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Kathy Mattea’s 'Songs And The Season' takes stage at MSU Riley Center Dec. 10

Wed, 11/25/2015 - 1:00am

Kathy Mattea, one of the most versatile and thoughtful stars in country music, will bring her holiday show, "Songs and the Season," to the MSU Riley Center in downtown Meridian on Dec. 10. The festivities will include a pre-show party with refreshments in the Grand Lobby starting at 7 p.m.

Mattea has won two Grammy Awards, and the Country Music Association has twice named her Female Vocalist of the Year. From the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s, she was one of country music’s superstars. She charted four number one hits: “Goin’ Gone,” “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses,” “Come from the Heart,” and “Burnin’ Old Memories.” She has continued to record and tour while branching out musically, exploring Celtic and folk traditions. She has also worked on behalf of several social causes, including AIDS awareness and environmental activism.

She has released two Christmas albums, including the Grammy-winning "Good News." True to her innovative spirit, she has found fresh ways to sing traditional carols while also showcasing new or obscure music. Her "Songs and the Season" concerts, she says, are “more about the spiritual side of Christmas and not so much about the holiday.”

Tickets are $43 and $37 at the MSU Riley Center Box Office, which is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling the box office at 601-696-2200.

MSU receives national recognition for grounds maintenance

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 5:54pm
MSU Campus Landscape staff are pictured with administrators congratulating them for national recognition by the Professional Grounds Management Society. MSU President Keenum (front left) receives a plaque from Bart Prather, associate director of campus landscape. Also pictured are (second row) Amy Tuck, vice president for campus services and George Davis, executive director for campus services; (third row) Victor Fulton, Randolph Calmes, Jimmy Colvin, Melvin Turnipseed, Dashun Blair, Alex Miller; (fourth ro

Contact: Georgia Clarke

MSU Campus Landscape staff are pictured with administrators congratulating them for national recognition by the Professional Grounds Management Society. MSU President Keenum (front left) receives a plaque from Bart Prather, associate director of campus landscape. Also pictured are (second row) Amy Tuck, vice president for campus services and George Davis, executive director for campus services; (third row) Victor Fulton, Randolph Calmes, Jimmy Colvin, Melvin Turnipseed, Dashun Blair, Alex Miller; (fourth row) John Rice, James Blair, Willie Neely, Shawn Higgins, Sammy Vaughn, Brandon Hardin; (fifth row) Johnnie Turnipseed, Jimmy Rice, Ivan Harris, Will Lawrence, John Copeland, Dan Whatley; (sixth row) Robert Sawyer, Zeb Rice, Edwin Lindsey, Anthony Johnson, Frank Fulton, Jerry Outlaw and Joey Boutwell. Not pictured are Scott Bolton and Perry Sellars. (Photo by Russ Houston)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State is celebrating a national award for outstanding groundskeeping.

The Professional Grounds Management Society, a Baltimore, Maryland-based organization, recently selected the land-grant institution for an Honor Award in the university and college grounds category of its 2015 Green Star Awards competition.

MSU is among 19 U.S. institutions of higher learning being praised for exceptional grounds maintenance. The complete list is found at

Speaking for the university administration, Vice President for Campus Services Amy Tuck expressed pride in the campus landscape team’s achievement.

“They work diligently to keep MSU beautiful,” she said. “It is an honor for Mississippi State University to be recognized nationally for excellence in grounds maintenance,” Tuck added.

Bart Prather accepted Mississippi State’s award during the society’s annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky. Associate director of campus landscape, he is an agronomy graduate of the university.

“This award goes to those who work for MSU Campus Landscape, and the Campus Services division as a whole,” Prather said. “It is through their hard work and dedication that this award was even possible.”

Each year, MSU plants 80-100 new trees and more than 50,000 daffodils and other color plants. The Campus Landscape staff maintains nearly 1,500 acres of the Starkville campus.

Information on MSU’s Campus Services is found at

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Robert Thompson named 2015 MSU humanities teacher

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 4:01pm
Robert Thompson (Photo by Russ Houston)

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

Robert Thompson (Photo by Russ Houston)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—An associate professor of philosophy is Mississippi State’s 2015 Humanities Teacher of the Year.

The selection of J. Robert Thompson is being announced by the university’s College of Arts and Sciences, along with the Mississippi Humanities Council. As part of the honor, Thompson will present the college’s annual humanities lecture.

Titled “The Humanities and Human Nature,” his address begins at 3 p.m. Monday [Nov. 30] in the Shackouls Honors College Forum Room. Thompson will explore a critical element of what makes people human—the ability to understand one another’s thoughts and actions.

 The event is free to all, as is a reception immediately following in the same fourth-floor Bryce Griffis Residence Hall location in the university’s Zacharias Village.

Along with formally presenting a topic of his choosing to campus and local communities, Thompson is receiving a $300 honorarium.

