Concordia in Minnesota Will Cut 9 Majors

Concordia College will discontinue nine majors and one concentration, the Moorhead, Minn., college announced Friday. Instructors in those majors could lose their jobs by the end of May, while tenured professors will have one year’s notice, Inforum reported. Faculty members over 55 are being offered an incentive to retire early.

Concordia has been struggling to make up for declining enrollment, and it cut 5 percent of its workforce in April. Now, the college is aiming for $2.7 million in savings and new revenue.

Five of the discontinued majors are foreign languages -- Latin, Latin education, French, French education and German -- along with the classical studies, classics, health, humanities and Scandinavian studies concentration. There are currently 38 students enrolled in the discontinued majors, and 12 of those are scheduled to graduate this year. The rest will be able to complete their majors through special arrangements, independent studies and substitution of requirements.

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Should Harvard Rename Med School for $1 Billion?

Harvard University, which has lagged other colleges in selling naming rights for academic colleges, has done so twice in recent years, in return for large gifts. That has prompted debate at its medical school over whether an extremely large gift (not yet on the table, but people are talking about a $1 billion gift) would justify renaming the medical school, STAT reported. Proponents say a gift of that size could bring the already prestigious institution to a new level.

But some faculty members worry about the implications. “If the school sells naming rights, it makes the school feel like it’s a football stadium,” David Jones, a professor, said. When faculty members publish articles with the new name of their medical school, “everyone on the faculty, and all of the students, become an advertisement for whoever bought the naming rights.” He added that professors also fear that they may not like the record of the donor, given that there are relatively few people with the ability to donate a gift of the size Harvard would want. “If they named it the Trump School of Medicine, half of the faculty would resign,” Jones said.

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Cornell alumni and faculty members protest proposed College of Business

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A proposal to merge Cornell's three business schools into a unified College of Business raises faculty and alumni concerns about shared governance and institutional culture.

Berklee and Boston Conservatory to Merge

Two Boston music colleges -- the Berklee College of Music and the Boston Conservatory -- on Tuesday announced plans to merge. The combined institution will be known as Berklee and the conservatory will be called the Boston Conservatory at Berklee. Eight conservatory trustees will join the board of the combined institution, which will then have 43 board members. While both colleges are music schools, they have different academic and performing strengths, which officials say will create more opportunities for students. The conservatory is known for classical music, opera and dance. Berklee is known for programs in contemporary music, technology, the music business, music therapy, sound design, production, film and online education.

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U of Cincinnati Settles for $5.3M With Family of Man Killed by Police Officer

The University of Cincinnati has agreed to a $5.3 million settlement with the family of Samuel DuBose, who was shot and killed by a university police officer in July. The officer who shot DuBose has been charged with murder in a police shooting widely seen as unwarranted. The university will pay the family $4.85 million and will also provide an education free of tuition and fees for each of DuBose's 12 children. The university's president, Santa Ono, issued an apology, saying, “I want to again express on behalf of the University of Cincinnati community our deepest sadness and regrets at the heartbreaking loss of the life of Samuel DuBose. This agreement is also part of the healing process not only for the family but also for our university and Cincinnati communities."

Illinois Politicians Spar Over Grant Funding

Illinois Republican Governor Bruce Rauner appears to be trying to stymie attempts by the state's Democratic-controlled Legislature to pay back universities that have covered the cost of millions in state grants this academic year.

Illinois continues to operate without a fiscal 2016 higher education budget, and as a result public funding for Monetary Award Program grants for some 125,000 students hasn't been approved (despite the fact that recipients last year were promised the funds by the state). In the midst of the ongoing budget crisis, most public and private universities have covered the grants, warning students they could be on the hook for the cash if the state doesn't eventually fund the MAP program.

Senate Democrats introduced a bill this week seeking $182 million to pay universities back for covering the grants in the fall. But a memo from Richard Goldberg, the governor's deputy chief of staff, sent to legislators just before the legislative introduction indicates that the measure does not have the support of the governor. The memo criticizes colleges and universities for cronyism, reckless spending and constant tuition hikes, according to the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, public funding for the state's public universities is also in limbo as the Legislature and governor spar over the budget.

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S&P Issues Bifurcated Outlook for Higher Ed

In recent years the number of credit-rating downgrades to colleges and universities has significantly outnumbered the number of upgrades given by Standard & Poor's credit rating agency. And the trend is expected to continue, but slow, in the coming year.

Yet some institutions will experience more financial difficulty than others, depending on their size, academic standing and financial strength. The result is a bifurcated outlook for higher education in 2016, according to a new report from Standard and Poor's.

"We believe most institutions have adapted to the 'new normal' of more competition for students and limited tuition flexibility and are taking advantage of their individual strategic positions to continue operating successfully," the report states. "However, these factors are not affecting all institutions equally. Schools with national or international reputations and growing resources will likely be able to capitalize on opportunities to further strengthen their positions, while smaller, regional schools will continue to struggle to differentiate their brands, which will require additional investment and resources that could weaken their credit profiles in 2016."

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Sluggish Recovery of State Funding for Public Colleges

State funding for public higher education has increased in the five years since the recession. However, those increases are not keeping pace with inflation. Just two states -- Utah and Massachusetts -- have had operating-fund support for public higher education that matched or surpassed the rate of inflation in each of those five years, according to a new report from the University of Alabama's Education Policy Center. Five states failed to hit the inflation rate a single time.

Tuition hikes have continued due to state disinvestment, found the report, which was based on a survey of state-level leaders of community colleges in 49 states. Tuition rates are expected to top this year's 2.1 percent inflation rate (from the Higher Education Price Index) for community college students in 25 states, regional university students in 28 states and flagship university students in 26 states, according to the report. State-based student aid also is not keeping up with inflation.

The report's coauthors are Stephen Katsinas, the center's director, Mark D'Amico, associate professor of education leadership at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Janice Friedel, associate professor of education at Iowa State University, and three researchers at the University of Alabama.

Report: Colleges Reduce Emissions

Colleges and universities reduced their emissions by 13 percent per square foot between 2007 and 2014, according to a report released Wednesday.

Yet institutions made less progress in curbing energy use, which was down just 2 percent per square foot during the same period. The reason? Because most of the sustainability strides made by colleges in recent years have come from switching from coal and oil to natural gas, not from curbing overall usage.

These figures come from a report by Sightlines and the University of New Hampshire Sustainability Institute, which studied 343 colleges and universities with a combined 1.5 billion square feet of campus facilities across 44 states.

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Trinity Lutheran College Will Close

Trinity Lutheran College, a small Christian institution in Washington State, announced Tuesday that it will shut down in May. "After prayer, discernment and a careful and thorough study of all the resources and options available to us, the Board of Directors of Trinity Lutheran College has come to the conclusion that any efforts to increase enrollment at Trinity will no longer sustain the college," said a letter released by Reverend Kevin Bates, board chair. "I want all of you to know that this decision was not made lightly. To the contrary, it was made with deep deliberation and much prayer. As the final vote was cast, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room -- board members, members of the foundation and administrators alike carry the weight of this closure heavily on our hearts. It was a very sad decision for us to make."

The college enrolls 192 undergraduates.

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