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MSU researcher Varco named new Triplett Chair holder

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 12:15
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

MSU is Mississippi's flagship research university, available online at

Barbour hopes new Hurricane Katrina book makes Mississippians proud

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 11:39
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

MSU is Mississippi’s flagship research university, available online at

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

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 11:38

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 For additional information, please contact Linda Morse at 662-325-2083.

Empowerment Dinner at MSU to honor six leaders

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 11:19
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

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

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 09:22

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 - 18:05
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

MSU is Mississippi’s flagship research university, available online at

MSU faculty research featured in Science magazine

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 16:58
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 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

Perkes interviewed for MPB's Katrina documentary airing this week

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 01:00

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 or contact Perkes at 228-436-4661 or

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

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 17:17

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

MSU is Mississippi’s flagship research university, available online at

MSU to be well-represented Saturday at Mississippi Book Festival

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 12:44

Contact: Allison Matthews

STARKVILLE, Miss.—This weekend’s inaugural Mississippi Book Festival at the state capitol will include a number of prominent authors with close Mississippi State University connections.

Free and open to all, the 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday [Aug. 22] event is being called a celebration of both contemporary authors and their contributions to the culture of literacy, ideas and imagination. For complete details, visit  

English professor Michael Kardos, director of the university’s creative writing program, will moderate a session on short stories to begin at 11:30 a.m. He is the award-winning author of “Before He Finds Her” (Mysterious Press, 2015), among other works.

A 2 p.m. session on history and biography features, among others:

—Former Gov. Haley Barbour, author of the just-released “America’s Great Storm: Leading through Hurricane Katrina (University Press of Mississippi, 2015). He also will be at MSU’s Mitchell Memorial Library Monday [the 24th] as a continuation of his national book tour.

—Professor Dennis Mitchell, head of MSU-Meridian’s Division of Arts and Sciences and author of “A New History of Mississippi” (University Press of Mississippi, 2014).

—Professor Minion K.C. Morrison, head of the political science and public administration department and author of the just-released “Aaron Henry of Mississippi: Inside Agitator” (The University of Arkansas Press, 2015).

—Alumnus Don Thompson, a College of Forest Resources graduate whose “Stennis: Plowing a Straight Furrow, The Story of Statesman John C. Stennis” was released earlier this year by Oxford-based Nautilus Publishing.


—A 3 p.m. session titled “What Reading Means for Our Culture: Reading, Writing and Journalism’s Influence in Mississippi” will feature MSU accounting alumnus and international bestselling fiction author John Grisham.

—A 4 p.m. session on the Civil War will involve, among others, Michael Ballard, author of “The Civil War in Mississippi: Major Campaigns and Battles” (University Press of Mississippi, 2011). Ballard is an MSU alumnus now retired as the university’s archivist.

—A separate 4 p.m. session on sports and outdoors will feature Sid Salter, MSU’s chief communications officer and author of “Jack Cristil: Voice of the MSU Bulldogs,” first published in 2011 and now being released in limited quantities as a revised edition by University Press of Mississippi.

Portions of the event will be broadcast live on C-SPAN, coordinators said.

Books will be available for purchase throughout the day courtesy of Lemuria Books and Mississippi’s independent bookstores. Authors will sign copies of their books at a signing tent immediately following their respective panel discussions.

MSU is Mississippi’s flagship research university, available online at

New MSU center helps veterans start businesses

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 11:44

Contact: Zack Plair

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Entrepreneurs who are military veterans now have a new resource at Mississippi State to help get their businesses off the ground.

The university recently became one of five new locations for a Veterans Business Outreach Center that provides counseling, training and other resources to former service members seeking to launch their own commercial operations.

Designated to serve residents of Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee, the center is located next to campus in Suite 105D at 60 Technology Blvd. in the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Park.

A grand opening is set for 11 a.m. Aug. 28 at its office in the business incubator, where U.S. Congressmen Gregg Harper and Trent Kelly, along with Small Business Administration Mississippi District Office Director Janita Stewart will be keynote speakers. MSU President Mark E. Keenum and MSU College of Business Dean Sharon Oswald also will speak.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is providing $825,000 over three years to fund the center, a partnership between the College of Business and its Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, along with MSU’s nationally recognized G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans.

The SBA now supports 14 such facilities nationwide, said MSU center director Mark Scott, a U.S. Army veteran and former Raytheon Corp. employee who said his office already has assisted more than two dozen clients in some way since opening its doors in May.

“Our mission is to aid the veteran who is transitioning out of the service, or the veteran who is already out of the service and wants to start a new business,” Scott said. Though some may never launch a business, all who visit the VBOC should be better prepared for the process, he added.

“There’s more to opening a business than hanging up a shingle and opening your doors,” Scott emphasized. “There are considerations like employees, taxes, insurance and many other things. We provide a lot of free resources to these veterans that can help them through the process.”

