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Prior to weekend football game, MSU dedicating new Union Plaza

MSU News - Fri, 09/18/2015 - 11:26am
Located between Colvard Student Union and McCool Hall, the new Union Plaza features seating and tables for dining, studying, visiting and other social activities. (Photo by Megan Bean)

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

Located between Colvard Student Union and McCool Hall, the new Union Plaza features seating and tables for dining, studying, visiting and other social activities. (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State officials are inviting members of the campus and surrounding communities, along with visiting alumni and friends of the university, to attend Saturday’s [Sept. 19] dedication of the new Union Plaza.

The 11 a.m. program takes place outside the rear entrance of Colvard Student Union. Refreshments will be served.

The ceremony precedes MSU’s second 2015 home football game at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. The Bulldogs and Demons of Louisiana’s Northwestern State University kick off at 3 p.m.

Located between Colvard Student Union and McCool Hall, the outdoor gathering area includes seating and tables for dining, studying, visiting and other social activities. Surrounding grounds also feature new landscaping.

In addition to President Mark E. Keenum, program speakers will include JoJo Dodd, current Student Association president; and Brett Harris and Chance Dye, last year’s SA president and treasurer, respectively.

Adjoining the historic Drill Field, the gathering place was made possible through support of MSU’s 2015 graduating class, along with members of the SA, Alumni Delegates, Interfraternity Council, Music Maker Productions, National Panhellenic Council and Residence Hall Association.

Support also was provided by Alpha Delta Pi, Chi Omega, Delta Gamma and Pi Beta Phi sororities, and Kappa Sigma and Lambda Chi Alpha fraternities.

For more information on the event, contact Ann Bailey, MSU director of housing and residence life, at 662-325-3555 or

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Rodeo ready to wow the crowd

Twisted Rodeo - Fri, 09/18/2015 - 11:17am

STEPHENVILLE, Texas – The people who organize Stephenville’s ProRodeo have a common theme they adhere to every year.

“We take pride in our town being the Cowboy Capital of the World,” said Chad Decker, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the Cowboy Capital of the World PRCA Rodeo. “If you wear that crown, you have to produce. I have a very good group of people on the committee that are more than willing to go the extra mile to be as successful as we can be.”

Chad Decker

Chad Decker

They will show it off during this year’s event, set for 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25, and Saturday, Sept. 26, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 27, at Lone Star Arena. It’s a fabulous way to close out the 2015 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association regular season.

“We have the largest population of rodeo cowboys per square foot in the world,” Decker said. “They’ve been on the road battling it out, and for them to come home from being on the road all year, they get to close out their year right in their own backyard.

“I think it’s something they enjoy, especially now that we’ve got our money up. I look at it as a homecoming for these guys.”

As one of the final events of the season, the Stephenville rodeo will be a major stop for many top cowboys and cowgirls, even those that don’t live in Erath County. It will feature the largest purse of any rodeo that weekend that is open to all contestants. That’s just one of many major attractions for the top players in the game.

“We have the best stock contractor in rodeo with Pete Carr,” Decker said of Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, a Dallas-based livestock firm that has been nominated as PRCA stock contractor of the year each of the past two seasons. “He has tremendous livestock, and it’s something all these guys want to compete on. That’s important.”

It’s also a crowd-pleaser for fans. They realize that a number of contestants will need to collect nice paydays in Stephenville if they want to advance to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the season-ending championship that features only the top 15 contestants in each event.

“That’s what makes my Sunday afternoon crowd so big,” Decker said. “With Stephenville being a rodeo town, we cater to most of our spectators, who are rodeo people. They understand what’s on the line. It makes it more interesting for the crowd, because they know what’s at stake for the guys.”

The crowd also wants to be entertained, which is a big part of all three performances inside Lone Star Arena. This year’s event will feature Boyd Polhamus, a three-time PRCA announcer of the year who has worked the NFR 18 times, and Troy “The Wild Child” Lerwill, who has been named the PRCA specialty act of the year six times.

The committee also will feature a special dedication each performance, starting with American Hero Night on Friday. The family of Chris Kyle is heavily involved in the planning, and one local recipient will be honored during the performance.

“We’re going to take $2 off every ticket sold at the gate and donate it to this person, and the rodeo will be matching every dollar,” Decker said. “The business of Stephenville will be chipping in what they can for gift cards to this recipient to make their life easier. It’s giving back. We’re going to take care of them.”

He has dubbed Saturday’s performance as “We’re going to get Western Night,” with the focus on Carr’s production and animal athletes. The evening will close with a concert from West Texas-based artist Jake Hooker.

In addition to the final performance closing out ProRodeo’s regular season on Sunday, the rodeo committee will be showcasing its primary mission, raising funds for its scholarship foundation.

