Howard U. Ends Contract With Controversial CFO

Howard University has ended its relationship with a consulting firm through which Robert Tarola served as chief financial officer, The Washington Post reported. The university said that Tarola left by "mutual agreement." Many deans and other faculty members have criticized Tarola, questioning his plans to put the university on better financial ground. Last month Sidney Ribeau announced he was leaving the Howard presidency.


U. of Michigan Launches $4 Billion Fund-Raising Campaign

The University of Michigan on Thursday formally announced the launch of a $4 billion fund-raising campaign -- the largest ever for a public university. Michigan has already raised $1.7 billion. The top priority for the campaign (at $1 billion) is student aid.


U. of California Reports on Its Crowd-Funding Efforts

The University of California System raised $400,000 in relatively small gifts (averaging about $75) through a crowd-funding campaign for scholarships, and officials said that the effort was successful not only in bringing in money but raising awareness about the need for scholarships, The Los Angles Times reported. For the campaign, individuals pledged to do certain things in return for donations. One student at UC Merced wore a horse head mask for a week after donors agreed to donate. Michael Drake, chancellor at Irvine, will lead donors on a bike ride.

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Anderson U. Ends French, Theater, Philosophy Majors

Anderson University, a private Christian institution in Indiana, has announced that it will eliminate its French, philosophy and theater majors as part of a plan to deal with financial shortfalls, The Herald Bulletin reported. A total of 16 faculty and staff positions will be eliminated as a result of those and other changes.


Padding the Payroll for Federal Grants at U. of Oregon

The University of Oregon has discovered that some employees working on federal grants padded their pay by putting in for hours they didn't work, The Oregonian reported. The university has already repaid the government $330,000 as a result, and officials said that there are other employee pay records that are still being investigated.


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Layoffs Follow Enrollment Drop at Johnson C. Smith U.

Johnson C. Smith University announced 21 non-faculty layoffs Thursday (as well as the freezing of 30 unfilled positions) in response to a significant enrollment decline this fall, The Charlotte Observer reported. A year ago, fall enrollment at the university set a record at 1,801, but this fall it ended up at 1,387. A key factor in the decline, officials said, was tighter rules on loan eligibility that resulted in some students or families being denied loans that they received in the past -- an issue that has been a source of frustration at many historically black colleges this year.


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Strayer to Close 20 Campuses As Enrollment Falls

Strayer Education announced Thursday that it would close about 20 physical campuses, mostly in the Midwest, to cut costs in response to a 17 percent year-over-year enrollment drop that has sharply reduced its revenues. Strayer is the latest for-profit higher education provider (and among the last) to curtail its on-ground presence in the wake of the double whammy of a tough economy and increased regulatory oversight. The campus closures will affect about 5 percent of the company's roughly 50,000 students, Strayer said; those students will be encouraged to shift to the university's online programs, where most of them already study. (An email sent to students at the affected campuses said those who enrolled in spring courses would receive a $500 voucher toward the purchase of a new computer or mobile device.)

Strayer also said that it would cut its tuition price by about 20 percent effective in January.

Berklee College of Music launches first accredited bachelor's degree programs in music

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The Berklee College of Music will next year launch its first two bachelor's degrees online, where 120 credits cost less than one year on campus.

North Carolina State Sells Forest for $150 Million

North Carolina State University has sold a forest it owns for $150 million, The News & Observer reported. Conservationists have opposed the sale of the 79,000-acre forest. The university said that only a limited portion of the forest will be developed, and that students and faculty members will continue to be able to do research there. Officials said that the funds from the sale would go to an endowment that would support the university's College of Natural Resources.

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Brown U. Rejects Call to Sell Holdings in Coal Companies

Brown University announced Sunday that its board has decided not to sell off investment holdings in coal companies. Brown's policies set out criteria for divesting the endowment of certain kinds of investments, and a letter released from Christina H. Paxson said that while she believed coal production causes "social harm," one of the criteria, she was not convinced on other requirements.

"The existence of social harm is a necessary but not sufficient rationale for Brown to divest," she wrote. "Once social harm is established, divestiture may be warranted if either divestiture is likely to help reduce the harm or the harm is sufficiently grave. Taking the second of these criteria first, is it the case that the social harm from coal is so grave that divestiture is warranted? Absent a bright-line threshold for gravity, this is a judgment call, and a difficult one at that. I believe that although the social harm is clear, this harm is moderated by the fact that coal is currently necessary for the functioning of the global economy. Coal is the source of approximately 40 percent of the world’s electricity, and it provides needed energy for millions of people throughout the world. In many regions, there are serious technological impediments to transitioning away from coal. In addition, coal is used in the production of other products, such as cement and steel, which are central to the economies of both developed and developing countries. The comparison to tobacco is instructive. Unlike tobacco, which arguably has no social value, a cessation of the production and use of coal would itself create significant economic and social harm to countless communities across the globe." She added that "Brown’s holdings are much too small for divestiture to reduce corporate profits. Furthermore, because the profits of these companies are determined primarily by the demand for their products rather than their stock prices, divestiture would not reduce profits even if Brown’s holdings were orders of magnitude larger."

The student group that has been pushing for divestment of coal holdings outlines its position here.



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