Brown University agreed Tuesday to pay the City of Providence $31.5 million over 11 years, according to The Wall Street Journal, ending a contentious standoff in which city officials threatened to revoke the university’s tax-exempt status if the institution would not help the city fill its budget deficit. Brown, along with four other colleges in the city, had an agreement in place since 2003 to pay the city $50 million over 20 years, but city officials hoped to rework the agreement as the city’s financial problems became clear.
The pharmaceutical company Pfizer has agreed to pay $450 million to Brigham Young University to settle a lawsuit over the drug Celebrex, The Deseret News reported. Brigham Young and one of its professors have accused the company of unfairly using his work conducted at the university for the drug. The announcement of the settlement did not detail terms, but a footnote in a quarterly report issued by Pfizer references a $450 million expense related to the Brigham Young suit.
The key action corporate leaders can take to improve higher education is to advocate for state-level policies that provide incentives for boosting productivity and that remove barriers to innovation, according to a report released Monday by the Committee for Economic Development. The nonprofit business group called for a focus on "broad-access" institutions, particularly less selective public colleges, two-year institutions and for-profits, because those colleges face the biggest challenges in educating the American workforce. But change does not come from within, the report argues, so businesses must work with state policymakers to nudge colleges to adapt innovations. As for specific policies, the group called for statewide degree attainment goals and performance funding based on student outcomes, rather than inputs.
Thirteen students at six California State University campuses are planning a hunger strike, vowing to fast until the university system freezes tuition, cuts spending on administrators and agrees to various other measures, The Los Angeles Times reported. "We've tried pretty much everything, and they just ignore us," said Donnie Bessom, a student at Cal State Long Beach. "We've talked to state legislators, written petitions, mobilized people on campus. The next step for us is in the tradition of nonviolent civil disobedience. They keep raising salaries and have those other luxuries, and we thought the symbolic nature of a hunger strike was appropriate to the crisis."
Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, vetoed a bill Friday that would have allowed the University of Florida and Florida State University -- research universities where tuition rates lag national averages -- to increase tuition substantially. In his veto message, Governor Scott cited concerns about the impact of tuition increase on students and their families, and a need for more information on whether tuition increases would provide an appropriate "return" for Florida taxpayers. Florida State and University of Florida had lobbied hard for passage of the bill, arguing that they needed more money to achieve the state's aspirations for them as research universities. The veto comes amid deep budget cuts to the state's universities. Following the veto, Bernie Machen, president of the University of Florida, issued a statement saying that he was "so very disappointed" in the governor's action. "This legislation presented the University of Florida with a pathway toward excellence and would have enabled the great state of Florida to have two world-class universities."
Creighton University has announced plans to sell its struggling medical center in Omaha to a regional health care network. The university, which sold off a large share of the hospital's ownership to another health care company, Tenet, in 1995, said Wednesday that Alegent Health would buy the entire Creighton University Medical Center, and that Alegent would become the university's primary partner for its medical and other health professions students. The university did not disclose the terms of the deal.
The University of Florida is backing off a controversial plan that would have stripped most of the research functions from its computer science department. Bernie Machen, the university's president, issued a statement Wednesday in which he said that new plans were being developed to preserve the department's research role -- the elimination of which outraged many students, faculty members and alumni. The cuts are part of large reductions at the university, resulting from state appropriations cuts. Referring to the computer science proposal, Machen wrote: "As many of you know, the proposal has been met with overwhelming negative response, much of which I believe has been based on misunderstanding." At the same time, he said that some faculty members had come forward with proposals that would meet budget goals and also preserve the research mission in the computer science program. While work is needed to further develop those plans, Machen said that the previous proposal would be "set aside."
Kentucky's restrictions on university debt, at a time when many public universities are turning to bonds in lieu of state funding for capital projects, further hinder construction at state institutions.
Years of legal battles over Fisk University's famous collection of modern art may be about to come to an end with the university permitted to sell a share in the collection, The Tennessean reported. The Tennessee Supreme Court announced Monday that it would not hear an appeal in the case, clearing the way for the sale to take place. The dispute concerns works donated by Georgia O’Keeffe, who stipulated that Fisk not sell or break up the collection. Tennessee's attorney general has challenged the sale, saying it would violate the terms of the donation and not serve the public. Fisk, a historically black college, has argued that it needs money from the sale to support its educational mission. Under the current plan, Fisk would sell a share in the collection to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, in Arkansas, and the collection would appear for periods both there and at the university.