Metro State Faculty Want Audit Following Late Paychecks

Metropolitan State University has paid its summer course instructors – a week late, the Pioneer Press reported. Administrators said last week that paychecks had been issued to several dozen instructors who did not receive their paychecks on time. The lump-sum payments were for thousands of dollars in some instances.

The Twin Cities-based university’s collective bargaining unit, the Inter Faculty Organization, representing faculty in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, also has requested "detailed, enumerated," line-items on their paystubs going forward, and an audit of six years’ worth of faculty pay and benefits, citing a history of payroll problems.

University administrators could not be reached for comment Friday.

More Scrutiny of Westfield State President's Expenses

The Massachusetts State Board of Higher Education has summoned the president and board leaders of Westfield State University to Boston for a discussion of the president's expenses, The Republican reported. The request comes as a new outside report detailed numerous violations of spending rules. The president, Evan Dobelle, has admitted to charging some items in error, and has said he has reimbursed the university or its foundation in such cases. Further, he has argued that his spending has been to advance the university's interests.

But the outside report found that Dobelle violated credit card policies on trips to San Francisco, New Orleans, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, New York City, Washington and elsewhere. In other cases, Dobelle charged the university foundation for travel to Spain, Vietnam, Thailand and China -- without receipts or documentation.

New leader selected for White House office for historically black colleges

Smart Title: 

White House office gets as its new leader the former president of South Carolina State.

Layoffs Follow Enrollment Drop at Midway College

Enrollment is down 18 percent this fall at Midway College, a private institution in Kentucky, The Lexington Herald-Leader reported. As a result, the college is eliminating the positions of about a dozen of its 54 faculty members, and ending all employer contributions to retirement accounts. "As an institution that is so heavily dependent on tuition revenue, cuts have to be made," said John Marsden, the president,  in a news release. "After exhausting all other options, some faculty contracts will be eliminated from this fiscal year in order to balance the budget."

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Moody's Warns of Impact of Enrollment Declines

Declines in the total enrollment of American higher education are "credit negative" for colleges and universities, particularly the majority that depend on tuition revenue for operating support, says a review of credit issues released Monday by Moody's Investors Services. "Enrollment declines in higher education are credit negative because they heighten competitive pressure for all universities. This limits opportunity to grow tuition revenue, now the primary revenue for the majority of public and private universities," said the report. "[A]mong traditional undergraduate colleges and universities, the credit effect is more severe for lower-rated, tuition-dependent colleges and universities that lack a strong brand name or market position. For higher rated universities with established student demand, the effect is minimal."

The report added that demographics of students may have a major impact on which institutions feel these shifts. "With the fall 2012 enrollment declines most pronounced for students over the age of 25, the credit effect is most acute for community colleges and for the 30 percent of universities we rate where more than 25 percent of total enrollment is at the graduate level," the report said. "Declining graduate enrollment can disproportionately affect a university since students in graduate programs typically generate more revenue per student than in undergraduate programs."

Report Faults States on Funds for Black Land-Grant Colleges

States generally meet their obligations to match certain federal funds that go to predominantly white land-grant universities, but this isn't the case for historically black land-grant colleges, according to a new report by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. Between 2010-12, the report says, the black land-grant colleges should have received an additional $56 million in state funds.

Early Court Win for Pa. Officials in Suit Over NCAA Fines of Penn State

A Pennsylvania court on Wednesday refused to dismiss a lawsuit brought by state officials who want to ensure that $60 million in fines Pennsylvania State University has agreed to pay the National Collegiate Athletic Association stays in the state, The Patriot-News of Harrisburg reported. The NCAA had asked the Commonwealth Court to dismiss a lawsuit, filed by a state senator and Pennsylvania's treasurer, asking that the hefty fine the university agreed to pay as part of a consent decree in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal go into a state-established endowment for child abuse victims, rather than going to the NCAA to spend on child abuse advocacy nationally.

A majority of the court's judges rejected the NCAA's arguments that the Pennsylvania officials did not have legal standing, that the case is moot because Penn State is not a party to it, and that the lawmakers' actions illegally interfere with the consent decree between the NCAA and Penn State, among other things, the newspaper reported.

$200M Gift for U. of Michigan B-School and Athletics

Stephen M. Ross, a real estate developer, has given the University of Michigan a gift of $200 million. The funds will be split between the business school and the athletics department. Gifts by Ross to Michigan now total $313 million, making him the largest donor in the institution's history.


Westfield State Board Backs President Despite Report's Findings of Violations

An external review released to Westfield State University's Board of Trustees Thursday found that President Evan Dobelle used his foundation-provided credit card for tens of thousands of dollars in personal expenses, but several board members rallied behind him, The Republican of Springfield reported. The accountant's review, prepared in March, found that the president had charged $68,000 in personal expenses to the card, in violation of university rules. But in remarks to the board, Dobelle noted that no fraud had been discovered, and that he had repaid all of the personal charges, the newspaper said. The Boston Globe reported that Dobelle challenged the validity of the audit report, citing the fact that it had been approved only by an executive committee of the board.

Several board members praised Dobelle at the meeting. “When you are a visionary and want to do something great, you’re going to have detractors,” said one. (Note: This item has been updated from an earlier version to correct statements about the nature and timing of the report.)

Despite billions in debt, perhaps little worry for elite institutions

Smart Title: 

Elite higher education institutions have billions in debt, but they're probably good for the money.


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