Square parking garage design team selected

By: Taylor Lewis

On Tuesday, the parking garage design-build team selection committee selected an architecture firm, responsible for designing the new parking garage on the Oxford Square, after a series of interviews.

Dr. Tom Sharpe, chair of the downtown parking garage design team selection committee, along with the rest of the committee, heard presentations from four architecture firms.

“The team we went with is Eley, Guild, and Hardy. They clearly had the most garage-design experience of the teams,” Sharpe said.

The committee relayed their recommendation to the board of aldermen for their consideration later that day.

The four firms that presented to the committee were Eley, Guild, and Hardy; Cooke, Douglass, Farr and Lemons; Howorth and Associates; and A2H.

“We were looking for an architect team that would work with the city to design a parking garage that would then be bid out to a construction company to construct,” Sharpe said.

The new parking garage will be located on the parking lot located behind Bouré and will begin construction before the end of this year.

“The major impact is that the off street parking in the off street lots is at capacity so this will allow us to relieve that strain,” Sharpe said.

Matt Davis, director of parking, said that the purpose of the design team is to design the most appropriate and cost efficient parking garage for the downtown area.

Each firm was given an hour to present to the committee. The committee then ranked the four firms based on their presentations.

Taylor Guild III, principal at Eley, Guild, and Hardy, described several strengths of his firm during his presentation.

“Our team strength is our expertise of planning and parking structures both nationally and locally,” Guild said.

Taylor Guild described the firm’s past performance as a team, its design awards, and experience as reasons for the committee to choose Elley, Guild and Hardy.

Eley, Guild, and Hardy have designed several other structures around the University of Mississippi, including the new law school and the additions to Farley Hall and the Lyceum.

“We understand the volume of people and the area surrounding the square,” Guild said.

Cooke, Douglass, Farr and Lemons, commonly known as CDFL, were another firm that presented and also had prior experience with the University of Mississippi architecture. CDFL is currently working on a similar facility at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi.

Robert Farr III, principal at CDFL, said that the collaborative practice of their engineering and architecture firm is apart their growth, along with listening to the public.

“We look at the end user and people and what is going to be the best level of service for all users,” Farr said. “It’s about how we listen to the community and take their ideas and concepts into account when creating this structure.”

Mike Ortlieb, executive vice president of the Carl-Walker firm that is partnering with Eley, Guild, and Hardy, agreed with Farr and said that the new parking garage needs to fit in with a community as well as the neighbors and pedestrians

“My experience with parking is that it is a 60 year commitment and if you put a structure there you want to do it right because it will be there for a long time,” Ortlieb said.

Having decided on a design team, Sharpe described some of the next steps in this process.

“The first step we’ve already taken. I presented our recommendation to the board of aldermen this evening and the board of aldermen approved our recommendation of that team and approved the city engineer to begin negotiating a contract with the design team,” Sharpe said.

 

Matt Davis, director of parking

mdavis@oxfordms.net

 

Dr. Tom Sharpe

(Chair of the downtown parking garage design team selection committee)

thesharpegroup@hotmail.com

(662) 380-3880

 

Taylor Guild III, AIA

(Elley, Guild, Hardy)

 

Mike Ortlieb

(Carl Walker Inc.)

mortieb@carlwalker.com

 

Robert E. Farr, II.

(CDFL)

rfarr@cdfl.com

 

 

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Transfer-friendly reputation attracts students to Ole Miss

By: Taylor Lewis & Rebecca DeLuna

With almost 2,000 transfer students joining the Ole Miss student body each year, the Office of Admissions Orientation welcomes them with a two-day program that is geared toward helping them transition onto campus with ease.

“The best way I found to become acclimated to campus and student life is by putting myself out there and finding my niche,” Justin Mills, a senior transfer student from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, said. “I quickly learned that the best to get involved and make friends was to do things that put me out of my comfort zone and challenged myself.”

Mills, who came to Ole Miss as a junior in 2015, became involved in various organizations on campus, as well as, a member of the 2016 Orientation Leader Team.

