Survey: Board members think college is too expensive, but not at their institutions

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Trustees' group's survey finds that board members think the price of college is too high – just not at their own institutions.

$100M Gift to UCLA for Med School Scholarships

David Geffen, the entertainment executive and philanthropist, has donated $100 million to the University of California at Los Angeles for scholarships for medical students. UCLA's medical school was named for Geffen in 2002 after he donated $200 million to support it. The new gift is designed to cover all medical school expenses for top students, allowing them to graduate debt-free.


$50 Million Gift to Swarthmore for Engineering and Science

Swarthmore College on Saturday announced a $50 million gift from Eugene Lang, an alumnus and philanthropist, for engineering and science facilities and for programs to link engineering and the liberal arts at the college. Swarthmore is unusual among liberal arts colleges in having an engineering program. The gift is the largest in Swarthmore's history.


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Colleges worry over proposed changes to charitable deduction

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Colleges, fearing reductions in charitable giving, argue strongly against Republican proposals to limit deductions.

The Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement

An article in The New York Times looks at a growing student movement to push colleges to sell their endowment holdings in fossil fuel, coal and oil companies. To organizers, such moves are seen as a way to combat climate change. With a few exceptions -- such as the 1980s movement to sell stocks of companies doing business in apartheid-era South Africa -- colleges have generally resisted moves to use their endowment holdings to encourage causes. Two small colleges -- Unity College and Hampshire College -- have adopted policies that will end investments in fossil fuels, but institutions with large endowments have thus far declined to get behind the new movement.


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Layoffs and Cuts at Xavier of Louisiana

Xavier University of Louisiana is planning layoffs and other cuts to deal with a $5 million deficit created when fewer students enrolled this year than had been expected, The Times-Picayune reported. At this point, faculty members will not be subject to layoffs. The university is cutting its contribution to all employees' health insurance. Enrollment this fall is 3,178, down more than 200 from last fall, and below the 3,300-3,400 estimates the university made for the year. Officials blame the poor economy and tighter student loan eligibility rules for the decline.

Private Colleges Urge Changes to U.S. Test of Institutions' Finances

A task force convened by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities released a final report Wednesday that recommends changes to the Department of Education's annual financial responsibility measurement, a combination of three financial ratios that helps determine whether institutions can qualify for federal financial aid. In 2010, many independent colleges were surprised to find their names on the list of institutions that fell below the department's threshold despite what they viewed as stable finances, forcing them to prove their financial solvency through other costly measures.

The association's review found that the department inconsistently applied its standards and that consistent application would have kept many institutions off the list. The department also interpreted some accounting terms in a way that was inconsistent with updated accounting guidelines, including counting endowment losses -- a common feature of university balance sheets in 2010 -- as expenditures. The task force said officials will work with the department and Congress to make changes to the test.

Couple Sued for Failing to Keep Pledge to Donate $5M

The Kansas City Art Institute is suing Larry and Kristina Dodge, for whom the art college named a building, because they haven't made good on a $5 million pledge to pay for the project, The Kansas City Star reported. The institute says that it has a valid legal agreement with the Dodges, and that it made the decision to go ahead with the building based on that pact. The Dodges say that they are struggling financially in the wake of the economic downturn and can't afford to give the money. Kristina Dodge told the Star that the art institute is "completely ruthless and heartless."

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Saint Augustine's May Take Over Saint Paul's

Saint Augustine's University, in North Carolina, is in talks with Saint Paul's College, in Virginia, to acquire the institution, The News & Observer reported. Both institutions are historically black and were founded by the Episcopal Church. Saint Paul's lost its accreditation in June, setting off concerns about the viability of the institution without its students being eligible for federal aid. (Accreditation has been restored by a court injunction.) If Saint Paul's became a part of Saint Augustine's, the former could operate under the accreditation of the latter.


Cal State Wants New Fees to Encourage Graduation

The California State University System is proposing a series of new fees designed to encourage students to graduate on time so that more space is available for other students, The Los Angeles Times reported. The proposal would add fees for "super seniors, those who have already earned 160 semester unit credits; for students who want to repeat a course; and for students who enroll in 18 credits or more in a semester.


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