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Posts Tagged ‘Ole Miss’

Pepper fair, kind and a true example of a life well led

January 25th, 2012 Comments off

Allen Pepper had a genuine love of people.

It came across every time you ever saw him.

Tall and slim, with a chiseled faced that seemed to never show the burden of the decisions he made daily as a federal judge, Pepper had a way that eased folks in trying times, delighted them in good times and inspired them in times of need.

Judge Pepper, 70, died Tuesday when his heart that had given so much to so many over the years gave way in a heart attack.

>>> RELATED: SEE MAIN MBJ STORY ON JUDGE PEPPER’S DEATH

“The Northern District has lost a Judge of impeccable character and a man of great personality. He was the most fundamentally decent man whom I have ever known. He was a dear friend and a beloved colleague. We will not soon get over Allen’s passing,” said Chief Judge Michael P. Mills, in a statement released by the court late Tuesday.

And he was better than that.

Mississippi has lost a great, great man — one that I can only hope that my son will grow to be like.

A Belzoni native, Pepper went on to Ole Miss to college, where he also earned a law degree.

He ended up in Cleveland where he ran his law practice for years before being appointed to the bench in 1999 by President Bill Clinton.

Donna Barnes, of Tupelo, a judge on the Mississippi Court of Appeals, said Pepper’s “service to the bench, the bar and the public was exemplary.”

Mills said he and the other three judges will divide Pepper’s case load with special priority to the criminal cases. Pepper can be replaced only by a presidential nomination and U.S. Senate approval.

However, it is Pepper, the man, that will never be replaced.

He raised his family, loved his wife and led his life in a way that is an example we all should aspire to.

Maybe debate should be the new football in Mississippi

November 8th, 2011 Comments off

With news of Houston Nutt losing his job as the football coach at Ole Miss, there has been renewed talk that too much money is spent on high school and college athletics.

As a huge sports fan, it’s hard for me to totally jump on that bandwagon, but it is hard to justify raising millions for college athletics when there are so many academic classes falling by the wayside because it is politically unpopular to spend money on academics.

Having said that, there is one high school activity that has a 100 percent positive impact on students and their schools as well as having a lifelong impact for the students.

That is high school debating.

Debate has nothing to do with the number of 6-foot-3, 215-pound linebackers a school may have walking the halls who may run a 4.5-second, 40-yard dash.

The fact of the matter is that smaller schools can do well if there is a higher standard of academic excellence required.

Every reason we send our children to school in the first place is what the art of debate teaches. It is what we hope is being taught in all of the classrooms.

In fact, the success of a school’s debate team, it could be argued, could be the singular measuring stick of the success of the school.

A debate team, as well as every student within a school, should be learning analytical skills. The ability to critically analyze a problem and propose workable solutions is invaluable. This is a skill that debate best teaches and high-level business people and professionals possess.

A debate team, as well as every student, should be learning research skills. From traditional library research to the Internet, debate teaches you to become a world-class researcher. Ask any college student, and they’ll tell you how valuable this is.

A debate team, as well as every student, should be learning listening and note-taking skills. Debate requires that you become a careful listener and good note taker. This helps students get better grades and learn faster.

Many of this nation’s top lawyers, business executives, doctors, engineers, and elected leaders were involved in high school debate, and for good reason. Simply put, debate-related skills help one get ahead and stay there. The power to persuade is highly respected and there is no better way to master this art than through debate.

After a recent debate competition, at least for 2011, it would appear that Hattiesburg High School, Oak Grove High School and Pascagoula High School have the most well-prepared students in Mississippi. And this was not an event just for public institutions. Even highly-regarded academic schools like St. Andrew’s and Jackson Prep were a part of the tournament.

So, cheers to the Hattiesburgs, Oak Groves and Pascagoulas of the world, who are offering a well-rounded education to their student population.

Mississippi State, Ole Miss ready for Aggie invasion

August 11th, 2011 Comments off

An image released by the University of Mississippi shows a proposed expansion to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss. The university has announced plans to raise $150 million to build a new on-campus basketball arena and upgrade the football stadium. The first phase of the program would build a 10,000-seat basketball arena to replace Tad Smith Coliseum, a cramped facility that was built in 1966 and holds slightly more than 9,000 fans. It would also include renovating the concourse and premium seating in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

