Public Relations
UNIVERSITY RESEARCH CENTER HOSTS CONFERENCE ON SOLVING STATE'S MOST PRESSING PROBLEMS

6/13/2016 - Jackson, Miss.

Identifying solutions to some of Mississippi's most pressing problems was the focus of the Advancing Mississippi: Research for a Better Mississippi for More Mississippians Conference held last week in Jackson.

"I cannot think of a more important conference and work," said Dr. Glenn Boyce, Commissioner of Higher Education. "The key to improving a state like ours, with limited resources, is to tap into the power of synergy. Working together, we can use our university expertise and research capabilities to solve problems and advance the state."

Hosted by the University Research Center (URC), the conference featured some of the brightest minds in Mississippi Public Universities as they covered topics organized into four categories: Estimations, Employment, Being Healthy an Education, and addressed the systemic challenges that Mississippi faces.

"This conference brings together the best and brightest minds to bear on the systemic problems facing our state," said Dr. Darrin Webb, State Economist and Director of the University Research Center. "We're here to talk about real solutions to make a better Mississippi."

Representative Joel Bomgar, a Republican from Madison County, and Representative Kabir Karriem, a Democrat from Lowndes County, presented the luncheon keynote. They discussed Mississippi's current criminal justice system and how a bi-partisan effort to reform the system could improve outcomes for those transitioning to the workforce once their debt to society has been paid.

The papers presented included:

Estimations

Is Hinds County Mississippi Really Worse than Madison or Rankin County? A Spatial Equilibrium Approach to Ranking Quality of Life
Maury Granger and Gregory Price
Jackson State University

  • Using a spatial-equilibrium econometric approach, the authors measured local amenities, which informed them about quality-of-life. This approach provided a novel, theoretically tenable and unbiased approach to measuring amenities and gauging quality-of-life in particular locations.

The Role of Income and location in Racial/Ethnic differences on loan denial in three Mississippi Counties
Okechukwu Anyamele, Gail Fulgham and Jean-Claude Assad
Jackson State University

  • The authors investigated the racial differences in loan denial rates in three Mississippi counties within the Jackson Metro statistical area. The results showed that 31.56% of the difference in loan denial rates between whites and African Americans is explained by endowments, while 68.40% is unexplained. Similarly, 20.60% of the difference in loan denial rates between Hispanics and Whites is explained by endowments, while 79.40% is unexplained.

Estimation of the Burden of Cigarette Smoking on the State of Mississippi in 2014
Alan Barefield
Mississippi State University

  • The purpose of the research, sponsored by the Mississippi State Department of Health – Office of Tobacco Control, was to estimate the economic burden of smoking cigarettes on Mississippi's adult population. The study estimated the total economic burden of smoking on the state to be approximately $6.8 billion with $1.5 billion allocated to direct medical costs and $5.3 billion comprising indirect costs. Also estimated were state fiscal impacts (approximately $90 million for income taxes and sales taxes) and potential wealth redistribution effects quantified by input-output analysis.

Employment

Independent Living Program (ILP) and Workforce Development for Youth Aging Out of the Mississippi Foster Care System
Shonda Lawrence and Glenda McMillan
Jackson State University

  • There are approximately 3,700 children in the foster care system in the state of Mississippi, with approximately 1,200 children who are 14 to 21 years of age and eligible for independent living services. The study looked at the Independent Living Program (ILP), which provides services that will foster self-sufficiency through employment, and at workforce development for youth aging out of the system. Some of the recommendations brought forward by the study includes early and consistent work experience for youth, a task force to examine employment trends and an oversight committee to monitor employment opportunities.

Understanding the Nature of the Teacher Shortage in Mississippi
Authors: Kenneth V. Anthony, Dana Pomykal Franz and Devon Brenner
Mississippi State University

  • The goal of the study was to understand the nature of the teacher shortage in Mississippi in order to provide policy makers with the information necessary to develop effective solutions. The authors' findings indicate that districts with a high percentage of black students, districts located in the Yazoo-Mississippi River Delta Region, and districts that generate less money locally for education are more likely to have a teacher shortage. The factors that most influence the shortage extend outside the world of education and education policy and include people's perceptions and ideas about race, the economics of place and what makes a place a valuable place to live, and the economic health of places. All of these problems are place-based and the solutions must be found in the places. Some of them can be addressed by education policy, but others must be addressed by the larger society. One possible solution that can be addressed within the field of education is to produce teachers who reside in the places experiencing teacher shortage and who are committed to staying.

An Exploratory Study of Effects of Workplace Variables on Organizational Commitment of Mississippi Correctional Staff
Linda Keena, Eric Lambert, Zachary Buckner, David May and Stacy Haynes
University of Mississippi

  • The study explored how different dimensions of the workplace are associated with organizational commitment among staff at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, the largest facility in the Mississippi Department of Corrections. The study found that key factors in influencing employee commitment include role clarity, input in decision-making and instrumental communication.