“We’re in a unique area where Stephenville and Erath County are split between two regions in the Texas High School Rodeo Association,” Decker said. “Right before each of the PRCA events, we’re going to have a match between every winner of those events battling for a $1,000 scholarship in every event.

“We’re doing something that’s never been done before. Hopefully we’re setting the groundwork to be trailblazers for others to follow.”

It’s just what fans would expect in the Cowboy Capital of the World.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

MSU receives federal support for ‘RainWorks’ demonstration project

MSU News - Fri, 09/18/2015 - 10:59am
A $20,000 federal grant is enabling MSU to implement a green infrastructure demonstration project on campus. Construction already has begun on a 1,500 square-foot bioretention basin, or rain garden, in the landscape architecture department courtyard. (Photo by Megan Bean)

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

A $20,000 federal grant is enabling MSU to implement a green infrastructure demonstration project on campus. Construction already has begun on a 1,500 square-foot bioretention basin, or rain garden, in the landscape architecture department courtyard. (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—With a $20,000 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant, Mississippi State is creating a green infrastructure demonstration project.

A collaborative effort between faculty and students in the university’s landscape architecture, civil and environmental engineering, and art departments, the project involves construction of a 1,500 square-foot bioretention basin—rain garden—that will be the first of its kind on campus.

Cory Gallo said the rain garden is being located in the courtyard of the landscape architecture department where he is an associate professor.

The basin is being designed to treat at least 95 percent of the average, annual rainfall for the watershed it will manage. It also will be equipped with two educational kiosks to help visitors better appreciate the facility’s function and benefit to water quality, Gallo added.

Green infrastructures reduce the volume of stormwater discharges by managing rainwater close to where it falls and removing many of the pollutants present in runoff, making it an effective strategy for addressing wet-weather pollution and improving water quality, according to EPA officials.

A rendering of the campus demonstration project.

In addition to providing participating academic majors with valuable training and experience in the benefits of green infrastructure technologies, the project “hopefully will lead to the campus-wide adoption of green infrastructure technologies,” Gallo said.

“By educating current and future practitioners on green infrastructure technologies and their applicability to the South, this effort also will be a regional resource for policymakers to learn about and promote green infrastructure in their communities,” he emphasized.

The stormwater mitigation plan was conceived several years ago by a team of MSU landscape architecture, civil engineering and graphic design majors. Their efforts were recognized with a second-place award in the 2013 EPA Campus RainWorks Challenge. See

Throughout the current academic year, three original team members will continue working on the project, Gallo said. Student participation is essential since the rain garden primarily is being designed, built, maintained and monitored through classroom activities, he explained.

Gallo worked with assistant professors Gnaneswar Gude of the civil and environmental engineering department and Suzanne Powney of the art department to prepare and submit the grant proposal through the MSU-based Mississippi Water Resources Research Institute.

“Dr. Gude’s classes will learn about proper water quality sampling techniques while conducting water monitoring,” Gallo said. “Ms. Powney’s graphic design students will create interpretive signs for the facility that my students will design and construct.”

Gallo expressed appreciation for continuing support of the MSU facilities management department and Brian Templeton, a landscape architecture associate with the MSU Extension Service.

Visit for more about MSU’s landscape architecture major;, for more about College of Architecture, Art and Design majors; and for more about James Worth Bagley College of Engineering majors.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Protect the Financial Future of Your Loved Ones

Lifestyles - Fri, 09/18/2015 - 9:06am
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - NewsusaInfographic - In life, you work hard to take care of those you love. And when people depend on you, it's important to ensure financial support for the future. Whether you have a mortgage, childcare expenses or student loans, the cash benefits from life insurance policies can help provide financial stability for family members down the road. Read below for additional information about the ins and outs of life insurance. For more information, visit

See full-sized image here.

Quick Turnaround For MSU Women’s Golf

Bulldog Beat - Fri, 09/18/2015 - 8:00am
Norman, Okla. – With very little turnaround time from the season opener, the Mississippi State women's golf team turns its attention to the third annual Schooner Fall Classic in Norman, Oklahoma.

MSU Volleyball Heads To Memphis For The Tiger Invitational

Bulldog Beat - Thu, 09/17/2015 - 10:35pm
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Continuing on a four-week road trek, the Mississippi State volleyball Bulldogs (7-3) head north to Memphis, Tenn., for the Tiger Invitational, their final non-conference tournament of the season.

MSU’s Lee Selected To Play In Inaugural 2015 Oracle/ITA Masters

Bulldog Beat - Thu, 09/17/2015 - 7:48pm
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Just days after being ranked 23rd nationally in the preseason, Mississippi State women's tennis player Jasmine Lee was selected to participate in the 2015 Oracle/ITA Masters in Malibu, California. The elite national tournament, featuring just 16 of the nation's top players, will start Friday and end Sunday.

