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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 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 - 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 or contact Perkes at 228-436-4661 or

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

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

MSU to be well-represented Saturday at Mississippi Book Festival

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 12:44pm

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 - 11:44am

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 - 6:03pm
  • 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 - 5:38pm
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 - 5:14pm

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 - 2:42pm
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 - 1:52pm

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 - 11:52am
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

ZZ Ward to launch MSU 2015-16 Lee Hall performance season

Thu, 08/20/2015 - 10:43am
ZZ Ward

Contact: Sammy McDavid

ZZ Ward

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State’s 2015-16 Lyceum Series begins Sept. 3 with a concert featuring singer-songwriter ZZ Ward.

As with most Lyceum events, the performance begins at 7 p.m. in Lee Hall’s Bettersworth Auditorium. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets are $25 each and may be purchased in advance via

MSU Music Maker Productions and the Student Association are co-sponsoring the campus appearance by Ward, a Pennsylvania native who began her musical career in 2007.

In 2012, she debuted both an extended-play album, “Criminal,” and album, “Til the Casket Drops.”

“Put The Gun Down,” her first single, broke into the Top 10 in early 2013 and remained there for 10 weeks. It also was a Top 40 entry on the Billboard Alternative chart.

Ward was featured at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Colorado and Tennessee’s Bonnaroo Music Festival, as well on a brief tour with rock guitar legend Eric Clapton. For more, visit

This year, the Lyceum Series is adding a mini-series offering to its traditional season ticket packages. The new package includes a choice of three programs at a discounted rate and with guaranteed reserved seating.

Following Ward’s appearance, five other Lyceum events are scheduled during the school year. They include:

—Oct. 20, L.A. Theatre Works, presenting Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” Employing a hybrid form of audio theatre and innovative technology, the Los Angeles-based non-profit media arts organization keeps the venerable art form thriving.

—Dec. 9, National Circus and Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China, in a performance of “Peking Dreams.” One of China’s longest running and most distinguished circus troupes, it mixes circus arts and acrobatic entertainment to delight and astound children of all ages.

—Feb. 16, The American Shakespeare Center’s performance of “Henry V.” A regional theatre company based in Staunton, Virginia, ASC returns to campus to commemorate the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death and present his rousing story of England’s hero king and one of the greatest upsets in European military history.

—March 22, Ballet Memphis, in a presentation of contemporary original works. Nationally acclaimed for producing more original work than any other company its size, the Tennessee dance company has been recognized by the Ford Foundation as a “national treasure.”

—April 21, The Delphi Trio, a chamber music group praised for beautifully blended sound, rich string tone, artistic piano skills and rhythmic flexibility.

Season tickets for the general public are $125; MSU employees and senior citizens, $105.

Coordinated by the MSU Performing Arts Committee, annual Lyceum programs are designed to expose residents of campus and surrounding communities to national and international artists in dance, music and theater. Follow the series on or

For more information on the 2015-16 events schedule, contact the Center for Student Activities at 662-325-2930 or The office is located in Colvard Student Union, Suite 314.

Support for the Lyceum Series also is provided by MSU’s Division of Student Affairs, Richard Holmes Cultural Diversity Center and the Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College, as well as Starkville arts patron Ida Cunetto. The performing arts committee also accepts tax-deductible donations via Lynn Durr of the MSU Foundation at 662-325-8918 or

MSU is Mississippi’s flagship research institution online at

Start your semester with Recreational Sports' fitness program

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 4:12pm

The Department of Recreational Sports' fitness program at Mississippi State has many opportunities for faculty, staff and students to get fit as the fall semester begins. It is a great time of year to take advantage of personal training, boot camps, group exercise classes, spin classes and AMPED cross-training classes.

Discover more at, or contact Adam Thigpen at
And remember to save the date for the 6th Annual Strength and Fitness Week at MSU, which will be held Oct. 26-31 at the Joe Frank Sanderson Center. Be on the lookout for additional information.

Former Gov. Haley Barbour to discuss, sign new Hurricane Katrina book

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 3:53pm

Contact: Brad Moreland

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour will visit Mitchell Memorial Library at Mississippi State University next week as part of a national book tour.

Free and open to all, the Monday [August 24] event will take place from 2:30-5 p.m. in the third-floor John Grisham Room, where Barbour will discuss and sign copies of his new book titled “America’s Great Storm: Leading through Hurricane Katrina.”

The 276-page personal memoir highlights the many leadership lessons Barbour learned and employed in a time of massive crisis.  