Being Healthy

Transforming Lives Through Health Insurance Outreach and Enrollment
Authors: Laura Richard and Kathryn Rehner
University of Southern Mississippi

  • Mississippi adults and children are significantly more likely than adults in the rest of the nation to be uninsured. The E³ (Educate, Enroll, Empower) Health Initiative was a partnership between the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) School of Social Work and local city government. The study found that the efforts of the E3 Health Initiative resulted in a 65.8% growth in Medicaid/CHIP enrollment in the targeted zip code area.

The Socio-Economic Impact of Community Development Financial Institutions on Child Health Outcomes in Mississippi
Nicholas Hill and Corey Wiggins
Jackson State University

  • Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) have an important role in providing financial products and services to underserved communities. Poverty stricken areas are plagued with significant disparities in heath due to inequities between social and economic issues. Specifically, these social determinants of health have both a direct and indirect influence on child health outcomes. This research provides an exploratory examination on what impact CDFIs have on child health outcomes in Mississippi. Utilizing probabilistic and comparative analysis for data collected at the county level in the State of Mississippi, an economic model that predicts the level of investment that maybe linked to obesity rates is developed. At the national level, it is suggested that innovative cross-sector collaborations by the community development sector showed promise in mitigating place-based disadvantage and improving the social determinants of health.

Health Insurance Influence on Obesity Rates: A Cross-Sectional Study of Mississippi's 82 Counties
Sam Mozee, Jr. and Jin Zhang
Jackson State University

  • This study investigated whether there is a relationship between the percentage of persons not having health insurance (i.e., the un-insured) and obesity rates at the county level in Mississippi. However, the impact of higher uninsured percentages on obesity rates was statistically insignificant and very negligible for the time period under review.

Education

Sex Education in Mississippi: An Analysis of the Early Impacts of HB999
Authors: Robert D. Brown and Sara Porcheddu
University of Mississippi

  • House Bill 999 was passed during the 2011 legislative session and represents Mississippi's first attempt to require the teaching of sex education and STD/HIV prevention in Mississippi schools. First implemented during the 2012-2013 school year, HB999 allows school districts to choose between abstinence-only and abstinence-plus approaches to adopting sex education curricula. The study provided an initial glimpse into the early impacts of HB999. The study found the Abstinence Plus CHART (Creating Healthy and Responsible Teens) program to be effective. The CHART initiative is a partnership between Mississippi First, the Mississippi State Department of Health, and the Women's Foundation of Mississippi.

Applied Behavior Analysis in Mississippi: New Opportunities, New Challenges, and New Solutions
Authors: Meleah Ackley, Shawn Bishop, BreAnna Newborne and James Moore
University of Southern Mississippi

  • According to the 2015 Mississippi Autism Advisory Committee Report, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects an estimated 10,743 children in Mississippi. ASD causes social and communication issues as well as repetitive behaviors, self-injurious behaviors, tantrum behaviors, and aggression. The authors proposed using Telehealth to provide an economic and efficient way to overcome the challenges in assessment and treatment of autism spectrum disorders in children.

Early Learning Standards
Authors: Kristin Javorsky and Candice Pittman
Mississippi State University

  • This study involved a statewide, large-scale survey of licensed early childhood care providers examining choices in implementation of Mississippi's official Early Learning Standards (ELS) for three- and four-year-olds (preschoolers). Policy recommendations based on survey results include:
    1. Increasing awareness among childcare providers of how the Mississippi's Early Learning Standards are beneficially aligned with existing childcare licensing requirements, Head Start framework criteria, and the Mississippi College and Career Ready Standards
    2. Expanding educational partnership efforts between private childcare centers and public school districts
    3. Increasing educational and financial opportunities that can raise the formal education levels of the early childhood care and education workforce statewide.

Financial Literacy among College Students: Comparisons by Gender, Race/Ethnicity, Age, and National Norms
Authors: Thomas Taylor, John Thornell, Molly Vaughn and Nathan Pitts
Delta State University

  • The purposes of this study were twofold:
    1. To assess college student performance on a nationally recognized measure of financial literacy and compare the results for three demographic variables: race/ethnicity, gender, and age.
    2. To compare overall performance of students in this sample against national performance on the same measure.
  • The study found there is a need for financial literacy education to help students learn how to make good financial decisions.

In addition, three student papers were recognized with book scholarships:

  • First Place: "Improving Developmental Mathematics Courses: A Study of Various Methods for Replacing Developmental Mathematics Courses in Higher Education" by Aaron Lyle Wallace, Chris Kelly, Marti Pulido, Flora Sumrall and Selah Weems (Mississippi State University- Meridian Campus)
  • Second Place: "Bridging the Gap: Improving Mental Health Services for Children and Adolescents in Mississippi Schools" by Amy Henderson (University of Southern Mississippi)
  • Third Place: "Blueprint Health: A Social Solution to Obesity in the Workforce and Communities of Mississippi" by Cecilia Snyder, Molly Chaffin , Brian Street and Timothy King (University of Southern Mississippi)
  • # # #

    The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

News Archive

The Pathway to Growth for Our State

Telephone: 601.432.6333