Thursday, October 25, 2007

This is Also News...Good News.

Buried deep in the Business section, C3, today, slightly above the fold, comes this modest headline: Congress to look at college endowments. Well, it seems that Congress has been looking at some endowments for awhile now. The message is simple: some people in Congress think that elite US universities with multi-billion dolloar endowments should spend some of their money, say as much as private foundations must do to keep their nonprofit status. Legislation may be more directive and expect such institutions to help students directly, such as by providing more aid or or by creating limits on endowments as colleges raise tuitions beyond certain limits.

Here is the thing: Harvard, Yale—the two universities mentioned in the article—and any others that fall into the category should not have to be told anything by Congress or forced into doing the right thing through legislation. They should do what Princeton is doing and pay for the students' tuition.They should pick up the tab for students who want to teach or teach piano or edit books. How many billions do you need to run a university? What can you do with 1 billion? Let the legislators focus on health care or other issues. We should be able to monitor the ethics of of an embarrassment of riches ourselves.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Tufts Leads the Way

Now this is worthy of a front page story. Tufts University is, according to the Boston Globe, "offering graduates an unusual deal: Take a job as a public school teacher or social worker, or work for any nonprofit, and the university will help pay off their college loans for years to come." The article points out that while some law and medical schools have offered similar incentives this effort is unprecedented in its promotion of public service careers, for encouraging students in all majors, and for influencing students before they accept their first job.

The article goes on to describe the details and that Tufts does not intend to cover the entire debt. However, the plan is well thought out and couldn't be more important, exciting, impressive, and needed. This is true leadership. Tufts decision addresses the issue of crippling debt and the need for students to follow their passions, not just their pocketbooks. The decision speaks to higher education's purpose of serving society by producing educated leaders in all sectors, who in turn will serve as models and mentors for future generations of students. Other colleges and universities, especially the ones with healthy endowments, should follow suit. Students should choose Tufts for this very reason and parents and alumni should give generously to support such inspired leadership.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Why is this News?

September was relatively quiet as colleges and universities kept their heads down and let the students and faculty roll on in. Virginia Tech is testing out sirens and judging by my admissions counseling business the applications frenzy is well underway for the class of 2012. So I guess there really isn't any news for the Globe readership to chew on save for the editorial decision to run a story on Page One that the UMass Alumni Association isn't such a hot commodity. I get that UMass, as with many state schools, is late to the fundraising ball and, thus, late to develop their alumni's interest in the school post commencement. I just don't get why it is front page news or even news at all. It is not like alumni associations boast memberships of 80 to 90 percent of its graduates. Indeed, as the article points out, "the national average among 85 universities surveyed last year is a membership rate of 18 percent, but that figure is higher at many public state universities." How much higher? Penn State claims 34 percent.

Okay. So UMass needs to do a better job with their current students to ensure that they see themselves as part of a life-long community. So UMass needs to make up for years of neglect. Here is my question. Why is the state of the alumni association front page news?

Why is the Globe trying to embarrass UMass?