A philosophy and religion department faculty member since 2008, Thompson specializes in the history of philosophy (ancient, early modern, 20th century analytic), epistemology, metaphysics, logic and applied ethics.

“MSU has some of the strongest humanities departments in the region, and the faculty in the humanities are impressive across the board. I am grateful both for the existence of an award that shines light upon the excellent work being done in the humanities and for being selected for that award,” Thompson said.

R. Gregory Dunaway, dean of MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, said Thompson is “most deserving of this prestigious recognition.”

“He has been an extraordinary classroom teacher and academic adviser. He has done much to advance the humanities in general, as well as being a pivotal figure in revitalizing and enhancing our undergraduate program in philosophy,” Dunaway said.

Thompson’s research focuses on the philosophy of mind and language and philosophy of cognitive science, including social cognition and linguistic competence.

Among others, he is the author of two published papers, “Meaning and Mindreading” (Mind and Language, 2014) and “Signature Limits in Mindreading Systems” (Cognitive Science, 2014). Both papers were among the five percent of submissions accepted by their respective journals.  

Political science professor Rick Travis, who also serves as MSU’s associate dean for academic affairs and student services, lauded Thompson “for his no nonsense, engaging, helpful style of teaching.”

In addition to teaching introductory, intermediate and advanced undergraduate courses, Thompson serves as the undergraduate program coordinator for philosophy. A member of the university’s Robert Holland Faculty Senate, he also chairs his department’s promotion and tenure committee and serves on its curriculum committee.

Thompson is a member of multiple professional organizations, including the American Philosophical Association, Society for Philosophy and Psychology and Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology, in which he currently serves as secretary.

A philosophy doctoral and master’s graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, Thompson previously served as president and vice president of the Mississippi Philosophical Association. A native of Evanston, Illinois, he also holds a bachelor’s of philosophy from Carleton College in Minnesota.

In October 2014, he was selected as the College of Arts and Sciences’ Researcher of the Month. He also received the university’s State Pride Award in 2010.

For more on the Monday humanities lecture, contact Whitney Peterson at 662-325-2646 or

Learn more about MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences at; its philosophy and religion department at

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

MSU readies for the Egg Bowl

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 1:23pm
20 p.m. in Davis Wade Stadium. (Photo by Megan Bean)

Contact: Harriet Laird

20 p.m. in Davis Wade Stadium. (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State University hosts the University of Mississippi for the 112th Egg Bowl this Saturday [Nov. 28] at 6:20 p.m. in Davis Wade Stadium.

Fans are reminded to keep traffic conditions “top of mind” for Saturday’s game.

The football game will be televised on ESPN2. For complete details, visit

Law enforcement will be working key intersections both on and off campus after the game, and they ask fans to:

—Pay attention and use precaution; follow intersection officers’ instructions.

—View this link for a map of key intersections and traffic flow for post-game egress,


A weekend timeline beneficial to MSU students and faculty and to visitors to campus includes:


—Noon, Campus closes for the Thanksgiving holiday.


—RV Lots 29, 31, 34 and 38 open at 10 a.m.

—2 p.m., Volleyball vs. Ole Miss, Newell Grissom Building.

—4 p.m., The Junction opens. Officials ask everyone to be mindful of the influx on Stone Blvd. as tailgaters drop off supplies.

—4 p.m., Gates open at the Hump for Women’s Basketball.

—6 p.m., Women’s Basketball vs. Norfolk State University.


—6 a.m., B.S. Hood Drive closes.

—10 a.m., Gates open at the Hump for Men’s Basketball.

—Noon, Men’s Basketball vs. UT Martin.

—2:20 p.m., Portions of Stone Blvd. close in anticipation of the C-Spire Fan Zone.

—4 p.m., Gates open at Davis Wade Stadium. Fans are encouraged to arrive early and ring responsibly.

—4:20 p.m., Dawg Walk.

—6:20 p.m., Egg Bowl kick off. Senior players on the MSU Bulldog football team will be honored pre-game.

—Shuttle Routes for Saturday will run three hours before kickoff (3:20 p.m.) and two hours after the end of the game. Routes include:

Reserved RV/Wise Center - Picks up at Lot 29 and 31 and on the northwest corner of the Wise Center and drops off at Thompson Hall.
Thad Cochran Research Park - Runs from Research Park to Humphrey Coliseum.
Davis Wade Express - Picks up at Starkville Daily News and drops off at Giles Hall.
S.M.A.R.T Downtown Route - Starkville Electric, Regions Bank, Bank of Commerce, Stromboli’s, Catholic Church, Sweet Peppers to Giles Hall.
For additional transportation choices that run throughout Starkville, but do not run on campus visit


—Noon, Gates open at the Hump for Women’s Basketball.

—2 p.m., Women’s Basketball vs. Savannah State University.


More useful gameday information for fans includes:

Golf Carts

—Fans are encouraged to follow all golf cart rules and respect the roads that are off limits.

