The University of Louisville Foundation killed a deferred compensation program that provided about $20 million to a small group of administrators, weeks after its lawyer said the program was structured to conceal it from foundation employees.
Former University of Louisville President James Ramsey and about a dozen other university officials received compensation under the program. Those who are currently vested in the program will receive money that was promised to them, but any remaining funds will not be disbursed, according toLouisville Business First.Six university employees will be affected by the decision, which was announced Tuesday.
Earlier this month, the longtime attorney for the University of Louisville Foundation told the foundation’s board that the organization had created two limited liability companies to administer deferred compensation awards for “obfuscation purposes,” according to WDRB. He later said he regretted using the word “obfuscation” and said the intention was to keep a group of people who work at the foundation from accessing records, not to conceal the compensation from the public.
A new report from the American Enterprise Institute argues that state and local funding of public colleges stacks the deck against for-profit institutions under the gainful-employment rule, an Obama administration regulation that measures the ability of graduates of vocational programs to repay their student loans. The rule covers nondegree programs at nonprofit colleges -- mostly community colleges -- and all for-profit programs.
Roughly three-quarters of for-profit programs pass the rule, the report said, compared to a relatively small number of nonprofits that are covered under gainful employment. Direct public funding drives much of that disparity, according to the report's authors.
"Higher tuition at for-profits means students take on more debt, while public institutions have the luxury of charging lower tuition due to their direct appropriations," the report said. "Therefore, even if a for-profit institution and a public institution have similar overall expenditures (costs) and graduate earnings (returns on investment), the for-profit institution will be more likely to fail the gainful-employment rule, since more of its costs are reflected in student debt."
Congressional Republicans and the Trump administration have said they will seek to roll back gainful employment and other Obama-era regulations aimed at for-profits. But such nixing of the rules likely will take time. And this week the U.S. Education Department defended gainful employment in federal court.
Some 85 percent of tenure-stream professors at Loyola University at Chicago's School of Education who participated a recent vote said they had no confidence in Terri Pigott, their dean. About 82 percent of voting professors also expressed no confidence in the leadership of Ann Marie Ryan, associate dean of academic programs in education. Twenty-seven of 33 total eligible faculty members voted.
Professors in the school have repeatedly expressed concerns about a hostile climate there, including intimidation, discrimination, threats against faculty members and programs, and the erosion of shared governance. Higher education faculty members also have accused the deans of deliberately misrepresenting their interest in a now-canceled executive doctor of education program to the greater university. The education school's Academic Council also censured the deans over similar concerns last month. (Note: This sentence has been updated from a previous version to reflect that the school's Academic Council, not the university's, resolved to censure the deans.)
David E. Chinitz, professor of English and president of Loyola’s advocacy chapter of the American Association of University Professors, said via email that members have been “following the developments in the School of Education for some time and have had serious concerns about issues of governance and the treatment of faculty there.” The recent vote of no confidence “signals unmistakably that the situation has become a crisis,” he added, “and we hope for an expeditious resolution so that the school can come together and begin to repair the damage.”
A university spokesperson declined comment on the vote, saying it was a confidential “personnel matter.”
The American Bar Association is mulling whether to eliminate a requirement that full-time faculty members teach at least half of every law school's upper-level courses.
A committee of the ABA, which accredits law schools, earlier this month recommended eliminating the requirement. The group is accepting public comments and has scheduled a July hearing on the proposal.
Kyle McEntee, executive director and co-founder of Law School Transparency, a nonprofit group, was cautiously supportive of the ABA's possible move, with some caveats.
"Faculty expenditures are among the highest line items on a school's budget. I have no problem with the ABA providing schools more flexibility in hiring, as long as schools study and indicate how they measure the effectiveness of their teachers, including full-time faculty already on staff," McEntee said via email. "Part-time teaching resources are a real opportunity to bring down the costs of legal education, while satisfying the demands of the practicing bar. But it also has the potential to create an army of aimless, well-intentioned adjuncts."
A new report from the Center for American Progress says 12 of the largest accrediting agencies lack the budgets and staffing necessary to adequately monitor the quality of colleges they oversee.
For example, the left-leaning group found, the 12 accreditors in 2013 spent a total of $75 million on quality assurance. As a result, the agencies are serving as gatekeepers to $1,693 in federal aid for every dollar they spend to oversee colleges. The report also cited the argument that accreditors are vulnerable to expensive lawsuits when a college challenges a sanction in court.
