Quick Takes: Harvard Loses $350M, Dueling Charges at Eastern Mich., Corinthian to Pay $6.5M, $100M for Nursing School, Size vs. Ethics, Cambridge Settles Suit, Graduates Who Teach, Protest on Proposed Overhead Cap, Suit Rejected on Admitting Men

August 1, 2007
  • Harvard University's endowment lost about $350 million in the last month because of poor performance by a hedge fund led by a former senior endowment manager at the university, The Wall Street Journal reported. The fund, Sowood Capital Management, recently lost more than half of its value. While $350 million is more than many colleges have ever had in their endowments, there won't be cries of financial exigency coming from Cambridge. Harvard's endowment is worth about $29 billion.
  • John Fallon, who was fired last month as president of Eastern Michigan University in connection with his administration's apparent cover-up of the rape and murder of an undergraduate, appeared on CNN's "Larry King Live" Monday, he said, "to clear my name." Within a few days of the death of Laura Dickinson in December, the university released a statement that said "there [was] no reason to suspect foul play" in the death of the 22-year-old. It was not until February, when a student was arrested for her rape and murder, that Dickinson's family and the public learned that a murder investigation had been underway. With his wife and his lawyer sitting beside him in King's Los Angeles studio, Fallon placed the blame on Jim Vick, Eastern's vice president for student affairs, who was also forced out of his job in July. "My trusted vice president for student affairs did not tell me the truth," Fallon said. "He knew or should have known. And the incident report was ordered shredded by the vice president for student affairs." Fallon added that he "felt betrayed, genuinely betrayed" by Vick, whom King said had declined to be on the show. Vick's lawyer, Thomas C. Manchester, who had previously said his client had become the "designated scapegoat" in the investigation, said Fallon's comments on the show were "unfortunate" and "absolutely untrue," possibly a way to "position Dr. Fallon for future employment and a larger settlement with the university." He denied Fallon's allegations against Vick and said that Vick had passed a polygraph test.
  • Corinthian Colleges Inc. has agreed to pay $6.5 million to settle a lawsuit in California charging the for-profit chain with exaggerating its job placement rates, the Los Angeles Times reported. Most of the funds will go to restitution payments to students. Under the settlement, Corinthian also agreed not to offer certain courses at nine of its California courses. A Corinthian vice president told the newspaper that the agreement was not an admission of guilt and that the company disagreed with many of the claims in the suit.
  • The University of California at Davis on Tuesday announced a $100 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to create a nursing school in Sacramento. The grant is believed to be the largest philanthropic gift ever for nursing education.
  • The dispute and negotiations over a proposed gift to rename the University of Iowa's College of Public Health have largely focused -- at least in public -- on the ethics of naming a college for a corporation. But e-mail records obtained by The Des Moines Register suggest that the size of the proposed gift may also have been a factor. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield offered $15 million to have the college named for the company, an idea that faculty members first objected to but have since agreed to reconsider. One e-mail quoted by the newspaper, from the college's dean, noted that other schools of public health had been named (for individuals) based on gifts of $25 million to $50 million, much more than Wellmark was proposing. "The deans I consulted all indicated that an offer of $15 million would be embarrassingly small and significantly undervalue our college," wrote the Iowa dean, Jim Merchant.
  • Cambridge University Press has apologized to a Saudi businessman and agreed to destroy copies of a book published last year -- Alms for Jihad -- that he was libeled him. Sheik Khalid Bin Mahfouz sued Cambridge in Britain, where libel suits are more difficult to defend than in the United States. The settlement by the press is being criticized by some authors who write about terrorism.
  • Twenty percent of the students who earned bachelor's degrees during the 1992-93 academic year spent some time teaching full-time in elementary and secondary schools during the 10 years following their graduation, according to a study released Tuesday by the Education Department. The study, "To Teach or Not to Teach? Teaching Experience and Preparation Among 1992-93 Bachelor's Degree Recipients 10 Years After College," found that by 2003, 11 percent of graduates were working as teachers, while 9 percent had taught but were no longer teaching. In all, 27 percent of female graduates and 12 percent of male graduates had worked as teachers. Education majors and graduates of public non-doctoral universities were more likely than others to go into teaching.
  • Three associations of universities have issued a joint statement opposing a provision in the Defense Department appropriations bill passed by the House of Representatives that would cap overhead payments on basic research grants at 20 percent of the direct grant award. Many institutions currently receive a much larger percentage in indirect payments for overhead. (Overhead rates are calculated on top of the award itself, so an institution with a 35 percent rate, receiving a $100,000 grant, would receive $35,000 in additional overhead payments.) If the measure is enacted, the associations warned, universities could be discouraged from seeking grants from the Pentagon. "Indirect costs of research -- laboratories, utilities, research materials, and administrative and regulatory compliance costs -- are real costs," said the statement, which was issued by the Association of American Universities, the Council on Governmental Relations and the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges.
  • The Virginia Supreme Court has declined an appeal from students at Randolph College -- until recently, Randoph-Macon Woman's College -- over its decision to admit men, The Daily Press reported.
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