September 27, 2010 Rotogram

Miss Mississippi Sarah Beth James tells us of her year’s reign today. The communications major also has served as Miss MSU.

Dr. Sanjar Umarov, a former Cochran Fellow at Mississippi State University, tells of his fight for free elections in his native Uzbekistan.

Invocation and Pledge: Donna Reese
Attendance: 60.8%
Present — 113 (37 exempt, 1 honorary)
Absent — 76 (15 exempt, 11 honorary)
Makeups reported: ChipTempleton at Get Swept Up!
Guests and visitors: Visiting Rotarians were Bill Overstreet of West Point, Jimmy McClusky of Waco, Tex., and Scott Tenhet of Philadelphia. Member guests were Allison Matthews and Dana Trawick of Bricklee Miller; Bert Kramer of Barbara Spencer; Bill Boyd and Stephen Gordon of Prentiss Gordon; Buddy Bayliss of Rodney Foil; Don Trotter of Tommy Tomlinson, Dan Petrolia, John Riley, Kaloyn Coatney and Keith Coble of O.A. Cleveland; and, Ross King of J.C. Patton. Guests of the Club were RYE student Jessie Hsu and Paul Sims of the Starkville
Daily News.

The second annual Rotary Classic Golf Tournament tees off at 1:00 p.m. on Oct. 11. Proceeds go to the East Mississippi Community College tuition guarantee for eligible Oktibbeha County students. The annual fall social will follow that evening. Let tournament chair Bill Ford know if you can help with the event.

David Vanlandingham’s “Absolutely Everything To Do With Rotary Minute” promoted our literacy program. If you can help by reading to kindergarteners weekly, let him or co-chair Brent Fountain know. David said, “This is totally voluntary, but if by Friday night you haven’t contacted me, we will begin harassing telephone calls.”

The quarterly orientation meeting is on Wednesday at 11:30 at Harvey’s Bulldog Boardroom. Bill Foster has contacted members needing to attend.

President Tommy made a special allowance for Taylor Adams to answer his phone in the middle of the meeting. His third child was expected at any moment.

President Tommy gratefully acknowledged board member Zach Rowland’s volunteering to head up the annual Christmas parade float project. All of the year’s new members are reminded that they constitute the float assembly committee.

Under Larry Mullins’ leadership, we are tightening up our membership procedures. The goal is to welcome new members within three weeks of their nominations by a current member.

Steps in the process are:

  1. Prospective member visits club meetings as a guest of his/her sponsor;
  2. Sponsor ensures that a membership application is completed and submitted to W.C. Johnson,
    club secretary;
  3. Membership and Classification committees review and pass the application;
  4. The application with a vocational classification is forwarded to the board for approval;
  5. Nominee’s credentials are published in the club bulletin;
  6. If no objections are raised, the nominee’s membership becomes active the following week.

To ensure that new members get off to a good start, sponsoring Rotarians are expected to acquaint their nominees with Rotary purposes and procedure. We are renewing the mentor role and the expectation that new members complete a list of orientation tasks. And, quarterly orientation sessions will be held.

Mississippi State University, under the leadership of its 19th president, is not waiting out the recession.

In his second annual report to the Club, Dr. Mark Keenum said the land-grant institution is in good position to weather further economic pressures. In particular, next fiscal year’s loss of $11.4 million in Federal stimulus money is expected to result in a cumulative three-year 25 percent funding reduction.

The university’s proactive response to the current economy has been threefold: 1) a retirement incentive reduced faculty and staff by nearly 300 people; 2) the Select Committee on Efficiencies and Innovation has recommended moves that are being implemented to reduce expenses; and, 3) an enrollment increase of more than 1,000 students is helping with tuition income.

Stressing the importance of higher education, Keenum said, “There isn’t another state as dependent on its universities as is Mississippi.”

Being number 51 in per capita income and number one in individuals living below the poverty line is not an admirable distinction. The president said we need to continue to remind our elected representatives that the best way out is to better educate our populace.

As the state’s lead land-grant institution, MSU has programs and offices in every county through the Extension Service and has more than 20 research facilities around Mississippi.

Of the Institutions of Higher Learning system’s annual $500 million draw of research funds to the state, MSU accounts for more than $200 million.

The main campus’ growing pains are bringing good things to the area. However, Keenum joked, “Good luck finding a parking place.” He announced that an architect has been secured to design a parking deck for center campus.

With the goal of 22,000 students by 2015, the idea is to move administrative facilities to the perimeter and focus the center on classes and student housing. Renovations of Harned and Lloyd- Ricks Halls are nearly complete. The next goal is to renovate the Lee Hall interior and return it to primary use as class space.

Outstanding alumni and friend giving has resulted in the institution’s first back-to-back fund- raising years topping $60 million.

Part of that generosity has been directed to the State Pride program giving salary supplements to 406 faculty members this year. This is just one effort to cope with four straight years of no merit salary increases, a cause of a “brain-drain.”

As former USDA undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, the MSU agricultural economics alumnus has a vision for expanded international involvement. At the moment there are development proposals before the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. And, the university’s Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion Department has a contract with the World Food Program to develop a new food aid product.

Keenum said he has “thoroughly enjoyed working with local leaders,” meeting with them monthly.

In closing, he presented President Tommy with a special chrome cowbell and admonished us to “Ring Responsibly.” President Tommy responded that he didn’t know if his 1970 model could do that.

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