—Full rules and regulations can be found here:

Trash and Recycling

—Help keep campus looking nice on gameday for fans and visitors. Fans are encouraged to bag both their recyclable and disposable items during their tailgating.

ADA Parking

—ADA parking is available on gameday. Visit

—The MSU Parking Assistance Center can provide golf cart shuttle services from all parking areas. On gameday, call 662-325-9114 for all assistance needs.

Bulldog fans also are reminded to follow these important Twitter accounts for updates on traffic conditions, shuttles and parking: @maroonalert, @msstate, @hailstate, @hailstateops, @Starkville_PD, and @ride_smart.

MSU announces first James Patterson Teacher Education Scholars

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 10:51am

Contact: Paige Watson

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Eight freshmen from Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee make up the first class of James Patterson Teacher Education Scholars at Mississippi State.

All majoring in elementary education at the university, they are receiving $6,000 academic awards made possible by a gift earlier this year from New York Times bestselling author and his wife.

The inaugural Patterson Scholars include Hannah Duke of Birmingham, Alabama; Amanda R. Hayes of Madison, Alabama; Brooke D. Leggett of Centerville, Alabama; Caitlin N. McFarland of Franklin, Tennessee; Jodie L. Newsom of Laurel; Mary Hannah Swan of Madison; Caroline G. Thomas of Cumming, Georgia; and Abigail K. Yann of Franklin, Tennessee.

“This very generous gift for teacher education scholarships exemplifies the values and commitment of James Patterson and his wife, Susan Solie Patterson, to quality education,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. “The Pattersons have become a tremendous force for good in higher education, and we are very pleased to have Mississippi State affiliated with the work of their foundation.”

James Patterson is best-known for the Alex Cross, Women’s Murder Club and Michael Bennett crime novels series, as well as several popular book series for young adults. In addition to holding the Guinness record for most No. 1 New York Times bestsellers of any author, he was the first to achieve 10 million ebook sales.

To be honored with a Patterson Scholarship, students applying must have demonstrated that they “understand the importance of promoting literacy and have the motivation and intent to instill in their students an enduring and lasting love of reading,” according to the selection criteria.  

The MSU awards also are limited to full-time, first-time freshmen and graduate students in the College of Education. Additionally, those eligible must be elementary and secondary education majors with a minimum 3.0 grade-point average (based on a 4.0 scale) and an expressed interest in English language arts.

The scholarships are awarded without regard to age, gender, race, creed, religion, national origin, physical handicap or other protected class.

For information about this and other MSU College of Education scholastic awards, visit

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

MSU Dining announces hours for Thanksgiving and Egg Bowl gameday

Mon, 11/23/2015 - 5:45pm

MSU Dining has adjusted hours for the Thanksgiving holiday, beginning Tuesday [Nov. 24], and the Egg Bowl on Saturday [Nov. 28]:

PDF icon ThanksgivingAndEggBowl2015DiningHours.pdf

Campus post office adjusts hours for Thanksgiving

Mon, 11/23/2015 - 4:59pm

MSU Post Office retail hours for Wednesday [Nov. 25] and Friday [Nov. 27] will be from 9 a.m. to noon. It will be closed on Thanksgiving Day [Nov. 26]. The Starkville Post Office will operate as normal.

Reshoring webinar helps businesses bring jobs home

Mon, 11/23/2015 - 2:59pm

Contact: Vanessa Beeson

STARKVILLE, Mississippi—A reshoring webinar hosted by Mississippi Make It In America will show businesses the benefits of reshoring, an effort focused on bringing jobs that were previously offshored from the U.S. back to Mississippi.

The Mississippi Make It In America team includes Mississippi State University, InnovateMEP Mississippi, the Mississippi Development Authority, the Reshoring Initiative, several planning and development districts and four community colleges.

The free webinar will be held Thursday [Dec. 3] at noon. The workshop features reshoring expert, Harry Moser, the founder and president of the Reshoring Initiative and leading industry expert.

The workshop will cover key reshoring concepts and trends and describe services and tools available to help companies interested in creating and keeping jobs in America. The session also will include a brief demonstration of free online tools that companies can use to analyze and compare overall costs of manufacturing in the U.S. versus overseas, as well as information about programs to assist manufacturers with efforts to keep jobs close to home.

This workshop is geared toward original equipment manufacturers, component suppliers, industrial suppliers, service providers and economic developers. The workshop is free, but registration is required and space is limited. Register online at by Monday [Nov. 30]. For more information, contact Clay Walden via email at or telephone 601-407-2713.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

MSU Lyceum Series audience to have ‘Peking Dreams’ next month

Mon, 11/23/2015 - 2:42pm
One of China’s longest running and most distinguished circus troupes will be featured Dec. 9 at Mississippi State as part of the 2015-16 Lyceum Series.

