Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, a Republican, on Monday released an audit he commissioned that found possible fraud and waste, conflicts of interest and poor governance at Alabama State University, The Montgomery Advertiser reported. The governor's office said that the report had been turned over to state and federal authorities. Further, the governor called on Alabama State's board to stop a search for a new president until some of the issues raised in the audit could be resolved. The university responded with a statement saying that the governor had violated an agreement to allow Alabama State officials to review and respond to the findings. The university's statement questioned many of the findings, and said that the findings were suspect because they came from "a firm that was handpicked by the governor without a bid and was paid for by funds under his control."
A new report from the National Bureau of Economic Research (abstract available here) finds that college and university endowments change their policies on spending rates regularly -- a finding that was not expected. "Given the long-term and relatively static nature of the investment problem faced by the typical educational institution, existing theoretical models of endowment management predict that the permanent portion of the stated spending policy should be highly stable," the report says. But based on an analysis of more than 800 college and university endowments from 2003 through 2011, the study found that half of the endowments changed spending policies at least once, and a quarter did so every year.
Florida, like many states, has a searchable registry of sex offenders. But for the first time, the registry offers a higher education search, so users can find out if there are sex offenders enrolled at or working at specific colleges and universities, The Sun Sentinel reported. In almost all of the cases, the offenders are students. One Florida college, Edison State College, is currently considering a complete ban on the enrollment of sex offenders, The Naples Daily News reported.
Robert Barchi's first year as president of Rutgers University has had plenty of controversy: athletics scandals, questions about athletics spending, criticism from the Newark campus that his focus is too much on the flagship campus, and a remark (that Barchi said was intended as a joke) that offended some minority scholars. An article in The Star-Ledgersaid that while Barchi has won praise for managing the merger of the University of Medicine and Dentistry into Rutgers, and for the move to the Big 10 athletics conference, "[b]y all accounts, Rutgers President Robert Barchi had a difficult freshman year." The newspaper also reported that the board recently awarded him a $90,000 bonus out of the $97,500 he could have received -- and that Barchi donated the money back to the university. A letter to Barchi from the Rutgers board chair said: "We are delighted with the progress Rutgers has seen this past year, and we thank you for your dedication and leadership."
Pressure is growing on the board of Westfield State University to remove Evan Dobelle as president. Dobelle has been accused of lavish and inappropriate spending on travel and personal items. Richard Freeland, commission of higher education in Massachusetts said Friday that it was "highly questionable" that Dobelle remain in office, The Boston Globe reported. While Dobelle has defended his record, and said that he is reimbursed the state for inappropriate expenses, Freeland said that the record shows Dobelle to have engaged in "repeated examples of inappropriate behavior," and that "it would be hard to overstate the damage that has been done to the reputation of our public colleges and universities." A spokesman for Dobelle said that the Freeland statements "were evidence of a well coordinated public relations attack to mask political agendas."
Moody’s issued a report last week warning universities of the risks associated with big-time sports and urging caution for those seeking to escalate into elite levels of competition. Focusing on institutions in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I, the report acknowledges that while big-time sports can boost brand recognition, donor support and student applications, that’s accompanied by growing “financial and reputational risks that require careful oversight.” Those risks include budgetary strain (nine in 10 athletic programs are not self-sustaining and require growing subsidies diverted from other university operations), public scrutiny when scandals hit, depleted debt capacity caused by capital investment in athletic facilities, and uncertain future costs as concussion treatment and the amateur model continue to be challenged.
In June, Moody’s downgraded the NCAA’s credit outlook to negative, citing a major lawsuit angling for athletes to be paid. “Increased public discourse about the best interest of student-athletes combined with highly publicized litigation could destabilize the current intercollegiate athletic system and negatively impact the NCAA and its member universities,” the Moody’s report said.