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Updated: 31 min 3 sec ago

STATEMENT OF MSU PRESIDENT MARK E. KEENUM

Thu, 08/27/2015 - 6:11pm

“Today, our usually placid Thursday campus routine was interrupted by a frighteningly real threat of violence. Fortunately, our MSU Police, the Division of Student Affairs, and our Crisis Action Team were able to manage this threat and the outcome was that no one was injured, no shots were fired, and no gun was found to have been used by the student making threats against himself and others.

“But something else happened today. We tested procedures designed to protect all of us through our Crisis Action Team responses. Those responses and protocols worked and worked successfully. And they worked because by and large, our students, faculty and staff knew what to do and knew how to react.

“I have directed the Provost to make sure that our faculty are as lenient as possible with regard to the attendance policies so no one is unjustly penalized with regard to class absences. I have also taken steps to make sure that we offer appropriate counseling to any member of our MSU family who desires such assistance.

“Tomorrow, our Crisis Action Team will return to the table to examine what we learned during these tense hours and how we can use that knowledge to make us all even safer tomorrow. But for now, let’s all be thankful for the safe resolution of today’s unfortunate incident and keep our eyes firmly on our business here at MSU – learning, research, and service.”

 

MSU President: ‘Safety of our Students is Paramount’

Thu, 08/27/2015 - 6:02pm

By Sid Salter, 601-507-8004

STARKVILLE, Miss.--At a late-morning press conference today, Mississippi State President Mark E. Keenum praised campus and local law enforcement for their “swift response” in apprehending a student who made threats to harm himself and others.

“We take all incidents like this very seriously, and I’m glad to report that there was no weapon found in this incident and no shots were fired,” Keenum said. “Our campus is safe.”

Keenum commended the MSU Police Department, the Division of Student Affairs, and the university’s Crisis Action Team for their handling of the tense situation.

“The highest priority I have as president of this university is the safety of our students, faculty and staff,” said Keenum. “We are always, always going to err on the side of caution in protecting our most precious resource – our people.”

Law enforcement officials at Mississippi State arrested Phu-Qui Cong “Bill” Nguyen today (Aug. 27) on the Starkville Campus at approximately 10:26 a.m. near the university’s McCool Hall.

Nguyen will appear in court to face charges of disorderly conduct and has been referred to a medical facility for routine mental and psychological evaluation. Rice said the investigation into the incident by MSU Police was ongoing.

A call came in to MSU Police from the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol at approximately 10:10 a.m. revealed that a student on the Starkville campus was threatening suicide in addition to threatening to do harm to others.

Keenum said: “The incident Wednesday morning in Virginia is a reminder that institutions such as ours must be vigilant and be prepared to respond as we did today – swiftly, decisively and without hesitation to protect our students, faculty, and staff.”

Despite the disruption on campus, Keenum said his “thoughts and prayers” are with all impacted by this incident, including the suspect’s family.

MSU issued a “Maroon Alert” notice at 10:16 a.m. Nguyen was taken into custody ten minutes later. Chief Vance Rice said MSU Police was grateful to all federal, state and local law enforcement agencies who responded immediately and assisted in arresting the 20-year-old freshman computer engineering student from Madison.

Assisting MSU in the incident were the Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office, the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol, Starkville Police Department, the Miss. Emergency Management Agency, the Miss. Department of Health, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Classes resumed under normal conditions at 2 p.m. Thursday.

MSU Student Association President JoJo Dodd said, “We are certain now that our Bulldog Family is safe. We are reminded in these times of the commitment we have to each other and this community that we share.”

The Mississippi State University Student Counseling Services are available to support any students who need assistance.  The center is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., for walk-in appointments and counselors are on call 24 hours a day.  Services can be accessed by calling 662-325-2091.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a transcription of the call received by MSU PD from the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol alerting MSU to the potential active shooter.

Transcription of the phone call from Miss. Highway Patrol to MSU Police:

MHP: Hey, Tina. Quinton Williams. I’m with the MS Hwy Patrol. You guys are aware you are going to possibly have an active shooter on campus at this time?

MSU: No. I had a suicide call from Jackson saying the guy was suicidal at Carpenter Hall. What was she (the caller) saying to you?

MHP: Well, she was saying the guy was going to actually shoot others as well as himself. He’s, at this point, in Carpenter Hall.

MSU: Did she say what room?

MHP: She did not say what room that he was in, but they still have her actively on the line as we are speaking now. The subject’s name is Bill Nguyen. He is going to be an Oriental male. Does that help any?

MSU: MSU to all units, we have a possible active shooter in Carpenter Hall. This is not a test. Vietnamese male. Do not know what floor.  Just know he’s a Vietnamese male by the name of Bill. This is not a test.