Contact: Sammy McDavid

One of China’s longest running and most distinguished circus troupes will be featured Dec. 9 at Mississippi State as part of the 2015-16 Lyceum Series.

STARKVILLE, Miss.—One of China’s longest running and most distinguished circus troupes will be featured early next month at Mississippi State.

A Dec. 9 performance of “Peking Dreams” by the National Circus and Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China is the latest event in the university’s 2015-16 Lyceum Series.

The program begins at 7 p.m. in the Bettersworth Auditorium of historic Lee Hall.

General admission tickets are $25 and may be purchased online at!order/c1naa or by visiting the Colvard Student Union, Suite 314.

Founded in 1953, the artistic troupe includes numerous winners of international circus awards. The company itself has accumulated more than 20 gold and silver medals, among various other major recognitions.

The National Circus also has received worldwide credit for profound contributions to the world circus society.

During the 1980s, for example, it helped change the traditional concept of the “animal circus” to a new style of non-animal acts that influenced Canada’s Cirque du Soleil, now the world’s largest theatrical producer.

Circus coaches taught their Cirque counterparts acts such as the balancing chairs, bicycle and Chinese poles that culminated in the revolutionary program “Circus Reinvented.” For more, visit

For more on the MSU Lyceum Series, visit or telephone the Center for Student Activities at 662-325-2930.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Nominations sought for 2016 Irvin Atly Jefcoat Excellence in Advising Awards

Fri, 11/20/2015 - 4:52pm

The Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President at Mississippi State is now taking nominations for the 2016 Irvin Atly Jefcoat Excellence in Advising Awards. The deadline to submit nominations is March 21, 2016.

The Jefcoat awards honor both a full-time MSU faculty adviser and a full-time staff adviser for contributions to student advising.

Learn more about the award guidelines by clicking here.

Download a nomination form in Word by clicking here.

MSU team earns honors in regional speech, debate tournament

Fri, 11/20/2015 - 4:33pm
Members of MSU’s newly formed Speech and Debate Council recently returned with multiple honors from a regional competition in Louisiana. They include (l-r) Vanessa Cotton, Zamia Mason, Parker Krag and Sean McCarthy. (Photo submitted/Cheryl Chambers)

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

Members of MSU’s newly formed Speech and Debate Council recently returned with multiple honors from a regional competition in Louisiana. They include (l-r) Vanessa Cotton, Zamia Mason, Parker Krag and Sean McCarthy. (Photo submitted/Cheryl Chambers)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State’s new student Speech and Debate Council is a multiple winner in its first regional competition.

The recent Red River Swing tournament in Louisiana pitted the university’s eight-member team against groups representing 26 other regional institutions of higher learning in more than a half dozen states. The winning MSU students are from three Mississippi cities and one in Wisconsin.

The Bayou State tournament is among numerous events sanctioned annually by the Council of Forensic Organizations’ International Public Debate Association. Council members work to provide opportunities for the development of advocacy skills in forums that also promote appropriate and effective communication. For more, visit  

The 2015 Red River Swing was held simultaneously on campuses of Louisiana State University in Shreveport and Bossier Parish Community College in nearby Bossier City.

The MSU winners included:

—Juniors Vanessa A. Cotton of Jackson and Zamia N. Mason of Houston, who placed fifth and sixth in separate duo-interpretation challenges held on each campus. They also received their division’s Top Novice Award. Cotton is a communication/public relations major; Mason, a psychology and criminology double-major.

—Sophomore Sean E. McCarthy of Union Grove, Wisconsin, who finished fourth in persuasive speech. A political science and communication/broadcasting double-major, he also finished third in the IPDA’s Novice Division and was honored with the division’s Top Novice Award.

—In the IPDA Debate challenge, McCarthy and teammate Parker F. Krag of Hattiesburg finished in the top 16 of 68 competitors. A junior history and English double-major, Krag also received first place in the IPDA Novice Division.   

Cheryl R. Chambers, a communication department instructor, serves as the council’s adviser and speech coach. A 2006 summa cum laude MSU communication graduate, she also holds a master’s degree in communication studies from the University of Alabama.

Chambers credits history professor Stephen Middleton, director of MSU’s African American Studies program, for proposing a new student organization that would become the Speech and Debate Council.

Middleton’s initiative followed the university’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Speech Contest in January, Chambers explained. “I volunteered to start the process and have been running the meetings ever since,” she added.

Attorney Brett Harvey is the council’s debate coach. The university’s director of Title IX and equal opportunity programs, he is a Harvard University Law School graduate.

Since the council had no established campus structure, Chambers said members had to organize a raffle to help raise funds for tournament travel expenses. Their efforts were aided by supplemental support from the communication department and African American Studies program.

Chambers said the council currently is working to expand membership, which is open to all MSU students, regardless of academic major or classification. Fees or prior experience are not required, and members may elect to compete in individual events, larger debate settings or both.