MSU Alumni Association announces 2015-16 student delegates, officers

MSU News - Thu, 09/17/2015 - 6:15pm
2015-16 MSU Alumni Delegates (Photo by Russ Houston)

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

2015-16 MSU Alumni Delegates (Photo by Russ Houston)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Forty-three Mississippi State students are 2015-16 members of the university alumni association’s liaison organization.

Founded in 1980, Alumni Delegates serve as key links between the 137-year-old land-grant institution and its more than 132,000 living graduates. Helping improve the student body’s understanding of the alumni association’s role and purpose also is among their major goals.

Over the decades, the volunteer group has assisted with organizational programs and activities, including football tailgate gatherings, class reunions, free in-state tuition drawings, and numerous other on- and off-campus events.

Members are selected each year through a highly competitive interview process. Consisting of 21 returning and 22 new members, this year’s group was chosen from among nearly 300 applicants.

The 2015-16 Alumni Delegates include (by hometown):

ABERDEEN—Daron K. Chandler, a senior mechanical engineering and mathematics double-major.

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama—Emily E. Dance, a senior electrical engineering major.

BRENTWOOD, Tennessee—Erica A. Sowell, a senior human sciences/human development and family studies major.

CANTON—Sanjaris D.M. Johnson, an educational psychology major; and Marshall G. Scruggs, a biological sciences major. Both are seniors.

CHELSEA, Alabama—Austin G. Grace, a senior computer science major.

CLINTON—Allyra C. Williams, a junior political science/pre-law major.   

COLLIERVILLE, Tennessee—Skylar S. Workman, a senior kinesiology/clinical exercise physiology major.

COLUMBUS—Nicholas H. “Nick” Brewer, a junior biochemistry/pre-medicine major; Tyrus R. Hill, a senior finance major; and Hagan D. Walker, a senior electrical engineering major.

CORINTH—Annaleigh E. Coleman, a senior biological engineering major serving as the group’s vice president of education.

CUMMING, Georgia—Emma C. Sweat, a senior marketing major.

CYPRESS, Texas—Abrianna N. Thompson, a junior pre-accounting major.

FLORA—Zavian S. J. Burns, a senior kinesiology/clinical exercise physiology major.

GULFPORT—Katherine M. Gargiulo, a junior political science/pre-law major.

HATTIESBURG—Robert O. “Rob” Hairston, a senior communication/public relations major serving as the organization’s president.

HOOVER, Alabama—Alex K. Ezelle, a kinesiology/sports administration graduate student and a May 2014 cum laude accounting graduate.

HOUSTON—Nolen Hood, a senior mechanical engineering major.

 JACKSON—Jonathan D. Lancaster, a business administration graduate student and May 2015 cum laude accounting graduate; and Bianca A. Tatum, a senior marketing major.

LAUREL—Leslie R. Howard, a senior psychology major.

MACON—Christian L. Good, a senior agribusiness/management major.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee—Alison N. Jones, a junior political science major.  

MERIDIAN—Jermario J. Gordon, a senior marketing major.

NEW ALBANY— Samuel J. “Josh” Creekmore, a senior history and business administration double-major serving as the group’s secretary; and Joseph D. “Joe” Male, a junior chemical engineering major.

PASCAGOULA—Katherine L. “Kaylie” Mitchell, a senior art/graphic design major serving as the organization’s vice president of public relations.

PELHAM, Alabama—Van K. Tong, a counselor education/student affairs graduate student. She is a May magna cum laude communication/journalism and pre-law graduate.

PETAL—Seth I. Rhodes, a senior biological engineering major.

PONTOTOC—Anna L. Chrestman, a senior secondary education major; and Edward M. “Eddie Mac” Huddleston, a May 2015 magna cum laude biochemistry/pre-medicine graduate now pursuing a second bachelor’s degree.

RICHTON—Taylor Thoms, a senior mechanical engineering major.

RIDGELAND—Elizabeth Shapley, a junior interior design major.

SLIDELL, Louisiana—Edward T. “Eddie” White, a junior chemical engineering major.

SOUTHAVEN—Thomas L. “Tommy” Allmon, a senior agricultural engineering technology and business major.

STARKVILLE—Dipa P. Patel, a junior biochemistry/pre-medicine major; and Teddy P. “Trey” Wallace, a sophomore computer engineering major.

TERRY—Taylor N. Wilkinson, a junior biological sciences/pre-dental major.

TUPELO—Benjamin T. “Ben” Coggin, a junior mechanical engineering major; and Mary Holliman Lanphere, a senior elementary education major.

VANCLEAVE—Matthew T. “Matt” Moseley and Jessica E. Sanders. Both are senior biological engineering majors.