Mississippi State to host FAA public meeting

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 6:59pm

Contact: Jim Laird

STARKVILLE, Miss.--Mississippi’s flagship research university will host a public meeting next month featuring regulators, scientists and industry representatives who are working together to integrate unmanned aircraft safely into the nation’s airspace.

Open to all, the two-hour, two-part ASSURE Center of Excellence-hosted event will take place Sept. 15 at Mississippi State, and include a discussion on opportunities to partner with the center as well as remarks by the FAA’s Southern Region Administrator Dennis Roberts.

Beginning at 11 a.m. at the Bryan Athletic Administration Building on the MSU campus, participants will discuss the agency’s new national Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems and its role in developing rules regulating commercial unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

After an extensive competitive review process, the FAA in May selected the Mississippi State-led Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence to operate the new center. (For more, see ASSUREuas.org.)

According to ASSURE’s executive director at MSU, the new center will provide the agency and industry with research to maximize the potential of commercial unmanned systems with minimal changes to the current system regulating manned aircraft.

“All of our ASSURE partners know unmanned systems and the FAA,” said USAF Maj. Gen. (Ret.) James Poss.

“The ASSURE team is uniquely positioned to take advanced research and turn it into FAA rules that work for the agency and industry,” he said.

The center of excellence meeting will continue from noon to 1 p.m., and will include a question-and-answer period. Both sessions will feature live unmanned vehicle demonstrations.

“We want to help the UAS market achieve its multi-billion dollar potential, and the best way to do that is to provide accurate information and relevant research to all of our U.S. and international stakeholders,” he said.

The September public meeting is a very important part of that process, Poss said.

Poss encourages members of the local community, media, and students, faculty and staff to attend either session or to stay for both.

For additional information about the meeting, please contact Kelly Collier at kcollier@hpc.msstate.edu or 228-688-3403.

Direct media inquiries to Harriet Laird at hlaird@opa.msstate.edu or 662-325-7460.

MSU is Mississippi’s flagship research university, available online at www.msstate.edu.

Famous Maroon Band begins 113th year, announces drum majors

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 12:39pm
MSU's Famous Maroon Band (Photo by Megan Bean)

Contact: Paige Watson

MSU's Famous Maroon Band (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—With annual band camp concluded, Mississippi State’s 330-member Famous Maroon Band is turning its attention to fine-tuning routines for the 2015-16 school year.

Veteran director Elva Kaye Lance said this year’s contingent represents 14 states in addition to Mississippi, from which 68 percent hail. While the organization is part of the university’s College of Education, membership, as always, includes a wide range of academic majors, she added.

“We are very excited to be entering our 113th year,” said Lance, who shares Famous Maroon Band duties with co-directors Craig Aarhus and Clifton Taylor.

“During camp, it was incredible to see our incoming freshmen, many of whom held leadership positions in high school, raise the standard and influence our returning members to become better and better each year,” the MSU and Famous Maroon Band alumna said.

Lance said this year’s four drum majors will include:

—Twin sisters Ashley S. and Brittany C. Carey from Olive Branch. Ashley is a junior mechanical engineering major; Brittany, a senior double-major in educational psychology and foreign language/Spanish.

—Junior Cooper A. Haywood of Madison, an instrumental music education and vocal music education double-major.

—Junior Jesse D. Newton of Eupora, a human sciences/fashion design and merchandising major.  

According to Haywood, this year’s camp was “one of the best” he has experienced while at MSU.

Junior Ellen S. Moore of Brandon, also a music education major, joined Haywood in praising the training program. “During band camp, I made a ton of friends and everything was so organized,” she said. “The week moved quickly, but we managed to accomplish a lot.”

Lance said the MSU marching unit could not be successful without the “hard work and tireless dedication” of Aarhus and Taylor.

“In addition to the band directors, another vital member of our leadership team is Jason Baker,” Lance continued, explaining that the music department associate professor “arranges and instructs our percussionists.”

At her promotion to director in 2002, Lance became only the eighth leader of the marching unit over its long history. During her time at the helm, “We’ve received tremendous support from both former band members and faculty in the College of Education, which is a great fit for us,” she said.

Lance said 2015 fall football halftime performances will include a variety of popular pieces, including a “Funkytown” theme and a play on Disney classic “The Happiest Show on Earth.”

In addition, the band also coordinates two pep bands for men’s and women’s basketball, as well as numerous choral ensembles and concert bands throughout the spring semester. To learn more, visit www.msuband.msstate.edu/index.php.

MSU is Mississippi’s flagship research university, available online at www.msstate.edu.

Livestream for Wednesday's General Faculty meeting

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 1:00am

The fall General Faculty meeting at Mississippi State on Wednesday [Aug. 26] will be available for viewing online beginning at 4 p.m. at http://mymedia.msstate.edu/viewer.php?live=faculty.

