Peralta District Won't Invest in Fossil Fuel Companies

The Peralta Community College District has announced that it will sell off holdings in fossil fuel companies, backing the movement to divest such holdings to promote environmentalism.

Columbia Raises $6.1 Billion in Campaign

Columbia University announced Thursday that its fund-raising campaign -- which started in 2006 and ended at the close of 2013 -- had brought in $6.1 billion. That total is second only to Stanford's $6.2 billion completed campaign. However, Harvard University last year started a $6.5 billion campaign.


Retrenchment at Franklin Pierce U.

Franklin Pierce University has announced that it will stop offering degrees in American studies, theater and dance, graphic communications, fine arts, math and arts management, The Sentinel reported. A statement from the university said that the changes would allow the university to “attract, retain and prepare students for the personal and professional futures that await them."


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Brandeis Paid Ex-President $4.9 Million This Month

Brandeis University announced Thursday that it paid Jehuda Reinharz, its former president, $4.9 million this month. The funds were due to Reinharz for deferred compensation and sabbaticals that he did not take during his presidency, a Brandeis statement said. The university has been under intense criticism from many students and faculty members over high payments to Reinharz. The university also announced new policies on executive compensation, including a faculty role on panels that review executive compensation and a commitment to release information on executive compensation before it is required. The university statement noted that in revealing the large payments made in January, before such information would be public on tax forms, Brandeis was moving toward the kind of transparency it has pledged to provide.



Layoffs and Program Cuts at Iowa Wesleyan

Facing enrollment declines, Iowa Wesleyan College plans to close about half of its academic programs and to shrink its faculty, The Gazette reported. The jobs of  22 of 52 professors and 23 of 78 staff members will be eliminated. The college will also eliminate 16 of 32 major programs, including studio art, sociology, history, philosophy of religion, communication and mass communication, and forensic science.

Some Universities Could Lose Funds Under Florida Performance Plan

A revamped performance funding plan approved Thursday by Florida's higher education governing board could result in some universities having money taken away from them, The Miami Herald reported. State policy makers have increasingly adopted performance funding systems for colleges in recent years, but most such approaches use them to allocate new funds -- taking existing funds away is unusual. Under the new Florida system, which changes an earlier approach, an institution that doesn't score a minimum number of points under the scoring system would lose 1 percent of its funding in 2014-15, in addition to being ineligible for performance funds, the Herald reported.

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U.S. Urged to Give Incentives to States on College Funding

The federal government should create a matching grant program to reward states that maintain and increase their funding for public colleges, by linking the maximum Pell Grant awarded to students in states to per-student funding or higher education, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities argues in a new report. The paper documents the decline in states' funding per full-time equivalent college student since 2000 and the role that trend has played in driving up tuition prices (and student debt). 

The report asserts that the federal government can influence state behavior, citing the maintenance of effort provisions that were inserted into the federal stimulus legislation (and other measures) that provided funds to states that kept their own spending on higher education above certain thresholds. Those efforts have not gone far enough, though, AASCU argues, by rewarding states that at least maintained their spending no matter whether their levels were high or low. "A new model is needed that acknowledges existing levels of per-student state support for public higher education and that strategically leverages federal dollars to incentivize additional state investment."

The association calls for a matching grant program of up to $15 billion a year, with grants to states based on how much money they provide per student compared to the Pell Grant maximum award. (A state's federal grant award would be cut if it reduced its spending on public university operating support.)

The proposed additional spending of billions a year may seem like an unlikely luxury in an era when members of Congress are bickering over millions, but AASCU suggests that funds for the program could be derived from "better gatekeeping of institutional eligibility to participate in federal student aid programs (particularly for for-profit colleges), and "risk sharing" for federal student loans.

Study finds that countries that fund freely and regulate loosely have best higher ed

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Countries with the strongest postsecondary education systems are those that fund them well and give institutions freedom to innovate, study finds.

$50 Million Gift for Bioscience at Southern Cal

The University of Southern California is today announcing a $50 million gift to create a center for "convergent bioscience." The center will be a collaborative effort of USC's arts and sciences and engineering colleges.


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Penn State's Credit Card Royalties

Pennsylvania State University earned more ($2.7 million) on credit card royalties and fees than did any other college or university, according to an analysis by The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The newspaper used reports required by a new federal law. But the analysis also found that the number of accounts on which Penn State is paid is going down -- from 65,955 in December 2011 to 60,490 in December 2012.


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