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MSU Greeks raise $75,000 for Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity home

Tue, 08/18/2015 - 2:48pm
MSU’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life recently donated $75,000 for a new Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity home. Presenting a check to the committee recently were (l-r) Stevany Jackson; John Michael VanHorn, fraternity and sorority life assistant director; Jacqueline M. “Jacqui” Posley; Grace Wegener; Haley Watters; Grace Mangrum; Yeager Bass; Emily Ann Kirkland; Ja’Syon Charles; Jeremy Knott; Jackie Mullen, director of student activities; and ShirDonna Lawrence, fraternity and sorority life coord

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

MSU’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life recently donated $75,000 for a new Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity home. Presenting a check to the committee recently were (l-r) Stevany Jackson; John Michael VanHorn, fraternity and sorority life assistant director; Jacqueline M. “Jacqui” Posley; Grace Wegener; Haley Watters; Grace Mangrum; Yeager Bass; Emily Ann Kirkland; Ja’Syon Charles; Jeremy Knott; Jackie Mullen, director of student activities; and ShirDonna Lawrence, fraternity and sorority life coordinator.

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Within a year, a Starkville family should be moving into a Habitat for Humanity-built home made possible with support provided by Mississippi State’s fraternities and sororities.

University fraternity and sorority members recently completed a fundraising campaign that raised $75,000 in donations.

John Michael VanHorn, MSU fraternity and sorority life assistant director, said he anticipates the construction project becoming a yearly partnership with the Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity program.

Work on the building is expected to begin in September, with dedication of the residence taking place mid-spring, he added.

VanHorn emphasized that service is a cornerstone of Greek organizations. Fund-raising and home construction projects such as this provides fraternity and sorority members with special opportunities to leave a lasting impact on the community, he added.

“Our fraternities and sororities pride themselves on their various philanthropy and community service efforts, and this is a great way for our students to interact with each other while giving back to the community with one specific project,” said VanHorn, an MSU alumnus.

Joel Downey, Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity executive director, said home ownership is key both to personal financial stability and community development.

“What the university’s fraternities and sororities are doing is absolutely fantastic because they have stepped up and offered to raise funds and build a whole house,” Downey said. “The family who benefits from this new home is going to be able to look and say ‘This is what Mississippi State did for me,’ and that’s amazing.”

In addition to assistance from numerous campus and community volunteers, Downey said his organization is grateful for the annual support of covenant partners like MSU’s Kappa Sigma fraternity. As part of their Charity Classic football game, Kappa Sigma members have donated $20,000 each of the past five years to the Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity program, he noted.

To donate to this Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity project, visit or mail a check in care of Fraternity and Sorority Life, P.O. Box 5368, Mississippi State, MS 39762.

For more information on MSU fraternities and sororities or the new Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity project, visit To contact the fraternity and sorority life office, telephone 662-325-3917. VanHorn also may be reached at

Learn more about Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity by visiting, telephoning 662-324-7008 or emailing

MSU, Mississippi’s flagship research institution, is online at

MSU floral design team takes top national honors

Tue, 08/18/2015 - 11:49am
Mississippi State University seniors Renee Wright (center) and Camille Tedder (right) brought home the overall baccalaureate school award from the recent American Institute of Floral Designer’s Student Floral Design Competition. Tedder took top individual honors at the competition and earned a $3,000 scholarship to use toward her AIFD accreditation process. Both students work for University Florist on campus. Lynn McDougald (left) is the faculty adviser for MSU’s Student AIFD chapter.

Contact: Zack Plair

Mississippi State University seniors Renee Wright (center) and Camille Tedder (right) brought home the overall baccalaureate school award from the recent American Institute of Floral Designer’s Student Floral Design Competition. Tedder took top individual honors at the competition and earned a $3,000 scholarship to use toward her AIFD accreditation process. Both students work for The University Florist on campus. Lynette McDougald (left) is the faculty adviser for MSU’s Student AIFD chapter.

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Two Mississippi State seniors are top winners in a national floral design competition.

Camille Tedder of Jackson and Renee Wright of Douglasville, Georgia, received the overall baccalaureate school award at the recent American Institute of Floral Designer’s Student Floral Design Competition. The event was part of the organization’s 2015 national symposium in Denver, Colorado.

Both students are horticulture/floral management majors at the university. Tedder also is completing a double-major in business administration.

Their achievement represents the first time since 2013 an MSU team has won the top AIFD student prize, said Lynette McDougald. Since 2005, students at the land-grant institution have won five national titles, the AIFD student chapter adviser noted.

“It’s great to see this happen for these two students, and it’s great to see MSU’s program stand out on the national stage,” McDougald said.

Tedder received top individual honors, with highest overall scores and a first-place finish in both the body flowers and duplicate design categories. Additionally, she and Wright placed in the top 10 for bridal bouquets.

“Basically, you sit in a room for four hours and design constantly,” Tedder said. “It’s tough, but it’s a lot of fun.”

Tedder also won the professional organization’s first scholarship that provides $3,000 toward her AIFD accreditation process. The professional test will be given at next year’s symposium in Seattle, Washington, and the award covers the test fee and travel and hotel expenses, she said.

With the AIFD accreditation, Tedder expects to broaden her floral-design career marketability after graduation. She has big dreams, explaining how “it would be fun to design for high-end clients, and it would be cool to design for movie sets or TV shows.”

Tedder said her ultimate goal is “to open my own floral shop for special events.”

McDougald, an MSU alumna who holds AIFD accreditation, is a horticulture instructor in the plant and soil sciences department. She also directs the The University Florist, the department’s full-service flower shop that provides students with day-to-day work and management experiences.

