Monday, December 18, 2017

University of Montana president releases draft report on program priorities - KEILA SZPALLER, Missoulian

University of Montana President Sheila Stearns released Tuesday a draft report with 40 recommendations for campus priorities and some pointed requests. One academic recommendation? "Merge the School of Art and the School of Media Arts within the College of Visual and Performing Arts," the report said. The months-long process has frayed nerves on campus, but this particular recommendation drew praise from a couple of faculty leaders. School of Art director Kevin Bell said the merger comes out of requests from students, and presents an opportunity for UM.

SUNY Orange proposes buyouts to help with budget deficit - Kris McKenna, Times Herald-Record

SUNY Orange administrators, facing declining enrollment and a projected budget deficit of $1.6 million for the current school year, have proposed offering longtime staff members payments of as much as 75 percent of their salaries as an inducement to retire. Under a deal worked out with employee unions and presented to the Orange County Legislature for its approval, the community college would offer buyouts to full-time employees who are 55 and older, have at least 20 years of service and are eligible to claim their state pensions. Workers would be paid 42 percent, 58 percent or 75 percent of their 2017 base salaries, depending on their years of service. The top amount would go to those who have worked for 30 years or more.

Budget deficit, declining enrollment spell trouble for Oberlin College - SCOTT SUTTELL, Crain's Cleveland Business

These are tough times at Oberlin College., in a long look at the liberal arts college, says Oberlin "has been showing signs of strain" as its leaders "seek to close a multimillion-dollar budget deficit driven by lower-than-expected enrollment this year." The story notes that Oberlin's Office of Institutional Research "lists 2,827 undergraduates enrolling in 2017, down from 2,895 in 2016." The 2017 enrollment "is the lowest level of undergraduates reported since 2,762 in 2007."

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Layoff notifications to begin Wednesday at St. Louis Community College - Ashley Jost, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Some St. Louis Community College employees could be notified as early as Wednesday that they have been laid off. College administrators were given the green light to lay off as many as 70 faculty members and 25 staff members to address the school’s ongoing budget issues at the Nov. 30 board meeting. At that meeting, the Board of Trustees directed Chancellor Jeff Pittman to work with the college’s chapter of the National Education Association, which represents full-time faculty, to consider moving the layoff notification date from Dec. 15 to March 1. Moving the date would have given the college time to roll out a voluntary buyout program. If enough people took the buyouts, fewer layoffs would have been needed.

Oberlin's Enrollment Headache Lingers - Rick Seltzer, Inside Higher Ed

Oberlin College has been showing signs of strain as leaders of the well-off liberal arts college in Ohio seek to close a multimillion-dollar budget deficit driven by lower-than-expected enrollment this year. The strain became evident most recently when The Oberlin Review, the college’s student newspaper, obtained and published a letter written this summer by two faculty members objecting to a salary freeze. The letter, which the student newspaper published Friday as Oberlin’s Board of Trustees was scheduled to meet, said it is “inadequate and depressing that neither the board nor the administration has the leadership or imagination to address this crisis in any way other than by eliminating raises for faculty and staff.” But the publication of the faculty letter was just the latest in a string of moves by a college grappling with a structural budget deficit.

Here's why graduate student enrollment may take a hit - Shalina Chatlani, Education Dive

Virginia Foxx, Republican representative from North Carolina and chair of the House education committee, has proposed higher education legislation that would put a limit of $28,500 annually on how much graduate students can borrow — with a provision for higher lending for students in medical fields. The bill would negate several benefits for borrowers by modifying income-based repayment plans and eliminate Public Service Loan Forgiveness and possibly federal work study, reports Inside Higher Ed. The plans follows tax bills from the Senate and House that would implement a 1.4% excise tax on private colleges with the largest endowments of $500,000 and $250,000 per full-time student respectively. In addition, the House bill proposal would eliminate the tax deductions on student loan interest and institute an income tax on tuition waivers and stipends — which many higher ed leaders worry will hinder graduate student enrollment. Graduate students across the country have participated in protests and walk-outs, reports NPR, with many saying they may not be able to afford graduate school any longer, especially with proposed caps on federal student borrowing.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Iowa higher education braces for tax overhaul consequences - Vanessa Miller, Cedar Rapids Gazette

Changes from Washington are coming to Iowa’s higher education institutions and those they serve, and campuses are bracing for — if not protesting — the implications. “Get your phones out,” University of Iowa graduate student Landon Elkind shouted to peers through a megaphone during a rally late last month, urging them to call lawmakers and oppose a sweeping overhaul of the tax code. As the U.S. House and U.S. Senate work to reconcile different versions of tax bills, students, families and higher ed leaders are keeping a wary eye on provisions that would affect not only grad students like Elkind but also charitable donations to campuses, tax protections for tuition and student loans interest, the ability of universities to save money by refinancing debt — and more.

