Fine Arts School Will Become Part of Tufts

The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, in Boston, will become part of Tufts University, The Boston Globe reported. The buildings of the school will continue to be owned by the museum, but the educational operations -- including admissions recruitment, the 700 students and 145 faculty members -- will be managed by Tufts. The institution will be known as SMFA@Tufts. The move comes at a time when many small arts or specialized institutions are seeking affiliations with larger colleges and universities.

Clinton, Sanders Debate College Plans

In Saturday night's debate, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the major candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, offered different views on the problems facing public higher education and their plans to help students and families afford college. While both candidates favor a major infusion of federal funds to allow for free (in the Sanders plan) and debt-free (in the Clinton plan) public higher education, they emphasized their differences Saturday night. (Photo from Getty Images.)

On the issue of why tuition is going up, Sanders pointed to choices being made by colleges. "The cost of college education is escalating a lot faster than the cost of inflation. There are a lot of factors involved in that," Sanders said. "And that is that we have some colleges and universities that are spending a huge amount of money on fancy dormitories and on giant football stadiums. Maybe we should focus on quality education with well-paid faculty members …. And I understand in many universities a heck of a lot of vice presidents who earn a big salary."

Clinton said that, by far, the top reason for rising college costs at public colleges is that "states have been disinvesting in higher education …. So states over a period of decades have put their money elsewhere -- into prisons, into highways, into things other than higher education."

Sander won applause from the debate audience for his analysis. But the Associated Press Fact Check on the debate said that Clinton was more accurate, noting a recent study attributing 79 percent of the increase in public college tuition rates in recent years to declines in state support.

Sanders argued for free public higher education for everyone. "We should look at college today the way high school was looked at 60 years ago. All young people who have the ability should be able to get a college education," he said, again to applause.

Clinton drew attention, however, to the way her plan would not eliminate tuition for students from families with the ability to pay. "I don't believe in free tuition for everybody. I believe we should focus on middle-class families, working families and poor kids who have the ambition and the talent to go to college and get ahead," she said.

A Washington Post analysis of the debate cited that comment as significant. "Interesting that Clinton volunteers this. Just the latest example of her pretty clearly stating that she won’t be dragged too far left by this primary. She’s the favorite, and she’s comfortable enough not to try and match Sanders on free tuition," said the analysis.

A full transcript of the debate from the Post, including annotations on key points, may be found here.

U of California Sells Investments in Private Prisons

The University of California system has sold off its holdings in private prison companies, investments that black student groups have criticized. The university had $30 million in such investments, a relatively small share of its total holdings. The university generally avoids blanket divestment policies. A spokesperson said via email that these investments were dropped out of the belief that "these holdings were not a good investment for a long-term investor such as UC."

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$100M to Florida State for Entrepreneurship School

Florida State University on Friday announced a gift of $100 million for a new school of entrepreneurship. The university says the school will be the largest freestanding school of entrepreneurship in the country, and will offer programs available to all Florida State students. The gift is the largest in Florida State's history.

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Merger Planned for 2 Philadelphia Universities

Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University on Thursday signed a letter of intent to merge.

The governing boards of each institution unanimously agreed to support a pending merger. Both colleges are located in Philadelphia. A merger is expected to be finalized this summer.

Philadelphia University will keep its name for an initial period and then eventually be bundled into Jefferson, according to the preliminary agreement. Jefferson's leader, Stephen Klasko, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that although unexpected by many, a merger of the two institutions makes sense. "When you actually hear the song a few times, you realize it's a brilliant song," he said.

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New York Governor Vetoes Maintenance of Effort Bill

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday vetoed a maintenance of effort bill that would have required the state to cover cost increases negotiated in collective bargaining agreements between trade unions and the state's two public university systems, the City University of New York and the State University of New York.

The bill would have also required that the state fund increases in other operational costs, such as in utilities and rent. The idea behind the bill was to keep the cost increases from being bundled into tuition.

Cuomo said such costs should be discussed as part of the overall public higher education budget. "Isolated changes should not be made outside of the context of broader discussions about higher education policy. Further, given the potential negative impact on the state's financial plan, the issues raised by this legislation are better dealt with in the context of negotiations for the upcoming state budget," he wrote in a veto message, according to Politico New York.

CUNY's faculty and staff union, the Professional Staff Congress, criticized Cuomo's decision, saying it amounted to a "refusal to invest in the education CUNY students need."

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Ohio Dominican Disputes Kasich Comments

Ohio Dominican University is disputing comments made by Governor John Kasich, the state's current governor and a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, reported. At a New Hampshire event, Kasich recounted an experience at a commencement speech in Ohio in the spring. “We are getting ready to go in and the president was standing with me and I said, ‘What does it cost to go to school here?’ ” Kasich said. “He told me. I said, ‘That’s really a lot of money. Why don’t you reduce the costs?’ You know what he said? ‘You can’t reduce the costs ’cause if we reduce the costs people will think our school is cheap and that would mean it is not very good.’ Imagine the psychology of that. But that’s what runs things.” Kasich did not identify the college, but his staff members confirmed that the only institution at which he gave a commencement address in the spring was Ohio Dominican.

Ohio Dominican's president, Peter Cimbolic, released this statement Friday: “I have great respect for Governor Kasich, but I don't remember talking about our university's situation in those terms. This approach may have come up in a more general conversation with other members of my staff about the factors that drive the rising cost of higher education. However, I can assure you the approach described by the governor is not Ohio Dominican's mindset in setting the price for our outstanding educational experience. We have been diligent in our efforts to hold the line on tuition increases and to increase the amount of financial aid we offer to students.”

Tuition, room and board costs about $40,000 a year at Ohio Dominican, and nearly all full-time undergraduates receive some aid.

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Golden Parachutes for Coaches at Public Universities

One of the fastest-growing expenses for athletics programs at public universities is severance, The Washington Post reported. The Post analyzed spending at 48 public universities in top athletic conferences and found that, in 2014, the universities were spending $28.5 million on severance deals with former coaches. That's a 120 percent increase from 2004.

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Evangel U Announces $4M in Cuts, Including Layoffs

Evangel University, in Missouri, has announced that it is cutting its budget by $4 million (about 10 percent) to respond to enrollment declines without a major tuition increase, The Springfield News-Leader reported. The cuts include 12 layoffs, and another 32 positions eliminated when faculty and staff members accepted buyout offers.

Miller College, Small Private in Michigan, Will Close

Miller College, a small private institution with about 275 students, is shutting down due to severe financial problems. The college, on the campus of Kellogg Community College, primarily offers upper division courses. The Battle Creek Enquirer reported that recent audits revealed financial challenges far greater than officials realized they faced, and that there was no way to get the college financially solvent. Among the problems appears to be that hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal aid may have been distributed in unauthorized ways. Western Michigan University announced Tuesday that it would offer assistance so that Miller students could complete their degrees.



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