Kean Settles Age Discrimination Lawsuit for $375K

Kean University has settled an age discrimination lawsuit filed by one of its former administrators, reported. The New Jersey institution did not admit any wrongdoing in the suit but agreed to fork out $375,000 in the settlement.

William DeGarcia filed the age discrimination lawsuit after Kean overlooked him for a promotion in January 2013 and instead offered the position to a less experienced woman under the age of 40. In the suit, DeGarcia, who was 55 at the time, said the university was looking for “new blood.”

DeGarcia had held multiple positions at the university, including three years as interim director of the Exceptional Educational Opportunities and Educational Opportunity Fund Program. His contributions as director were noticed by Governor Chris Christie and Senator Robert Menendez.

Kean settled the suit in December for $375,000, with $260,000 to be paid directly to DeGarcia.

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Oregon Cuts 21 Non-Tenure-Track Instructors

The University of Oregon announced Thursday that it is eliminating the positions of 21 non-tenure-track instructors, and 10 staff members, The Register-Guard reported. Most of the cuts are in foreign languages and other humanities programs. Officials said that the cuts would stabilize the budget of the College of Arts and Sciences.




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Citing Cuts, Northeastern Illinois Cancels Classes

Northeastern Illinois University is canceling three days of classes in the coming weeks to save money on salaries because of a financial crisis brought on by a state budget standoff that is 22 months and running.

The university is canceling classes on April 11, April 12 and May 1. It already closed during its spring break last month and has put in place furloughs requiring employees to take one day off without pay for each of six weeks. Northeastern Illinois previously resorted to cutting noninstructional positions, eliminating about 300 student jobs on campus and putting in place freezes on hiring and travel. It has also delayed maintenance.

State funding for higher education has been severely curtailed in Illinois as the state has gone nearly two years without a budget. Officials warned additional furloughs will be necessary if more state funding is not made available. The university's interim president, Richard J. Helldobler, issued a statement Wednesday describing the university as being in a state of emergency and worrying its accreditation could be affected.

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Sexual assault claims can be costly


United Educators reviewed 1,000 incidents of campus sexual assault and found that, in cases with litigation, the claims can cost institutions an average of $350,000.

Groups Urge Congress to Protect Student Aid

Congress should maintain the federal student loan program and strengthen Pell Grants, a coalition of 576 universities, education groups and other advocacy organizations told lawmakers in a letter Wednesday.

"Recent troubling proposals to significantly cut or eliminate funding for Pell Grants, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), Federal Work-Study (FWS), TRIO, GEAR UP and other programs threaten the stability of our nation’s higher education and work force systems," the letter said. "Federal student aid serves a critical role in preserving access to higher education and enabling student success at a time when postsecondary education has never been more necessary to support the American economy."

The White House "skinny budget" document released last month proposed eliminating SEOG as well as significant cuts to Work-Study, TRIO and GEAR UP. The budget blueprint also proposed taking $3.9 billion from the Pell Grant surplus without language expanding the grant.

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Mississippi Eliminates 'Stacking' of Financial Aid

Students in Mississippi will no longer be able to receive multiple types of state grants under new rules approved by lawmakers seeking to close a budget gap.

Mississippi has five grant programs that range from covering full tuition to as little as $250 per semester. Students eligible for more than one grant had been able to receive aid though multiple programs, a practice known as stacking. But such students will now only receive aid from the program awarding the largest amount for which they are eligible, according to The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss.

The elimination of stacking will affect an estimated 3,400 students. Without changes, officials said, they would have had to cut grant amounts by 3 percent. They also said they would not have had money to award forgivable loans for students in high-need areas like teaching and nursing -- an issue that arose in the 2016-17 academic year, when the state was faced with a $10.4 million gap between demand for financial aid and funding that was available.

Appropriations for the Office of Student Financial Aid were cut by about 3 percent to $37.6 million for the 2018 fiscal year. Officials also said more students in the state are attending college.

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Possible Layoffs at 5 Pennsylvania Universities

Five universities in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education have notified their local chapters of the system's faculty union about possible layoffs by the end of the 2017-18 academic year.

California, Cheyney, Clarion, Edinboro and Mansfield Universities all told the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties about the possibility as part of the institutions' collective bargaining agreement. While faculty members may not lose their jobs, the news adds to an atmosphere of uncertainty, said Kenneth Mash, the union's president.