For more information on the alumni association and its delegates organization, visit

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Special MSU program to feature New York art historian, curator

MSU News - Thu, 09/17/2015 - 4:49pm
Among works Banner will discuss during her Monday [Sept. 21] presentation is “A White Horse, 1635, Diego Velázquez, Palacio Real, Spain—Oil on Canvas.”

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

Among works Banner will discuss during her Monday [Sept. 21] presentation is “A White Horse, 1635, Diego Velázquez, Palacio Real, Spain—Oil on Canvas.”

STARKVILLE, Miss.—An internationally recognized New York art historian and curator speaks Monday [Sept. 21] at Mississippi State.

Lisa A. Banner’s presentation is titled “Diplomatic Packages: The Transmission of Italian disegno from Rubens to Velázquez.” Her university visit is sponsored by the College of Architecture, Art and Design’s art department.

Free to all, the 3 p.m. program takes place in Giles Hall’s Robert and Freda Harrison Auditorium.

In addition to serving as visiting associate professor at the Brooklyn-based Pratt Institute, Banner curates the family collection of Henry Ulke, a renowned 19th century artist and photographer. Dating from the 1700s to present day, the collection includes paintings, photographs, documents, manuscripts and memorabilia.

A portion of the Ulke Collection, including portraits and rare early photographs, is on exhibit at MSU through April 30, 2016. Titled “The President’s Face: Portraits of Ulysses S. Grant and Abraham Lincoln in Context,” the display is featured in the Grant Presidential Library, located in the first-floor Congressional and Political Research Center of Mitchell Memorial Library. Exhibit hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday. For more, see

Banner, who holds doctoral and master’s degrees from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, is an authority on Spanish drawings from the 16th century through the lifetime of artist Francisco De Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828).

Also a Princeton University graduate, she is the author of several books and exhibition catalogs, including “Spanish Drawings in the Princeton University Art Museum” (Yale University Press, 2012); “The Spanish Manner: Drawings from Ribera to Goya” (The Frick Collection/Scala, 2010); and “The Religious Patronage of the Duke of Lerma, 1598-1621” (Ashgate, 2009).

Banner has led programs at The Frick Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art and Morgan Library and Museum in New York, as well as London, England’s Courtauld Institute of Art and Southern Methodist University’s Meadows Museum in Dallas, Texas.

For more information about her program and campus visit, contact Angi Bourgeois, associate professor and interim art department head, at 662-325-2970 or

Learn more about the College of Architecture, Art and Design by calling 662-325-2202 or visiting, and

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

MSU on the Move recognizes Health Heroes

MSU News - Thu, 09/17/2015 - 12:29pm
MSU on the Move Health Heroes Michelle Gerhart and Annette Woods receive certificates from the kinesiology department.

Contact: Paige Watson

MSU on the Move Health Heroes Michelle Gerhart and Annette Woods receive certificates from the kinesiology department.

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Two current and one former Mississippi State staff members are being recognized for achievements at the university to encourage healthy lifestyles through regular exercise and healthy eating habits.

Michelle Gerhart, Janice McReynolds and Annette Woods recently received 2014-15 Health Hero awards from the MSU on the Move program for their hard work and dedication to overall health improvement on campus.

Gerhart is business manager in the athletic department, while Woods is a senior extension associate in the agricultural communications department. McReyolds retired in June as an administrative assistant in the forestry department. All are MSU alumna.

Supported by the Jackson-based Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, MSU on the Move involves a series of yearlong activities designed to give participants the skills to modify lifestyle habits and improve overall health.

In 2014, a second-year foundation grant supported a free comprehensive health and fitness program for the MSU community and beyond. In addition to measuring and monitoring participants’ progress as part of a pre- and post-program assessment, the $250,000 award enabled the College of Education’s kinesiology department to establish the Health Fitness and Wellness campaign, an extension of the existing MSU on the Move program.

“These standout participants are exemplary of the meaningful impact we hope to achieve with MSU on the Move,” said Megan Holmes, assistant professor of kinesiology.

For more information about program, visit or contact Holmes at

MSU, Mississippi’s leading university, is online at

Updated Stats: 26 Diamond Dawgs In Professional Baseball

Bulldog Beat - Thu, 09/17/2015 - 12:00pm
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Twenty-six former Mississippi State baseball players are currently in professional baseball, including four currently playing in Major League Baseball. Below are their updated stats following games that ended Wednesday, September 16, 2015. Please tweet any corrections to @HailStateBB.

"Relentless" MSU Football Episode III Now On Demand On

Bulldog Beat - Thu, 09/17/2015 - 11:55am
STARKVILLE, Miss. – The second episode of "Relentless," a new weekly show produced by Hail State Productions that chronicles the 2015 Mississippi State football season, is now available on demand on

President Keenum launches PowerTalks today

MSU News - Thu, 09/17/2015 - 9:54am

Today [Sept. 17], Mississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum is launching PowerTalks, a series of luncheon meetings designed to enhance communication and engagement with the campus community.