Barbour was assisted by contributing author Jere Nash. The book's foreword is by Ricky Mathews.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the event. Purchases also may be made via Amazon at

“When Hurricane Katrina hit Mississippi on August 29, 2005, it unleashed the costliest and third-deadliest natural disaster in American history. Barbour had been Mississippi’s governor for only 20 months when he assumed responsibility for guiding his home state’s recovery and rebuilding efforts,” according to the book’s publisher, University Press of Mississippi.

For the book, Barbour and his colleagues interviewed more than 45 key people—local, state and federal officials to private citizens—who played pivotal roles in helping Mississippi recover following Katrina’s landfall.

The book discusses the special legislative session that allowed casinos to build on shore and the role of the recovery commission chaired by Jim Barksdale. Along with providing a behind-the-scenes description of work done with Congress to pass an unprecedented, multi-billion-dollar emergency disaster assistance appropriation, the book discusses the enormous roles played by volunteers in rebuilding the entire housing, transportation and education infrastructure of south Mississippi and the Gulf Coast.

Barbour, a native of Yazoo City, served as governor from 2004-12. In addition to two terms as the state’s chief executive, he is a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and former White House political affairs director.

For more information on the book signing or to request special assistance relating to a disability, contact Mandy Page at 662-325-0813 or  Additional event details also may be found at

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

Maroon Edition co-author to Class of 2019: ‘What will be your legacy?’

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 12:06pm
Ron Hall, co-author of MSU’s 2015 Maroon Edition common reading experience selection, “Same Kind of Different as Me,” shared life lessons with the Class of 2019 during the university’s second Freshman Convocation.

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

Ron Hall, co-author of MSU’s 2015 Maroon Edition common reading experience selection, “Same Kind of Different as Me,” shared life lessons with the Class of 2019 during the university’s second Freshman Convocation.

STARKVILLE, Miss.— “You can never be happy letting someone else choose your career,” guest speaker Ron Hall told more than 3,400 students gathered Tuesday [August 18] at Mississippi State University’s second Freshman Convocation in Humphrey Coliseum.

The co-author of the university’s 2015 Maroon Edition common reading experience selection, “Same Kind of Different as Me,” shared those words of wisdom and seven other lessons that he said have served him well throughout his life.

They included:

--Don’t miss an opportunity for God to know you.

--Every “no” gets you closer to a “yes.”

--Hustle. Hustle. Hustle.

--Dream big dreams.

--Make your life and legacy uniquely you.

--God can take trash and turn it into treasure.

--Share your blessings.

In his closing remarks, Hall shared words of wisdom from his fellow “Same Kind of Different as Me” co-author, the late Denver Moore: “Nobody can help everybody, but everybody can help somebody.”

Prior to Hall’s address, MSU President Mark E. Keenum, Provost and Executive Vice President Jerry Gilbert, Robert Holland Faculty Senate President Cody Coyne, along with Student Association President Joseph M. “JoJo” Dodd and Vice President Roxanne L. “Roxie” Raven, officially welcomed the Class of 2019 to the Bulldog family.

Dodd also led the students as they recited the University Honor Code in unison.

Each student also received a Freshman Convocation coin to commemorate the special occasion.

Keenum, who holds three degrees from the state’s flagship research university, promised the newest class of Bulldogs that their college years are going to change their lives.

“You will hone your leadership and teamwork skills, deepen your understanding of people who come from places and cultures different from your own, and gain a greater appreciation for helping others,” he said. 

“Our goal is to ensure that you are prepared to lead a good life that includes contributions not only to your profession, but to your community, to our state, to our nation and more importantly, to the vast majority of people who are less fortunate than you are,” Keenum emphasized.

Keenum also encouraged students to develop lofty visions for themselves. Earning a degree from Mississippi State, he said, will prepare them to do anything, go anywhere and live their dreams.

“Do not underestimate yourself,” Keenum advised. “You have strengths, skills and smarts that you don’t even realize that you have. We have talented, dedicated, world-class faculty, administrators and fellow students who are here to assist you in your journey here at Mississippi State. But of course, this process starts with you.”

Gilbert echoed those sentiments and encouraged students to pursue learning activities both inside and outside of the classroom. Study abroad, undergraduate research, service learning, student leadership, internships and co-oping all are ways for students to augment the classroom learning experience and enhance their overall education, he said.

“We are excited to be here to commemorate the beginning of your academic career at MSU,” Gilbert told the largest class in university history. “Your journey to completing college will not include just going to class. You will be growing intellectually and gaining life skills that will aid you in becoming a leader in your chosen profession.”

“I hope that you will leave this ceremony inspired with an attitude that you will be successful here at Mississippi State and in life.”

At the ceremony’s conclusion, MSU’s State Singers—under the direction of Associate Professor of Music and Choral Activities Director Gary Packwood—led the Class of 2019 in the singing of the alma mater, “Maroon and White.”