McDougald said MSU’s student AIFD chapter has nearly 20 members and is the largest of 15 located throughout the U.S. and Canada. Tedder and Wright are among chapter members currently working at the campus florist.

A longtime faculty member, McDougald said the education and work experiences provided by the MSU program consistently produces graduates that go on to everything from opening their own floral shops to working with wholesale suppliers to special-events design careers. A number have even made their mark in the tough New York City market, she observed.

“We can place anybody; people are begging for our graduates,” McDougald said.

Wright, who is leaning toward a wholesale floristry career, praised the national student competition for providing a critical venue to network and market her skills to potential employers.

“I enjoy the competition, but I look at it from the standpoint of how it can help me later,” Wright said. “This year, I got two positive job leads.”

For more information on MSU’s plant and soil sciences department and its floral management and other academic programs, visit .

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

Montgomery congressional collection announced at MSU

Mon, 08/17/2015 - 5:08pm
The late congressman and MSU alumnus G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery recently was honored with the opening of the Montgomery Congressional Research Collection at Mitchell Memorial Library. Taking part in the ceremony were (l-r) Robert J. “Bob” Bailey, president emeritus of the Meridian-based Montgomery Foundation; Kyle Steward, MSU executive director of external affairs and former senior Montgomery staff member; U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper; and Jerry Gilbert, MSU provost and executive vice president.

Contact: Meg Henderson

The late congressman and MSU alumnus G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery recently was honored with the opening of the Montgomery Congressional Research Collection at Mitchell Memorial Library. Taking part in the ceremony were (l-r) Robert J. “Bob” Bailey, president emeritus of the Meridian-based Montgomery Foundation; Kyle Steward, MSU executive director of external affairs and former senior Montgomery staff member; U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper; and Jerry Gilbert, MSU provost and executive vice president.

STARKVILLE, Miss.—The G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Congressional Collection now is open to the public at Mississippi State.

On the Aug. 5 occasion—what would have been the former U.S. representative’s 95th birthday—the university formally dedicated the collection in its Congressional and Political Research Center at Mitchell Memorial Library.

University officials said the collection includes more than 1,200 cubic feet of correspondence, memos, speeches, floor statements, photographs and memorabilia about the longtime public servant and MSU alumnus who died in 2006 at age 85.

The files cover the Meridian native from his time at the McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, through his student leadership at then-Mississippi State College to his World War II military service in Europe, where was awarded a Bronze Star with Valor. The collection also highlights his public service career that began with a decade in the Mississippi Legislature, followed by 30 years in Congress that concluded with retirement in 1997. 

U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper, Montgomery’s 3rd District successor, joined with members of the Meridian-based Montgomery Foundation to help announce the collection’s formal opening.

Jerry Gilbert, MSU provost and executive vice president, said “from his years as a Mississippi State student throughout his lifetime, Sonny Montgomery was considered a leader who worked tirelessly on behalf of those he served.” 

Noting how the congressman’s “leadership and people skills served him well throughout his career,” Gilbert also praised Montgomery for being “a devoted and loyal friend of Mississippi State and one who frequented the campus throughout his life and whose legacy can been seen throughout the campus.” 

During his time in Washington, D.C., Montgomery gained an international reputation for his tireless work on behalf of American military veterans. In addition to visiting Vietnam repeatedly throughout the war and assisting in the return of prisoners of war, he most notably led in securing an extension of the G. I. Bill—an effort that his colleagues renamed the “Montgomery G. I. Bill” in tribute.  

Additionally, the collection illustrates the close friendship between Montgomery and former President George H.W. Bush. The two met on their first day in Congress in 1967 and remained friends for the remainder of the congressman’s life.

In his remarks, Harper praised Montgomery for serving the district and nation “with integrity, compassion and hard work.

“His efforts on behalf of our country’s veterans and the people of Mississippi are still realized today, and we are eternally grateful,” Harper said.

“Sonny loved Mississippi State University, and I know that he would be proud of the new G.V. ‘Sonny’ Montgomery Collection,” he continued. “I hope that this collection will be a reminder of Sonny’s esteemed public service for generations to come.”

The Congressional and Political Research Center is open 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday. For more information, visit

For more on the Mississippi State University Libraries, see

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


The Drill moved to Aug. 24

Mon, 08/17/2015 - 2:57pm

The Drill at Mississippi State has been rescheduled for Aug. 24 from 5-6 p.m.

Students are invited to join the Student Association on the university's historic Drill Field next week as the 2015-16 academic year at Mississippi State is celebrated.

The university's annual welcome back pep rally will feature guest speakers including MSU President Mark E. Keenum, Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman and Men's Head Basketball Coach Ben Howland. The Famous Maroon Band, Spirit Groups, Bully, and Miss MSU Randi Kathryn Harmon also will be making appearances.

Free t-shirts and MSU ice cream will be available, and attendees can participate in the traditional signing of the MSU Creed.

MSU researcher: U.S. racial residential segregation evolving

Mon, 08/17/2015 - 11:32am

Contact: Carol Gifford

STARKVILLE, Miss.–Racial residential segregation in the United States is changing its form.

A new study co-authored by Mississippi State sociology professor Domenico “Mimmo” Parisi finds that, while neighborhood segregation declined between 1990-2010, segregation between suburbs and suburbs and central cities increasingly shifted the geography of exclusion from neighborhood-to-neighborhood to place-to-place.

