Question: What do you get when you add a bad stock market + equally bad state budgets + generous pension benefits + an enhancement of those benefits + rising health costs + an aging workforce?Felix Salmon on Harvard’s endowment troubles.
Answer: A large unfunded liability…
in 2002, feeling flush with money, the state set employer contributions at ridiculously low rates at the same time they increased benefits. A stock market crash later, and they’ll be paying for these decisions for at least the next 30 years…
swaps adviser Peter Shapiro as saying that “December 2008 was, by an enormous amount, the worst time in history” to terminate the swaps by borrowing money…Doug Lederman
In hindsight, the decision to exit the swaps was just as disastrous as the decision to enter them: swap rates are now back up to their December 2004 levels, which means that had Harvard simply waited, it could have exited at no cost whatsoever.
the announcement last week that Indiana's commissioner of higher education recommended distributing budget cuts to state colleges based in significant part on a set of performance measures was so extraordinary…Steve Kolowich
The Indiana Commission for Higher Education's decision to disproportionately cut the budgets of some institutions because their per-student costs are higher and their completion rates are lower is consistent with the state's recently expanded performance funding system.
Carnegie Mellon set out to design software for independent learners taking courses through the university’s Open Learning Initiative…
the researchers seem more excited by a hybrid application of the open-learning program that, instead of replacing professors, tries to use them more effectively. By combining the open-learning software with two weekly 50-minute class sessions in an intro-level statistics course, they found that they could get students to learn the same amount of material in half the time.
“If they’re all getting that baseline information, [faculty] can spend that class time going deeper and doing something much more interesting, so they can really leverage that you’re an expert,” says Candace Thille, director of the Open Learning Initiative, “because right now, oftentimes the faculty expertise is wasted.”