Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 25, 2013

A major bank is seeking to dismiss a lawsuit filed against it by the University of Arizona Foundation and a major university donor that blame the bank for its role in an offshore tax shelter they all had stake in and the federal government later cracked down on.

The foundation and Karl Eller, a major donor who is the namesake of the university’s business school, claim in federal court they were duped by a number of financial advisers, including UBS, into investing in a “sham tax shelter.”

Eller and his wife invested more than $30 million in Cayman Island’s tax shelters and then donated part of their stake to the university foundation. Now, the Ellers and the foundation are seeking unspecified damages from UBS after the I.R.S. cracked down on the deal. Tax documents introduced into the court file by UBS show federal tax officials sought a tax adjustment from the foundation, but it's unclear what the foundation lost in the deal, if anything, because the foundation earlier this month declined to comment or to specify what sort of monetary damages it is claiming to have suffered.

In a federal court filing Thursday, UBS said the lawsuit should be dismissed because, among other things, the Ellers have failed to make their case. UBS also notes that the Ellers were told there was a 30 percent chance the I.R.S. would frown on the deal before the Ellers made their multimillion-dollar investment.

UBS's court filing also said the University of Arizona Foundation has failed to make any claim against UBS in the litigation. 

At the heart of the deal is the a complex financial instrument known as a contingent deferred swap, which the Ellers opted to use in an effort to reduce their tax liability and free up money they could turn over to the university foundation. A U.S. Senate investigation described the swaps as ways to generate “phony paper losses for taxpayers, using a series of complex, orchestrated transactions, structured finance, and investments with little or no profit potential.” The “phony paper losses” could then be used to reduce an investor’s tax burden.

The Ellers have given university or the foundation more than $23 million over the years. 

October 25, 2013

Students at the University of Rochester have been having an intense debate over a Confederate flag placed by one student in his residence window, The Democrat and Chronicle reported. A graduate assistant asked the student to take the flag down, but the university now says he had the right to have it up. But that doesn't mean everyone thinks he should have displayed the flag. The student says he is trying to reflect his cultural heritage, but many other students say that the flag is an insult to black students and others for whom Confederate symbols are viewed as hostile.

 

October 24, 2013

Student enrollment in osteopathic medical colleges grew by 11.1 percent in 2013, and the total number of enrolled students has nearly doubled in the last decade, according to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.

One in five medical students is training to become an osteopathic physician, according to a preliminary enrollment report. More than 22,000 students are currently enrolled in osteopathic medical colleges, compared with about 11,000 students in 2001, according to AACOM. Its CEO, Stephen C. Shannon, said in a news release that the growing number of osteopathic medical school graduates will help reduce projected physician shortages. Osteopathic physicians take a holistic approach to patient care and are licensed to prescribe medicine and practice in all specialty areas. There are now 30 colleges of osteopathic medicine in the U.S., with three opening this year and several more in the planning stages. 

The Association of American Medical Colleges will release data on application and enrollment rates at allopathic medical schools today.

October 24, 2013

With a new round of universities added to its consortium, the massive open online course provider Coursera on Thursday announced it has passed 100 partner institutions across the world. The official count now sits at 107 universities in 20 different countries. The new partners include Bocconi University, the Copenhagen Business School, the Eindhoven Institute of Technology, Koç University, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, the National Geographic Society, the National Research University Higher School of Economics, Saint Petersburg State University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, the University of Lausanne, the University of Manchester and the University of Navarra's IESE Business School.

October 24, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been interviewing participants in an exchange program to Russia on whether the head of that program may be trying to recruit agents, The Washington Post reported. The investigation -- first reported in Mother Jones -- concerns the Russian Center for Science and Culture, in Washington, which offers trips to Russia for young professionals, including graduate students. A spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Washington said that the exchanges were legitimate and did not involve the recruitment of xspies. "'All such ‘scaring information’ very much resembles Cold War era," the spokesman said, adding that these reports are an attempt to "distort and to blacken activities of the Russian Cultural Center."

 

October 24, 2013

Ernesto Perez has resigned as CEO of Dade Medical College, days after it was revealed that he is facing criminal charges, The Miami Herald reported. Perez faces two counts of perjury, a misdemeanor, and one count of providing false information through a sworn statement -- all related to his failure to report past criminal arrests or convictions in government forms. Perez spent six months in jail after pleading no contest in 1990 to misdemeanor charges of batter and exposing his genitals to a child. The victim was a 15-year-old fan of the band in which Perez played at the time.

 

October 24, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Jennifer Crosby of Williams College examines how we react to perceived prejudice in a social setting. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

October 24, 2013

Sustained childhood exposure to and participation in the arts appears linked to college students majoring in science and technology fields, and to later going on to patent inventions, Michigan State University researchers have found. In a study published in the journal Economic Development Quarterly and based on STEM graduates of Michigan State's honors college, the researchers found that  93 percent of the STEM graduates reported musical training at some point, compared to 34 percent of adults on average. Further, those who owned businesses or patents received up to eight times more childhood exposure to the arts than did adults on average.

93 percent of the STEM graduates reported musical training at some point in their lives, as compared to only 34 percent of average adults - See more at: http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2013/a-young-picasso-or-beethoven-could-be-...
October 24, 2013

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and advocates for the continued use of the "Chief Illinwek" mascot have worked out a deal, The Chicago Tribune reported. The university stopped using the chief officially in 2007, with the National Collegiate Athletic Association and Native American groups objecting to Indian symbols used for athletics events in ways that promote stereotypes. But some alumni have refused to give up the use. In the deal, the university will not object to the group's use of Chief Illiniwek. But the group will not suggest that the chief is coming back, and will make clear that its activities are not endorsed or approved by the university.

October 24, 2013

A teaching assistant at the University of Iowa accidentally instead of "accidently," which isn't really a word. dl *ok MR e-mailed naked photographs of herself and a man to students. She had intended to send an attachment with answers to some questions on a problem set. As news of the e-mail embarrassment spread on social media, the university asked those who received the e-mail to delete the message and to not share the files with anyone else. The incident was “inappropriate” and the university will look into it and take appropriate actions under its policies and procedures, a spokesman said. He said that the teaching assistant regrets what happened.


 

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