The most recent data available, from academic year 2014-15, states that 1,941 students transferred to UM from community colleges and other institutions. Although Ole Miss has a lower percentage of incoming transfer students in the state, Ole Miss is still known as being “transfer friendly”.

“Were recognized by Phi Theta Kappa, a community college honors society as one of the two only transfer honor roll honorees in Mississippi. Delta State and our school received the distinctions this year, but last year we were the only one,” Dewey Knight, associate director for student success and first year experience, said.

Jasmyne Tally, an incoming transfer student from Itawamba Community College, is looking forward to Orientation and meeting other transfer students, but she still has some fears about transitioning onto campus.

Tally said that Ole Miss’ reputation of being “transfer-friendly” was one of the reasons why she chose to transfer here as opposed to another in-state school.

The transfer student experience at Ole Miss and orientation is a little different than the typical first year experience in several ways, which is why the orientation program has expanded the sessions to include transfer-specific concerns.

“Transfer orientation prepares students for life at Ole Miss both socially and academically,” Brittany Deisher, a graduate assistant for Orientation programs, said. “They are connected with students of similar backgrounds and they also have the opportunity to network with people.”

According to Deisher, transfer student orientation requires a different approach because of the wide array of students they serve.

“[Transfer students’] goals are much more immediate. They only have two years, typically, to complete their degree program here at Ole Miss,” Knight said. 

Tasia Tsiplakos, sophomore transfer student from the University of San Diego, said, “Transfer orientation is less focused on meeting other people at orientation. It primarily teaches you about information pertaining to financial aid and what not. The age demographic is also different because it is older people transferring in so it is less of ice-breaker stuff.”

Tsiplakos had a positive orientation experience in May 2016 and enjoyed how it was informative and how the advisors prepared her academically.

Deisher said that because transfer students come in with so many credits from their previous institutions, advising is more challenging and there is a greater emphasis placed on making sure all of these credits are transferring.

“Transfer orientation is different because, since it is older people, they keep it simple, but the orientation leaders are still as enthusiastic. Also when registering for your first semester during orientation they help you with the classes you already have done and give you a layout of what you need to get done,” Tsiplakos said.

However, Orientation is only two days and after the session has ended the experience for each transfer student is different for several reasons.

“It’s harder for them to get involved. It’s harder for them to become a part of the community,” Knight added.

With such a wide range of transfer students all sharing similar concerns; the Center for Student Success and First Year Experience has developed numerous services and opportunities for transfer students.

Mills took advantage of several transfer student opportunities and does credit his easy transition onto campus by becoming involved in various organizations.

Knight credits these many programs and services as the reasoning behind “Ole Miss receiving the designation as a Phi Theta Kappa Honor Roll university, which is essentially those institutions that are most transfer-friendly in the United States.”

Knight’s ultimate goal is to “establish a transfer center in which academic advising folks, tutoring folks, and all of the academic support type things could be housed in a single location where transfer could go.”

“In the meantime, my unit, the first year experience unit, is kind of acting like a transfer student center,” Knight said.

As April Transfer Orientation approaches, Knight said that the best advice that he could give an incoming transfer student, like Tally, is to enroll in EDHE 305 and understand who their academic advisor is.

Sources:

Brittany Deisher

bdeisher@go.olemiss.edu

 

Dewey Knight

rdknight@olemiss.edu

(662) 915 – 1166

 

Justin Mills

jdmills1@go.olemiss.edu

(228) 219 – 0464

 

Jasmyne Tally

jktally@go.olemiss.edu

 

Tasia Tsiplakos

(650) 281 – 8902

tgtsipla@go.olemiss.edu

 

What Works Assignment #10

For this week’s What Works Assignment, I decided to search for an article that really didn’t work. The Clarion Ledger wrote an article, titled “Jackson’s gas prices lowest in US”, that I felt was very inadequate as far as sources and reporting. I clicked the headline because I thought it was very interesting that Jackson, Miss. had the lowest gas prices considering it is a fairly poor city in the deep south. The title itself is fairly SEO friendly due to keywords like “Jackson”, “gas”, “lowest”, and “US”.  However, I felt that the article didn’t live up to the title because the lead didn’t even mention Jackson, Miss. nor that they had the lowest gas prices. The hard lead used by the reporter didn’t work because it was very general and discussed how gas prices had rose nationally, which I felt was out-of-place considering the Clarion Ledger is more of a local Miss. newspaper.