On the eve of college football taking center stage across the South, folks here in Mississippi appear on the verge of having a new team (maybe two) to pay attention to on a regular basis.
In a story that flamed up quickly last week, Ole Miss and Mississippi State could add Texas A&M to its Southeastern Conference Western Division permanent schedule as soon as next season.
The Aggies to the SEC, according to reports in multiple newspapers, appears to be picking up steam less than a month before the new, restructured Big 12 plays its first season.
Having said that, don’t expect the SEC to add the Aggies without throwing in one more to make scheduling easier. An SEC with 13 teams isn’t as tidy as one with 14. So, if A&M is brought into the fold, look for a school like Missouri to make the move, too.
I think a 16-team SEC is where the league is headed with Florida State and Clemson likely contenders to come into the league.
Mississippi State and Ole Miss look like they have been gearing up  for any potential moves.
Just last week, Ole Miss officials announced a $150 million fund raising campaign, along with plans to replace the university’s basketball facility and improve Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
The University said $100 million from premium seating charges in both venues and $50 million from philanthropic donations.
In addition to the new basketball facility and football stadium improvements, plans call for creation of a Hall of Fame to showcase Ole Miss Athletics history.
Meanwhile, MSU has been working on a plan, raising funds, for expansion of Davis-Wade Stadium by 5,000 to 7,000 seats at a potential cost of $100 million.

A rendering of what Davis-Wade Stadium at Mississippi State will look like when expansion is complete.on.

A football-specific facility, which would house offices and more, would be part of the deals as would upgrades to MSU’s outdoor practice fields.
Completion could be ready in the next couple of years.
For now, it appears Mississippi’s two SEC schools are finanacially prepared to take on the added challenge of  Texas A&M and whoever else comes calling in a new-look super league.
The question left is how quickly all of this could happen.
Some reports show a deal between A&M and the SEC as imminent with the Aggies coming on board for the 2012 football season. Other reports show the deal making A&M ready for 2013.
Either way, money talks and the SEC is rarely on the short end of the stick. Landing A&M would mean millions in TV money for the league and ultimately billions if it lures the likes of FSU and Clemson down the road.
I’d be willing to bet my lunch money Georgia Tech and Tulane wish they had never left the league way back when.

Party on dude … Ole Miss No. 3 on list of top party schools … State still among bottom five for education

August 1st, 2011 Comments off

Ohio University, set in an Appalachian town known for its rowdy Halloween bashes, has been named the nation’s No. 1 party school, pushing the University of Georgia down a slot in the 2011 Princeton Review survey released Monday.

Ohio was No. 2 in last year’s survey of students nationwide. The campus in Athens, about 65 miles southeast of Columbus, has made the party school list 12 times since 1997, but has never before reached the top.

Top party, sober schools from Princeton Review The Associated Press The nation's top party schools and top stone-cold sober schools, according to Princeton Review's survey of 122,000 students: Party schools 1. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio 2. University of Georgia, Athens, Ga. 3. University of Mississippi, Oxford, Miss. 4. University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 5. University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, Calif. 6. West Virginia University, Morgantown, W. Va. 7. Penn State University, University Park, Pa. 8. Florida State University, Tallahassee, Fla. 9. University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla. 10. University of Texas, Austin, Texas 11. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 12. Syracuse University, Syracuse, N.Y. 13. Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, La. 14. University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wis. 15. DePauw University, Greencastle, Ind. 16. Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind. 17. Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz. 18. University of Maryland, College Park, Md. 19. University of Vermont, Burlington, Vt. 20. University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C. ___ Stone-cold sober schools 1. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah 2. Wheaton College, Wheaton, Ill. 3. Wesleyan College, Macon, Ga. 4. U.S. Coast Guard Academy, New London, Conn. 5. U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y. 6. U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md. 7. Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Mich. 8. Grove City College, Grove City, Pa. 9. Pepperdine University, Malibu, Calif. 10. City University of New York — Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11. The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York, N.Y. 12. U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, N.Y. 13. U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo. 14. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, Needham, Mass. 15. City University of New York — Queens College, Flushing, N.Y. 16. Thomas Aquinas College, Santa Paula, Calif. 17. University of Dallas, Irving, Texas 18. Agnes Scott College, Decatur, Ga. 19. College of the Ozarks, Point Lookout, Mo. 20. Gustavus Adolphus College, Saint Peter, Minn.

Rounding out the top five this year were No. 3 University of Mississippi, No. 4 University of Iowa and No. 5 University of California Santa Barbara.

The Princeton Review survey is part of its 2012 edition of “The Best 376 Colleges,” which includes 61 other rankings in categories such as best professors (Wellesley College in Massachusetts), most beautiful campus (Florida Southern College) best campus food (Wheaton College in Illinois) and highest financial aid satisfaction (Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania).