Titled “Toward a New Macro-Segregation? Decomposing Segregation within and between Metropolitan Cities and Suburbs,” the report is featured in the August issue of American Sociological Review, a leading professional journal in the field.

“We are a diverse society and our racial relations reflect the places where we live,” said Parisi, director of the university’s National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center, or NSPARC as it’s known to most.

Parisi said the study is different from traditional research that measures social distance between racial groups by neighborhood segregation levels.

Looking at segregation beyond the neighborhood scale raises important considerations that may apply to areas such as Ferguson, Missouri, he observed. Tensions are more likely to emerge in communities when the people involved come from places that are divided along racial and class lines, he added.

“At the end of the day, the story often comes down to place or race,” Parisi said.

“We need to ask whether the place or community has effective ways to deal with race,” Parisi continued. “Outsiders have different experiences and expectations when it comes to different racial groups based on how segregated the community is where they live.”

Even when racial segregation appears to have decreased in certain places, other factors may be in play, according to the veteran researcher. As an example, he cited Detroit, Michigan, where segregation between neighborhoods is declining, but the decline can be connected to a white-population exodus to the suburbs that has left a majority black population in the city.

In affluent suburbs surrounding older cities and other such places, policymakers may change the dynamics of the area through economic development or zoning, thereby attracting residents who are similar in socioeconomic and racial status, Parisi said.

The study also confirmed results that have been shown in decades of previous research on U.S. residential segregation. These include:

—The highest average segregation level is between blacks and whites;

—The lowest average level is between Asians and whites; and

—Hispanic-white segregation tends to fall between these two extremes.

Parisi coauthored the article with Daniel T. Lichter, professor of policy analysis and management and sociology professor and director of the Cornell Population Center at Cornell University, and NSPARC deputy director Michael C. Taquino, an MSU associate research professor.

Noting that race relations is among NSPARC’s signature research areas, Parisi said, “It’s important for us, as an interdisciplinary research center at MSU, to connect academic research to real-world issues.”

Racial relations will continue in news headlines and they are “an important topic for policymakers.” For that reason, he added, “We will continue to provide insight into the topic and make meaningful contributions to the current debate on racial relations in this country.”

For more about NPARC, visit Parisi may be reached at 662-325-9242.

MSU, Mississippi’s flagship research institution, is online at

Parking and transit changes in place for fall

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 5:48pm
New parking gates

New parking gates

MSU Parking and Transit Services is excited about the upcoming academic year and would like to welcome everyone back to campus. A few parking and transit changes have occurred over the summer.

Creelman St. and President Circle access

In an effort to increase pedestrian safety and in accordance with the Mississippi State University Master Plan, on Monday [Aug. 17], Creelman St. and President Circle will be closed to through traffic between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The McCarthy Gym and Allen East gated lots will be open for access for those with privileges to those parking lots. For those with McCarthy or Allen gated permits, parking gates are currently being installed on Creelman St. just east of Tracy Dr. and on President Circle north of Bully Blvd. The old parking gates at the entrances to the McCarthy and Allen West lots will be removed.

Between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., access into the Lloyd Ricks and Bell Island parking areas will only be from west Creelman Street via Stone Blvd.

Starkville-MSU Area Rapid Transit expands service area

In July, Starkville-MSU Area Rapid Transit (SMART) carried its one millionth passenger. During the same time, the system expanded in an effort to increase efficiency and enlarge the service area.

Routes not only connect campus to downtown Starkville and the Sportsplex, but there is now a Highway 12 route with direct access to The Mill at MSU terminating at Wal-Mart with stops at many of the retail areas along Highway 12.

The trolleys on the Old Main Express now also service the Historic Greensboro District and Patriots Park along the Avenue of Patriots. Many more exciting changes have occurred and for more information and live tracking of the buses, please visit

Parking and Transit Services is here to serve you. If you are ever in need of parking or event assistance, please call Parking Services at 325-3526 or visit

For help or for information about transit services or SMART, please call 662-325-5204 or visit

MSU invites all to first ‘Great Chalk Walk’

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 5:38pm
Interested members of the campus and surrounding communities are being invited Thursday [Aug. 20] to the first Great Chalk Walk organized by MSU’s art department and Ladies Social Circle organization.

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

Interested members of the campus and surrounding communities are being invited Thursday [Aug. 20] to the first Great Chalk Walk organized by MSU’s art department and Ladies Social Circle organization.STARKVILLE, Miss—Mississippi State’s art department and the university’s Ladies Social Circle organization are announcing the inaugural Great Chalk Walk.

Taking place Thursday [Aug. 20] in front of the department’s Visual Arts Center Gallery at 808 University Dr., the free 4-6 p.m. event is open to all interested members of campus and surrounding communities.

Participants of all ages will have the opportunity to create colorful, large-scale chalk art pieces designed to brighten a major thoroughfare leading to campus.

Chalk and sidewalk spaces will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Refreshments also will be served.

Art department students, faculty and staff will be on hand to assist participants, and share information about the academic unit’s diverse curriculum and programs.

“We want to show new students and others the main route that connects downtown businesses with the campus and also introduce them to the creative resources available here in Starkville,” said Lori Neuenfeldt, coordinator of the gallery and the department’s outreach programs.

“Come ready to have fun, be creative and get messy,” she added.

Neuenfeldt said this first-ever activity is among many in the university’s 10th annual Dawg Daze program—17 successive days of free activities to help welcome new freshmen and transfer students. A complete Dawg Daze schedule is available at

Support for the Chalk Walk is being provided by the Starkville Area Arts Council.

