colleges

Public colleges hide donors who seek to influence students. Will COVID-19 make it worse?

Long before the coronavirus hit the United States, cash-strapped public higher education systems looked to private donors to offset the steady decline in public funding, sometimes with significant secrecy and strings attached.

Critics fear the economic downturn could give donors more leverage to quietly influence curriculum, hiring and scholarships. Open government laws in many states already allow donors to demand that the public – including students and faculty – be kept in the dark.

The pandemic has presented universities a triple whammy: Reduced tax revenues slashing government support, online-only courses gutting dormitory and cafeteria revenues, and – with more students and families out of work – less ability to offset that loss with tuition increases.

“They are going to be desperate for funding,” said Douglas Beets, who teaches accounting at Wake Forest University, and has studied nearly two decades of university donations and donor demands.

Linda Durant, vice president of

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Colleges hope new rules will slow COVID-19 spread, students aren’t convinced

Colleges want their students back this fall. That much is clear.

What’s less clear are the new rules for student conduct in the midst of a pandemic, and how universities will go about enforcing them, especially when the offensive behavior takes place off-campus – or overnight.

The University of Texas at Austin, for example, has banned parties, both on campus and off, saying they put “the health and safety of our community at risk and raise anxiety levels.”

Tulane University in New Orleans threatened suspension or expulsion for students who throw or attend parties that have more than 15 people and asked students to monitor and report on the behavior of their peers.

“Do you really want to be the reason that Tulane and New Orleans have to shut down again?” the message to students concluded. 

University of Pennsylvania officials have asked that students refrain from organizing parties while prohibiting

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Colleges are increasingly going online for fall 2020 semester as COVID-19 cases rise

Call it coronavirus déjà vu. After planning ways to reopen campuses this fall, colleges are increasingly changing their minds, dramatically increasing online offerings or canceling in-person classes outright.  

This sudden shift will be familiar to students whose spring plans were interrupted by the rapid spread of the coronavirus. Now, COVID-19 cases in much of the country are much higher than in the spring, and rising in many places. 

In many cases, the colleges had released plans for socially distant in-person classes only a few weeks ago, hoping to beat the coronavirus.

“Instead,” said Robert Kelchen, a professor of higher education at Seton Hall University, “the virus beat us.”

Just as in the spring, students have been left scrambling to adjust their class schedules and living arrangements, faced with paying expensive tuition for online classes and rent for an apartment they may not need. Digital classes are still unappealing to many,

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‘I see a disaster in the making.’ Professors slam reopening plans at Illinois colleges amid COVID-19 crisis, prompting some schools to reverse course.

Illinois State University’s first attempt to articulate its vision for reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic this fall didn’t sit well with everyone.

The plan, dubbed “Redbirds Return” after the central Illinois college’s mascot, drew swift criticism from faculty after it was shared in early June, prompting instructors to draft their own proposals and call for greater precautions when scores of students are expected to descend on campus next month. The faculty’s letter objecting to plan has been signed by more than 500 employees, students, parents and other community members.

“Since releasing the plan, we’ve received a great deal of feedback,” ISU President Larry Dietz said earlier this month. “Many faculty and staff members have also made it clear they would like a greater voice formulating plans.”

At the same time, Dietz announced modifications the faculty had been seeking: increased flexibility to work from home, through at least December, and to

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As the Virus Deepens Financial Trouble, Colleges Turn to Layoffs

Dorms on East Green at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, June 21, 2020. (Maddie McGarvey/The New York Times)
Dorms on East Green at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, June 21, 2020. (Maddie McGarvey/The New York Times)

LAKEWOOD, Ohio — Hammered by mounting coronavirus costs and anticipating lost revenue from international students, fall sports and state budgets gutted by the pandemic, colleges and universities nationwide have begun eyeing what until now has been seen as a last resort — thinning the ranks of their faculty.

The University of Akron this week became one of the first schools in the country to make deep cuts in the number of full-time professors on its staff, with the board of trustees voting Wednesday to lay off about a fifth of the university’s unionized workforce to balance its budget, including nearly 100 faculty members.