Brigham Young University in Utah tops the list of stone-cold sober schools for the 14th straight year.

Ohio University’s party reputation has long vexed administrators at the riverside school of about 20,000 students, and policies have been beefed up over the years in an attempt to reduce student drinking.

Among efforts are strong anti-drinking messages at freshmen orientations, tougher penalties on students for alcohol violations and added surveillance during the Halloween street party, which is not sanctioned by the university.

“We take seriously our responsibility to help our students succeed in all facets of their experience, including addressing high-risk behavior,” Dean of Students Ryan Lombardi said in a statement Monday. “We are disappointed in the party school ranking as it is not indicative of the overall experience of Ohio students and does not match the data we have collected.”

In formal complaints regarding violations of Ohio’s student code of conduct, about 60 percent are listed as alcohol-related in recent academic years, according to statistics posted online by the University Judiciaries, the school’s disciplinary division. In 2010-2011, 1,213 complaints, making up 59 percent of the total, involved alcohol, the numbers show.

The Halloween revelry dates to the 1970s and typically attracts at least 20,000 people to downtown Athens streets. Arrests and citations during the party, mostly for alcohol and disorderly conduct violations, have at times reached more than 200 in recent years.

The event spun out of control in 2003, when then-Athens Police Chief Rick Mayer called the bash “the worst event to date” after rioting partiers lit couches on fire, started fights and threw bottles at officers and firefighters.

Besides the party list, Ohio also lands in the top 20 in several other Princeton Review categories this year, including lots of beer and lots of hard liquor, as well as best athletic facilities, most beautiful campus and major fraternity and sorority scene.

The guide’s rankings are based on email surveys voluntarily filled out by 122,000 students at more than 370 colleges across the country. On average, about 325 students from each campus respond, and university administrators often call the rankings unscientific and say they glorify dangerous behavior.

The Princeton Review, not affiliated with Princeton University, is a Massachusetts-based company known for its test preparation courses educational services and books.

It has put out its best colleges guide since 1992.

UMMC can help pull state from historic economic woes

March 25th, 2011 Comments off

Colleges and universities, in general, are great economic engines for the cities and communities they are in.
Just ask people in places like Lorman or Cleveland or Columbus what life would be like without Alcorn State, Delta State and Mississippi University for Women (a.k.a. Reneau University).
Combine the economic development of a college setting with medical training for a state with a shortage of doctors and University of Mississippi Medical Center is nearly a perfect vehicle for Mississippi to recharge its economy.
Already, UMMC is the second largest employer (nearly 9,000 employees) in the state, behind Northrup Grumman.
However, when approached with economic impact numbers recently, many in the Mississippi Legislature were not aware of what UMMC meant to the business of Mississippi.
According to numbers provided by UMMC, it has an annual economic impact of $2.1 billion on the state with more than 17,000 jobs generated. It also pays more than $216 million in taxes to the state every year.
There are detractors, and there are those who would play down the impact UMMC has on economic development, and there are those who would argue UMMC creates a competitive imbalance with private hospitals throughout the state.
Neither of those opinions hold a lot of water.
Healthcare is big business in Mississippi and across the United States.
Some numbers show that 17 percent of the GDP is healthcare.
In Mississippi, as we know, the health of our citizens is rated as the worst in the country. We lead the nation in obesity.  Mississippi also ranks first, uh last, in the nation for high blood pressure, diabetes and adult inactivity.
The Delta and Southwest Mississippi are Ground Zero for those problems, which is also Ground Zero for a shortage of doctors, which, not so amazingly, Mississippi leads the nation in.
UMMC could be the answer on multiple levels. The medical school has a plan for putting more doctors on the ground in rural areas.
That helps the economy, including employment, income, retail sales, and sales tax collection.
In many Mississippi Delta counties already, the hospital is the No. 1 employer, and that’s with a shortage of doctors.
The bottom line is more doctors means more money, more jobs and a better economic outlook, as well as a better health care outlook for Mississippi.
In the end, that means there is less money spent on the health-related illnesses we have in Mississippi.
If UMMC can do all it is doing now, just think what it can do if the legislature, actually were to view it as the economic engine that it is.
It boggles the mind.

Contact MBJ editor Ross Reily at ross.reily@msbusiness.com or call him at (601) 364-1018.

Quit hatin’ on the bear …

October 22nd, 2010 Comments off

OK, let’s get something straight from the very beginning.

It didn’t matter what leaders at Ole Miss did in regard to selecting an on-field mascot for the athletics teams, a lot of people weren’t going to be happy.