The Visual Arts Center Gallery is one of several art department venues that regularly features traveling exhibits, student shows, and group and solo exhibitions by professional artists. Fall exhibit hours for the gallery are 1-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, as well as by appointment. For more, visit

Additional gallery information is available from Neuenfeldt at 662-325-2973 or

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

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

New MSU Sunday brunch at The Fresh Food Co. open to public

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 4:18pm

Contact: Sammy McDavid

30 p.m. beginning Aug. 23. (Photo by Russ Houston)STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State officials are announcing the launch of a weekend special to begin Aug. 23, and encouraging area residents to come to campus for Sunday dining.

The Fresh Food Co. brunch will be offered 10:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. each Sunday for $8 per person, plus tax.

“Our goal is to bring members of local communities back on campus for Sunday lunch,” said Ann Bailey, director of housing and residence life.

Patrons can select food choices from various stations – traditions, Mediterranean, sauté, chophouse, Mongolian barbecue, deli, bakery, and salad bar.

With an emphasis on cooked-to-order meals, the recently opened residential dining facility is located at 710 Bully Blvd.

“Since parking around Marketplace at Perry is limited, we chose The Fresh Food Co. for the brunch because of ample, close-by spaces for community members to park their vehicles and have easy access,” Bailey added.

The 29,000-square-foot Fresh Food building replaced the university’s longtime intramural tennis courts, which now are located at the RecPlex on Stone Boulevard.

Operated by the national Aramark Corp., MSU Dining Services has a number of other serving locations around campus. For complete information, visit

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

MSU designated Purple Heart University in honor of military services

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 3:29pm
Mississippi State University has been designated by the Military Order of the Purple Heart as a “Purple Heart University” for outstanding service to military veterans, service members, dependents and survivors. (Photo by Megan Bean)

Contact: Allison Matthews

Mississippi State University has been designated by the Military Order of the Purple Heart as a “Purple Heart University” for outstanding service to military veterans, service members, dependents and survivors. (Photo by Megan Bean)STARKVILLE, Miss.—The Military Order of the Purple Heart has designated Mississippi State University as a “Purple Heart University” for outstanding service to military veterans, service members, dependents and survivors.

Veterans who themselves have received the Purple Heart – awarded to those who have been wounded in combat – were instrumental in nominating MSU for the distinguished recognition because of its ongoing dedication to helping student veterans. Official presentation of the proclamation will take place Nov. 14 at halftime during the Mississippi State vs. Alabama football game. The game also will feature a halftime show in honor of veterans.

Bill Henry of Starkville was among the members of Chapter No. 677 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart who contributed to the nomination process. A 1966 MSU accounting graduate, Henry served as a member of the Marine Corps., and was wounded in Vietnam in April 1968. After receiving the Purple Heart, he returned to MSU as a staff member until his 1995 retirement as the assistant to the director of the MSU Extension Service.

Henry said that to see his university designated with the single-most honored military award is a satisfying realization.

“It’s just quite an unbelievable thing to have a university that cares enough about veterans to be deemed by the Military Order of the Purple Heart as so supportive of veterans’ issues to be honored in this way,” Henry said. He explained that the university-level designation is a relatively young program to recognize universities that “go out of their way to help veterans.”

Henry said MSU President Mark E. Keenum “is probably one of the most supportive people anywhere on veterans’ issues.”

Dennis “Denny” Daniels Jr., another MSU alumnus and Purple Heart recipient, said Mississippi State was a natural selection for the Purple Heart University designation because of the long history of military support and great variety of services provided for veterans.

“When I sent the list of what the university does, it really wowed the national association,” Daniels said.

“To me it’s very important because it’s the national Military Order of the Purple Heart recognizing Mississippi State for efforts in supporting veterans, service members, and dependents. It recognizes that MSU is one of the top veteran or military-friendly universities in the nation,” he added.

Daniels joined the National Guard in 1991 after completing his first semester at MSU. He said the military helped him “get on track.” He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in general studies with a certificate in criminal justice in 1996. He worked as a sheriff’s deputy and police officer as he continued to serve part-time in the National Guard.

In 2001, his unit was mobilized and went to Bosnia for six months. About three years later, he went to Iraq. It was there, on April 2, 2005, that a vehicle exploded just a few feet from the armored vehicle carrying Daniels and three fellow soldiers. Moments later, another vehicle came toward the group and also detonated. Amazingly, all four soldiers survived, but with serious injuries that would impact them forever.

Daniels later underwent 18 months of evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, before receiving a medical retirement. Unable to return to the law enforcement capacities he held before, he instead returned to MSU, and again graduated in 2011, this time with a master’s in public policy and administration. He said the VA’s vocational rehabilitation program helped make his continued studies possible.

“The Veteran’s Center on campus did an outstanding job of helping me reintegrate to student life and helped guide me through university registration and other activities,” Daniels said. “They were able to remove a lot of the stress so that I could focus on my studies.”

Retired Army Colonel Kenneth D. “Ken” McRae, who directs MSU’s G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans, said anytime the university is recognized by a veterans’ organization, it is an honor. Being recognized by the Military Order of the Purple Heart is especially significant, he said.

“They’re the cream of the crop because these soldiers have seen combat and been wounded. To be recognized by them as serving veterans in an exemplary way means a lot, not only to the veterans and service members and dependents on campus, but it also sets us apart from a lot of other colleges and universities,” McRae said.

About 450 veterans and service members are students at MSU, and the veteran community, which includes dependents, comprises more than 2,100 students on campus.