While the VBOC provides no grants or other funding sources, Scott said the staff will do everything possible to help clients identify avenues for accessing capital, including navigation of the bank loan process. Those already helped have represented businesses ranging from a bar to a fitness gym, he noted.

Franchises also are popular entrepreneurial options since they provide a structured business environment—and some even offer veteran-specific discounts for franchise fees.

Scott said spreading the word is key to the center’s mission, and he and others on the staff are working hard to let all interested former service personnel in the region know about their location.

He said many referrals also likely will come from through the SBA’s “Boots to Business” program, a two-day course offered by the Armed Forces’ Transition Assistance Program for those leaving active service. Other related SBA programs will be directing individuals to Mississippi State, as, of course, will the university’s College of Business and Montgomery Veterans Center.

A land-grant institution established in 1878 with the U.S. Military Academy as a model, Mississippi State has a long history of service and commitment to veterans. In 2013, U.S. News and World Report ranked the university 29th on its elite list of the 52 best national higher education organizations for veterans, service members, dependents and survivors.

Allison Pearson, the business college’s Jim Rouse Endowed Professor in Management, said the center is an excellent fit for the land-grant institution’s ongoing service mission.

“It’s a great opportunity to combine synergies at MSU,” said Pearson, who was a co-principal on MSU’s grant application for VBOC funding.

“The strength that Mark brings to the outreach effort, as a veteran and businessman himself, provides a great combination for what we want to help our veterans accomplish,” Pearson said. “We’re excited about the opportunity.”

For more about the VBOC at MSU, visit, The telephone number is 662-325-4990; the email address,

MSU is Mississippi’s flagship research university, available online at

Facts about rabies from MSDH

Thu, 08/20/2015 - 18:03
  • The Mississippi State Department of Health has confirmed the first rabies case in a land animal in Mississippi since 1961. The case was identified in a feral cat in Starkville described as a small, black and white kitten. At this point there is no ongoing public health risk.


  • Rabies is a viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of an infected animal. Rabies is commonly found in bats in Mississippi and has been found in feral and wild animals in bordering states in previous years. The university is working closely with the Department of Health and the Mississippi Board of Animal Health to ensure there is no ongoing public health risk.


  • Exposures to the rabid cat were reported in downtown Starkville and in a remote area in the general proximity of paved and developed portions of the Thad Cochran Research Park near the MSU campus. Health officials urge anyone who may have been bitten or scratched by a feral cat matching this description in either of these areas within the past 10 days to contact their primary healthcare provider or the Mississippi State Department of Health. Rabies is completely preventable if post-exposure shots are administered after contact with a rabid animal.


  • To protect yourself, make sure your domestic dogs and cats are vaccinated against rabies at three months, one year later, and every three years thereafter. Never handle or touch feral animals, animals you do not know, or wild animals such as raccoons, bats, skunks, foxes and coyotes that can carry rabies. If you see a feral animal acting strangely, contact your local Animal Control officials.

MSU fans seek to break GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® title at Cowbell Yell

Thu, 08/20/2015 - 17:38
MSU football fans are encouraged to attend Cowbell Yell on Sept. 10. (Photo by Megan Bean)

Contact: Harriet Laird

MSU football fans are encouraged to attend Cowbell Yell on Sept. 10. (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State football fans will attempt the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title for most people ringing cowbells simultaneously during the university’s Cowbell Yell event on Sept 10.

All fans—students, employees, alumni and the community—are encouraged to attend and help the university continue its record-setting reputation into the 2015 football season.

Cowbell Yell, the season’s kick-off pep rally co-sponsored by the MSU Student Association and Athletics, will begin at 9 p.m. in Davis Wade Stadium and will feature the Famous Maroon Band, MSU spirit groups, the new Bully mascot Jak and a surprise guest. The stadium’s northwest Gate F will open at 7:30 p.m., and those with cowbells will be asked to enter specific portals for inclusion in the world record attempt.

Student Association President JoJo Dodd said, “I hope to see everyone there, cowbell in hand, to make history for our university. It’s going to be an incredible experience for all in attendance as we kick off football season.”

Dodd continued, “Mr. Steve Brandon is really the visionary behind this attempt. Without his efforts in fundraising and hand in organizing, the logistics of this would not be possible.”

Brandon is a 1972 and 1973 MSU graduate who was very involved during his years on campus. He served two terms as student director of Colvard Student Union and was a Student Association senator. 

Fans also will be the first to view the Bulldogs’ new “hype” video, hear from Coach Dan Mullen and several players, learn more about how to “Respect the Bell,” and be among those receiving 1,000 free t-shirts.

Athletic Director Scott Stricklin said, “So much of our success as a department is because of the outstanding fan and student support our teams receive. Students have taken great ownership in making the special atmosphere that now exists at Davis Wade and have created an incredible home field advantage, while remaining focused on honoring our tradition by respecting the bell. This event provides a great opportunity for our fans and students to prepare for another exciting home season.”