That the black bear is the choice is of no consequence.

Did y’all really want the on-field mascot to be Hotty Toddy or a Land Shark?

Yeah, Ackbar from Star Wars would have been funny and cool, though.

Still and yet, the real issue is the term “on-field”.

Ole Miss’ moniker isn’t changing. It is the Rebels.

The Ole Miss Rebels, not the Black Bears.

It’s no different than the Philadelphia Phillies having the Phillie Phanatic as their on-field mascot. When the Phanatic was introduced in 1978 as the official mascot of the team, there was no freaking out and running naked through the streets … at least about that issue.

The Phanatic — like Wally the Green Monster for the Boston Red Sox — is a fun, loveable creature to hang around and entertain fans at games, much like the original San Diego Chicken.

The bear (notice the lower case ‘b’) is the same.

It’s there for your kids to love and have their picture taken with in The Grove before the game.

It’s there to hang out with the cherleaders and do goofy stuff on the field.

It’s there to jump off a mini-tramp and perform nasty slam dunks at basketball games or play silly tricks on umpires at baseball games.

The bear is named Rebel, which doesn’t make the bear a Rebel. Obviously the Phantatic is not a Phillie and Wally is not a Red Sox.

Get a grip people!

That’s a nice jersey, you wear it to all the games?

June 29th, 2010 Comments off

All right folks, wipe those affiliations off your sleeves and let’s talk a little college football.
It’s pretty amazing what gets people’s blood boiling in this business.
Write a story about how 190,000 people in Mississippi could have their electric bills go up by more than 33 percent because big business wants a new toy to play with, and you get a note or two, mostly from CEO or PR types concerned about their image.
If you criticize the governor, there will be a few more people calling to make their feelings known.
But have someone write a feel-good story about a long-time Mississippi businessman who happens to be a former big-time college football quarterback, and then sit back and watch the fireworks.
We recently ran a story on Jackson’s Glynn Griffing, which detailed the successes of his insurance business over the last 40 years after he starred at quarterback for Ole Miss during the school’s winningest era.
Phone calls, e-mails, letters and I think some smoke signals began pouring in complaining.
About what?
The story included mention that the Rebels won three national championships during Griffing’s tenure at the Oxford school.
Only in the South could a feel-good story about a former athlete turn into what some readers believe to be a covert attempt to mislead the public on issues of national security.
“Why do you hate Mississippi State so much?”
That was one e-mail. There was another I probably wouldn’t repeat unless we were in a bar.
There are lots of football fans out there who like to point out that Ole Miss never won an “official” national championship. Their argument: The Rebels were never crowned by the Associated Press (AP) or United Press International (UPI).
Those were the only recognized organizations for handing out such designations, the haters like to say.
Unfortunately, college football has been without any real structure for naming a champion for as long as there has been big-time college football.
When the story about Griffing was turned in to me, I was aware of the circumstances.
However, my reasoning, as a former sports editor, has always been that college football has created this issue, and teams that won shouldn’t suffer because of the sport’s stubborn ineptitude.
The organizations that voted Ole Miss champs in 1959, ’60 and ’62 are many of the same that have voted seven other SEC schools champs at one time or another. Because the NCAA has never recognized any school as a Division I-A (or FBS) champion, and these other groups (like Billingsley, DeVold, Dunkel, Football Research, FW, National Championship Foundation and Williamson) were considered legitimate by most in the business, there is no reason to not mention Ole Miss among schools to win national championships in football.
That surely doesn’t change a lot of people’s minds, but before you hit “send” on the next e-mail, at least first take off your favorite team’s jersey.

Contact Mississippi Business Journal editor Ross Reily at ross.reily@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1018.

Britton runs into buzz saw

August 31st, 2009 Comments off

Looking at the match before it was ever played, one figured Jackson native Devin Britton was playing for the opportunity to gain experience.

I mean, Britton had career earnings of about $10,000.

His opponent?

$50 million

Roger Federer extended his U.S. Open winning streak to 35 matches with a 6-1, 6-3, 7-5 victory over NCAA champion Britton in the first round.

The top-seeded Federer is trying to become the first man since Bill Tilden in the 1920s to win six consecutive titles at the American Grand Slam tournament.

Britton was an 18-year-old wild-card entry and former Ole Miss standout who was playing in his second career tour-level match – and first at a major championship. He actually hit more winners than Federer, 32-31. But Britton also made more than twice as many unforced errors, 40-18.

Chalk one up for experience.

Britton will have his day. That, I feel sure of.

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