A premier veterans’ center is currently under construction at the MSU campus and set to open in 2016. The building will include 7,500 square-feet and feature administrative offices, a meeting area and student-support spaces, including a computer lab, study rooms and a “day room,” McRae said.

“The G.V. ‘Sonny’ Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans is the most comprehensive veterans’ center in the nation. We not only take care of our veterans when it comes to VA certifications for educational benefits and DOD tuition assistance, we also are the first university in the nation to have select VA medical services on campus,” McRae said. He explained that those services are performed by MSU professionals and include physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and expanded mental health services.  

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

Shades of Starkville rescheduled for Aug. 24

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 12:33pm
Shades of Starkville 2015

The Center for Student Activities at Mississippi State has rescheduled Shades of Starkville for Aug. 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Drill Field.

Students are invited to visit booths and displays from a variety of student organizations, campus services and more than 50 local businesses for information, samples, coupons and other free promotional items during next week's event.

MSU, Argonne sign MOU for joint energy research

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 11:34am
Mississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum (from left) and Argonne National Laboratory Director Peter Littlewood signed a memorandum of understanding on Thursday [Aug. 13] which will create a research partnership between the two institutions. (Photo by Megan Bean)

Contact: Zack Plair

Mississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum (from left) and Argonne National Laboratory Director Peter Littlewood signed a memorandum of understanding on Thursday [Aug. 13] which will create a research partnership between the two institutions. (Photo by Megan Bean)STARKVILLE, Miss.—A new partnership between Mississippi State University and Argonne National Laboratory has made the university home to a major regional joint research initiative.

On Thursday [Aug. 13], MSU President Mark E. Keenum and Peter Littlewood, director of the Illinois-based Argonne National Laboratories, signed a memorandum of understanding which will create a research partnership between the two institutions.

The ceremony also was part of a daylong Joint Center for Energy Research (JCESR) symposium in the Mill at MSU Conference Center that brought researchers, energy business leaders and MSU faculty and staff together to discuss the future of energy storage. MSU was the host for the Southeast regional hub for JCESR.

David Shaw, MSU vice president for research and economic development, said the MOU would essentially combine Argonne’s lab resources, computing and analytics with the scientific expertise of MSU’s faculty and students to “accomplish things neither MSU nor Argonne could do alone.”

Specifically, he said the two entities would work together on developing longer lasting, more cost-effective batteries for utility use, as well as explore ways to develop alternative energy sources like solar and wind.

Further, he hopes MSU’s Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems and its meteorology department, respectively, can work with Argonne’s automotive center and weather modeling division on research initiatives.

“This is not as much about a financial commitment as it is about building a scientific partnership,” Shaw said. “This is a broad, wholesome agreement ranging way beyond energy storage.”

Littlewood said the MOU fits well with Argonne’s legacy of working with businesses, universities and other research labs toward promoting “safe, reliable and sustainable energy resources.” He said Argonne chose to bring its regional JCESR center to MSU because of the university’s science, engineering and technical capabilities.

“I look forward to this partnership,” Littlewood said. “Together, we have the potential to transform the utility and transportation markets.”

The MOU ceremony on Thursday also paid homage to, and brought full circle, efforts by the late U.S. Representative Alan Nunnelee to strengthen research opportunities in the state.

A member of both the Energy and Appropriations committees, Mississippi’s 1st district congressman brought national laboratories from all over the country to Mississippi in 2012 in an effort to inspire the state’s higher education institutions to partner with them, Shaw said.

Nunnelee, who passed away in February, wasn’t able to see the fruits of his labor, but his wife, Tori, and daughter, Emily, were on hand for the luncheon and MOU signing. Newly-elected 1st District Congressman Trent Kelly delivered the keynote address, in which he called Nunnelee a “solution-driven” leader with a passion for research and collaboration.

“We’re doing things now we never even dreamed were possible when our nation was founded,” Kelly said. “That’s because people came together, not worried about who got the credit, but worried about making our nation a better place to live.”

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

MSU graduate teaching assistants conclude weeklong workshop

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 9:42am
MSU President Mark E. Keenum speaks to nearly 300 new graduate teaching assistants during a training workshop in preparation for their formal GTA certification. (Photo by Keats Haupt)

Contact: Georgia Clarke

MSU President Mark E. Keenum speaks to nearly 300 new graduate teaching assistants during a training workshop in preparation for their formal GTA certification. (Photo by Keats Haupt)STARKVILLE, Miss.—Nearly 300 new graduate teaching assistants at Mississippi State are participating in a workshop to enhance class preparation skills while introducing them to the many university policies and procedures.

GTAs closely assist faculty and staff members with grading, attendance monitoring and other course responsibilities, but also are called on to handle lectures and related duties as necessary.

Concluding Friday [Aug. 14], the weeklong program of lectures and other learning activities leads to their formal certification.  

President Mark E. Keenum headed a list of speakers during the week that included, among others, Lori Bruce and Thomas Bourgeois, respective deans of the graduate school and students. Participants also heard from various faculty and staff members, as well as experts in a variety of education-related specialties.

In his presentation, Keenum stressed the importance of the GTAs’ role in learning experiences of undergraduate students.

“We are a very research-oriented university, but we also are a very student-oriented university, and that is where you come in,” Keenum said, adding that the land-grant institution is “very proud you have chosen to continue your education at Mississippi State.”

Sessions on classroom material, communication and culture were supplemented with a panel discussion led by current GTAs who shared their experiences and advice with the new campus family members.

The entire Friday session will be devoted to individual evaluations of this year’s group conducted by 70 volunteer faculty members.

