Students have ended a long-term occupation of the president's office at Cooper Union, reaching an agreement with the administration. The occupation was designed to protest the decision to start charging tuition at what for many years had been a free institution. Cooper Union officials have said that they have no financial alternative. A joint statement of the administration and the protesting students did not indicate that tuition would be abandoned. However it said that "a working group will be established promptly to undertake a good faith effort to seek an alternative to tuition that will sustain the institution’s long-term financial viability and strengthen its academic excellence." Further, the administration pledged to add student representation to the board, to create a community space for students and to grant amnesty for violating Cooper Union policies during the occupation. In the future, "occupiers and all present at this meeting commit to complying with, and cooperating with the enforcement of, all laws and Cooper Union policies," said the agreement that ended the occupation.
A dominant theme at this year’s annual meeting of college business officers is finding creative sources of capital or revenue that institutions can use to invest -- often by outsourcing existing functions.
Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee has signed legislation that could require Bryant University to reimburse the town of Smithfield for police and fire department service, The Providence Journal reported. The legislation requires that university and town officials try to negotiate an agreement. If they fail to reach a deal, the town can start charging the university on March 1. Bryant, like many private colleges, said it does not object to discussing ways to compensate the town, but that it is inappropriate for a state government to force a private, nonprofit college to pay its locality. The university, which urged Governor Chafee to veto the legislation, said it will negotiate with the town but may also consider litigation against the law.
Amherst College spent $19 million on architectural and other expenses for a planned $245 million science building that the college has now decided not to build, The Boston Globe reported. Amherst officials say that they still need and plan to find a way to build a new science facility, but that the planned building was creating too many problems. The Globe article uses the Amherst situation to discuss competing pressures on colleges as the plan the best spaces for scientists. In the Amherst case, some science professors say that the project grew more expensive and more complicated in part because of a desire for architectural details (a light filled atrium, for example) as opposed to focusing on the basic lab spaces that the professors need.
A Senate subcommittee on Tuesday approved a fiscal year 2014 spending bill that supports the launch of a “Race to the Top” program focusing on college affordability and calls for a significant increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health.
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies bill set discretionary spending at $164.3 billion. The bill includes $400 million to support the Obama administration’s “Race to the Top” initiative. This is a noticeable difference from last year’s budget plan, which omitted the $1 billion the administration had requested for the initiative. The funding for the program will be an incentive for states to reduce college costs and improve academic outcomes. The subcommittee would also allocate $850 million for the TRIO programs, which help low-income, first generation college students prepare for and succeed in postsecondary education.
The Senate’s bill would also provide $31 billion to the National Institutes of Health, an increase of $307 million from last year, to fund biomedical research. The funding would allow the NIH to allocate $40 million for the new Brain Research through Application of Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative.
Under the plan, the total maximum Pell Grant would rise by $140 to $5,785.
The House has not yet introduced its version of the appropriations bill. It is considered unlikely that the two bills will be reconciled and passed. The full appropriations committee will meet on Thursday.
Some of the wealthiest American universities are starting to invest in Africa, seeing the potential for large gains, Reuters reported. Northwestern University, with holdings in companies in Kenya and Nigeria, recently doubled its African investments. Other large endowments investing in Africa include those of the Universities of Michigan, Notre Dame, Texas and Wisconsin. Rockefeller University is expected to make such an investment this year.
Some alumni and others are questioning a plan by William Peace University to use two-thirds of its $33 million endowment to buy a retail center adjacent to campus, The Raleigh News & Observerreported. University officials said that the center would provide income now and could at some point in the future provide facilities for expanding the university. Others question devoting so much of the university's endowment to the project. Still others have raised questions about the university's refusal to release the names of the trustees who voted on the matter.