Planned water outage for Hill Poultry Science Building early Wednesday

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 5:27pm

Due to a water line repair, there will be a planned water outage at Mississippi State's Hill Poultry Science Building on Wednesday [Aug. 26] beginning at 6 a.m. The interruption is expected to last approximately two hours.

Thank you for your patience during this temporary outage.

Sign up today for faculty/staff meal plans with MSU Dining

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 1:09pm
The Fresh Food Company

Patrons make lunch selections at MSU’s newest residential dining facility, The Fresh Food Company.

MSU Dining invites faculty and staff at Mississippi State to sign up for a new meal plan to save money and enjoy rewards. There are several options available.
 
Block meals are redeemable at the brand new Fresh Food Company, The Marketplace at Perry, Templeton, Pegasus Dining at the Wise Center, and McArthur Cafe Express. One block equals one swipe at the front register.

The door rate at all-you-care-to-eat dining halls is $11.02 per meal, including tax. With a faculty/staff meal plan, you will pay $6.65 per meal with the Bulldog Elite and $6.95 per meal with the Bulldog Pass.

After 4 p.m., you may use block meals at Chick-Fil-A, Burger King, Burrito Bowl, Panda Express, Panda Sushi and Pizza Hut at a $6 value.
 
Pick one of the below faculty/staff meal plans and pick up your rewards at the MSU Dining office:
 
Bulldog Elite: 40 Block Meals & 100 Flex Dollars for $366, and choose five free burritos from Moe’s or five free Chick-Fil-A sandwiches.
 
Bulldog Pass: 40 Block Meals for $278, and choose three free burritos from Moe’s or three free Chick-Fil-A sandwiches.
 
Faculty/staff meal plans never expire, and you may choose payroll deduction to pay over time. Questions? Please call the MSU Dining office at 662-325-7120 or visit www.msstatedining.com.

Click here to access a PDF with additional information.

Christine Jackson named MSU assistant athletic director of academics

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 12:18pm
Christine Jackson

STARKVILLE, Miss. – Christine Jackson, the director of student services at the University of Louisville since 2012, has been named Mississippi State’s new assistant athletic director of academics, Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin announced on Tuesday.  

Christine Jackson
Jackson replaces Ray Berryhill, who retired earlier this summer. She will oversee MSU’s Templeton Athletic Academic Center and report to the Office of the Provost as well as MSU Athletics.  

“We are proud to welcome Christine to our Bulldog athletic family,” said Stricklin. “She brings a wealth of experience to our program with over 15 years dedicated to athletic academics. She will set a vision for our academic center that continues our top mission of graduating our student-athletes and equipping them for their futures beyond Mississippi State.”  

“I am delighted that we have attracted Ms. Jackson to head our athletic academics,” said Provost Jerry Gilbert. “She will bring outstanding leadership and vision to ensure that we achieve optimal success with our student-athletes in their academic pursuits.” 

Jackson has served over 13 years at the University of Louisville, including in her most recent role since July 2012. As director of student services, Jackson coordinated the admissions process for football student-athletes. She was responsible for the academic needs of all freshmen and incoming transfer football student-athletes. She organized all aspects of the Kick Off Summer Bridge Program, which promoted academic success. She also supported the assistant athletic director with day-to-day operations of the Woodruff Academic Center and its staff.

“My family and I are excited for this wonderful opportunity at Mississippi State University as well as being a part of the Bulldog family,” said Jackson. “I am truly eager to lead a team that will strive to be an academic frontrunner in the Southeastern Conference as well as nationally. My goal for all Mississippi State student-athletes is to pursue athletic and academic excellence as well as develop a foundation for life after sports. I want to thank Dr. Jerry Gilbert and Scott Stricklin for entrusting me with the wellbeing of all MSU student-athletes.  This is an exciting time for Bulldog Athletics and I am grateful to be a part of it.” 

Prior to her promotion in the summer of 2012, Jackson served as the director of football student-athlete development (2010-12), coordinating life-skills programming for all football student-athletes at Louisville.

Jackson was the associate director for academic services at Louisville from 2006-09 and responsible for the academic affairs of women's basketball, baseball, volleyball, field hockey, men's and women's golf as well as the spirit groups. Jackson also oversaw all financial and business matters of the Olga S. Peers Academic Center.

Jackson got her start in athletics at the University of Kentucky in 1999. During her three years in Lexington, she served in a variety of roles. She was the academic counselor for track and field, volleyball, rifle and men's tennis. She also served as the director of tutoring while also being an advisor to the student-athlete advisory committee.

Jackson has served several national leadership roles during her career. She was the 2004 recipient of the Matt Schmauch Professional Promise Award giving by the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics (N4A). In 2005, she participated in the first N4A Professional Development Institute and then graduated from the inaugural class of the NCAA Leadership Institute for Ethnic Minority Females in June 2006.