The conservative Heritage Foundation also released a report on accreditation this week, calling on the U.S. Congress to decouple federal aid financing from the accreditation process. Instead, the report called for all federal loans to be issued under the terms of graduate Stafford Loans.
Heritage also voiced support for a 2014 legislative proposal from Senator Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, that would allow states to opt out of the current, federally sanctioned accreditation system and to instead set their own rules for accreditation. That might mean accrediting and issuing aid for alternative programs of study and even individual courses.
"This student-centered approach to accreditation reform could foster much-needed innovation in higher education and link student learning to skills needed in the marketplace," the Heritage report said.
In its report, the Center for American Progress called for accreditors to set minimum fees for their member institutions and to increase those fees on poor-performing colleges.
"Changing the funding structure could accomplish two goals. First, higher revenue would allow accreditors to hire more staff and focus more time and energy on schools in need of improvement," the report said. "Second, higher fees and more oversight for low performers would create incentives to improve performance. Accreditors should work to ensure these fees are adequate but not overly burdensome."
Barbara Brittingham, chair of the Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions and president of the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, New England Association of Schools and Colleges, responded to the Center for American Progress report with a written statement. While Brittingham said she appreciated that the report seeks enhanced legal protections for accreditors, she said its take on the agencies' staffing levels failed to recognize contributions of volunteers in the current peer-review structure.
"It notes that regional accreditation in a recent year was supported by over 4,300 volunteers, but does not reflect the value of the expertise of these volunteers to the enterprise," said Brittingham. "Because these volunteers are generally college and university presidents, academic officers, senior faculty, and others with specialized expertise, including members of the public, regional accreditation operates with capacity that goes far beyond a count of its employees. The depth and diversity of volunteer expertise keeps capacity high while staying financially efficient. We don’t want to unnecessarily increase cost that would likely be passed along to students."
The Trump administration has called on the U.S. Congress to cut $3 billion from the U.S. Department of Education's budget as part of $18 billion in new proposed cuts to social programs for the current fiscal year, according to news reports. The White House previously called for a $9.2 billion (or 13.5 percent) cut to the department for next year.
Some congressional sources told Politico that it is too late in the budget process to follow through on Trump's requested slashing for this fiscal year.
Senator Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat and ranking member on the Senate's education committee, called the new White House proposals "absurd" and "absolute nonstarters" for her party.
"President Trump promised to stand up for struggling families on the campaign trail, and instead he is threatening to kick the ladder of opportunity and the chance at a middle-class life out from under millions of low-income students," she said in a written statement. "I hope Republicans join me in rejecting the anti-student proposals we’ve seen from the Trump administration in recent weeks that would destabilize the Pell Grant program, and work to protect access to affordable, high-quality higher education for all students."
Trevecca Nazarene University, in Nashville, Tenn., may merge with Eastern Nazarene University, outside Boston, The Tennessean reported. Under a deal reached last week, Trevecca's president, Dan Boone, will lead both institutions for three years while officials consider a possible merger that would maintain the campuses. The hope for a merger is that it would save money by combining some administrative functions. Trevecca enrolls about 3,000 students. Eastern Nazarene enrolls about 1,000 students.
Ithaca College’s new non-tenure-track faculty union reached a tentative contract agreement with the institution this week, averting a threatened strike. Terms of the contract are generous compared to many other contingent faculty agreements. They include an established path to pay parity for part-time faculty members, with immediate raises, followed by annual raises totaling $1,025 per three-credit course for the life of the contract.
Other gains are more stability for full-time, non-tenure-track faculty members included in the new bargaining unit; they’ll be eligible for two-year appointments after three years of teaching at the college and three-year appointments after five years of service. Part-timers, too, will be eligible for two-year appointments after three on campus, and they’re guaranteed a $1,300 “kill fee” for any course canceled at the last minute. All unit members get earlier notice of appointments and the right to interview and be considered for full-time positions.
The unit affiliated with Service Employees International Union said in a news release that it “won on everything.” Nancy Pringle, college senior vice president; Linda Petrosino, provost; and Gwen Seaquist, professor of legal studies, said in a joint statement they are “confident that this new contract is fair, that it addresses the concerns of our valued faculty members and that it enables the college to maintain excellence in a fiscally responsive manner.”