institutionalfinance

Harvard Endowment Lost Money in Last Fiscal Year

Harvard University's endowment is down about $1 billion in the 12 months through June, Bloomberg reported. The fund, still the largest university endowment in the world, ended up at $30.7 billion, down about 0.05 percent. Harvard, like many other universities, saw major losses the year that the recession started, but many other universities have been posting gains more recently. Harvard officials said that their losses were due to investments in publicly traded non-U.S. companies and in "emerging market" shares.

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Data Quantify Changes in College Revenues, 2000-2010

The American Institutes of Research, the new home of the Delta Cost Project, released a report Tuesday detailing trends in college and university revenues from 2000-2010, the first of a series of four weekly reports about where colleges get money and how they spend it.

Because the data the reports are based on are two years old, many of the trends described in Wednesday's report will be familiar. Among the noteworthy findings in the report were that state appropriations have continued to decline over the decade; that per-student revenue at community colleges in 2010 was less than it was a decade ago; that net tuition revenue -- the amount colleges make from tuition after aid is subtracted -- at private institutions did not grow significantly between 2009 and 2010; and that tuition revenue exceeded state appropriations at public doctoral and masters institutions. The report also found that, in contrast to previous years, sticker prices at four-year public universities increased faster than gross tuition revenue. "This suggests that the practice of using other tuition revenue -- in particular from out-of-state students -- to mitigate tuition price increases for in-state students was no longer tenable in 2010," the report states.

Protest Over Planned Cuts at Long Beach City College

Students and faculty members at Long Beach City College gathered at the college's board meeting Tuesday night to protest the planned elimination of 17 academic programs (and the likely layoff of 10 full-time faculty members), The Contra Costa Times reported. Most of the programs are in the arts or skilled trades, and those protesting said that these programs are vital for many students. College officials said that they had few options, given the severity of budget cuts in California.

 

Report Urges Better State Support for Public Research Universities

The National Science Board added its voice Tuesday to the chorus of groups and agencies expressing concern about the future of public research universities. Its report, Diminishing Funding and Rising Expectations: Trends and Challenges for Public Research Universities, argues that declines in state funding, which it documents, "threaten the ability of major public research universities to educate new scientists and engineers, recruit and retain the best faculty and students, and continue performing top-quality research."

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Panel Backs Bain-Crafted Plan for U. of North Texas

The 10-person commission charged with plotting the future of the University of North Texas at Dallas released its recommendations Monday, largely backing a consultant's advice that the university focus on hybrid learning, minimizing the time to degree, and aligning courses of study with regional needs.

In 2011 the university commissioned 10 leaders from higher education, business, and local government, including Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, to develop a strategy to expand the university from 2,000 students to 16,000 students while decreasing the cost of education and improving graduation rates. The Commission on Building the University of the 21st Century reviewed reports from the consulting firm Bain & Company, brought in on a pro bono basis in 2011 to suggest long-term plans for the 11-year-old institution, and from a group of faculty and staff who, critical of Bain’s analysis, drew up their own recommendations. While Bain advised increasing teaching loads and freshmen enrollment while decreasing the array of majors and integrating online courses, the faculty plan proposed focusing on transfer and underprepared students, developing a liberal arts core, and emphasizing research.

The commission’s recommendations, which its members will vote on  Tuesday, largely fall in line with Bain’s suggestions. The 10 strategies the commission lists include developing hybrid courses that blend in-person and online instruction, increasing freshman enrollment, providing students with the option for year-round instruction, and working with local business leaders to develop degree programs that mesh with local workforce needs. The report states that the university will have a student focus and will value teaching over research, but acknowledges as one of its guiding principles, “Faculty play a key role in the success of students and UNT Dallas,” and suggests a comprehensive development program to engage faculty and staff in this “new model.”

New Report Links State Support, Tuition Increases

A new report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York finds a relationship between state appropriations cuts and tuition increases in public higher education. The report notes increased interest in the views espoused by critics of higher education that the availability of federal grants and loans has encouraged colleges to increase their charges. But the report looks at the tuition shifts since 2008, and finds that the greatest increases are in states that made the deepest cuts in spending on higher education.

Governor Perry Calls for Tuition Freeze

Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, is calling for public colleges and universities to offer students a four-year freeze on tuition, such that each entering class would be assured of paying the same tuition rate for the next four years, The Austin American-Statesman reported. He said this would encourage students to graduate in four years, and would help students avoid high debt levels. "If you get out of the University of Texas with a $50,000 debt, I don’t know if we’ve served you well," he said. In fact, student debt load at UT is not close to that level. Only about half of bachelor's recipients at the University of Texas at Austin borrow, and the average total debt for those who do borrow is just over $25,000.

 

SUNY Reports Shift of $6M With 'Shared Services'

The State University of New York has been pushing the idea of "shared services" in which various of the 64 campuses would seek joint contracts or combine functions to save money. Some pairs of campuses have decided that single administrators will perform jobs for both institutions, while many other campuses sought economies of scale with joint contracting. In the first year of the program, the system saved $6 million, SUNY officials announced Wednesday. The money was reallocated to academic instruction and student services, officials said.

 

Study Explores How Economy Affects Giving to Colleges

The economy's impact on giving to higher education isn't always what one might expect, according to a new study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Using a national sample of colleges and universities, the study found a positive correlation between average income and house values in a state and donations by the people who live in that state. However, the study also found an increase in donations -- especially for operating budgets -- when a university suffers a "negative endowment shock." The latter finding appears correlated to increased efforts by fund-raisers during such periods, and suggests that donors respond to such efforts. The study finds that these donations may be a form of "insurance" against endowment declines.

 

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Emory Announces Program Eliminations

Emory University on Friday announced a series of program eliminations, saying that it needed to focus resources on a smaller number of academic units. The university will close programs in educational studies, physical education, visual arts and journalism. In addition, graduate admissions will be suspended in Spanish and economics, pending a "reimagining" of the role graduate education at Emory will play in those fields. Tenured faculty members in the departments will be assured of their lines moving to other departments. But staff and non-tenured faculty members are expected to lose jobs, and their positions are guaranteed only for the current academic year.

A letter from Robin Forman, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Emory, explained that "these steps are not in response to the deficit, and will play no role in reducing our expenses." Rather, the letter, said, "for the college to reach its intellectual goals requires more than simply breaking even; we must have the flexibility to make the investments that our aspirations require. All of the funds that will gradually become available through the changes I have described will be reinvested in the college, strengthening core areas and expanding into new ones."

Comments posted on the student newspaper's website, and social media suggest that some students and faculty members are not accepting the logic offered by the administration.

 

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