Study Documents Impact of 'Directed' Giving Options

A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research points to the financial advantages of letting donors designate where in a large university their money might be used. The study used two groups at Texas A&M University at College Station in which one was sent an appeal for the annual fund, and the other was sent a similar appeal, but with the chance to designate some of their gift to the college they attended within Texas A&M. The researchers found no significant difference in the rates at which donors made any gift. But those with the option to designate, if they gave, made larger contributions. The study was by Catherine Eckel and Jonathan Meer of Texas A&M, and David Herberich of the University of Chicago. An abstract of the study may be found here.



Another College Merger in Georgia

The governing board of the Technical College System of Georgia on Thursday voted to approve the proposed merger between Moultrie Technical College and Southwest Georgia Technical College. The system has used mergers in an attempt to save money and be more efficient. The Moultrie and Southwest consolidation is due to be completed next year. It will reduce the number of colleges in the system to 22, down from 33 in 2009, when the mergers began. System officials said students experience little change in the day-to-day operations of their campuses during mergers. 

Oil Boom Is Enriching U. of Texas and Texas A&M

A new oil boom is enriching the University of Texas and Texas A&M University, primarily their flagship campuses, but also the other institutions in the systems, The Dallas Morning News reported. The universities benefit from the Permanent University Fund, created by the state with land in west Texas. The energy produced from the land is resulting in recent endowment growth of 70 percent a year, leading to considerable building of facilities and expansion of programs at a time many state systems remain unable to find cash.

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Yeshiva Looks to Partnership to Control Costs at Einstein College of Medicine

Yeshiva University is looking to help rectify some of its financial difficulties by giving up day-to-day operations of its Albert Einstein College of Medicine, the university announced Tuesday.

Yeshiva wants to form a new entity with its longtime partner that runs the university hospital at the medical college, the Montefiore Health System. Shortfalls at the university as a whole have been driven by operations at the medical college.

Under the planned arrangement, Montefiore will take “greater responsibility for the day-to-day operations and financial management” of the medical college while Yeshiva will remain the degree-granting institution for it, the university and the health system said in a news release. The university’s trustees and the health system’s board leadership have endorsed the plan, but there is not yet a final agreement and that agreement would then be subject to regulatory approval. 

Distinctive Engineering College Sees Financial Losses Mount

The pioneering Olin College of Engineering has accumulated tens of millions of dollars in losses in recent years, eating into its endowment, an article in The Boston Globe reveals. Olin, which was founded in 2002, has been heralded for its distinctive, high-touch approach to engineering education, which has proven expensive even though the institution does not offer amenities such as athletics. The Globe reported that the college spent about $100 million more than it took in from 2008 to 2011, and that its endowment lost significant value as well.

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At Saint Joseph's U., no confidence votes across the board

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Faculty at Saint Joseph's University have taken vote after vote expressing dismay in their administrators.

Higher Education's Capital Financing Costs

Roughly 9 percent of the $511 billion spent in 2011 in the United States on higher education went to financing interest payments or to corporate profits, according to a new analysis from the Center for Culture, Organizations and Politics at the University of California at Berkeley. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) commissioned the report, which found that $45 billion in higher education spending that year was for interest on individual student loan debt or on colleges' borrowing, or went to profits made by for-profit college companies.

The bulk of the $45 billion figure is attributable to student and institutional borrowing. Operating profits among for-profit colleges were roughly $4 billion in 2011, according to the report, and less than $1 billion in 2012 -- due to plunging enrollments in the sector. The student debt figure cited in the report refers to interest payments on both private and federal loans. The bulk of institutional borrowing was to fund "amenities" and construction projects, according to the study, such as for football stadiums.

For-profits got plenty of attention at a Wednesday AFT event to unveil the report. Rep. Mark Takano, a California Democrat, was there. He urged tighter regulation of the sector.

"This is an insane way to educate low-income students," said Takano. "We need strong gainful emploment rules."

Calvin College raises $25M for debt payments

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Calvin College asks donors to pay down its debt, and, remarkably, they agree to do so.


A USC writing program moves to Vermont

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An upstart Vermont fine arts college saves a beloved writing program from death at the University of Southern California. 

Stanford University Divests From Coal

Stanford University, which has the fourth-largest endowment of any American college, will stop directly investing in coal mining companies. The university announced its limited divestment plan Tuesday citing decades-old investment principles that tell Stanford’s trustees to make as much money as they can but also give trustees the option to avoid investing in companies that “create substantial social injury.” The burning of coal is considered a major contributor to global climate change.

Stanford’s trustees and an advisory panel concluded “coal is consistent with this policy given the current availability of alternatives to coal that have less harmful environmental impacts,” the university said.

Other universities, such as Harvard University, have resisted pressure to divest from fossil fuel stocks, citing their obligation to make money and what little effect their investment decisions might have. Stanford’s endowment of $18.6 billion in the 2013 budget year is just over half of Harvard’s. It’s not clear how much Stanford has invested in coal companies currently.

“Moving away from coal in the investment context is a small, but constructive, step while work continues, at Stanford and elsewhere, to develop broadly viable sustainable energy solutions for the future,” Stanford President John Hennessy said in a statement.

Stanford did not prevent itself from investing in other fossil fuel stocks, including oil and natural gas. The burning of both gas contributes, to varying degrees, in the greenhouse gas effect. Oil and natural gas stocks have risen substantially over the past several years at the same time coal stocks have plummeted. Stanford said the new policy applies to investments it manages directly but that it would also encourage its external money managers to divest from coal too.


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