To learn more about MSU’s graduate programs, visit

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

MSU hosts President’s Summit on Community Engagement

Thu, 08/13/2015 - 1:44pm

Contact: Zack Plair

Blake Wilson, president of the Mississippi Economic Council, spoke to representatives of nonprofits from all over the state Wednesday [August 12] during the 2015 President’s Summit on Community Engagement. (Photo by Sarah Tewolde)STARKVILLE, Miss.—It makes all the difference when people take the road less traveled.

That concept, borrowed from a well-known quote by renowned poet Robert Frost, fueled the message Mississippi Economic Council President Blake Wilson had for non-profit representatives gathered in the Colvard Student Union’s Foster Ballroom at Mississippi State on Wednesday [Aug. 12].

As keynote speaker for the 2015 President’s Summit on Community Engagement, Wilson aimed to inspire the more than 120 participants to focus on ways to have a greater impact on more people while staying focused on their main mission. That’s not always easy, he said, as the “road less traveled” might require removing some obstacles along the way.

Oftentimes, he said, non-profits have to learn how to properly identify and partner with their resources before they can truly find success. That sometimes means, he added, those groups must look to members of other organizations to broaden their support base – even if traditionally those organizations might have considered each other “competitors.”

“Remember: joiners join, givers give and volunteers volunteer,” he said. “You have to commiserate, facilitate and collaborate. Because when you work together, great things happen. Collaboration is messy, it’s frustrating, but it’s indispensable.”

The community engagement summit was a partnership in itself, with MSU and the Mississippi University for Women joining Jackson-based Volunteer Mississippi’s Engage Mississippi program. Its goal was to connect campus resources, community organizations, businesses, funders, civic groups and volunteers.

MSU President Mark E. Keenum, along with Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, welcomed attendees with opening remarks Wednesday morning, and MUW President Jim Borsig introduced Wilson’s luncheon program.

Participants – which included representatives from organizations such as Volunteer Starkville, Habitat for Humanity and United Way – attended breakout sessions throughout the morning aimed at enriching overall community engagement, and Wilson hosted a community panel discussion in the afternoon.

David Mallery, executive director for Volunteer Mississippi and an MSU alumnus, said the program’s first community engagement summit “exceeded expectations” with registration meeting capacity. He added that participants came from all over Mississippi, and some had already approached him about hosting similar events in other Mississippi regions.

“It’s great to come to a community where we know everyone is so supportive of this,” he said.

Wilson came to MEC in 1998 when he said the organization had roughly 1,000 members. Today, he said it has 11,000. That is partly because he said MEC identified and collaborated with its resources, and it promoted diversity – in gender, race and other areas – when it cast its “wide net” for support and leadership, Wilson said.

In addition to those steps, he advised participants to be committed to their organization’s mission wholeheartedly and see it through. He urged organization leaders not just to strive to exist, but to “make a meaningful difference.”

“You commit to something that is real and meaningful that you can sell and inspire others to follow,” he said.

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

MSU Writing Center opens for fall semester Aug. 24

Wed, 08/12/2015 - 4:25pm
The Mississippi State University Writing Center will open for the new semester Aug. 24, and hours for the fall are posted at The center offers 30- and 60-minute consultations as well as walk-in appointments, free of charge, to all MSU writers.    The Writing Center is staffed by a network of writing consultants that includes undergraduate and graduate students trained in writing center theory, practice, and research as well as faculty. They are prepared to work with writers on a variety of genres, including creative pieces and assignments for class as well as professional documents and materials, like resumes, cover letters, scholarship essays and CVs.    They are also prepared to work with writers during any stage of their writing processes -- to brainstorm, develop, revise, and edit. They spend the most time working with writers to develop and support ideas in response to particular rhetorical situations, like a class assignment or a job advertisement, to summarize and synthesize research findings, to discover and better understand the conventions of writing within their disciplines or fields, including understanding style guides, and to address audiences appropriately.    It is a good idea to think of the center as a place to work on writing, rather than as a finishing service. Writers should plan to spend time drafting and revising after a Writing Center visit.    The center does not edit writing. However, writers can work with a tutor to become better self-editors -- writers who are aware of the kinds of mistakes they often make in their writing, how those mistakes impact readers, how to identify those mistakes, and different options for revision.    Writers can register and sign up for an appointment online at

MSU Spirit Groups receive multiple honors at Alabama camp

Wed, 08/12/2015 - 2:34pm

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

MSU cheerleaders perform during a pre-game pep rally in Starkville’s Cotton District. (Photo by Megan Bean)STARKVILLE, Miss.—Student spirit groups at Mississippi State soon will begin their 2015-16 season of athletic activities after having collected a number of top honors in summer competition.

The university’s all girls cheerleader squad took first-place awards in both overall and sideline categories, third-place in cheer and fifth in fight song. Also:

—The combined women and men’s group finished in third place overall, as well as second in both cheer and fight song; and

—Pom-squad members earned a sixth-place finish in dance, along with this year’s Superior Trophy.

They were among more than 1,600 participants in the recent weeklong Universal Cheerleaders Association/Universal Dance Association’s College Spirit Camp held at University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. The annual instructional program drew more than 1,200 cheerleaders, 390 dancers and 45 mascots from higher education institutions in 11 states stretching from Nevada to Florida and Louisiana to Pennsylvania.

“It’s great to watch the teams work together to learn gameday skills and encourage each other to do their best,” said MSU Spirit Groups coordinator Melissa Nichols, while adding that the camp also is “a great opportunity for our squad members to visit old friends from other schools and make new friends that they will see throughout the year from across the field.”

