institutionalfinance

Phishing Scams Cost Coastal Carolina $1 Million

Two separate phishing scams led to the theft of more than $1 million from Coastal Carolina University, The State reported. The thefts happened after individuals claiming to be affiliated with companies with which the university does business requested changes in bank account information. The university has recovered some of the money.

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Barry and St. Thomas Universities explore strategic alliance amid pressures in South Florida

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Two Roman Catholic universities ask if they can do a better job of serving the Miami area together.

U of Maryland University College pursues strategy of 'unbundling'

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U of Maryland University College pursues a strategy of spinning off units into stand-alone companies, seeking financial gain for itself and affordable tuition rates for its students.

Science advocates dismayed by size of cuts proposed for NIH and other agencies

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Advocates for science hope Congress will block proposals.

Wright State President Resigns Amid Budget Crisis

The president of Wright State University resigned last week -- almost four months sooner than he had planned to retire from the institution -- in light of a budget crisis at the Ohio college, The Dayton Daily News reported.

“We have a substantial undertaking to bring our budget into alignment with our revenues,” said David Hopkins, outgoing president of Wright State, in an email to faculty, staff and students on Friday.

In lieu of the $432,000 salary he would have earned in the year following his retirement, Hopkins will now be eligible for an annual faculty salary of $200,000 in the College of Education and Human Services. He will still receive $150,000 in deferred compensation.

Cheryl Schrader has been selected as the next president of Wright State. She will take office July 1. In the meantime, the Board of Trustees chose Curtis McCray to serve as interim president. McCray has previously worked with the university as a consultant for its operational review.

The budget crisis that has consumed Wright State over the last few years stems from overspending, officials told The Dayton Daily. This year, the university is projected to spend $40 million beyond what it earned.

“That cannot continue under Dr. McCray’s leadership,” said Michael Bridges, chairman of the Board of Trustees. “You have to live within that budget.”

The trustees hope to bring the university out of as much debt as possible before Schrader takes over this summer.

Last year, the university laid off 23 people to help cut down on costs. An announcement about additional layoffs is expected next month. Wright State has also been under a hiring freeze since February, when Hopkins instituted it.

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Hiring Erodes Power From UMass Boston Chancellor

New details show the hiring of former Bowdoin College president Barry Mills to a top position at the University of Massachusetts at Boston earlier this month contributed to an erosion of power from the institution’s chancellor, J. Keith Motley.

Mills’s hiring to the newly created position of deputy chancellor and chief operating officer set up an unusual leadership situation at UMass Boston, which has struggled with financial difficulties and faculty unease even as it carries out wide-ranging construction projects. But a new report from The Boston Globe places Mills’s arrival in a sequence of events diluting Motley’s authority over daily institutional operations.

Motley’s contract expired in January and has not been renewed. Although he said he welcomes Mills and has no plans to leave UMass Boston, officials normally would negotiate a contract renewal six months before a deal expires. The Globe reported that Mills’s contract gives him the same powers as the chancellor and that he is in close contact with the University of Massachusetts system president and Board of Trustees, even though he reports to Motley. Mills does not receive the same pay and other perks as an institution leader, however.

Trustee Victor Woolridge, who chaired the Board of Trustees until this year, told the Globe that Mills was brought in to UMass Boston because “we think there’s some need for some help there.” Other trustees said they were increasingly worried administrators had not been dealing with financial problems quickly enough.

Officials also recently fired and replaced UMass Boston’s chief financial officer. The campus is struggling to close a deficit of as much as $30 million this year. Budget issues have prompted layoffs of adjunct professors and moves to cut nonessential travel and summer courses. Online database subscriptions have also been cut.

UMass Boston’s enrollment has declined, fund-raising has been falling, construction projects are late and financial reserves have dropped. The budget deficit of up to $30 million comes less than a decade after the institution posted a $20 million surplus in 2010.

Until recently, Motley was the UMass system’s only African-American chancellor.

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Calif. Democrats Propose Debt-Free College Plan

California Democratic legislators proposed a college aid plan Monday to cover tuition and living expenses for the state's students in an effort to rein in student debt, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The proposal would supplement the state's existing aid programs by eliminating the need for student loans for California State University and University of California students. It would also increase grant aid to full-time community college students to give them a tuition-free first year.

Students would still be able to use existing state and federal financial aid, but families making more than $60,000 a year would be expected to contribute and students would be expected to hold part-time jobs throughout the year.

The California Student Aid Commission administers $2.1 billion a year in state financial aid, and the Assembly proposal would cost around $1.6 billion a year, although that number could decrease as California increases the state minimum wage and students earn more in jobs.

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Aquinas College plans to shrink and focus on training teachers

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About 60 of 76 faculty and staff members will be out of their jobs.