“All students should consider what benefits public speaking would have in their classes, career and even their personal lives,” Chambers said, observing that speech and debate activities promote critical thinking, writing, argumentation and organizational skills, among others.

“We have various majors in our group and always encourage new members to come and see what we do,” she continued. “For those who may not be interested in competition, we have several service projects planned, and we plan to hold a public speaking workshop as well.”

For more information about MSU’s Speech and Debate Council, contact Chambers at or Harvey at

Follow the group on and

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

NSPARC team introduces research to 8th graders at Biloxi expo

Fri, 11/20/2015 - 4:01pm

Contact: Carol Gifford

BILOXI, Miss.—Team members from Mississippi State University’s National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center spent part of this week introducing research to 8th grade students at the Pathways2Possibilities (P2P) career expo at the Mississippi Coast Convention Center in Biloxi.

In its third year, P2P is an interactive career expo that includes 19 pathways aligned with academic clusters that students choose to study in high school. About 6,500 students from the six counties along the coast, including students from public, private, home-school and special workforce development programs and alternative schools, attended the event.

“This is the perfect time to engage students,” said Karen Sock, one of the P2P organizers. “Research shows that students at this age are becoming more self-aware and understand what they are good at, and what they like doing in school.”

A new addition to the 2015 career expo, NSPARC is part of the information technology pathway, recognizing the research center’s work in software development, data analytics and data warehousing.

“NSPARC’s youthful and engaging team draws students to the booth,” Sock said. “The computer-based coding game is fun and involves teaching and skill. A lot of 8th graders have an interest in technology.

“Technology is important because every single one of the career pathways available to students will have a technology component,” she added. “Energy, medicine, engineering, human services – all will involve the use of technology.”

Domenico “Mimmo” Parisi, executive director of NSPARC, said “We talk about research and how NSPARC’s research includes the use of data to help policymakers make better decisions.”

Jed Pressgrove, one of the four NSPARC team members at the event, said the team strives to make their exhibit fun. “You can see in their eyes that they are excited about the different displays. They like to play the video game and then sign a poster that they were a ‘Programmer for a Day.’”

Students also put together puzzles at the NSPARC booth to follow the steps in the research process, and they wrote nearly 200 personal notes to Gov. Phil Bryant in the style of a “report.”

“Our employers and volunteers at the event say it’s invaluable to see the spark in student’s eyes when they see something they never thought of before,” said Sock, who noted there are 157 companies and 760 volunteers at the expo. “The employers look at these young people as potential future employees.

“Attending the expo can be a life-changing event for students,” she explained. “Many students come here with no idea of what they want to do in the future and this is their first introduction to different careers.”

For more about NSPARC, visit

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

MSU Black Voices Gospel Choir presents fall concert

Fri, 11/20/2015 - 3:49pm
Mississippi State’s Black Voices Gospel Choir, pictured performing at the university’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Unity Breakfast, will host its fall concert Nov. 21 in Colvard Student Union’s Bill R. Foster Ballroom. (Photo by Megan Bean)

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

Mississippi State’s Black Voices Gospel Choir, pictured performing at the university’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Unity Breakfast, will host its fall concert Nov. 21 in Colvard Student Union’s Bill R. Foster Ballroom. (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State’s Black Voices Gospel Choir will present a Saturday [Nov. 21] concert at Colvard Student Union’s Bill R. Foster Ballroom.

Free to all, the 5 p.m. program will feature songs including “Greatness” by Darrel Pettis, “At All Times” by Andrew Knox and New Change, and “Blessed Assurance” by Sean Tillery and Changed.

The Black Voices dance ministry will accompany the choir on “Great is the Day” by Kevin Terry and Predestined.

Emcees for the evening program are Pastors Dedrick and Deona Benson of University of Life Ministry in Oxford.

Gospel Billboard chart-topping recording artist Vincent Tharpe and Kenosis from Memphis, Tennessee, also will perform during the concert.

Doors open at 4:30 p.m.

Donations will be accepted, with 10 percent of proceeds benefitting the MSU student relief fund.

In addition to receiving third-place and crowd favorite honors at the 2015 National College Choir Explosion in Louisville, Kentucky, the MSU group brought home $6,000 in cash prizes.

Founded in February 1972, Black Voices of MSU is an outreach ministry established to serve as “the primary arena of souls to minister to the campus.” For more, visit, and

For additional concert information, contact Terriante Garner, the organization’s 2015-16 president, at 601-996-0049 or

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Search committee in place for provost and executive vice president

Fri, 11/20/2015 - 12:57pm

Mississippi State President Mark E. Keenum on Friday [Nov. 20] provided the campus community with an update on the search for the university's next provost and executive vice president.

"We now have in place a 19-member search committee composed of 10 elected faculty and nine faculty, staff, student, and administrative members who I appointed. The committee, chaired by Dr. David Shaw, will hold its initial meeting in early December, and I will present the group with its charge at that time," Keenum wrote in a message to faculty and staff.

