WASHINGTON -- At a hearing Wednesday afternoon on the Internal Revenue Service's recently issued wide-ranging report on tax compliance at colleges and universities, lawmakers said they were disturbed that the report found a high degree of noncompliance on unrelated business income, revenue earned by nonprofit organizations in ways that are not directly related to their missions. The IRS told lawmakers on the House of Representatives Ways and Means committee's oversight subcommittee that the 34 colleges -- half public, half nonprofit private -- examined most closely during the audit shouldn't be considered a representative sample, and that there are plans to continue looking into how unrelated business income is handled across the sector.
Wealthy American universities are cutting way back on their endowments' holdings in U.S. debt,Financial Times reported. In some cases, Treasury securities represented as much as 30 percent of endowment holdings in 2008-9 and that figure is now down to zero in some cases, or very small percentages in others.
Higher One, a company best known for streamlining the process by which colleges channel federal aid funds to students, said Tuesday that it has agreed to purchase the Campus Solutions arm of Sallie Mae that two years ago sought to compete with it. Higher One valued the purchase of the Sallie Mae business -- which works with campus business offices on billing payment solutions, refund disbursement services, and tuition payment plan administration -- at $47.25 million. Higher One has been growing; last year it bought Campus Labs, a student affairs analytics company.
James F. Jones Jr. announced Monday that he will retire next year -- a year earlier than planned -- as president of Trinity College in Connecticut, The Hartford Courant reported. Jones has been under sustained criticism from many alumni since last year, when he announced that all fraternities and sororities would be forced to become coeducational. College officials characterized the retirement decision as unrelated to the Greek uproar, but the Courant reported that many alumni critics are dubious, given the extent of anger over the Greek decision.
Montana Governor Steve Bullock, a Democrat, has vetoed legislation that would have allowed students with a permit to carry concealed weapons on campus, the Associated Press reported. The bill also would have allowed students -- with their roommate's permission -- to keep guns in dormitory rooms. Higher education officials lobbied against the bill, arguing that it would endanger students, not protect them. Currently Montana allows students to keep hunting weapons on campus, but they are kept in special lockers where students can get them when they want to go hunting.
Some legislators and civil liberties groups are asking why Governor Chris Christie's administration in New Jersey is planning to award $10.6 million in funds from a voter approved bond issue for college facilities to Beth Medrash Govoha, an all-male, orthodox rabbinical seminary,The Star-Ledgerreported. The article notes increasingly close ties between the college's leaders and the Christie administration. The bond vote explicitly included private colleges, and many private colleges in New Jersey have religious affiliations. Critics say that Beth Medrash Govoha -- unlike the Roman Catholic colleges in New Jersey -- appears to have religious tests for admission. College officials deny any religious tests. But critics say that requirements -- such as knowing Hebrew, knowing sacred Jewish texts and agreeing not to date for the first six months enrolled -- suggest a strong religious orientation for all students.
When Richard Herman resigned as chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (amid a scandal over admissions procedures that favored politically connected applicants), he was awarded a salary of $212,000 a year as he took on a faculty position. But an article in The Chicago Tribune raises questions about whether he is performing the full duties of a faculty member. Herman is required to teach only two classes a year in the College of Education, not the standard four a year. And his class this semester was called off due to low enrollment -- the second time that has happened since 2011, the Tribune said. Herman lives in Chicago and said through a university spokesman that he travels to campus once a week. Herman has switched to online courses when his classes have been canceled. He declined to comment on the questions raised by the article.
The Rev. Lawrence Biondi announced Saturday that he will step down as president of Saint Louis University once a new president is selected. Father Biondi has served as president for 25 years, but in the last year has been the subject of no confidence votes and considerable criticism from students and faculty members who have said he has ignored their concerns, and who have questioned his management decisions. Father Biondi and the board had until Saturday indicated no intent to change course. The university's announcement did not reference the recent controversies.
Alumni of Pennsylvania State University, who elect some members of the university's board, voted to unseat two incumbents, The Centre Daily Times reported. The three candidates elected (one seat was empty) were all backed by Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, a group formed by alumni who were angry over the dismissal of the late Joe Paterno as head football coach amid the Jerry Sandusky scandal. The results were announced as the Penn State board, consistent with the recommendations of an independent review, announced a series of changes in board structure, including the removal of the university president and state governor as voting members of the board, shrinking the size of the board, and creating a process for the removal of trustees.
The Rev. Donald J. Harrington announced Friday that he is stepping down as president of St. John's University in New York. In his announcement, he said that he had been contemplating retirement for some time, having served as president for 24 years and having overseen numerous improvements at the university. But he also acknowledged -- without detail -- "the difficulties for everyone during the past year." Father Harrington has been the subject of much scrutiny and investigation since New York Magazine outlined a series of business ventures involving Father Harrington and his chief of staff, Rob Wile. St. John's has also been in the news over the trial of a former dean, Cecilia Chang, who was accused of defrauding the university and forcing international students to do personal work for her. Chang killed herself while on trial.