"People are telling me they want to know more about Mississippi State's overall direction and our plans for the future," Keenum said. "PowerTalks are formatted to encourage candid conversations and give participants an opportunity to ask questions and voice new ideas as well as to air concerns."

Keenum plans monthly PowerTalk meetings that include approximately 25 representatives from a cross-section of students, faculty and staff. Participants are selected from a group nominated by their departmental leadership. Nominees not immediately selected remain eligible for future luncheons.

During the first part of each meeting, a facilitator leads a discussion with participants focusing on concerns and compliments. Keenum then joins the group for lunch and responds to a summary of key topics. Meetings are held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

PowerTalks are part of a soon-to-be-launched branding initiative that highlights the many ways MSU is driven to make a difference.

"This is an exciting time in MSU’s history. We're experiencing unprecedented growth along with increasing recognition of our accomplishments as a leading research university," Keenum said. "Everyone here is contributing in some way to our success, and PowerTalks are an opportunity for me to directly engage with people who are making great things happen at Mississippi State."

SEC Network covering SEC Symposium next week

MSU News - Thu, 09/17/2015 - 1:00am

The Southeastern Conference on Wednesday [Sept. 16] announced that the SEC Network will provide coverage of the 2015 SEC Symposium, highlighted by a live SEC Network + stream of the student entrepreneurial pitch competition on Monday [Sept. 21].
Entitled Creativity, Innovation & Entrepreneurship: Driving a 21st Century Economy, the 2015 SEC Symposium is slated for Sept. 20-22 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. This academic conference-type event is designed to address a significant scholarly issue by utilizing the range of disciplinary strengths of the SEC’s 14 member universities.
“The SEC Network is providing coverage of the SEC Symposium for the second year in a row and it is particularly significant to have the entrepreneurial pitch competition available on the digital platform,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. “SEC fans are accustomed to watching sports competition on television and this is an opportunity for students to showcase their talents on the SEC Network in an academically focused competition.”
The SEC Symposium’s student entrepreneurial pitch competition will be streamed live as an SEC Network + event on WatchESPN and, available to SEC Network subscribers on smartphones, tablets and desktop applications as well as Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
The student entrepreneurial pitch competition includes teams from the SEC’s 14 universities presenting their innovative ideas to a panel of SEC alumni judges in two preliminary rounds. The top three teams will move on to the final round where they will present their plan to a different set of judges and all SEC Symposium attendees. The final round of the student entrepreneurial pitch competition will be streamed live on SEC Network + on Monday at approximately 4:15 p.m.
The SEC Symposium will also be featured on SEC Now, the SEC Network’s daily news show.
“The commitment from the SEC Network continues to raise the exposure of the SEC Symposium,” said Torie Johnson, executive director of SECU, the SEC’s academic initiative. “In committing time, talent and resources to covering this unique event, the SEC Network, along with the Conference’s leadership, is making a strong statement about the importance of telling the entire story of the Southeastern Conference and its institutions.”
In 2014, SEC Network + provided a live stream of the SEC Symposium keynote address from Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association.
For more information on the SEC Symposium, visit or

Center for Distance Education to host Lunch & Learn this month

MSU News - Wed, 09/16/2015 - 5:46pm

The Center for Distance Education at Mississippi State invites faculty and staff to the September Lunch & Learn series on Sept. 29 in Memorial Hall's Coskrey Auditorium. Lunch will be served at 11:45 a.m. with the program starting at noon.

Michael Busby will present "CDE Support Services," an overview of the services available to help you market your distance programs and reach prospective students.

RSVP by Sept. 24 to

If you require special assistance relating to a disability, please contact JoLee Clark at 662-325-0299.

MSU honors Professor Rose Sebba with Steinway Artist celebration

MSU News - Wed, 09/16/2015 - 3:12pm
	Rosângela Yazbec “Rose” Sebba, Mississippi State University music department professor of piano, theory and ear training, was honored Tuesday evening [Sept. 15] with a reception celebrating her prestigious Steinway Artist designation. A native of Brazil with more than 36 years of experience in piano performance, Sebba is among the select ranks of some 1,600 highly esteemed musicians from around the world who have chosen to play exclusively on pianos produced by internationally renowned piano manufacturer S

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

Rosângela Yazbec “Rose” Sebba, Mississippi State University music department professor of piano, theory and ear training, was honored Tuesday evening [Sept. 15] with a reception celebrating her prestigious Steinway Artist designation. A native of Brazil with more than 36 years of experience in piano performance, Sebba is among the select ranks of some 1,600 highly esteemed musicians from around the world who have chosen to play exclusively on pianos produced by internationally renowned piano manufacturer Steinway & Sons. Among those congratulating Sebba during the celebration were (l-r) Barry E. Kopetz, MSU professor and music department head; Richard Blackbourn, dean of education; President Mark E. Keenum; and Robert Klingbeil, director of institutional sales for Amro Music Stores Inc. in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Russ Houston)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A Mississippi State University faculty member with more than 36 years of experience in piano performance was honored Tuesday [Sept. 15] with a reception celebrating her prestigious Steinway Artist designation.