Reversal on Graduate Lending - Andrew Kreighbaum, Inside Higher Ed

The GOP’s proposed update to the law governing higher education would force a U-turn for long-standing federal policies on graduate student lending. Students who pursue graduate degrees have been allowed to take out an unlimited amount in federal student loans since Congress authorized the Grad PLUS program in 2005. But the legislation proposed last week by Representative Virginia Foxx, the North Carolina Republican who chairs the House education committee, would cap annual borrowing amounts for grad students at $28,500 annually. The bill also would change benefits for borrowers by altering income-driven repayment options and eliminating Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Moody's: Higher education sector outlook negative - Shalina Chatlani, Education Dive

The credit-rating agency Moody's downgraded the outlook of the higher education sector from stable to negative, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education. Moody's cites the industry's inability to lower tuition rates and uncertainty around potential federal policy and tax reform changes, which could have an impact on "enrollment and tuition-revenue growth, philanthropic support and the cost of borrowing." Moody's assigned a negative rating to the sector in 2013, but amended it to stable two years later in anticipation that states would increase funding and revenue would grow at four-year institutions.

Friday, December 15, 2017

President Laurie Nichols presents fully reduced UW budget - JEFF VICTOR, Laramie Boomerang

University of Wyoming officials detailed to lawmakers Thursday a biennium budget reduced by roughly $42 million from the previous biennium. The cuts were made possible by more than a year of faculty and staff reductions, department reorganizations and efforts to make UW run more efficiently. UW also requested $1 million to support a carbon engineering effort during the State Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee meeting, as well as an additional $100,000 appropriation for the UW Rodeo team and the remainder of the already appropriated $100 million in Science Initiative funding.

University Of Montana Officials Review Proposed Cuts, Restructuring - EDWARD O'BRIEN, MTPR

The University of Montana is taking a hard look at its priorities. University of Montana officials met Friday to take a hard look at the recommendations from a task force reviewing those budgeting and enrollment priorities. The University of Montana’s funding is tied to enrollment, and declining enrollment has proven to be a significant financial challenge over the last several years. The school is now reevaluating its academic and administrative priorities. Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Beverly Edmond says it’s been a difficult, but long overdue process.

UW schools to track professor hours, tie state aid to university's performance, regents vote - Drew Kelly, WIZM

State aid for Wisconsin state colleges will be performance based and professors hours will be tracked. Those measures were nearly unanimously passed by the University of Wisconsin System regents at its monthly meeting Thursday. The lone no vote was Tony Evers, who is running as a Democrat for the 2018 election against Gov. Scott Walker. The measures drew criticism from some, after Republicans ordered it through the state budget.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Town hall discusses concerns about impact of tax proposals on graduate students - Brad Hayward, Stanford University

Graduate students and university leaders came together Thursday night at a town hall to discuss pending congressional tax reform proposals and their potential impacts on the Stanford community. University leaders and representatives of graduate student organizations held a town hall Thursday night to discuss congressional tax proposals and their potential impacts on the Stanford community. Ryan Adesnik, center, speaks about the difference between the Senate and House bills. The focus: tax reform bills passed by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives that would negatively impact higher education – and in particular, provisions of the House bill that would increase the federal tax bill for many graduate students. The two houses are working now to develop a single, final bill that would be voted on by both houses and if passed sent on to the president. The contents of that final bill are uncertain now.

$901 million requested to get Oklahoma higher ed back where it was two years ago - K.S. McNutt, The Oklahoman

Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education voted Thursday to request $901.9 million in state appropriations for the next fiscal year, an increase of $128.3 million from the current funding level. The request includes money to restore faculty and scholarships lost to recent budget cuts and to fully fund concurrent enrollment of high school students. “It’s expensive to run an educational system, but we can’t look at it just as an expense,” said Chairman Ronald White of Oklahoma City. “We have to look at it as an investment, because it is the real economic engine of the state.”