Having the opportunity to bond as a team while learning traditional band cheers and stunts has better prepared squads to represent the university during upcoming football and basketball seasons, Nichols said.

“Placing in the gameday competition is a great accomplishment for our cheer squad, as is our pom squad placing in the camp dance competition,” she added.

In addition to MSU and Alabama, regional schools represented included Florida State, Louisiana State and Morehead State universities, along with the universities of Central Florida, Florida, Mississippi and South Florida.

According to UCA organizers, the training seeks to “transform young people into dynamic spirit leaders and help them develop strong leadership skills for life” by promoting “confidence, enthusiasm, responsibility, and motivation” as well as “the rich tradition of cheerleading and fresh spirit building ideas.” For more information, visit

Nichols and skills coach John Sommer accompanied the squads to Tuscaloosa. The staff also includes dance assistant LaCiana McIntyre.

Learn more about MSU Spirit Groups by visiting Also, follow the groups on,, and Nichols may be contacted at 662-325-0350 or

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

Zeng represents MSU at Beijing student exchange conference

Wed, 08/12/2015 - 2:24pm

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

Feifei Zeng (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss. — A senior marketing and foreign language double-major at Mississippi State is among 12 rising U.S. college students participating August 11-20 in one of China’s most influential student-run exchange programs.

Feifei Zeng, an international student majoring in international business, supply chain management and Spanish, will join other delegates selected for the Initiating Mutual Understanding through Student Exchange (IMUSE) conference in Beijing.

In addition to MSU, institutions that will be represented include Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Cambridge, University of California-Berkeley, University of California-Los Angeles, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Connecticut, Macalester College, and New York University Shanghai.

Founded in 2008 by Harvard, Peking and Tsinghua universities, IMUSE is a non-profit organization that brings together promising university students from the U.S. and China to facilitate mutual curiosity, respect and understanding through cross-cultural communication and friendship.

Challenging and inspiring the delegates to widen their cultural perspective through innovative collaboration, critical thinking, leadership and social responsibility is among IMUSE’s primary missions.

Past conference experiences have included, among many others, tours of Hong Kong’s top universities and the U.S. Embassy, visits to a migrant children’s school and Beijing’s famed 798 Art District and oldest teahouse, public welfare discussions with Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility activitists, and academic lectures featuring professors from Peking and Tsinghua universities.

In addition to her studies, Zeng serves as an MSU Foundation Ambassador and member of the Montgomery Leadership Program and is a member of the Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College Honors Council’s recruitment committee. Additionally, she has volunteered at the university’s Child Development and Family Studies Center and works in the College of Arts and Sciences dean’s office.

Prior to coming to the U.S., Zeng lived for seven years in Italy. She returned this summer to complete a six-week study abroad program at Cornell University in Turin. She also holds an associate of arts degree in business administration from Carl Albert State College in Poteau, Oklahoma.

Zeng said she looks forward to returning to her home country for the first time since 2009. She is excited to see what has changed since her last visit and anticipates interacting with individuals from different backgrounds and learning about different societies and customs during the IMUSE conference.

“I am always seeking opportunities to meet likeminded scholars who are equally interested in understanding different cultures, and IMUSE offers the perfect platform for me to do that,” Zeng said.

“Being part of the IMUSE program will widen my cultural perspective while equipping me with the skills to enact positive change in our world. I believe in IMUSE’s extraordinary purpose and am confident that I can bring a fresh voice to the discussion,” she added.

Zeng’s participation in the Project IMUSE conference is supported by MSU’s Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President, College of Business and International Institute.

For more information about Project IMUSE, visit, and

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

Mississippi State vet students help military dogs

Wed, 08/12/2015 - 2:15pm

Contact: Karen Templeton

Maci, a retired military dog, enjoys walking on the aquatic treadmill as part of physical therapy he receives at Mississippi State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Photo by Tom ThompsonSTARKVILLE, Miss.—When the retired war hero arrives for his physical rehabilitation session at the Mississippi State’s College of Veterinary Medicine, he typically draws an audience as he enjoys some welcoming treats.

Dog treats, that is.

A large, handsome German shepherd, Maci served as a military working dog for almost six years, including three tours in Afghanistan and one in Oman with his handler, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Karl Stefanowicz. During active service, he was credited with multiple explosive finds.

Maci now resides at Columbus Air Force Base with Stefanowicz and his wife. Like many former military dogs, he suffers from joint and muscle issues.

“I was really interested in prolonging Maci’s life and most importantly, making it as comfortable as it could be,” Stefanowicz said. A conversation he had last fall with Army Capt. Teri Vaughn led him to MSU and its veterinary students.

Dr. Vaughn, a Starkville native and MSU alumna, is a CVM graduate now serving as veterinary officer-in-charge at the Huntsville, Alabama-based Redstone Arsenal. CAFB is part of her area of responsibility.

Second-year CVM student Courtney M. Griffin of Starkville said she and other Class of 2018 members were interested in taking on a project. As class secretary and treasurer, she was familiar with charitable programs that support currently deployed military working dogs and their handlers, but was unaware of any with an emphasis on canine veterans.

After consulting with Vaughn, the MSU Vets for Vets organization was formed to, in part, raise money needed to cover expenses for the dogs’ treatments.

“Our class wanted to do something for our community and to improve animal health in some way,” Griffin said. “Vets for Vets is about taking care of our four-legged heroes.”

Like Maci, most former service dogs with degenerative joint issues can benefit from regular physical therapy. At MSU’s veterinary college, treatment and rehabilitation involve a team approach.

