MURRAY, Ky. — Below is information regarding recent news, notes and accomplishments from Murray State University for the week of April 22-26.

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The Murray State University Hutson School of Agriculture hosted more than 1,250 FFA students across 50-plus high schools in Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois at its 67th annual FFA Field Day April 10.

Students participated in competitions throughout the day while learning more about the University and the Hutson School of Agriculture.

The Hutson School of Agriculture also recognized its best and brightest during its 42nd annual student awards banquet held March 13 in the Curris Center. Hutson School of Agriculture faculty and students along with University administration gathered to honor students in a variety of categories, ranging from club members to high-achieving seniors.

This year’s Outstanding Senior Woman in Agriculture was Cassidy Neal, while JT Payne and Jonathan Reynolds were co-recipients of the Outstanding Senior Man award.

“We are proud of all our outstanding students and take great pride in this great opportunity to recognize their many accomplishments,” said Hutson School of Agriculture Dean Dr. Tony Brannon. “We have many students who strive to go ‘On Beyond Zebra!’ and get an education instead of just a degree, and honoring them at this annual event is the highlight of our year.”

The banquet also recognized students that received scholarships in the past academic year, totaling more than 250 awards for over $160,000.

Additionally, the Murray State Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity chapter participated in a food packing project earlier this month, packing a total of 5,832 meals for Murray Kids Care for Hunger.

Pictured are Murray State Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity chapter members participating in a food packing project with Murray Kids Care for Hunger.

The Hutson School of Agriculture also hosted the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) judging competition on campus April 10-13. Over 700 contestants representing teams from over 50 colleges and two-year universities participated.

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Dr. Matthew Gianforte, associate professor, will present a recital on Saturday, April 27 at 3:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Hall on the Murray State campus. The recital, which is free and open to the public, will feature works by Mozart, Debussy, Mendelssohn, Liszt, and Gershwin, and is part of a larger program that Gianforte will be presenting on a two-week, ten-concert tour of Eastern China in May.

Matthew Gianforte

Recognized for his sensitivity and panache, pianist Matthew Gianforte enjoys an active career as a soloist, collaborator, and teacher, having performed across the United States and abroad. Highlights of past seasons include successful debut appearances at Weill Recital Hall (New York), Sarada and Philia Halls in Japan, as well as appearances to present solo and collaborative recitals honoring the birthdays of Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, and Debussy.

With his wife, pianist Meeyoun Park, Gianforte has appeared as a duo pianist in numerous festivals, artist series, conferences, and university guest recitals across the country. In addition, he has performed or premiered a number of recently composed works by composers such as David DeBoor Canfield, Brian Ciach, Joel Hoffman, Jonathan McNair and Paul Salerni.

His recording with trumpeter Kurt Gorman, released in 2018 by Veritas Musica, features sonatas by American composers Easley Blackwood, Wayne Liu and Halsey Stevens.

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Dr. Ihsan Alkhatib, a Murray State University associate professor and pre-law advisor of political science and sociology, was recently featured in a Wallethub study on the most diverse cities in the United States.

Alkhatib was asked questions about the pros and cons of living in a diverse city, the relationship between diversity and economic growth in cities and how local policymakers can harness diversity to spur innovation.

Wallethub is a personal finance website that offers news and other consumer tools.

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WKMS News took home 12 awards in the Kentucky Associated Press Broadcasters Association’s professional and collegiate competitions this month.

WKMS, a member station of National Public Radio based at Murray State University, offers news and music 24 hours a day across the airwaves and online.

“WKMS News is honored to be recognized among professional peers as an award-winning team of professional and student journalists,” said news director Matt Markgraf. “Most of our newsroom is comprised of working Murray State students and they won awards covering the Murray State Racers and research by Murray State biologists. WKMS News is honored to have the top two College Digital Journalists in the state in Cory Sharber and Sydni Anderson, winning first and second place respectively.

“We provide students an unmatched professional experience thanks to listener donations and support from Murray State. We’re grateful for Murray State recognizing WKMS News as a valuable asset to the university and regional community for nearly 50 years. We look forward to this sustained support for many years to come.”

In the professional radio competition, the news team won second place in the Breaking News category and first place in Continuing Coverage for its reporting on the Marshall County High School shooting tragedy.

Former Ohio Valley ReSource reporter Nicole Erwin won first place for Long Serious News Feature for her in-depth work on the shooting. She, along with OVR managing editor Jeff Young, won second place in Enterprise Reporting for the story “In The Wake of School Shooting, A Look at How Kids Get Guns.”

Erwin’s piece “Win For Wetlands: Program Helps Farmers Conserve More Flood Prone Land” won first place in Long Public Affairs. Several of her stories, featuring graphic design work from OVR’s Alexandra Kanik, comprise her second place award for Digital Coverage. Markgraf, with contribution from Kentucky Public Radio capitol reporter Ryland Barton and student reporter Cory Sharber, won first place in the Use of Sound category for “The Sights & Sounds Of Fancy Farm 2018.”

Murray State University students had a strong showing in the college radio competition. Cory Sharber of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, won first place in the Digital Journalist category. Sydni Anderson of Indian Mound, Tennessee, won second place in that category. Anderson’s “Murray State Scientists Searching for Conditions that Cause Harmful Algal Blooms” won first place in Best Public Affairs. Sharber’s story, “Murray State Basketball is Dancing for the 16th Time,” won first place in Best Sports Coverage.

Made possible by listener support, WKMS News is committed to — and relies heavily on — quality student journalism featured on wkms.org, which won first place in Best Website.


Murray State University student Cory Sharber displays his first-place awards for Best Digital Journalist and Best Sports Coverage in the college category of this year’s Kentucky Associated Press Broadcasters Association competition.

Fellow member stations of the Kentucky Public Radio Network and Ohio Valley ReSource won numerous awards overall. These public radio collaboratives are made possible because of listener support.

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Murray State students competing in this year’s Tennessee Valley Authority Investment Challenge Program finished third out of 25 competing schools.

The program involves student teams actively managing stock portfolios for the TVA, designing long-term investment strategies and choosing investments under the guidance of faculty members and guidelines set by the TVA.

Murray State’s overall return exceeded returns on the S&P 500 by 4.14 percent, earning a performance award of $4,131. Since the program began 21 years ago, the University has been awarded more than $100,000.

This year’s team made especially strong investments in the health care and consumer discretionary sectors, seeing positive returns in eight out of the 11 total S&P 500 sectors.

The students are on track for another great year in 2019; the Murray State University portfolio’s return through the first quarter of 2019 is 16.11 percent, 2.46 percent higher than the S&P 500 benchmark portfolio and 3.06 percent higher than the average return of all other universities in the program.

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