Moody's Investors Service on Tuesday announced that it has downgraded Howard University's credit rating from A3 to Baa1 (or from a low to moderate credit risk). Moody's cited a number of financial challenges facing Howard, including budget problems at the university hospital, declines in enrollment, and dependence on federal support at a time that such support will be difficult to grow. Sidney A. Ribeau, president of Howard, said in a statement to The Washington Post that the university has "a robust strategy to mitigate soft enrollment,” and plans for long-term changes in the hospital.
Harvard University on Saturday announced the launch of a $6.5 billion fund-raising campaign, the largest ever in higher education. To date, the university has raised $2.8 billion in the "quiet phase" of the drive. Stanford University completed a $6.2 billion campaign last year and the University of Southern California is in the midst of a $6 billion effort.
Harvard University is set to announce a major fund-raising campaign on Saturday, ending years of speculation about when the campaign would go public, and how much it would seek. Bloomberg reported. The figure of $6 billion, about which there was speculation several years ago, would no longer be record-setting, since Stanford University completed a $6.2 billion campaign last year and the University of Southern California is in a $6 billion campaign. A hint of the potential size of the campaign, as reported in Harvard Magazine, is speculation that the goal for the business school alone could reach $1 billion.
The University of California System is turning to celebrities for a new crowdfounding approach to raise money for financial aid, The Los Angeles Times reported. Celebrities are pledging access and performances if their supporters can raise set amounts of money. Jamie Foxx, the actor, will for example "rap a song like Bill Clinton, President Obama and Monique from the movie 'Precious'" if his fans raise $20,000. The idea is to attract young alumni and others who are not interested in traditional fund-raising appeals, officials said.
Georgetown University is today announcing the largest gift in its history, $100 million from Frank H. McCourt Jr., a former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, The Washington Post reported. The funds will be used to elevate a public policy program to a full-fledged school at the university.
Minerva Schools at KGI, the ambitious (and still heavily theoretical) project that aims to educate some of the world's best students online but in residential settings, said this week that it would give its first group of undergraduates four years of free tuition when they enroll next fall, but ultimately charge $10,000 in annual tuition and under $30,000 in total costs. The project, which is seeking accreditation through Keck Graduate Institute, part of the Claremont University Consortium, aims to enroll students who could qualify for Ivy League and other highly competitive universities but would opt for an experimental alternative. The project has been the subject of both significant interest (and support from powerful friends, such as Bob Kerrey and Lawrence Summers) and a good bit of skepticism.
Minerva's founder, Ben Nelson, said in the news release that it would ultimately charge $10,000 a year in tuition and $18,850 in room and board, and that it would offer scholarships and low-interest loans.
Purdue University's regional Calumet campus has rescinded layoffs ordered for seven faculty members, The Journal & Courier reported. Administrators had said that enrollment declines necessitated the layoffs, but now officials say that more encouraging enrollment projects mean that there is no longer the need to eliminate positions.
Metropolitan State University has paid its summer course instructors – a week late, the Pioneer Press reported. Administrators said last week that paychecks had been issued to several dozen instructors who did not receive their paychecks on time. The lump-sum payments were for thousands of dollars in some instances.
The Twin Cities-based university’s collective bargaining unit, the Inter Faculty Organization, representing faculty in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, also has requested "detailed, enumerated," line-items on their paystubs going forward, and an audit of six years’ worth of faculty pay and benefits, citing a history of payroll problems.
University administrators could not be reached for comment Friday.
The Massachusetts State Board of Higher Education has summoned the president and board leaders of Westfield State University to Boston for a discussion of the president's expenses, The Republican reported. The request comes as a new outside report detailed numerous violations of spending rules. The president, Evan Dobelle, has admitted to charging some items in error, and has said he has reimbursed the university or its foundation in such cases. Further, he has argued that his spending has been to advance the university's interests.
But the outside report found that Dobelle violated credit card policies on trips to San Francisco, New Orleans, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, New York City, Washington and elsewhere. In other cases, Dobelle charged the university foundation for travel to Spain, Vietnam, Thailand and China -- without receipts or documentation.