Dr. Christine Bryan, assistant clinical professor and another MSU-CVM alumna, first conducts a thorough in-take exam, then works with veterinary technician Ruby Lynn Carter to begin the dogs’ rehabilitation regimen.

In addition to observing the process as part of their academic training, the MSU veterinary students help with some of the treatments, including laser therapy.

“Our goal is to get the dogs feeling better and improve their quality of life,” Griffin said. “The bonus is that we can learn about rehab through observing and assisting Ruby Lynn.”

Treatment options include work on an aquatic treadmill and spending time in an Endless Pool.

According to Stefanowicz, the results are obvious, adding that “Maci is like a puppy again since starting the treatment.

“I can see that he is better at managing his hip issues and he’s become more social and outgoing,” he continued. “It’s great to get him out and watch him interact with people.”

Stefanowicz also said Maci has become an ambassador for the university and its 41-year-old veterinary college.

“He’s got a team at MSU taking care of him,” he said. “He’s even had meet-and-greets with the mascot, Bully. He’s kind of like our base’s connection to the college.”

Because of alumna Vaughn, CAFB Tech. Sgt. Dustin Weeks also has a dog in the program.

Iva, also a German shepherd, is a veteran of two tours in Afghanistan and one each in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. After many duty walks over difficult terrain, combined with the normal aging process, she now has arthritis in the hips.

Since Vaughn introduced Weeks to the Vets for Vets program, Iva has been a regular patient.

“This is absolutely a great program,” Weeks said. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my work with canines. I’m glad we have access to it and I hope that it can grow so others in the area, and even the nation can benefit.”

In addition to fund-raising activities and treatment assistance, Griffin said she and her classmates spend considerable time working to increase awareness about the program and solicit additional clients.

“The best part of all of this is giving back to these dogs,” Griffin said. “They have done something so brave and kind for us as part of our military, that the least we can do is make their lives more comfortable.”

For more about enrolling a dog in the retired military dog treatment program or to make a donation to the program, contact Karen Templeton at 662-325-1100 or   

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

MSU develops fuel-saving system for armored vehicles

Wed, 08/12/2015 - 1:28pm
An MSU research team recently developed an idle-reduction system for vehicles made by Holly Springs-based CITE Armored that allows the heating and air conditioning to operate without using the engine when in park.  Photo submitted/ Zach Rowland, CAVS

Contact: Zack Plair

Photo submitted/ Zach Rowland, CAVS" class="img-container" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 334px;">STARKVILLE, Miss.—A North Mississippi-based armored vehicle company will soon manufacture a more fuel-efficient product because of improvements developed by a major Mississippi State research organization.

At the university’s Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems, a team of faculty and research staff members, along with graduate and undergraduate students, recently spent nearly a year developing an idle-reduction system for CITE Armored of Holly Springs. Specifically, they came up with changes that reduce fuel consumption of the company’s cash-in-transit vehicles.

The “idle off” system developed by the MSU team should improve a vehicle’s fuel efficiency by about 20 percent.

The MSU team delivered two working prototypes to the company for field testing last December, along with system blueprints for full-scale production.

CAVS Extension, an MSU unit focused on industrial projects, partnered with the CAVS research team on the CITE project. Director Clay Walden said the CITE project’s success embodied what CAVS Extension is meant to accomplish.

“This is a really excellent project, and it demonstrates how we can help Mississippi companies compete successfully using new technology and advanced resources,” Walden said.

Armored vehicles made by CITE are used to pick up and deliver cash for financial institutions. The driver—who must remain inside with the engine running—and a carrier make frequent stops that may last anywhere from five to 15 minutes. A constantly idling engine is necessary to maintain warm or cold air flow required for cabin comfort.

Matthew Doude, a CAVS research associate, said the team was asked to develop an electronic system that automatically turned off the engine when the driver shifted into park—but that kept the heating or air conditioning running.

“The idea itself (of heating or cooling a vehicle without using the engine) maybe isn’t revolutionary, but the way we did it is pretty unique,” Doude explained. “There are after-market bolt-on air conditioners you can get that would probably serve a similar purpose, but we integrated our system with the vehicle’s existing heating and air conditioning so that everything happens automatically for the driver.”

While the new system costs a little more on the front-end, Doude said long-term fuel savings should more than pay for the technology over the life of each equipped vehicle.

Ken Russell, CITE’s senior vice president of plant operations, complimented the CAVS team for its work and the product it developed.

“It is our goal to be the industry leader in technology as applied to cash-in-transit armored vehicles,” Russell said, “not only to provide customers integrated control systems, but also efficiently utilize their resources (fuel savings on the engine/idle system). CAVS provides unique, world class resources that effectively brings to fruition projects that we would not have in-house resources to accomplish.

“CAVS engineers, equipment and facility are a rare combination of research and hands-on skills directed at solving and creating innovative solutions. To have such a resource locally available in-state created a synergy between CAVS and CITE that would be almost impossible to replicate,” Russell said.

Doude said requests for CAVS consulting by private companies like CITE, especially on powertrain engineering research, are increasing. Even those situated much closer to the Michigan automotive industry have come to MSU for research and expertise, he added.

With an international automotive industry changing so dynamically and rapidly in recent years, Doude predicted that CAVS will be ideally positioned to make an ever-growing impact on vehicle technology.

“I think the last five years have been the most transformative in the automotive industry since the invention of the car,” he said. “I don’t see that slowing down at all over the next 10 years. It’s an exciting time to be in the automotive field.”

For more about CAVS, visit

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

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