Kentucky Governor Orders 4.5% Cuts to Higher Ed

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin on Thursday ordered a 4.5 percent cut in the quarterly payments the state makes to public colleges and universities, The Courier-Journal reported. The governor says the state lacks enough money to continue present appropriations levels and wants a deeper cut for the next fiscal year.

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Group Wants Ohio Dominican President to Quit

Angry with how Ohio Dominican University has handled declining enrollment and mounting debt, a group of students and alumni are demanding that the president, Peter Cimbolic, be replaced. The university is $40 million in debt, the group wrote in a letter to the Board of Trustees. Between 2007 and 2013, enrollment declined by 40 percent. When Forbes graded private colleges’ financial health, Ohio Dominican was one of five to receive an F.

“He has had six years to fix things, but the situation gets worse on campus every day,” Eric Rauschenbach, a member of the Alumni Council, said in an email.

In a message to the board, Cimbolic said that those problems came before his time. His presidency began in 2010 -- and between 2010 and 2013, enrollment declined only 14 percent. The $40 million in debt, he wrote, was there when he arrived. “They haven’t mentioned our graduate enrollment, which is on the rise,” said university spokesman Tom Brockman. “It’s not like we are 100 percent dependent on undergraduate enrollment.” Across Ohio, he added, many similar universities are seeing undergraduate enrollment declines.

In an email to students and staff, Cimbolic said that the group’s claims were “inaccurate or intentionally misleading.” The Board of Trustees rejected the group’s request to remove Cimbolic, saying that they stand behind the president.

Cuomo Drops Plan for Deep Cut to CUNY

Two months after announcing that he would cut $485 million from state funding for the City University of New York, shifting the cost to the city, Governor Andrew Cuomo now says he will fund CUNY’s entire budget.

“The $1.6 billion in aid it receives has not changed, and will not change under this budget,” Jim Malatras, director of state operations, said in a statement. “The funding stays constant.”

Originally, Cuomo had planned to cut one-third of the budget for CUNY’s senior colleges. Now, Malatras is saying that the proposal was a negotiation tactic, according to The New York Times.

Malatras said that the state will hire a management consultant, who will help cut back administrative overhead. The savings, he said, will go toward students. As long as the Legislature accepts the savings plan, there will be no additional costs.

Meanwhile, CUNY’s faculty haven’t had a raise in six years, and they are in the midst of negotiations. Any suggestion that the budget will be cut or that students will be harmed, Malatras said, “is plainly, factually untrue, and should be considered part of the union’s campaign propaganda.”

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After 8 Months, Pennsylvania Gets a Budget

After an eight-month stalemate, Pennsylvania has a budget -- which includes $20.6 million for the state’s colleges.

Along with the $412.7 million Pennsylvania colleges received in December, the new funding brings total appropriations to $433.3 million -- a 5 percent increase over last year. It’s the first increase the state colleges have seen since 2009.

"We are grateful for the new investment in our students and universities, which will help us to reduce our mounting budget deficit,” Guido M. Pichini, chairman of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education’s Board of Governors, said in a statement. “We hope that this increase -- the first in seven years -- represents the beginning of a renewed investment in higher education in Pennsylvania.”

The stalemate between the Democratic governor and Republican Legislature was the longest in state history. Some Pennsylvania colleges had threatened mass layoffs.

Soon, Pennsylvania will start working on its budget for the next fiscal year, which starts on July 1. Meanwhile, Illinois in now the only state without a budget this year.

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Connecticut State College System Freezes Hiring

The Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system has frozen hiring at its 17 campuses at least through the end of the academic year, The Connecticut Post reported. The state is facing a projected $220 million budget deficit, and the college system's financial situation necessitated the freeze, President Mark E. Ojakian told the newspaper.

'Starving the Beast' examines ideological shifts in funding for higher education

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New documentary explores the philosophy and players behind cutting state support for higher education.

Report on How Federal Aid Policies Affect Tuition

When federal aid increases, the goal, of course, is to help students afford their tuition.

But in reality, is that actually how the situation plays out? It’s a question that’s been part of the federal aid debate for decades, and it’s at the heart of a new paper by David Feldman and Richard Archibald, both professors at the College of William and Mary.

They start with an idea called the Bennett Hypothesis: the argument is that increased federal aid leads to higher tuition, because colleges know that their students will get help from the government.

It is true that colleges can “tax” federal aid, the researchers write. That is, they can give out less of their own aid than they would have otherwise, confident that federal subsidies will make up the difference. Over all, this happens rarely -- and almost never at public institutions.

The researchers also found little evidence that federal aid increases drive up list prices, which are often determined by what upper-income families -- who may be unaffected by financial aid -- are willing to pay.

“If the social goal of federal financial aid policy is to make higher education more affordable to many low-income families, there is ample evidence that it does so,” they write, “despite the fact that some of this aid displaces grant aid the institutions might otherwise have given.”

Wake Forest Expands Downtown

Wake Forest University will offer new programs in biomedical sciences and engineering, the university announced Friday. Students will study in Wake Forest Innovation Quarter in downtown Winston-Salem, N.C., a hub for biomedical sciences and information technology. The university is preparing space adjacent to the Wake Forest School of Medicine’s newly renovated facilities, which are scheduled to open this summer.

The programs, which will be offered starting in 2017, include a B.S. in engineering, a B.S. in biochemistry and molecular biology, and a concentration in medicinal chemistry and drug discovery.

Wake Forest is pitching the new programs as a solution to the growing need for undergraduate biomedical science and technology graduates. Between 2012 and 2014, the university says, demand has grown by 58 percent nationally.

By the time the programs are fully operational, in 2021, around 350 undergraduates will be enrolled. They will split their time between the main campus and the new classrooms and labs.

To Invest More Ethically, Colleges Join Forces

A group of 77 institutions is coming together in an effort to invest their money more ethically. The goal is to use their endowments to support environmental and social causes -- without sacrificing their own financial returns.

The coalition operates under a group called the Intentional Endowments Network. The group helps institutions invest their endowments in socially conscious ways, taking into consideration issues like climate change and human rights abuses.

For the most part, the new network is focused on keeping its members informed. For instance, it will help institutions use their endowments to support the Paris climate agreement.

But -- much like the Paris climate agreement -- joining the coalition requires no binding commitment. The members share goals but have made no concrete promises.

The group is intended to be a learning network, Georges Dyer, a principal of Intentional Endowments Network, said in an email. Institutions involved will have access to resources and industry experts, but will not need to commit to a course of action.

“It is up to the members to determine what actions they might take to update their investment policies or practices,” he said.

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Furloughs at Morehead State

Kentucky’s House budget, revealed Tuesday, restored state funding the governor recommended cutting from higher education, the Lexington Herald Leader reported.

But for now, that won’t make a difference to the employees of Morehead State University, who will be furloughed during the college’s spring break.

When Morehead State announced the five-day furlough last week, President Wayne Andrews said the institution needed to prepare for a proposed cut in state funding.

But at least for now, it is the college’s responsibility to continue planning for the worst, said Beth Patrick, Morehead State’s chief financial officer and vice president for administration.

“While we are very hopeful and appreciative of the work the House has done to approve a budget that restored the proposed cuts to postsecondary education,” she said in an email, “we also recognize that much work remains before a budget is finalized.”


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