Rosângela Yazbec “Rose” Sebba, the music department’s professor of piano, theory and ear training, is among the select ranks of some 1,600 highly esteemed musicians from around the world who have chosen to play exclusively on pianos produced by internationally renowned piano manufacturer Steinway & Sons.

During the Tuesday evening program at The Mill at MSU, President Mark E. Keenum expressed pleasure in having the opportunity to “honor one of the most distinguished members of our Mississippi State University family.”

“For us to have one of very own, Dr. Rose Sebba, recognized as a Steinway Artist exemplifies the quality that we are achieving and going to achieve at Mississippi State,” Keenum said.

Others featured on the prestigious Steinway Artist roster include classical pianist Lang Lang, jazz stars Diane Krall and Harry Connick Jr., pop icon Billy Joel, and legends Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Vladimir Horowitz and Arthur Rubinstein.

Last spring, MSU formally announced its commitment to make the university’s music department an All-Steinway School with the acquisition of a baby-grand and four vertical Steinway pianos. With the All-Steinway School designation, MSU would join a select group of more than 160 institutions of higher learning and conservatories around the world and become the only Mississippi school holding the prestigious honor.

Alumni and friends of the university may assist with gifts toward the All-Steinway Initiative, To contribute, contact Trish Cunetto at 662-325-6762 or

“We are working hard to become an All-Steinway School, and in working at the university level with our Foundation and with our leaders in Jackson and the legislature, I am very confident that we’ll have a new music department building for all of our faculty and students to enjoy,” Keenum added.

Others sharing words of praise for Sebba during the celebration included:

—Richard Blackbourn, MSU dean of the College of Education, who described Sebba as an accomplished pianist and a great person. “Rose has God-given talent, but she has worked hard to perfect her craft. She loves her students and colleagues and is a true team player, and she is the kind of role model we need for all of our faculty at Mississippi State,” he said.   

—Barry E. Kopetz, MSU professor and music department head, echoed those sentiments, adding, “Dedication, character, integrity, and nothing short of accepting perfection—Rose has all of these traits, yet she is humble about being a recipient of this fine award.”

—Robert Klingbeil, director of institutional sales at Amro Music Stores Inc. in Memphis, Tennessee, said after meeting Sebba three years ago, “It didn’t take long for me to recognize her as being a sweet, genuine and exceptionally talented person. It also didn’t take long for me to see her enthusiasm for her students and doing what is best for her department at Mississippi State. Rose’s passion for Steinway pianos is nothing short of infectious.”

A self-proclaimed Bulldog, Sebba said her goal always is “to do what is best for my students and faculty friends.”

“In our department, we are family, and above all, we help each other, so we can help improve the lives of our students. I really want Mississippi State to be an All-Steinway School, and I’m sure that will happen,” she emphasized.  

In addition to a certificate officially distinguishing her as a Steinway Artist, Klingbeil presented Sebba with two framed pieces. One was an image depicting a grand piano on which Sebba’s name and those of other Steinway Artists are listed; the other was a portrait taken of Sebba.

Musical entertainment for the program was provided by Sebba and her fellow colleagues and students. They included professor Jackie Edwards-Henry, on piano; junior civil engineering major and music minor Gabrielle Tran of Pass Christian, piano; senior computer science and music double-major Candace B. Moreau of Florence, South Carolina, piano; junior music and foreign language/Spanish major Sarah E. Jenkins of Brandon, piano; senior music education major Tyler J. Stallings of Pontotoc, alto saxophone; lecturer Jeanette Fontaine, voice; instructor Karen Murphy, piano; magna cum laude music graduate Trent Smith of Noxapater, piano; assistant professor Anthony Kirkland, trumpet; and instructor Sheri Falcone, alto saxophone.

Founder and coordinator of the MSU piano pre-college program and retreat, Sebba currently serves as the Mississippi Music Teachers Association’s vice president for collegiate and national competitions. She also is featured on the Mississippi Arts Commission’s Artist Roster, and has given recitals, master classes and lectures in the United States, Mexico, Portugal, Costa Rica, England, Spain and her native Brazil.

This past summer, Sebba served as an examiner for the Taiwan-based International Piano Performance Examination Committee ( The six-week, all-expenses-paid trip to nine cities afforded her the opportunity to speak with more than 100 private piano teachers, as well as instruct more than 1,300 students on technique, style, literature, music history and theory.

Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music, MSU’s music department offers a bachelor’s degree in four areas of music education, as well as a bachelor of arts in music. Learn more at, and

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Service planned for former student affairs VP Robert L. Jones

MSU News - Wed, 09/16/2015 - 2:23pm

Robert L. Jones

A celebration of life service for former Mississippi State Vice President for Student Affairs Robert L. Jones will be held at 3 p.m. on Oct. 3 at Stewart Family Funeral Home in Tyler, Texas.

Jones, 87, died on Sept. 10 at Hospice of East Texas. A native of Russellville, Arkansas, he graduated from Arkansas Tech University in 1950, and then pursued a master’s degree from the University of Arkansas. He completed his Ph.D at Arkansas in 1966. He served with the Seventh Division Artillery during the Korean War, and was awarded the Bronze Star.

Jones began two decades of service at Mississippi State University in 1967, where he was hired as the first vice president for student affairs and charged with initiating and implementing a modern, professional organization to meet the needs of a rapidly changing and growing student body.

Jones brought a level of professionalism and national networking to MSU, including mentoring of young staff, establishing trained residence hall head residents, a student counseling and career/placement center, collaboration with freshman academic departments, aggressive student recruitment programs, student leadership training programs, freshmen, parent orientation programs and intramural programs.

Jones was challenged immediately to defuse and redirect student activities in the midst of society’s upheavals. Some of the volatile themes included the Civil Rights Movement, the Jackson State and Kent State tragedies, the John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinations, the Vietnam War protests, and the Women’s Liberation activities, including Title IX implementation.

In April 2013, a new Hall of Honor at Mississippi State paid tribute to Jones and his colleagues who provided sustained and distinguished service at MSU. (See more at

After leaving MSU, Jones served at the University of Texas at Tyler as vice president for administration and as chief student affairs officer from 1984-1994. He resumed full-time graduate teaching in 1994 as professor in higher education leadership at UT-Tyler. He retired in 2000 as professor emeritus.

This past summer, the East Texas Chapter of Mississippi State University Alumni Association announced the naming of the chapter’s scholarships in honor of Dr. Robert L. Jones.

Survivors include his wife, Shirley M. Jones; four children, Sarah Jones Kersch Peterson and husband Brian, Robert Bradford Jones and wife Ronni, Melinda Maxwell Connolly and husband Doug, and Randall E. Maxwell; one brother, Ralph N. Jones and wife Hazel; 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. He was the father of the late Susan Jones Zachery Swink, and the brother of the late Shirley Jones Townsend.

MSU study reveals positive outcomes of pre-K experiences

MSU News - Wed, 09/16/2015 - 2:08pm
A new study reveals the important role that pre-K experiences have upon children’s future academic achievements. (Photo by Megan Bean)

Contact: Laure Bell

A new study reveals the important role that pre-K experiences have upon children’s future academic achievements. (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE—Mississippi students attending pre-kindergarten programs are more likely to succeed in the K-12 environment than their peers who enter the system without a pre-K experience, researchers at Mississippi State University have found.

For the first time, using student-level data from the Mississippi Department of Education, the study tracks the influence of pre-K experiences on third grade reading achievement in Mississippi. Researchers also examined two additional key markers of success -- the impact of third grade reading on eighth grade reading proficiency, as well as the impact of eighth grade reading on graduation.

Key findings of the study include:

--Mississippi children who attended pre-K (Title I and/or locally-funded programs) were 1.5 times more likely to be proficient in 3rd grade reading,

--Mississippi children who were proficient readers in 3rd grade are 9 times more likely to be proficient readers in 8th grade, and

--Mississippi children who were proficient readers in 8th grade are 3.5 times more likely to graduate on time.

“While Mississippi has relied upon research from across the country regarding the important role that early investments in pre-K have upon children’s future academic achievements, we now have, for the first time, a study that demonstrates that investing early is making a positive difference in children’s academic attainment in Mississippi,” said Linda Southward, coordinator of the Family and Children Research Unit at MSU’s Social Science Research Center.

The research team utilized a retrospective methodology so that analyses could be made on the same cohort of students comparing their 8th grade reading scores to their 3rd grade reading scores. MCT2 language arts test scores were used since data from the recently adopted 3rd Grade Reading Summative Assessments were not available.

Ben Walker, lead data analyst for the study, notes that these figures are likely underestimating the effects of pre-K on future academic achievement. “Because MDE’s enrollment data only accounts for students who attended Title I or locally funded pre-K, the effects of pre-K enrollment on achievement scores are best viewed as conservative estimates.”

In 2013, the Mississippi legislature passed the Early Learning Collaborative Act, marking the beginning of a state-funded pre-K investment. As a result, 11 pre-K collaborative programs, located around the state began operation in the 2014-2015 school year, serving approximately 1,700 students. The study however examined the approximately 4,100 children enrolled in Title I and/or locally funded pre-K programs. Combined, children enrolled in the collaborative programs, Title I and locally funded pre-K programs represent less than 14 percent of Mississippi’s 44,000 four-year-olds.

