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NYU Receives $100M Gift for Engineering School

New York University on Monday announced a $100 million gift, which will primarily support faculty hiring and academic programs at the university's engineering school. The school will be renamed to honor the donors, Chandrika and Ranjan Tandon.

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Financial need an aid priority for most states

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States are growing their need-based aid at a much faster rate than other types of aid.

Report: 11 States Spend More on Corrections Than Higher Ed

In the five years following 2008, state appropriation support for the median public research university declined by more than 26 percent, according a report released Wednesday by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The report found that states spend twice as much on Medicaid as they do on higher education, and that in 11 states spending on corrections surpassed higher education spending.

"Public research universities play a critical role in the American economy, and in the lives of millions of Americans," said Kay Bailey Hutchison, former United States senator from Texas and member of the AAAS Lincoln Project, which authored the report. "Yet in state budgets, higher education competes for resources in areas that are either difficult or impossible to cut."

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Hopkins Unveils New Plan to Help Baltimore

Johns Hopkins University is today announcing a plan to hire more people from low-income Baltimore areas, The Baltimore Sun reported. The university plans to hire an additional 60 people from areas with high rates of unemployment or poverty for positions such as clerical staff and food service. The pledge aims to increase the share of those hired for such positions from these areas from 26 percent to 50 percent. The university also plans to spend more of its construction budget with companies that have female or minority owners.

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Scott Walker Suspends Campaign

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, The Washington Post and many other news outlets reported Monday. Walker, who used his highly visible clashes with the University of Wisconsin System as a rallying point for his campaign, failed to gain traction in the race.

Some faculty critics of Walker's have said his tussles with Wisconsin's public universities -- such as the deep budget cuts he successfully pushed -- were more about his presidential aspirations than the state's interests. Walker's supporters in Wisconsin probably have a different view. And it's unclear at this point if the governor will cut a gentler image in his dealings with the flagship university in Madison or other public institutions in the state now that he is exiting the national stage.

Strike Called, Classes Called Off at Rock Valley

Rock Valley College, a community college in Illinois, called off classes today in anticipation of a strike by the faculty union. The college posted a statement that faculty members would be cut off from college email and unable to communicate with students during the strike. The college said it would consider scheduling makeup classes, depending on the duration of the strike. The Rock Valley College Faculty Association has argued on its Facebook page and elsewhere that the college's salary offers have been too low and that professors aren't paid a fair wage. The union also says it was prepared to negotiate through the night but that the college refused to do so and declared an impasse to force the strike. The college says that it has made fair offers and that it can't afford to meet the union's proposals.

Australian universities balk at suggestion that funds be tied to retention

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As Australian candidate suggests linking government funds to student retention and job outcomes, university leaders warn of unintended consequences.

Industry-Financed Study Projects Divestment Losses

A new study -- financed by an industry group -- predicts significant losses for universities with large endowments if they sell holdings in fossil fuel companies, as many student and environmental groups are urging. The study was released by the Social Science Research Network and was based on investment models for Columbia, Harvard, New York and Yale Universities, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A key limitation is that the universities don't release enough detail on their endowments to know exactly where they are invested today, so the study is based on proxies using mutual funds. Harvard would lose $100 million a year from divestment, the study says.

A controversial assumption of the study is that it is based on the last 20 years of data for the performance of the oil, gas and coal industries. As the study notes, some believe that these industries will face serious economic challenges due to shifting consumer patterns and government regulation, so historical earnings levels may not in fact be repeated.

The author of the study is Bradford Cornell, formerly a professor of finance at the University of California at Los Angeles and currently a visiting professor at the California Institute of Technology. The study was commissioned and financed by the Independent Petroleum Association of America.

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Louisiana Systems Settle Claims Against BP

The University of Louisiana and Southern University Systems have settled lawsuits they filed against BP for a very small fraction of what they sought, The New Orleans Advocate reported. The systems sought a total of $274 million but settled for $500,000. The suits alleged damages against the universities related to the 2010 oil spill disaster. University officials said that they accepted a "compromise" because of the concern of state officials about moves that might limit the state of Louisiana's overall share of settlement funds with BP over the oil damage.

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Iowa Professors Don't Want Nonacademic President

University of Iowa faculty members appear to be quite skeptical of Bruce Harreld, a businessman who made it to the finalist round of the school's presidential search. An American Association of University Professors survey released Wednesday found that just 3 percent of surveyed faculty found him qualified to be Iowa's next president.

At least 90 percent of surveyed faculty members believe the other finalists -- including Marvin Krislov, president of Oberlin College; Michael Bernstein, provost of Tulane University; and Joseph Steinmetz, provost at Ohio State University -- are equipped to be Iowa's president.

Harreld, a former IBM executive, visited campus on Tuesday. Iowa's Board of Regents is expected to make a final decision in the search on Thursday.

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