Other universities have also trimmed teaching positions, although most have limited themselves to those without tenure. This month, the University of Texas at San Antonio laid off 69 instructors,

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How Should Colleges Reopen? There’s No Easy Answer

(Bloomberg Opinion) — How parents and students feel about the fast-approaching specter of college reopenings this fall has been debated — perhaps exhaustively — in the thick of the Covid-19 pandemic. Can we do it safely? Should we send them back at all? Will young adults wear masks and abide by social-distancing guidelines? To get a better sense of the other side of the equation, we asked Bloomberg Opinion contributors who are also educators for their views on getting back in the classroom, whether physical or virtual.

Andrea Gabor, Baruch College

I mostly teach journalism to undergraduates at Baruch College, part of the City University of New York, in lower Manhattan. Most classes are taught in 14- and 16-story buildings. Elevator lines are long. A street below is closed to traffic, creating a small common space outdoors that’s often crowded with students.

Most of our 18,000-plus students commute via bus

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Trump threatens to pull tax exemption for schools, colleges

In his push to get schools and colleges to reopen this fall, President Donald Trump is again taking aim at their finances, this time threatening their tax-exempt status.

Trump said on Twitter on Friday he was ordering the Treasury Department to re-examine the tax-exempt status of schools that he says provide “radical indoctrination” instead of education.

“Too many Universities and School Systems are about Radical Left Indoctrination, not Education,” he tweeted. “Therefore, I am telling the Treasury Department to re-examine their Tax-Exempt Status and/or Funding, which will be taken away if this Propaganda or Act Against Public Policy continues. Our children must be Educated, not Indoctrinated!”

The Republican president did not explain what prompted the remark or which schools would be reviewed. But the threat is just one more that Trump has issued against schools as he ratchets up pressure to get them to open this fall. Twice this week

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ICE says students taking ‘hybrid’ classes may be able to stay in the US, but it won’t tell colleges what that means

Many universities including NYU, which is home to over 17,000 international students, plan to operate under a hybrid model in the fall.
Many universities including NYU, which is home to over 17,000 international students, plan to operate under a hybrid model in the fall.

Facebook/NYU

  • New guidelines from ICE prevent international students on certain visas from attending schools that are fully online, but may allow them to remain if they’re taking a mixture of online and in-person classes.

  • Many universities have announced they will use a “hybrid model,” combining both in-person and online courses for the upcoming academic year.

  • With “very little information” included in the announcement, however, the new policy lacks clarity in what may be required for a hybrid model, a Senior Legislative and Advocacy Counsel at ACLU told Business Insider.

  • A number of faculty have spoken out on social media that they will offer “1-unit in-person study with any student that faces removal from the country” due to the new policy. 

  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Universities have

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Colleges reel from new immigration announcement

When Nay, a senior at University of Illinois at Chicago, came to the U.S. from Bogor, Indonesia, in 2017, she thought she’d get the most out of her university experience — working, studying, and experiencing life in America.

Even with the coronavirus outbreak, she remained optimistic. But on Monday, new visa restrictions announced by the federal government left her worried.

“It’s very disheartening and very confusing,” Nay, who didn’t want to use her last name, told Yahoo Finance.

Visa guidelines for international students announced by the Trump administration have thrown the entire higher education industry — from students to university deans — into a tailspin. For colleges already scrambling to figure out how to safely open their campuses this fall amid a pandemic, the industry now worries about its future.

“I mean, I have to be honest, this one caught me much more by surprise,” Greg Siskind, an immigration lawyer

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Harvard is keeping classes online this fall, placing it among the 8% of US colleges planning to do so. Here’s the list so far.

A graduate gets ready to pose for a picture at the empty campus of San Diego State University, after the California State University system announced the fall 2020 semester will be online, May 13, 2020.
A graduate gets ready to pose for a picture at the empty campus of San Diego State University, after the California State University system announced the fall 2020 semester will be online, May 13, 2020.

Mike Blake/Reuters

  • Harvard University announced Monday that it will only conduct classes online for the coming academic year, though it will allow some students to live on campus.

  • Other universities and colleges across the US — including the country’s largest four-year public university system, California State University— are opting for online-only courses in the fall 2020 semester.

  • The coronavirus could resurge in the fall, bringing a new wave of infections.

  • Here are the schools that aren’t planning to return to campus this fall.

  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

After a semester of remote courses and online graduations, some colleges and universities are deciding not to return for in-person classes this fall.

Harvard announced

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