From June 2009-June 2010, Jackson fulfilled the role of N4A President, coordinating the association’s strategic plan, managing the 17 members of the Board of Directors and presiding over the 2010 national convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. Currently, she is serving on the N4A's Past President Council.

Jackson earned her bachelor's degree in kinesiology in 1997 and her master's degree in sport management in 1999 -- both from the University of Kentucky.

Jackson and her husband Richard have three sons –Trey (13), Reese (11) and Rashawn (4).

MSU researcher Varco named new Triplett Chair holder

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 12:15pm
Jac Varco

Contact: Vanessa Beeson

Jac Varco

STARKVILLE, Miss.—An award-winning Mississippi State researcher is receiving another campus recognition.

Professor Jac Varco has been selected for the Dr. Glover B. and Imogene C. Triplett Endowed Chair in Agronomy. He is a faculty member in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ plant and soil sciences department, as well as the university-based Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Experiment Station.

Earlier this year, Varco received the college’s Excellence in Teaching, Upper Division Undergraduate Award. In 2014, he was named Conservation Systems Cotton Researcher of the Year at the 17th National Conservation Systems Cotton and Rice Conference.

“Dr. Varco is an outstanding teacher, researcher and mentor who has remained on the cutting edge in the precise placement of nitrogen fertilizer in his research program,” said department head Mike Phillips.

Phillips also praised Varco as “as a highly-recognized authority in soil fertility teaching and research.”

In 2007, Triplett, an MSU alumnus and retired distinguished faculty member, and wife Imogene established what then was the college’s first fully funded faculty position now bearing their names. Imogene Triplett died in 2013.

Speaking for college and departmental colleagues, Phillips said, “We are especially grateful to Dr. and Mrs. Triplett for their commitment and support of this chair as well as many other contributions,” adding their generosity “has made a huge impact in making Mississippi State University a very special place to live and work.”

Varco, an MSU faculty member for nearly 30 years, is a University of Kentucky doctoral graduate in agronomy, with bachelor’s and master’s degrees completed at the University of Florida.

In expressing his appreciation for the honor, Varco said the academic designation will help to encourage further research in conservation tillage systems and contribute to graduate recruitment.

“As the Dr. Glover B. and Imogene C. Triplett Chair in Agronomy, I look to further develop conservation tillage systems with improved sustainability,” he said. “This recognition will also allow for recruitment of highly-qualified graduate students motivated by the potential for developing row crop production systems which not only improve profitability, but also enhance soil and environmental quality.”

Varco said he considers Triplett as a mentor, noting that the MSU alumnus’ ground-breaking research was cited in his UK doctoral dissertation.

After completing bachelor’s and master’s degrees at MSU, Glover Triplett went on to earn a doctorate at Michigan State University. While an Ohio State University agronomist in 1960, he and soil physicist Dave Van Doren began research on growing crops in unplowed ground. Termed no-tillage farming—or “no-till”—the now-standard method went against what most farmers at the time considered the only proper way to grow crops.

In 1982, Triplett retired from OSU. He and Imogene, both Noxubee County natives, returned to Mississippi State, where he continued his no-till research at the experiment station.

Varco is the second Triplett Endowed Chair holder. Earlier this year, colleague Dan Reynolds, who previously held the position, was selected for the newly established Edgar E. and Winifred B. Hartwig Endowed Chair in Soybean Agronomy.

For more about the department, visit www.pss.msstate.edu.

MSU is Mississippi's flagship research university, available online at www.msstate.edu.

Barbour hopes new Hurricane Katrina book makes Mississippians proud

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 11:39am
MSU President Mark E. Keenum, right, looks on as former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour shares stories of sacrifice and courage exhibited by Mississippians and others from around the country in response to Hurricane Katrina. The Yazoo City native’s well-attended presentation was held Monday [Aug. 24] in Mitchell Memorial Library’s John Grisham Room. (Photo by Megan Bean)

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

MSU President Mark E. Keenum, right, looks on as former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour shares stories of sacrifice and courage exhibited by Mississippians and others from around the country in response to Hurricane Katrina. The Yazoo City native’s well-attended presentation was held Monday [Aug. 24] in Mitchell Memorial Library’s John Grisham Room.   (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—“I hope this book makes you proud to be a Mississippian,” former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said Monday [Aug. 24] during his visit to Mississippi State University.

Titled “America’s Great Storm: Leading through Hurricane Katrina,” the 276-page memoir “is a story about the sacrifice, courage, unselfishness and generosity of the people of Mississippi who got knocked down flat…who lost everything they had in the storm…but got right back up, hitched up their britches and went to work to help their neighbors,” Barbour said. The Yazoo City native had been the state’s chief executive for only 20 months when the costliest and third-deadliest natural disaster in American history hit the Magnolia State.  