Doing More With Less: U Wyoming Down Roughly 300 Staff After Cuts - Associated Press

Coming off a year of severe budget cuts — handed down by the State Legislature in the face of declining extraction tax revenues — UW is being staffed by fewer people, who are subsequently asked to do more. Starting in summer 2016 and continuing until May, the university lost roughly 370 people through vacancy eliminations, separation incentives and layoffs, including approximately 300 staff members. Exactly 43 faculty members took separation incentive packages, though more left at the end of the academic year or before the start of the fall 2017 semester.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

1,200 students in northeast Ontario drop out, costing colleges millions in tuition - Erik White , CBC News

The five colleges in northeastern Ontario are giving millions of dollars back to students who dropped out of this semester due to the month-long faculty strike. About 1,200 applied before the Dec. 5 deadline to get a full refund on tuition for this semester, which was interrupted for five weeks while professors were on strike. The province has told each of the colleges to offer the refunds and to create a fund to compensate students for strike-related expenses up to $500, which won't be doled out until April.

University of Baltimore rolls out furlough plan amid declining enrollment - Talia Richman, Baltimore Sun

aced with falling enrollment, the University of Baltimore has cut nearly 400 employees’ salaries to save money. The school made the cuts by furloughing workers — requiring them to take time off without pay — as part of a larger effort to reduce costs that includes a hiring freeze, out-of-state travel restrictions and limits on departmental spending. The university announced the furlough plan at the start of the fall semester. It requires both faculty and staff members to take a certain number of unpaid days off, based on their salary level. Those making between $80,000 and $100,000, for example, must take six furlough days reducing their pay by 2.3 percent. “Everybody is upset that we’re having furloughs,” said Stephanie Gibson, vice president of the University Faculty Senate. “Nobody wants to see the university suffer in a way that’s irreparable, but people are irritated and angry that we’re having to give up pay.”

Ivy Tech cuts staff in South Bend, Elkhart to balance budget - Margaret Fosmoe South Bend Tribune

Six employees at Ivy Tech Community College's South Bend and Elkhart County campuses face elimination of their jobs to help balance the budget. The six staff members — four full-time and two part-time — were notified recently that their positions will be eliminated Dec. 29, Chancellor Thomas Coley said Wednesday in a telephone interview. "These are always hard things for us to do," he said. The names of the employees to be let go were not released. Six other currently vacant positions won't be filled, he said. The job cuts are necessary to eliminated an expected budget shortfall, the chancellor said. The reductions will save about $340,000 in this fiscal year, and $680,000 in each future year, he said.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

University of Montana provost: "I have drawn my line in the sand" - KEILA SZPALLER, Missoulian

Their remarks came after the University Faculty Association requested the current president and provost — both serving in interim capacities — to delay significant decisions until incoming President Seth Bodnar takes the helm in January. The union made its request after the administration issued and quickly rescinded termination notices to lecturers for the second time in four months following allegations of contract violations. This week, the head of the faculty union described the situation as a "fiasco," and in a statement, the union said the interim administration's approach "undermined any confidence we have in their ability to make strategic decisions." At the meeting, Stearns and Edmond pushed back, citing the lengthy careers of administrators in public service and their efforts to deal in good faith with colleagues.

University endowments in the crosshairs - Charles Skorina, Washington Examiner

The U.S. has the greatest university system in the world. But it’s expensive. And Congress is about to make matters worse by taxing the endowment earning of “large” private college and university endowments. The latest congressional proposal aims to slap a 1.4 percent excise tax on the net investment income of any private university with an endowment of more than $250,000 per full-time student, about 70 universities.

Syracuse University’s 2018 budget projections, shows growth in online education programs - Michael Burke, Daily Orange

Syracuse University’s fiscal year 2017 budget and projected 2018 budget each feature a surplus and illustrate a growing presence of online education programs at the university, a University Senate report shows. The distribution of the university’s revenues and expenses outlined in the report closely mirror distributions in years past, but the report does highlight one new trend at SU: There has been rapid growth of online education in recent years. Tuition revenue from online graduate programs has more than doubled since 2015, a period of growth that coincides with the launch of partnerships between several of SU’s schools and colleges and 2U Inc., a provider of online education degree programs.