Reflections on Inside Higher Ed's 2017 Survey of College and University Presidents (essay)

The most recent Inside Higher Ed survey of college and university presidents illustrates a disconnect between what presidents believe is occurring at their institutions and what is actually happening just below the surface among our student populations. Despite presidents’ impressions of the day-to-day experiences, all is not rosy, and student affairs administrators can provide presidents with a reality check when it comes to the good and the not-so-good circumstances and events that are transpiring.

Some of the issues that concern presidents most -- and those that we who work in student affairs believe should, in fact, concern presidents the most -- are often related to student behaviors and experiences outside of the classroom. Those are the areas of knowledge and responsibility housed in student affairs offices, and we can assist with the topics most associated with our field -- including equity and diversity initiatives, promoting anti-bias on campus, student engagement, and issues tied to student success, recruitment and retention.

The key to mining our expertise, however, is to have a realistic understanding of our areas of responsibility, and a plan for best accessing our expertise and our close connections throughout the institution. This allows presidents to make the strongest and best-informed decisions possible for their campus communities.

For example, the Inside Higher Ed survey found that “the vast majority of presidents describe the state of race relations at their college as either excellent (20 percent) or good (63 percent). More than three-fifths of presidents describe race relations at American colleges in general as fair.”

I’ve used the analogous data points from last year’s presidential survey when speaking to members of NASPA, the leading association for student affairs professionals, over the past year -- data that, the survey notes, are relatively unchanged from last year to this year. Not surprisingly, I’ve received a mix of gasps and chuckles, with many student affairs professionals hoping their presidents can realistically assess the status of race relations on their own campuses. NASPA’s survey of senior student affairs officers has consistently shown that diversity and race relations are among the top issues and concerns. It would be fascinating to see how students -- especially students from diverse backgrounds -- would rate their institutions, but I can safely bet that the “vast majority” would not rate them as “excellent” or “good.”

It is important to note that a lack of protest on a campus does not mean students and other community members are satisfied about race relations there. We shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of security that we are meeting students’ needs solely because we haven’t faced protests. The absence of activism may simply mean those students aren’t activated yet. Student affairs administrators can help their presidents proactively engage with all students so that they have an accurate picture of the true state of the student body and its general satisfaction with the current campus climate.

The ways in which student affairs professionals can contribute counsel to a president are not limited to race relations or underlying diversity unrest. The survey shows that presidents are also worried about attracting and retaining all students, including underrepresented ones, and making dollars from tuition and state appropriations stretch farther than ever before. With only 52 percent of presidents “confident about their institution’s financial health over the next 10 years,” higher education will likely face additional cuts in the future.

If presidents are considering reducing support for student affairs functions, they do so at the potential peril of their retention efforts and to the detriment of their student satisfaction and graduation rates. When cutting costs, presidents should prioritize efficiencies and preserve the core opportunities and experiences associated with a college degree. They should turn to data to determine which experiences are contributing to students’ success and refrain from wholesale elimination of the programs and services that keep students moving toward graduation. Presidents should make changes to increase impact and maintain personal contact and engagement, which are key parts of the institutional experience.

A Gallup survey found that students were 1.6 times more likely to strongly agree their education was worth the cost if they were “extremely active in extracurricular activities and organizations,” 1.9 times more likely if they had a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their “goals and dreams” and 1.4 times more likely if they had a “leadership position in a club or organization such as student government, a fraternity or sorority, or an athletic team.” Student affairs professionals can make a difference in keeping our students on the path toward graduation and satisfied with their investment.

This weekend, the American Council on Education and NASPA kick off their respective annual meetings. With a preponderance of attendees of the ACE meeting holding the title of president or chancellor, I encourage them to think through how they can better tap the expertise housed in student affairs and make use of the experiences of their senior student affairs officer. The survey results from Inside Higher Ed aren’t surprising, but they tell me that student affairs officers need a seat at the table to provide perspective and advice as presidents tackle myriad difficult topics on behalf of today’s students.

Kevin Kruger is president of NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

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Protests (clockwise from top left) at U of Missouri, Claremont McKenna College, U of Iowa, Amherst College and Ithaca College
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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Ex-Wife of Donor Sues WPI for Millions of Gift

The ex-wife of a major donor to Worcester Polytechnic Institute is suing the university for $4.5 million in funds that she says her husband hid from her during divorce proceedings and later gave to WPI, The Telegram & Gazette reported. The suit claims that she was denied a fair report of her ex-husband's assets during the divorce litigation and so should be entitled to this gift he made to WPI. The university issued a statement that said it hoped the former couple could resolve the dispute. "Hundreds of students have benefited from their philanthropy over the years," the university said. "We have no knowledge of any of the improper conduct alleged in the lawsuit."

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