From firemen, policemen, highway patrolmen and emergency medical technicians to those serving in the U.S. National Guard and Coast Guard, Barbour expressed gratitude for “so many people who made a difference” during this challenging time.

“Our state employees were magnificent,” he said. “The hours they worked…the commitment to the people they served, particularly the people who had the least to be able to take care of themselves.”

Barbour, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and former White House political affairs director, also shared various memories regarding the out-of-state support Mississippi received following Katrina’s landfall. They include:

--A Mobile, Alabama-based Coast Guard station flew helicopters into Mississippi and Louisiana, and, in the course of a week, rescued 1,900 people by air.

--46 states sent resources to Mississippi, and sister states sent more than 10,000 National Guardsmen.

--More than 25,000 employees of local and state governments came to Mississippi to help.

--954,000 volunteers came to Mississippi and registered with either a church or a charity. Most of them were tasked with cleaning up more than 47 million cubic yards of debris, a process that took 11 months to complete.

“My momma raised my two older brothers and me, and she used to say crisis and catastrophe bring out the best in most people, and I saw that time and time and time again down on the Coast,” Barbour said. “She also used to follow that up by saying, ‘Remember, catastrophe doesn’t create character; it reveals it.’ These were strong, courageous people before Katrina ever hit, but it brought it out of them.”

Barbour said he believes the people of Mississippi’s response to Katrina “has done more to improve the image of our state than anything else that has happened in my lifetime, and that’s why I wanted to write this book for Mississippians.”

Also making remarks during Monday’s program in Mitchell Memorial Library’s third-floor John Grisham Room were MSU President Mark E. Keenum, Provost and Executive Vice President Jerry Gilbert; Amy Tuck, vice president for campus services who previously served eight years as Mississippi’s lieutenant governor; and Frances Coleman, dean of MSU Libraries.

“For us to have had a disaster of that magnitude in our state, if it was meant to be, we could not have been more blessed as a state to have Haley as our governor and Marsha as our first lady to be where they were at that time of need to help lead us, to lead this state to rebuild and recover, to reassure and comfort all of those who had been so terribly affected by this devastating storm,” Keenum said.

Barbour was assisted by contributing author Jere Nash. The book’s foreword is by Ricky Mathews. Copies of the book may be purchased via Amazon at http://bit.ly/BarbourKatrinaBook.

MSU is Mississippi’s flagship research university, available online at www.msstate.edu.

Harvey to lead Title IX seminar Tuesday afternoon for faculty, administrators

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 11:38am

The Center for Teaching and Learning at Mississippi State is hosting a seminar on "A Brief History of Gender Equality: Title IX" on Tuesday [Aug. 25] at 2 p.m. in the 1405 Presentation Room located on the first floor of Mitchell Memorial Library.

The seminar will provide an introduction to Title IX for faculty and administrators, and help them to understand their related responsibilities to it. The session will be led by Brett Harvey, the university's director of Title IX and EEO programs.

Please register for the seminar at www.ctl.msstate.edu. For additional information, please contact Linda Morse at 662-325-2083.

Empowerment Dinner at MSU to honor six leaders

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 11:19am
Linda Cornelious, Marilyn Crouther, Sebetha Jenkins, Albert J. Williams, Wanda Williams and Camille Scales Young are being honored for their vision, leadership, innovation and achievement, public service and contributions to society.

Contact: Zack Plair

Linda Cornelious, Marilyn Crouther, Sebetha Jenkins, Albert J. Williams, Wanda Williams and Camille Scales Young are being honored for their vision, leadership, innovation and achievement, public service and contributions to society.

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State University will recognize six distinguished professionals Thursday [Aug. 27] during an Empowerment Dinner at the new Mill at MSU Conference Center.

Linda Cornelious, Marilyn Crouther, Sebetha Jenkins, Albert J. Williams, Wanda Williams and Camille Scales Young are being honored for their vision, leadership, innovation and achievement, public service and contributions to society.

The 6 p.m. dinner is part of a two-day Men and Women of Color Summit organized by MSU’s Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion.

Cornelius is a veteran professor in MSU’s department of instructional systems and workforce development. Named in 2003 as Outstanding Faculty Woman of the Year by the MSU President’s Commission on the Status of Women, the Florida State University doctoral graduate is a published author who regularly serves as presenter and leader at national, regional and state professional conferences.

Crouther is senior vice president and general manager for Herndon, Virginia-based Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Services in the U.S. Public Sector. She provides information and technology services to clients in the defense, homeland security, health care, intelligence, civilian, state and local government markets throughout the nation. In addition to an MSU degree in professional accountancy, she is a licensed certified public accountant in Texas.