As far as pulling the reader into the story, the writer didn’t really do anything, but provide facts about gas prices and the oil industry. The reader was pulled in through the title, but then let down by the lack of content. The nut graph was basically the lead, but I felt that it was really lacking. With a nut graph the writer should relate the story to a big picture idea and tell the reader why they should be reading the article, but I didn’t really get any sense of why this article was relevant to me until the last paragraph. If I was writing the story I would’ve started out the article at the local angle of Jackson having the lowest prices and why. Then, I would’ve related the topic to the larger context of national gas prices and their recent increases. The writer didn’t do much to pull the reader in, nor keep the reader enticed past the title so I feel that this article really didn’t work as far as engaging the audience.

Lastly, the sources of this article were less than non-existent. In fact, there was only one person quoted or, in this case, paraphrased and it was an industry analyst. I feel that the writer could’ve done so much more with sources. If I were writing the story, I would’ve gathered at least two more sources and aggregated others to link within the text. For instance, I would’ve interviewed a Mississippi govt. official that deals with the gas industry, a man-on-the-street to show how the public feels about the gas prices, and then I would’ve actually quoted the analyst on why they believe Jackson is the exception to the national trend of increasing gas prices. As far as aggregated sources, I would’ve linked to actual data or other news articles relating to national gas prices in order to provide my article with more credibility.

Overall, if I wanted to add value to this story I would’ve completely started over and narrowed in on why this article is relevant to my audience. I would’ve taken a local angle and added more sources to provide the article more credibility. Lastly, I would’ve liked to have seen some sort of visual element like an infographic that displayed the gas price trends nationally vs. the gas price trends in Jackson. This article did not work for me, but I do feel like the topic is newsworthy and should be re-done!

Students distraught as sudden changes in state grant programs come to light

By: Taylor Lewis & Rebecca DeLuna

Last Sunday, behind closed doors, Mississippi Legislature made several changes to state grant programs that affect the University of Mississippi Office of Financial Aid and students.

Students will no longer be allowed to combine merit-based with financial need-based grants, sometimes referred to as ‘stacking’ aid.

Laura Diven-Brown, director of the UM office of financial aid, was one of many financial aid directors who had to spring into action upon being notified of these changes.

“We actually had to go in (the system) for anybody that had had two state grants in their package. We needed to get in there and take out that second grant and actually do some email blasts as well, so that people would be informed about this,” Diven-Brown said.

Cody Letchworth, a junior accounting and public policy leadership major, was one of thousands of students to receive an email from UM Office of Financial Aid regarding these changes.

17626371_690332951149386_127593440510127987_n.jpg

Screenshot of the email that Letchworth received from The Office of Financial Aid last week. 

“My thoughts ranged from anger to confusion. It just seems like it’s one thing after another with Mississippi nowadays,” Letchworth said.

Letchworth used to receive both the MTAG and the MESG, two major grant programs affected by the legislature.

Jennifer Rogers, director of student financial aid for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, said in an email to all financial aid directors of MS state universities and colleges that the new rules “will allow us to fully fund all undergraduate grant programs.”

Rogers went on to outline the significant changes, which, in addition to eliminating the “stacking of all undergraduate aid,” also requires new eligibility checks.

“If students are eligible for more than one grant program, students will receive aid through the program that will award that larger amount,” Rogers said.

Letchworth experienced the exact situation Roger’s described, as he will only receive the MSEG grant because it is the larger amount of the two grants he previously received.