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

MSU’s Keenum, local and state law officials plan safe gamedays

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 11:14am
Craig Carter of the Mississippi Department of Transportation; Chief Frank Nichols of the Starkville Police Department; Oktibbeha County Sheriff Steve Gladney; Mississippi Highway Patrol Director Col. Donnell Berry; Mississippi Public Safety Commissioner Albert E. Santa Cruz; MSU President Mark E. Keenum; MSU Executive Associate Athletic Director Duncan McKenzie, MSU Police Chief Vance Rice; MSUPD Lt. Brad Massey; Mississippi  Department of Public Safety Deputy Administrator Ken Magee; and MSU Vice President

Contact: Allison Matthews

Craig Carter of the Mississippi Department of Transportation; Chief Frank Nichols of the Starkville Police Department; Oktibbeha County Sheriff Steve Gladney; Mississippi Highway Patrol Director Col. Donnell Berry; Mississippi Public Safety Commissioner Albert E. Santa Cruz; MSU President Mark E. Keenum; MSU Executive Associate Athletic Director Duncan McKenzie, MSU Police Chief Vance Rice; MSUPD Lt. Brad Massey; Mississippi  Department of Public Safety Deputy Administrator Ken Magee; and MSU Vice President for Campus Operations Amy Tuck.

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State University leaders and local and state law enforcement officials met Tuesday [Aug. 18] to discuss plans to make MSU gamedays this fall as safe and smooth as possible on campus and city and state roadways.

MSU President Mark E. Keenum and other university leaders met with Department of Public Safety Commissioner Albert E. Santa Cruz and Deputy Administrator Ken Magee, Oktibbeha County Sheriff Steve Gladney, Starkville Police Chief Frank Nichols, Mississippi Highway Patrol Director Col. Donnell Berry, MSU Police Chief Vance Rice and Lt. Brad Massey, and Craig Carter representing the Mississippi Department of Transportation, among others.

“We are very thankful for the cooperation of so many local and state agencies as we work to create an enjoyable gameday experience for everyone who visits MSU,” Keenum said. “We face challenging traffic and parking issues on football Saturdays, but sharing the resources of the city, county, the Mississippi Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Safety enhances our ability to address these issues.”

Keenum said MSU coordinates operations with gameday partners to make traffic flow and parking as efficient as possible for the thousands of visitors who will come to campus this fall.

Santa Cruz said, “The visibility of all the agencies involved will play a huge role in traffic safety on gamedays. Drivers are more inclined to focus and pay attention to other drivers when those in uniform are managing traffic.”

Gladney said the Sheriff’s Department works with the university on a wide range of law enforcement and public safety issues.

“All of us have worked well together for a very long time, so we’re all on the same page. With the campus construction and number of people we now have attending games, fans will have to be patient with us, and we will all do our best to make everything run smoothly,” Gladney added.

Nichols concurred, “We’ll all work as one big unit to get people in and out of town as safely and quickly as possible. All agencies involved will be using their social media platforms and cross-posting with each other to keep fans informed.”

Rice said that current construction projects and necessary road closures on campus are creating expanded challenges this season.

“We ask for patience from all of our MSU friends and fans as we work together to ensure maximum efficiency, a positive gameday experience, and—first and foremost—safety for everyone involved,” Rice said.

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

Seminar to address Uniform Guidance's impact on research funding

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 1:00am

New guidelines are affecting major research universities like Mississippi State. The Office of Management and Budget has streamlined the federal government’s guidance on administrative requirements, cost principles and audit requirements for federal awards through the Uniform Guidance streamlining initiative.

The release of Uniform Guidance and agency implementations impacts existing institutional policies, federal sponsor guidelines, and the terms and conditions expressed in federal awards.

The Office of Research and Economic Development at Mississippi State is hosting a one-and-a-half day seminar on Uniform Guidance on Monday [Aug. 24] and Tuesday [Aug. 25].

These sessions are designed to provide attendees important information about the changes incorporated in Uniform Guidance, and how these changes impact research administration policies and procedures, and will familiarize them with Uniform Guidance and agency implementations.

Visit for additional information or to register for this free seminar.

Volunteers needed to work on Maroon Edition Habitat for Humanity home

Tue, 08/18/2015 - 4:52pm

Volunteers are needed to help build a home for a local family in need by participating in the Maroon Edition Habitat for Humanity project.

Mississippi State students, faculty and staff interested in volunteering can view and sign up for an available shift at or on the Maroon Volunteer Center website at Shifts are available on Thursday, Friday and Saturday until November.

Campus groups interested in signing up to work as a team can contact Shayla Jefferson, AmeriCorps VISTA with the MVC, at or 662-325-2150.

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