Jenkins was president of Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas, for 18 years before retiring in 2008. A former MSU presidential assistant for minority affairs, she holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Jackson State and Delta State universities, respectively, and a 1978 MSU doctorate in education administration.

The president of the Houston, Texas-based Chevron Pipeline Co., Albert J. Williams manages an extensive network of North American crude oil, natural gas and refined product pipelines and storage facilities. In addition to a 1990 MSU electrical engineering degree, he holds a 1998 MBA from Tulane University. He is a member of MSU’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Advisory Board and Bagley College of Engineering Diversity Advisory Board.

Wanda Williams is deputy freedom of information officer with the Office of General Counsel of the National Archives and Records Administration in College Park, Maryland. NARA is an independent federal agency that preserves and makes accessible vast amounts of government records dating back to the Revolutionary War. A 1987 MSU communication graduate, she was a broadcast journalist for 15 years before to joining NARA. She also holds a master’s in U.S. history, with an emphasis on U.S. foreign policy in the Caribbean.

Young is a state and government relations specialist of nearly two decades now associated with the Jackson office of Cornerstone Government Affairs. Past national president of the MSU Alumni Association, she is a 1994 communication management graduate who went on to complete a master’s degree in agriculture and extension education two years later. The Mississippi Business Journal included her in its Top 40 Under 40 and Top 50 Business Women honors in 2005 and 2006, respectively. She also was named a Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scout Council of Middle Mississippi.

MSU is Mississippi’s flagship research university, available online at www.msstate.edu.

Moe's Southwest Grill official ribbon-cutting today at 9:30 a.m.

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 9:22am

Moe's Southwest Grill at Mississippi State will hold the official grand opening of MSU Dining's newest retail location on Tuesday [Aug. 25].

MSU President Mark E. Keenum will officially cut the ribbon at 9:30 a.m. with doors opening for service at 10:30 a.m.

The first 100 customers will receive Starkville-customized Moe’s t-shirts. Small, medium, large, and extra-large shirts will be available while supplies last.
 
Moe’s sunglasses will also be distributed to MSU Dining's new and current social media followers during the event. Free chips and salsa samples will be provided to those waiting in line for their meals.

Call the MSU Dining office at 662-325-7120 with questions.

Startups look to ‘next level’ at MaroonXpo

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 6:05pm
Associate professor John Edwards, Social Drizzle cofounder and CEO, presented his social media product Thursday during MaroonXpo, a MSU entrepreneurship program taking place at the Mill at MSU Conference Center. (Photo by Russ Houston)

Contact: Zack Plair

Associate professor John Edwards, Social Drizzle cofounder and CEO, presented his social media product Thursday during MaroonXpo, a MSU entrepreneurship program taking place at the Mill at MSU Conference Center. (Photo by Russ Houston)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Five technology startups are seeking $750,000 in combined seed money being made available through a Mississippi State-sponsored entrepreneurship program.

Organized by the College of Business’ Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the recently concluded 10-week MaroonX Accelerator pilot program involved the startup teams—each with at least one Mississippi State student—that had researched and developed product concepts to a point they could be pitched to investors.

During the 2015 MaroonXpo held Thursday [Aug. 20] at the Mill at MSU Conference Center, representatives of ArcFolio, CollegeFit, MState Tech, Social Drizzle and Vibe were looking for either an investment or professional feedback to help take their businesses to the next level.

The international Blackstone Charitable Foundation awarded a joint $200,000 grant to MSU and Texas A&M University to fund the accelerator. The two universities evenly split the grant funds.

Eric Hill said the five teams logged a combined 1,457 work hours and made 166 customer contacts. “We put some really aggressive goals on them all summer long,” the MSU Entrepreneurship Center director added.

Hill said the nearly 20 investors took part either in person or by webcast in the Xpo. He described the group as individuals with annual salaries of more than $200,000 or holders of at least $1 million in worth beyond a primary residence.

ArcFolio was presented by cofounders Jarred Creel of Starkville and Curtis Reed of St. Charles, Mo., both third-year MSU architecture majors. Their online portal for students and entry-level interns in the design field enables the display and management of vast portfolios. The site went live July 31 and prospective employers now may sign up free. Creel and Reed are seeking a $200,000 investment.

CollegeFit was founded by MSU senior computer science major Kelcy Gooch of Ridgeland and Greg Riley of Jackson. They sought feedback for their web-based social platform designed to promote healthy lifestyles, social experiences and academic achievement in one venue. Launched in March, CollegeFit seeks partnerships with student-heavy apartment complexes with fitness facilities. Gooch and Riley will also offer tutoring services on- and off-campus.

