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Judge Dismisses Lawsuit over NYU Employee Retirement Plans

Last week, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest dismissed a class-action lawsuit against New York University (“NYU”) concerning the institution’s employee retirement plans. Thousands of employees had accused NYU of mishandling their retirement plans, which included an estimated $358 million loss at two 403(b) plans. Judge Forrest ruled that the plaintiffs could not prove NYU’s retirement plan committee caused the losses by burdening employees with underperforming investment choices. The lawsuit is the first of many similar cases brought against universities and their retirement plans; Cornell, Duke and Northwestern are also being sued. More on this ruling is available on the Reuters website.

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Tax Reform Could Impact Campus Parking and Transit Benefits

With little guidance provided on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, colleges and universities are uncertain how to handle tax law changes related to campus parking. College and university officers worry that the lack of guidance will lead to new taxes on employee parking, even if free parking is a benefit. Officers are also concerned that they will be taxed on upkeep for employee parking lots. Another unresolved issue relates to handling pretax transit programs. Colleges could face taxes on employees who use a pretax account to pay for public transportation to work. Such taxes, however, may be avoided if. Read More.

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Government Funding for Higher Education Gains Support

A study from Columbia University’s Teachers College has discovered that most Americans support government funding for higher education and view the return on investments of colleges and universities as a positive. Based on the responses to “Americans’ Views of Higher Education as a Public and Private Good,” three-fourths of those surveyed consider public funding of higher education as either an excellent (44 percent) or good (32 percent) investment. In addition, approximately half of respondents support higher government spending on institutions (52 percent on community colleges; 50 percent on four-year schools). More on this survey is available on the Inside Higher Ed website.

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Vermont Law School Professors to Lose Tenure

Facing financial problems for the past decade, Vermont Law School plans to move several tenured professors to untenured positions. The decision, which received unanimous support from the school’s Board of Trustees, is part of a restructuring process that could potentially impact over a dozen of the 20 tenured professors. Some professors have already negotiated their employment terms, which are likely contracts similar to many of the school’s full-time, non-tenured professors. Learn more about Vermont Law School’s restructuring plan on the Inside Higher Ed website.

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Knowledge Commons a Hit at Hampshire College

Centralizing academic services to increase student use is paying off at Hampshire College in Massachusetts. Dubbed the “Knowledge Commons,” the center is located on the first floor of the school’s library and features academic support programs like public speaking, library research and media, art gallery student exhibition support, and teaching and learning. Hampshire College says that since moving to the library, several of these programs have experienced an increase in attendance. In addition to the knowledge commons, the library plans to create a new technology and art commons and community commons. More on Hampshire College’s knowledge commons is available on the Inside Higher Ed. Read More.

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Bottom-Ranked Colleges Falling Behind Top Counterparts

An analysis of the colleges listed in The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education ranking reveals an alarming shift in higher education. According to the analysis, colleges closer to the bottom of the list were more likely to have lower enrollment numbers. In addition, those same colleges are having trouble keeping up with the schools near the higher end of the list. The trend leads one expert to predict that in the next five years, employers won’t value a degree from one of the poorest-ranked colleges as much as a degree from a top school. More on this analysis is available on The Wall Street Journal website.

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