A division of the Social Science Research Center at Mississippi State University, the Family and Children Research Unit (FCRU) conducts research on issues affecting the health, safety, education and well-being of children and families. The study noted above was funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. To access the policy brief, “Increasing the Odds: Predictors of Academic Success for Mississippi’s Children,” go to

Sports Hall of Fame to celebrate 1980 upset of Bama

MSU News - Wed, 09/16/2015 - 1:21pm
An iconic photo of the scoreboard at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson shows the final tally in the Mississippi State University football team’s improbable 6-3 upset of No. 1 Alabama on Nov. 1, 1980. The Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum will celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Bulldogs’ victory with a banquet and dinner Wednesday [Sept. 23].

An iconic photo of the scoreboard at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson shows the final tally in the Mississippi State University football team’s improbable 6-3 upset of No. 1 Alabama on Nov. 1, 1980. The Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum will celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Bulldogs’ victory with a banquet and dinner Wednesday [Sept. 23].

Contact: Zack Plair

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Of all Mississippi State football traditions that have developed since the land-grant university first fielded a team in 1895, one game has come to represent a pinnacle of the program’s heritage.

On Nov. 1, 1980, the Bulldogs shocked the sports world with a 6-3 upset victory over top-ranked Alabama at Jackson’s Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium. Emory Bellard was the Bulldogs’ head coach, while the Crimson Tide was headed by the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant.

The MSU victory both snapped a 28-game Tide winning streak and broke State’s 22-game losing streak to their cross-border Southeastern Conference rival. It also helped MSU to a 9-3 season record, including a 5-1 mark in SEC play.

To help celebrate the game’s 35th anniversary and the 1980 season, the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in Jackson is sponsoring a Wednesday [Sept. 23] banquet at its 1152 Lakeland Dr. facility. The event will kick off with a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by the dinner program at 7.

Tickets are $100 each and may be reserved at or by calling 601-982-8264.

“I still get chills when I think of some of the things that happened that day; I believe it’s the greatest victory in Mississippi State history,” said Rick Cleveland, a retired Clarion-Ledger sports reporter now serving as the Hall of Fame executive director. “I can’t believe it’s been 35 years. To me, the memories are as fresh as they can be.”

Now is in his fourth year with the Hall of Fame, Cleveland said fall fundraising events such as this are critical to help cover operating and program costs for the only venue of its kind in Mississippi.

He recalled how a crowd of 50,891—the largest at the time ever to attend a Mississippi sporting event—had seen the Bulldogs take the game’s lead early in the fourth quarter and hang on until the clock ran out.

Bellard, credited with inventing the then-widely popular wishbone offense that Alabama also ran, had worked throughout the preceding week to teach his defensive coaches and players how best to stop it, Cleveland said.

MSU’s defense stifled the Tide for most of the game, but the previously unstoppable team from Tuscaloosa successfully drove down the field in game’s final minutes and reached the Bulldog four-yard line with only seconds to play.

Happily for MSU, defensive end Tyrone Keys forced a fumble that his maroon-and-white-clad teammates recovered to secure the victory.

Cleveland said the 35th anniversary celebration will feature video highlights from the epic upset as described by Jack Cristil, legendary Voice of the Bulldogs.

The evening also will feature a panel of four former players, including Keys, defensive tackle Glen Collins, middle linebacker Johnie Cooks and freshman starting quarterback John Bond. Cleveland will serve as panel moderator.

All names in MSU’s pantheon of football heroes, the panelists will share personal perspectives of that long, hot afternoon struggle and take questions from the audience.

Cooks, a longtime Starkville resident, went on to a 10-year career in the National Football League and played for the Super Bowl XXV champion New York Giants in 1990. He said he relishes the opportunity to gather again with former teammates and recall the Bulldogs’ victory over Alabama.

“What I really got out of that game was what it did for the MSU family,” Cooks said. “I got more pleasure from that than I got for myself in winning the game.”

Keys also enjoyed a long NFL career and helped the Chicago Bears win the 1985 Super Bowl. He said he regularly utilizes the 1980 experience against Alabama in his current role as director of the All Sports Community Service in Tampa, Florida. The organization helps high school students develop a successful “game plan” for their adult years, he explained.

“It will be great to go down memory lane to see how a group of guys and the coaching staff came together to be a part of history,” Keys said. “We’re still talking about this game 35 years later, and that shows how important it was.”

Another longtime NFL player who also starred for the Bulldogs in 1980 was offensive lineman Kent Hull. A Pontotoc native who died in 2011 in Greenwood, he went on to become an all-time great center for the Buffalo Bills and was key to the team’s four Super Bowl appearances.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

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