MState Tech founder Shane Clark, a physics graduate student from Starkville, made a presentation for Dog Sense, which is designed to protect hunting dogs from being hit with the hunter’s gunfire. The product involves a dog-collar mounted RF beacon that can communicate with a sensor on the gun at a range of up to 500 yards. Clark said his team is planning a soft launch in October and seeks $100,000 to have a hard launch early next year.

Social Drizzle was cofounded by associate research professor John Edwards with MSU’s nationally recognized Social Science Research Center, who presented a hardware-software product now in use at MSU that flows fan tweets—including visual images—onto stadium video boards during sporting events. Also the company’s CEO, Edwards said his business, already in partnership with Twitter, seeks a $350,000 investment.

Vibe was founded by electrical engineering major Hagan Walker of Columbus and art/graphic design major Kaylie Mitchell of Pascagoula, both seniors. Named lumi, their patent-pending product is a water-activated product that adds light and flavor to drinks. Walker and Mitchell are seeking $100,000 to move their product to full-scale manufacturing.

Parker Stewart of St. Augustine, Florida, is a 2013 MSU management and entrepreneurship graduate serving as entrepreneurship program coordinator. He owns the Mississippi-based Del Viejo Gourmet Food Co.

“This event was incredible,” he said. “I’m very proud of the five teams; they’ve come a long way testing their hypotheses and finding out what their customers want.”

Stewart said he also was “excited to be a part of showcasing what Mississippi entrepreneurs can do.”

For more on the MSU Entrepreneur Center, visit www.ecenter.msstate.edu.

MSU is Mississippi’s flagship research university, available online at www.msstate.edu.

MSU faculty research featured in Science magazine

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 4:58pm
Farshid Vahedifard

Contact: Allison Matthews

Farshid Vahedifard

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A Mississippi State University assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering is the lead author on a letter published last week [Aug. 21] in Science magazine.

Farshid Vahedifard, an MSU Bagley College of Engineering faculty member since 2012, is lead author on the letter titled “Drought threatens California’s levees,” which may be viewed at http://www.sciencemag.org/content/349/6250/799.1.full. Additional authors are Amir AghaKouchak of University of California, Irvine, and MSU civil engineering graduate student Joe D. Robinson of Meridian, Vahedifard’s advisee.

The letter discusses the threats that ongoing extreme drought poses on California’s levee systems and highlights an urgent need to invest in research regarding the vulnerabilities of these systems under extreme climatic events. Earthen levees protect dry land from floods and function as water storage and management systems, the letter states. Vahedifard points to a 2011 report by the California Department of Water Resources which says that over 21,000 kilometers of earthen levees deliver approximately two-thirds of potable water to more than 23 million Californians and protect more than $47 billion worth of homes and businesses from flooding.

However, current drought conditions pose “a great risk to an already endangered levee system,” the authors warn. Drought conditions – and particularly drought ensued by heavy rainfall and flooding – may cause similar catastrophic failures in California’s levee systems as seen in 2008 along river banks of the Murray River at the peak of Australia’s Millennium Drought and in 2003 in the Netherlands’ Wilnis Levee.

Vahedifard, who completed a second master’s degree and his doctoral work in civil engineering at the University of Delaware after completing previous academic work in Iran, said the commentary is important because there is very little information published about the effect of drought on the performance of critical infrastructures. The civil engineer who specializes in geotechnical engineering added that the National Levee Database shows that only around 10 percent of U.S. levees are rated as “acceptable,” with the rest being rated as “minimally acceptable” or “unacceptable,” indicating that the levee has a minor deficiency or the levee cannot serve as a reliable flood protection structure, respectively.

In California, a vast quantity of levee systems are currently rated as “high hazard,” meaning they are in serious danger of failing during an earthquake or flood event. This indicates that the resilience of these levee systems is a major concern without even considering the effects of the ongoing extreme drought, Vahedifard said. Prolonged droughts threaten the stability of levee systems by inducing soil cracking, increased water seepage through soil, soil strength reduction, soil organic carbon decomposition, land subsidence and erosion, he explained.

“When you have a marginal system, then you just need the last straw to create a failure,” Vahedifard said.

He began research related to climate change and its impact on critical infrastructure with his colleague AghaKouchak, a hydrologist, since 2013. They hypothesized that California’s current extreme drought will accelerate the ongoing land subsidence—or sinking. Recently, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology published a report that shows the Central Valley is undergoing an unprecedented subsidence period of as much as two inches per month in some locations.

“This is exactly what we predicted, that this drought would lead to increased land subsidence,” Vahedifard said. The danger, he explained, is that it increases the risk of water rising over the top of the levees.

“At MSU, I have been working on quantitatively assessing the resilience and vulnerability of critical infrastructure to extreme events under a changing climate. While several large-scale studies have been conducted to evaluate various aspects and implications of climate change, there is a clear gap in the state of our knowledge in terms of characterizing uncertainty in climate trends and incorporating such findings into engineering practice for planning and designing critical infrastructure,” Vahedifard said.