Members of the committee are:

* David Shaw, Chair, Vice President for Research and Economic Development

* Cody Coyne, President, Faculty Senate

* JoJo Dodd, President, Student Association

* Cedric Gathings, Interim Assistant Vice President for Multicultural Affairs

* Tamara Gibson, Chair, Staff Council

* Steve Grado, Professor, FWRC-Forestry, College of Forest Resources

* Kimberly Hall, Associate Professor, Meridian Division of Education, MSU-Meridian

* Jeffrey Haupt, Professor, Art, College of Architecture, Art and Design

* Mike Highfield, Professor and Head, Finance and Economics, College of Business

* Regina Hyatt, Vice President for Student Affairs

* Jason Keith, Dean, Bagley College of Engineering

* Pedro Jose Mago, Professor and Head, Mechanical Engineering, Bagley College of Engineering

* Minion K. C. Morrison, Professor and Head, Political Science and Public Administration

* Seth Oppenheimer, Professor, Mathematics, College of Arts and Sciences, Director, Undergraduate Research, Shackouls Honors College

* Amanda Powers, Associate Professor, Coordinator of Research Services, University Libraries

* Stephen Pruett, Professor and Head, Basic Science, College of Veterinary Medicine

* Rebecca Robichaux-Davis, Associate Professor, Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education, College of Education

* Michael Seymour, Associate Professor, Landscape Architecture, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

* Don Zant, Vice President for Budget and Planning

"I very much appreciate the willingness of all the committee members to invest their time and energy in helping to identify the best possible candidates for this extremely important position," Keenum stated.

The R. William Funk & Associates consulting firm is assisting the university in its nationwide search.

In October, Provost and Executive Vice President Jerry Gilbert was named president of Marshall University in West Virginia. Earlier this month, Keenum announced that Julia Hodges will serve as interim during the search for Gilbert's successor. Hodges is not a candidate for the permanent position.

Keenum expects to have a new provost and executive vice president named by the end of the spring semester.

Vicksburg mayor speaks on honesty, service

Fri, 11/20/2015 - 10:06am

Contact: Zack Plair

Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. spoke to a standing-room-only crowd on Thursday [Nov. 19]. His speech was part of the Lamar Conerly Governance Forum. (Photo by Beth Wynn)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Raised by a mother who had a sixth-grade education and a father who couldn’t read or write, Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said those limitations didn’t stop his parents from instilling in him the values of honesty and hard work.

Speaking to a standing-room-only crowd Thursday [Nov. 19] at Mississippi State University, Flaggs spoke about those values and how they have guided him through a nearly 30-year career in public service. His speech was part of the Lamar Conerly Governance Forum, a lecture series organized by the university’s Department of Political Science and Public Administration.

Flaggs said his parents tried to facilitate his dreams as much as they could, but they expected him to apply the values he was taught in his achievements. As a young man aspiring to be a basketball star who could “dunk like Dr. J,” he began his ill-fated quest for hoops stardom using an old ball and a de-spoked bicycle wheel that his father attached to a pecan tree. After many failed attempts to dunk the ball at the goal’s original height, Flaggs said he lowered to goal to a level where he could reach it. His father caught him, Flaggs said, and he wasn’t happy.

“He told me, ‘Son, whatever you do in life, never lower a goal. Reach a goal,’” Flaggs said.

First elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives in 1988, the Democrat worked to build a reputation for being willing to work effectively across party lines. As chair of the House Corrections Committee, he said he tirelessly sought to improve the juvenile justice system and reduce recidivism.

In 2013, Flaggs was elected mayor of Vicksburg. Since that time, he said he’s helped improve the city’s financial situation and facilitate rapid commercial growth, especially in Vicksburg’s downtown district.

On Thursday in the Swalm Chemical Engineering Building, he encouraged students to “serve others” without expecting to be served and to enter politics as a means of making a difference in people’s lives. Flaggs also addressed how he believes the people suffer when Democrats and Republicans refuse to work together and find common ground.

Students quizzed Flaggs on issues ranging from changing the Mississippi state flag to whether he would support Syrian refugees coming to live in Vicksburg. He said he believes the legislature should change the flag, which now bears the Confederate battle emblem, to “be more inclusive” without calling for another public vote on the matter. Regarding the refugees, he said the federal government needs to take every reasonable precaution to keep Americans safe while also helping the people trying to escape war-torn Syria.

The lecture series is made possible by major support from Conerly, a 1971 MSU accounting/pre-law graduate and longtime partner in the Destin, Florida, law firm of Conerly, Bowman and Dykes LLP. He is both a former national MSU Alumni Association president and continuing College of Business Alumni Fellow.

Christine Rush, an assistant professor of political science and public administration who introduced Flaggs on Thursday, said the mayor is an excellent role model for the students who represented the “ideal of public service” rather than recognition for it.