"We understand finances are tight, but cutting programs and faculty members is penny-wise and pound-foolish," Mash said in a written statement. "Limiting opportunities will not help universities heal or grow. It certainly does nothing to encourage potential students to enroll."

Enrollment at the system of 14 state institutions has declined by 12 percent since 2010. It is facing a projected $79 million funding shortfall for next year.

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WPI's Top Donor Embroiled in Controversy

This item has been updated to correct errors in the original version.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s single largest donor is causing a commotion for the Massachusetts university, according to The Boston Globe.

Robert Foisie, 82, has been accused of hiring a hit man to kill his adult son and making charitable gifts to the university from secret overseas accounts, among other things.

Foisie graduated from WPI in 1956 and has since donated $63 million to the institution, making him its No. 1 benefactor. The business school bears his name, as does a scholarship program, and the college is currently constructing a $49 million building called the Foisie Innovation Studio.

After being contacted by the Globe, WPI responded to the allegations against its top donor in a statement, saying that it was “concerning.”

On Friday, President Laurie Leshin sent a campuswide letter about Foisie.

“Upcoming news reports may focus on personal disputes involving the Foisie family …. We don’t know whether any of the allegations are true or false, but I want to assure you that we are taking the situation seriously,” Leshin wrote. “While other universities and nonprofits have faced issues related to donors or major gifts, this is new territory for WPI. We are following this closely and will take action, if necessary, to ensure that we are aligned with best practices.”

Regardless of the outcome of the multiple court cases Foisie is named in (spanning three U.S. states), Leshin said, the innovation studio “is on track and will remain so” as “full funding to complete construction is in place.”

According to the lawsuit his ex-wife, Janet Foisie, is filing against WPI, about $4.5 million in donations to the university may have come from secret accounts set up outside the United States that Robert Foisie illegally kept private during their divorce negotiations.

Janet Foisie also said she suspects that her ex-husband continues to donate secret money to the university and has requested that WPI not spend any more of the family's donations until her court case is closed.

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UVA Tracks Applicants With Wealthy Relatives

For years, the admissions and advancement offices at the University of Virginia have been communicating about applicants with ties to wealthy alumni and donors, The Washington Post found.

Documents obtained by the Post include notes outlining the specific contributions that trace back to prospective students’ families and friends. The documents consist of 164 pages of data and reports since 2008. The so-called UVA watch list sometimes included jotted notes about a major donation (“$500k”) or a recommended decision -- “must be on WL” or “if at all possible A,” referring to “wait list” and “accepted.” The names of the applicants and their relatives were redacted from the documents, and the final admissions decisions were not included.

The 2013 records revealed that one donor was threatening to pull future contributions to the university after an applicant was put on the wait list. “According to people who have talked to him, [the person] is livid about the WL decision and holding future giving in the balance,” an advancement officer wrote in the file. “Best to resolve quickly, if possible.”

A spokesman for the university said fund-raising matters do not weigh on admissions decisions, and that the Office of Advancement receives recommendations for students by alumni and friends from time to time. “Such a practice is not unique to UVA and can be found at similar institutions,” Anthony de Bruyn, the spokesman, told the Post.

He added that the two offices do not coordinate about applicants, but that the advancement office “receives periodic updates to better inform its stewardship efforts.”

Based on the documents the Post received, 59 students applying for fall 2017 were followed by the advancement office.

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Rutgers Faculty Question Large Athletics Deficit

A faculty group at Rutgers University passed a resolution last week to express its concern and disappointment in the university’s athletic spending, reported.

A report on the finances of the athletics program, released about two months ago, revealed an almost $40 million deficit in the 2016 fiscal year.

In response, the Rutgers New Brunswick Faculty Group unanimously passed a resolution to publicly voice its position about the overspending.

“The New Brunswick Faculty Council deplores the university administration's continuing failure to eliminate or even reduce the athletics program's chronic deficit spending and its continuing reliance on millions of dollars in student fees and general university funds to pay for the program's deficits -- all of which harms the university's academic mission,” the resolution says.

The athletics director, Pat Hobbs, defended the decision in a statement, saying that the department is “writing what will be the greatest chapter in Rutgers athletics history. We will be competitive, and we will do that in a fiscally prudent manner.”

He explained the spending as an investment that will make the program stronger and easier to grow in the future.

Rutgers also joined the Big Ten conference to help the program  “be in a position to generate a positive cash flow for the university,” a spokeswoman for President Robert Barchi said.

Previously, Barchi estimated that Rutgers’s membership in the Big Ten would result in $200 million in revenue in the first 10 years.


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