Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

August 15, 2013

Public colleges and universities saw their revenue growth fall by more than half and their median expenses grow at almost double the rate of inflation in 2012, Moody's Investors Service said in a report Wednesday. The analysis, which examined median financial data, showed that revenues for public institutions grew by 1.7 percent, down from 4.8 percent in 2011, and that expenses grew at 3.3 percent, a combination that the ratings agency called "unsustainable." "Future expense reductions will likely need to be more significant and include re-evaluation of existing business models to maintain long-term financial health," a Moody's analyst said in the report.

A second report from the service, about median financial data for private colleges and universities, found a slightly more positive picture, as operating margins remained in the 4-5 percent range. "Governing boards and management teams continue to exhibit fiscal stewardship of private colleges and universities by holding median operating margins relatively constant over the last five years even as revenue declined," a Moody's official said.

August 15, 2013

The Israeli government plans to provide scholarships to students who post pro-Israel messages on social media sites as part of a new online public diplomacy campaign. Haaretz reported that the Prime Minister’s office has joined with the National Union of Israeli Students to create “covert units” at each of Israel’s seven universities, each to be headed by a senior student coordinator who will receive a full scholarship; other students who are involved will receive smaller scholarships. The Prime Minister’s office has allocated about $777,000 for scholarships in the upcoming academic year.

August 15, 2013

President Obama is planning a New York State bus tour next week to Binghamton, Buffalo and Syracuse (plus a trip to northern Pennsylvania) to talk about college tuitions and costs, the Associated Press reported. The president has promised to offer ideas about how to make college more affordable.

 

August 14, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, William Marling of Case Western Reserve University explains the initial and continuing popularity of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

August 14, 2013

The rector (or board chair) of the College of William and Mary has sent a letter to leaders of public colleges and universities in Virginia warning that the state's lack of gay marriage has created "a substantial incentive for our gay and lesbian faculty and staff to leave the Commonwealth’s public universities and colleges," The Washington Post reported. Jeff Trammell sent the letter after the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated the federal Defense of Marriage Act, a ruling that paved the way for gay couples in states that recognize single-sex marriage to have the full federal tax advantages of marriage that heterosexual couples receive. Trammell noted that some state officials have been hostile even to awarding partner benefits to gay employees.

August 14, 2013

Growing consumer reluctance to pay rising tuition rates are threatening to drive up private colleges' tuition discount rates, limit net tuition revenue, and lower matriculation rates and enrollments in ways that could hurt their financial ratings, Standard & Poor's said in a report issued Tuesday. The report, which like most of S&P's reports is available only to subscribers, says that the pressure on institutions will come particularly in the most competitive markets; data in the report find tuition discount rates rising fastest in the Northeast (from 31 to 34 percent since 2008), but net tuition levels and matriculation rates fell most sharply in the West.

August 14, 2013

Judges are speaking out against two law professors -- once a couple -- whose divorce and post-divorce litigation has taken up court time for the last 17 years, USA Today reported. The parties are Christo Lassiter, a law professor at the University of Cincinnati, and his former wife, Sharlene Boltz, a law professor at Northern Kentucky University. Judges have criticized both for their approach to the divorce, for allegedly breaking court rules and for using up court time. In a hearing last month, one Ohio judge said, "I am really shocked, because when I was in law school my professors were outstanding. They never would have told me that behaving the way you all have, both of you, over the past 20 years, is acceptable behavior."

August 14, 2013

Three private colleges are speaking out against a plan by the University of Massachusetts to start a satellite campus in Springfield, The Republican reported. The university says that it will be better able to meet education needs in the area. "UMass officials as well as others outside of the system who are proponents of the center are fully aware of our belief that any duplication of programs already existing in the local private colleges, as well as at the strong public community college already right within the city (and another in nearby Holyoke), results in unnecessary and costly replication of what is already being successfully offered. We continue to object to any duplication of effort that might flood an already mature market in the areas where we have programs," says the statement, from American International College, Springfield College and Western New England University.

 

August 14, 2013

The Central Intelligence Agency has for years denied that it had a file on Noam Chomsky, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor known both for his contributions to the field of linguistics and (perhaps of more interest to the CIA) his criticism of the U.S. government across many administrations. Now, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, documents have confirmed that the CIA did have a file on Chomsky, and that it may have been scrubbed. The details are in Foreign Policy.

 

August 13, 2013

Purdue University at Calumet’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors alleges potential violations of shared governance in the planned layoffs of seven faculty members members last week, including six tenure-track professors. In a statement posted on its Facebook page Monday, Calumet AAUP President Marcus K. Rogers accuses the university of laying off the professors – which administrators blame on budget woes stemming from lower enrollments – while “actively hiring more administrators, increasing funding to the athletic program and hiring fitness assistants.”

Rogers also alleges that the layoffs “do not appear to have been conducted with the proper faculty input,” and urges university administrators to reconsider their decision.

In a statement to faculty issued Monday, Chancellor Thomas L. Keon said the faculty layoff notices were “regrettable but necessary,” and issued in in response to a $3 million campus revenue shortfall anticipated this fall, based on a 6 percent fall projected enrollment decline. As those layoffs -- including the professors’ would-be retirement funds -- only amount to $1 million, he said, other cuts to the university’s budget likely are forthcoming. “As I reported at the Town Hall meeting, I would be pleased to rescind any or all of the notices should we find that there are alternatives,” Keon said. “Additionally, the senior leadership team is committed to continue working with faculty and the Faculty Senate to explore other options.”

 

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