“What our students are really looking for are mentors and tangible ideas that will help them make a difference either as elected officials or in public policy careers in the future,” Rush said. “They recognize sincerity when they see it.”

Before he closed his speech, Flaggs implored audience members to honor veterans, always exercise their right to vote and to stand for their convictions.

“My problem now is that so many people stand up for something and they don’t even know what it is,” Flaggs said. “But I’d rather go to hell on my own than go to heaven following a crowd.”

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Luxion named ASSURE associate director

Thu, 11/19/2015 - 3:00pm
Stephen “Lux” Luxion (Photo by Russ Houston)

Contact: Jim Laird

Stephen “Lux” Luxion (Photo by Russ Houston)

STARKVILLE, Miss.--Stephen “Lux” Luxion is the new associate director of the Mississippi State-led Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE).

After a six-year competitive effort, the Federal Aviation Administration in May designated ASSURE as the new national Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Luxion retired from the service as a colonel in 2014, and has been working in the private sector.

“I am looking forward to being part of the ASSURE team working to safely, efficiently and effectively move unmanned aerial systems into the national airspace system where they will serve to improve our lives in ways we have yet completely imagined,” he said.

Luxion has an extensive background in UAS research, development, testing, operations and integration. For example, he established the Air Force’s first armed UAS squadron in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and assisted NATO with its first aerospace center of excellence.

During his final assignment with the Air Force, he was a professor of aerospace studies at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, an ASSURE partner institution. He helped test unmanned vehicles off the coast of Florida during his tenure at Embry-Riddle.

“We are very pleased to have someone with Lux’s knowledge and leadership ability join us,” ASSURE Director James Poss said.

“He understands that ASSURE is uniquely positioned to take advanced research and turn it into FAA rules that work for the agency and industry,” the former Air Force major general explained.

Research by ASSURE is underway at member universities throughout the U.S. and globally with much of the center’s work concentrated at Stennis Space Center in Hancock County to take advantage of airspace over the Gulf of Mexico, as well as in the Mississippi Delta to conduct unmanned precision agriculture research, and around MSU’s Raspet Flight Research Lab in Starkville.

According to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the domestic UAS market is projected to create more than 100,000 jobs and $82 billion in economic impact in the first decade after FAA integration is complete. During the same period, the UAS industry could create more than 1,200 jobs and approximately $973 million in economic impact in Mississippi alone.

“The best way for ASSURE to help the UAS market achieve its multi-billion dollar potential is to provide accurate information and relevant research to all of our U.S. and international stakeholders,” Poss said.

Learn more about ASSURE at

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

MSU invites all to a special telescope viewing

Thu, 11/19/2015 - 2:41pm

Contact: Georgia Clarke

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy invites the public to get a closer look at the Ring Nebula, the Moon and the Andromeda galaxy at a telescope viewing Friday [Nov. 20].

The viewing will take place from 6-8 p.m. at the MSU Howell Observatory at the Leveck Animal Research Center, commonly known as South Farm. The event is free and open to the public, with rain or thick clouds cancelling the event.

To visit the Howell Observatory, turn south off Blackjack Road at the Stone Boulevard intersection, which is just east of MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Travel on Stone Blvd. Extended for two miles, and follow the signs to the observatory site.

For further information, contact assistant professor of astronomy Angelle Tanner at 662-325-4112 or

More on MSU’s physics and astronomy department can be found at

MSU is Mississippi leading university, available online at

MSU blindness center awarded major grants to expand mission

Thu, 11/19/2015 - 9:33am
The National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision at Mississippi State is receiving two new federal grants totaling more than $7.3 million. (Photo by Megan Bean)

Contact: Paige Watson

The National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision at Mississippi State is receiving two new federal grants totaling more than $7.3 million. (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—The National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision at Mississippi State is receiving two new federal grants totaling more than $7.3 million.

The funding supports six new university research projects under its Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Employment Outcomes for Individuals with Blindness or Other Visual Impairments.

The awards are provided through major units of the U.S. Department of Education, including the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research and the Rehabilitation Services Administration. The RSA award is a first for the MSU center.

“All projects focus on improving employment outcomes for people who are blind or visually impaired,” said center director Michele McDonnall, principal investigator for both grants.

Initial preparation for all grant-supported activities began Oct. 1, and the projects will be completed over a five-year period, she added.

McDonnall said the NIDILRR award will:

—Support development of a mobile application to help parents and youth with blindness or deaf-blindness focus on employment; and

—Enable a research experiment to evaluate best ways to approach employers about hiring people who are blind or visually impaired.

The RSA award will create training and technical assistance projects to be led by B.J. LeJeune, the center’s training supervisor. They include:

—Intensive training and technical assistance that incorporates record review, site visits and follow-up;

—Electronic training developed by a consortium of professional organizations in the field; and

—Creating a community of practice—a group sharing a craft or profession—that includes training, technical assistance and professional collaboration. 