While there is no current record holder in this category, in order to set the record, MSU’s number must beat the current record for largest cowbell ensemble. The Associated Press reported on Aug. 1 that more than 1,000 people rang cowbells at a running race in Royal Oak, Michigan, but this record has yet to be verified. According to GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS, the current record for largest cowbell ensemble is a gathering of 640 people in Switzerland on Sept. 6, 2009.

Following Cowbell Yell, the Student Association will present its annual Bulldog Bash on Sept. 11, featuring free live music in Starkville’s Cotton District from indie rock band Local Natives. Opening acts include alternative rockers X Ambassadors, indie pop band Misterwives and the winner of the SA-sponsored “Battle of the Bands.” The day also will include a Maroon Market with local food vendors, the annual Dawg Rally and other afternoon activities.

Paving project set for Buckner Lane on Friday

Thu, 08/20/2015 - 17:14

Buckner Lane paving project

A contractor will be paving Buckner Lane on the campus of Mississippi State University beginning at 8 a.m. on Friday [Aug. 21], as illustrated by the accompanying map.

One lane of the roadway will be closed at a time as each section is paved. The work is expected to take most of the day, and drivers are encouraged to seek an alternate route if possible.

Thank you for your cooperation during this necessary roadwork.

MSU alumnus, award-winning fiction writer Brad Watson visits next week

Thu, 08/20/2015 - 14:42
Brad Watson

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

Brad Watson

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State alumnus and award-winning novelist and short story writer Brad Watson will deliver a public reading Tuesday [Aug. 25] at the university.

Free to all, Watson’s presentation begins at 3:30 p.m. in Colvard Student Union’s Fowlkes Auditorium. A public reception and book signing will follow.

Watson also will visit classes and interact with students during his campus visit.

Currently an associate professor of creative writing and literature at University of Wyoming, Watson is a native of Meridian who graduated from MSU in 1978 with a bachelor’s degree in English. He also holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and literature from University of Alabama.

Watson is the author of “Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives” (W.W. Norton & Company, 2010), which was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award in Fiction. He also was named a Guggenheim Foundation Fellow in 2011.

His first published work, a short story collection titled “Last Days of the Dog-Men: Stories by Brad Watson,” received the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1997.

Another of Watson’s novels, “The Heaven of Mercury” (W.W. Norton & Company, 2002), received the 2003 Southern Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction and was a 2002 National Book Award in Fiction finalist.

Prior to joining the University of Wyoming teaching staff in 2005, Watson held visiting writer-in-residence positions at the University of West Florida, University of Alabama, University of Mississippi and University of California, Irvine.

Additional information about Watson’s visit may be obtained from Michael Kardos, MSU associate professor of English, at 662-325-3644 and

Learn more about MSU’s English department at

MSU is Mississippi’s flagship research university, available online at

MSU Staff Council invites staff to 'Get the Scoop!'

Thu, 08/20/2015 - 13:52

Mississippi State staff are invited to stop by and meet their MSU Staff Council representatives and learn more about the council's activities during a meet-and-greet on Aug. 31 from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Hunter Henry Center's Parker Ballroom.

Attendees will be able to make their own mini-sundaes with MSU ice cream and an assortment of toppings.

MSU among coalition stressing suicide, alcohol-abuse prevention

Thu, 08/20/2015 - 11:52
Mississippi Coalition of Partners in Prevention

Contact: Georgia Clarke

Mississippi Coalition of Partners in Prevention

STARKVILLE, Miss.—According to national statistics, suicides claim the lives of more than 41,000 people annually—and are the second leading cause of death on college campuses. Alcohol is the most abused substance.

As Mississippi State begins the 2015-16 school year, the Mississippi Coalition for Partners in Prevention is launching a media campaign to combat suicide and alcohol abuse.

As part of the 20-week campaign, the university and all of the state’s other public institutions of higher learning, as well as a majority of community colleges in the state, are being flooded with posters and social media messages providing helpful tips, statistics and positive messages information to incoming students. “Hotline” telephone numbers also are provided.

“Hopefully, blanketing the college-age student with prevention media messages will reduce these two high-risk behaviors,” said Joyce Yates, Mississippi State’s director of health promotion and wellness.

Regina Hyatt, who is in her first semester as the university’s new vice president of student affairs, said the campaign has the potential to make a significant impact.

“We want students to know the facts and we want them to reach out for help,” Hyatt said. “The Mississippi Coalition for Partners in Prevention campaign puts information in the hands of our students so they can make good decisions and know where to go for help.”   

For more on MCPP, visit

MSU’s department of health promotion and wellness provides weekly messages via Instagram @msuhealthpromo, Twitter @MSUHEW and Facebook at

MSU is Mississippi’s flagship research university, available online at


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