“Even though MTAG is only $500 a semester that’s a $1000 a year that you haven’t had to pay your entire college career and then it’s just sprung on you out of the blue,” Letchworth said.

The outrage felt by students, like Letchworth, can be attributed to the suddenness of the changes and the fact that they are not being ‘grandfathered’ in, like many other university programs.

“The problem is that this is supplying to not only new incoming students, but continuing students, people who would have never realized that the rules of the game would change mid-stream if you will,” Diven-Brown said.

Students, like Letchworth, are now turning to loans as a way to make up the financial difference.

“Anytime you have a grant program that is reduced or eliminated from our prospective its sad because that is one less thing we can offer students where they would get free money to help pay for school,” Diven Brown said. “Instead if they need to make up that gap they are often looking at loans.”

Letchworth said that the Mississippi Legislature is to blame for this financial “gap.”

Yet, as the UM Office of Financial Aid works to accommodate students while they adjust to these programs, Diven-Brown thinks that the Mississippi Legislature is working with what funding it has available.

“It’s not fair to people that work so hard in high school and are told to work hard in high school so they can get a free ride to college to only have that ripped out from under them because our legislature puts education under the rest of their inadequate budget plans,” Letchworth said.

 

Sources:

Cody Letchworth

(601) 731 – 0505

cjletchw@go.olemiss.edu

 

Laura E. Diven-Brown, director of the University of Mississippi office of financial aid

(662) 915 – 5633

ldivenbr@olemiss.edu

 

Jennifer Rogers, director of student financial aid for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning

(601) 432 – 6791

jrogers@mississippi.edu

 

What Works Assignment #9

News media today is very progressive with a desire to keep up with what is current and what is trending. In recent years, I have noticed an increase in focus on gender and sexuality within the media, which I believe mimics society’s trend of drifting towards being more modern and inclusive. Just today, I was scrolling through many stories on several news outlets when I stumbled across an article that really baffled me. The article from The Washington Post, titled “Two girls barred from United Flight for wearing leggings”, discussed how a United Airline’s agent refused to let several women and girls onto a plane because they were wearing leggings, which the agent had constituted as the passengers not being “properly clothed”. There has been a huge uproar on social media regarding this incident because many people feel that the policy is very sexist and singles out women, thus making it a gender stereotyping issue.

Despite the controversy surrounding the actions of United Airlines, I think that The Washington Post and the author, Luz Lazo, did and effective job of portraying the arbitrary actions of the airline and the gender issues that came from those actions. In this case, the newspaper didn’t really have a choice on which side was right and which one was wrong because the public basically decided that via social media. Lazo did a lot of solid reporting and aggregated some solid sources from social media in order to gain the perspective of some fellow passengers that were there. I always think that social media is such a good deal when trying to gage how society is perceiving an event or an issue because you can just type in a keyword and immediately see what everyone is talking about. Lazo thoroughly utilized social media for almost all of her sources, which is why I question the credibility of this article because social media tends to blow everything way out of proportion. I liked that she used it, but I feel like this story also needed some primary sources, like a statement from United Airlines or an agent or a passenger that had witnessed the incident. If I had done the reporting I would’ve tried to get more credibility by gathering some primary sources and I also would’ve looked into United’s past issues with dress code violations.

In conclusion, I thought that this article was one of a several examples of how gender and sexuality is presented in the print media. The Washington Post and Luz Lazo did a great job of aggregating sources from social media, but I think they might have over done it. The article really lacked any credible primary sources or any data on previous instances, both of which would’ve have given the article more credibility. If I could’ve written the article I would’ve tried to interview someone from United Airlines or a passenger on the flight or just an average person on the street in order to gain some more perspective. Issues, like this one, appear in the media almost everyday and I think that issues of gender and sexuality are a hot topic in most newsrooms today. It is unfortunate that issues like this still occur in 2017, but, as can be seen via social media, society stands behind the women who were victimized by United Airline’s dress code.