For more about the projects, as well as the center and its research partners, visit .

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

‘Contact F15’ exhibit features creations by MSU photography seniors

Wed, 11/18/2015 - 5:02pm
 “Christmas Morning” by Jessica Comer (top); and “Red High Chair” by Haleigh Parker

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

 “Christmas Morning” by Jessica Comer (top); and “Red High Chair” by Haleigh Parker

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Works of two graduating art/photography majors at Mississippi State are on display through Dec. 4 in the university’s Cullis Wade Depot Art Gallery.

Free and open to all, the “Contact F15: BFA Photography Thesis Exhibition” celebrates the final year of art department studies for Jessica L. Comer of Caledonia and Haleigh E. Parker of Foxworth.

The images reflect their successful conclusion of the department’s research, writing and presentation requirements, as well as four years of foundational coursework, survey, art history, and academic and emphasis classes.

Also open to all, a reception in their honor takes place 5-6 p.m. Thursday [Nov. 19] in Cullis Wade’s second-floor gallery at the MSU Welcome Center. Refreshments will be provided.

Regular gallery hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday, as well as by appointment.

Throughout their time at MSU, the seniors have been guided by professor Marita Gootee and assistant professor Dominic Lippillo. Both teach in the department’s photography emphasis area and Gootee is its longtime coordinator.

Comer said her work uses photography to bridge the gap between loss and retrieval of memories while seeking to bring back the life her grandmother is losing to Alzheimer’s disease. By using found family photographs that have been digitally projected into the former home place, Comer seeks to visually restore the fading layers of her grandmother’s mind.

Parker’s memories of past childhood and objects in interior spaces are frequent in her images. To encourage viewers’ reflections of their own histories and childhoods, Parker said she captured close details in a series that helps preserve her grandmother’s home as it exists, uninterrupted by time.

Additional information on the “Contact F15” exhibit is available from Lori Neuenfeldt, coordinator for gallery and outreach programs, at 662-325-2973 or

Part of the College of Architecture, Art and Design, the art department is home to the Magnolia State’s largest undergraduate studio art program. It offers a bachelor of fine arts degree, with concentrations in graphic design, photography and fine art (ceramics, drawing, painting, printmaking and sculpture). For more, visit, and

The Cullis Wade Depot Art Gallery is one of several departmental venues that regularly features traveling exhibits, student shows, and group and solo exhibitions by professional artists. For more, visit

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

MSU's School of Architecture wins national award

Wed, 11/18/2015 - 4:36pm
The School of Architecture, part of MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design, was one of three programs in the nation to receive a National Council of Architectural Registration Boards award, the organization announced recently. (Photo by Megan Bean)

Contact: Zack Plair

The School of Architecture, part of MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design, was one of three programs in the nation to receive a National Council of Architectural Registration Boards award, the organization announced recently. (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State University’s School of Architecture will use funds from a highly-competitive national grant to expand its students’ horizons.

The school, part of MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design, was one of three programs in the nation to receive a National Council of Architectural Registration Boards award, the organization announced recently. With the $30,048 award, the school will plan and implement a new class for undergraduates, called Expanding the Agency of Architects, for the fall 2016 semester.

NCARB awards recognize architecture programs that integrate practice and education; raise awareness of the architect’s responsibilities for the public health, safety, and welfare; and bring non-faculty practitioners into the academy. This is MSU’s second NCARB award, the first received for a project in 2003.

“Winning the NCARB Prize is like receiving an Emmy Award for a faculty member in the discipline of architecture,” said Michael Berk, director for the School of Architecture and the F.L. Crane Professor of Architecture. “This national acknowledgement reinforces the strong relationship our faculty and students have with the architectural profession in our state.”

Associate Professor John Poros and Assistant Professor Emily McGlohn will instruct the course, which will focus on how architects can use their skills for social impact. The main idea, McGlohn said, is to compel students to break free from the idea of waiting for clients to bring in projects and instead develop projects to take to prospective clients.

“It’s really about community involvement and identifying issues that can be solved through architecture and design,” McGlohn said. “You see a need, take the idea to the community, and you can sometimes even find the funding mechanism for the project.”

Poros also directs the Carl Small Town Center at MSU, an outreach program in the School of Architecture that works with communities across Mississippi on project design.

The three-credit-hour course will consist of lectures, McGlohn said, and a final project that will send students to Greenwood. While there, they will meet with community members, investigate a problem, propose design solutions and find funding for the project. Greenwood architect and Enterprise Rose Fellow Emily Roush-Elliot will assist the students in the field, McGlohn added, and she will conduct a series of hands-on workshops on campus during the course of the semester.

McGlohn expects the course to accommodate 12-20 students per semester, and all majors are welcome. Though the grant only guarantees one semester of the course, she hopes the School of Architecture can offer the course each fall.

For more information on NCARB, visit For more information on the College of Architecture, Art and Design, visit

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

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