postponement is "due to positive tests and subsequent quarantine of individuals" within the Vanderbilt program, the league announced. The SEC has established a minimum threshold of 53 active scholarship student-athletes for a team to play a game. "It's been a wild, about three hours. If y'all want to know the real truth, our bus company alerted us that Vanderbilt had canceled their buses, and that's where we first got wind that maybe this game wasn't going to go on," Missouri head football coach Eli Drinkwitz said Monday afternoon on The Paul Finebaum Show on SEC Network.
South Carolina football food vendors limited during pandemic, threatening experience and livelihoods
It's not a RiverDogs game without a bag of Tony's boiled peanuts and a $1 beer, just like it's not a South Carolina football game without a tailgate in the parking lot beforehand. Pandemic-era sports have had to adjust this year, and while fans are back in football stadium stands with a limited capacity this season, tailgating is off the table. With no pre-game cornhole competitions, fresh burgers on the Foreman and ice luge Fireball shots (not speaking from experience here...), all the action will have to take place on the field this season. Food options on the concourse are limited, too, so don't get your hopes up for the same expansive fare you're used to snacking on throughout the game. Aramark, Clemson and the University of South Carolina's campus meal provider, will be tending to the salted pretzels, popcorn and boxed candy per usual, but additional local vendors that fill up the concourse will be limited. Operating with a few more vendors in the concourse than Death Valley, Williams-Brice has been able to offer more options. Chick-fil-A, Thai Kingdom, Soca Caribbean Kitchen, Doc's Barbeque, The Nutty Bavarian and Dippin' Dots will be back, and hot foods, such as hamburgers and hot dogs, are being served from concessions stands. It's also the first year beer will be for sale at the Columbia stadium.
H.B.C.U. Homecomings Are Canceled, but Students and Alumni Will Feast Anyway
Matriculation at historically Black colleges and universities is more than late-night study sessions: It's a balancing act between academics and discovering merriment, and learning how to be. It's routine to walk the same grassy quadrant as ancestors who believed education was a weapon, while making plans to let off steam. At homecoming, the uniqueness of the Black college experience is on full display for everyone to take in. Food and fellowship have long been the main attractions at H.B.C.U. homecomings, many of which are held in October and November. This year, many homecoming festivities have been canceled because of the Covid-19 pandemic. But the energy of game day never dissipates. Memories of tailgating sustain many graduates of H.B.C.U.s, and brunch, which has become the new cornerstone of homecoming celebrations, will be a virtual affair for 2020. Homecoming and tailgating at H.B.C.U.s are part sporting spectacle and part family-reunion buffet. At Jackson State University in Mississippi, you might find jovial alumni tending to "junk pots" --- silver caldrons bubbling with corn, turkey necks, potatoes, pig feet and neckbones, while women scoop red sauce and spaghetti pasta with fried fish, a Mississippi Delta combination, onto Styrofoam plates, as Byron Hurt captured in his documentary "Soul Food Junkies."
NCAA proposal would allow transfers immediate eligibility
Athletes can soon transfer schools and play immediately. That's according to proposed legislation sent to Division I Council members this week and obtained by Sports Illustrated. The Council is expected to introduce the proposal into the NCAA's 2020–21 legislative cycle at its meeting Wednesday, with a vote coming in January for an effective date of Aug. 1, 2021. Under the proposal developed by the NCAA Working Group on Transfers, athletes are afforded a one-time transfer during their athletic careers without suffering the penalty of sitting out a season, reversing a policy from the 1960s. Fall and winter sport athletes would have to notify their schools of a transfer by May 1, with an exception extending the date to July 1 for an end-of-the-year head coaching change or the non-renewal of scholarships. Spring sport athletes would have until July 1 to notify schools of transfer. Athletes missing those deadlines would not be immediately eligible at their new school.

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