“An improved understanding of the resilience of critical infrastructure under a changing climate indisputably involves many authoritative and complex technical aspects. It also requires close collaboration between decision makers, engineers, and scientists from various fields including climate science, social science, economics and disaster science. Community engagement and public risk education also are key to enhancing the resilience of infrastructure to climate change,” he added.

“The impacts of climate change on infrastructure pose a multi-physics problem involving thermo-hydro-mechanical processes in different scales. Further research can help communities and decision makers toward developing appropriate climate change adaptation and risk management approaches,” he said.

He emphasized that design and monitoring guidelines may need to be modified to ensure resilient infrastructure against extreme events under a changing climate.

MSU is Mississippi’s flagship research university, available online at www.msstate.edu.

Perkes interviewed for MPB's Katrina documentary airing this week

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 1:00am

The director of Mississippi State University's Gulf Coast Community Design Studio is part of Mississippi Public Broadcasting's new documentary about Hurricane Katrina, its impact on the region, and the 10-year recovery process.

MPB interviewed David Perkes about the center's work for its special, "Rising About the Surge: The Post Katrina Coast."

The documentary will air on Wednesday [Aug. 26] at 7 p.m., and again on Saturday [Aug. 29] at 7 p.m., as part of MPB's special coverage of Hurricane Katrina 10 years after it made landfall on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The Gulf Coast Community Design Studio is embedded in Biloxi, and provides planning and architectural design assistance to communities and nonprofit organizations following Hurricane Katrina. Since Katrina struck in August 2005, the design studio work has led to over 150 new houses and redevelopment plans for neighborhoods along the Gulf Coast.

For more information, please visit www.gccds.org or contact Perkes at 228-436-4661 or dperkes@gccds.msstate.edu.

Men and Women of Color Summit takes place Aug. 27-28

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 5:17pm

Contact: Zack Plair

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Three leaders in business and government will be featured speakers next week at Mississippi State’s first combined Men and Women of Color Summit.

Taking place Thursday and Friday [Aug. 27 and 28], the summit is organized by the university’s Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion. More than 700 are preregistered. Organizers said that preregistration has closed, but participants still may register at the door.

“Reframing the Dialogue around Men and Women of Color: Academic Success in Higher Education” is the theme for the free event at the new Mill at MSU Conference Center on Russell Street.

Speaking Friday morning [the 28th] will be Albert J. Williams, an MSU alumnus now president of the Chevron Pipe Line Co., and La Doris Harris, director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Economic Impact and Diversity. Lori Harper, vice president for supply chain management with Ingalls Shipbuilding, will address that day’s luncheon.

The Friday schedule gets underway at 8 a.m. with greetings by MSU President Mark E. Keenum and Jerry Gilbert, provost and executive vice president.

“At Mississippi State, we consider diversity both a point of pride and a reason for our success as an institution,” said Cedric Gathings, interim assistant vice president for multicultural affairs. “Events like the Men and Women of Color Summit expose our students of color to people who once were in their shoes and made the most of their opportunities.”

Gathings predicted participating students “will be inspired by the wisdom and success stories of our presenters.”

Summit chair NaToya Sanders said the program is specifically designed to engage minority students with faculty, staff, administrators, alumni and others interested in dialogue about critical issues related to academic and professional success.

Sanders, OIDI’s recruitment, retention and program specialist, said activities begin at 6 p.m. Thursday [the 27th] with an Empowerment Dinner, also at the new conference center.

Friday workshops and discussion panels will address issues ranging from higher academic achievement, time management and health to strategies and solutions for minorities dealing with law enforcement.

Sanders said her office began sponsoring separate summits for men and women of color in 2012 after campus enrollment statistics indicated low retention rates among minority students. Support for the events are provided by offices of the President and Provost.

As she explained, a snow threat earlier this year forced cancellation of the women’s summit and resulted in its rescheduling with the men’s program planned for this month.

Sanders expressed excitement at the prospect of witnessing the dynamic created by having both male and female perspectives represented at a single gathering.

“We hope the students leave feeling empowered,” Sanders said. “I tell students all the time, ‘I’m inspired by the speakers, so I know you will be.’”

During Thursday’s dinner, MSU also will recognize six alumni and faculty for high achievements in leadership, innovation, public service and contributions to a better society. The honorees include Linda Cornelious, Marilyn Crouther, Sebetha Jenkins, Albert J. Williams, Wanda Williams and Camille Scales Young.

For more information on the OIDI, visit www.oidi.msstate.edu.

MSU is Mississippi’s flagship research university, available online at www.msstate.edu.

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