Tag Archives: donors

Emory altered student’s family income

From a New York Times feature about the difficulties, financial and otherwise, confronting low-income college students:

[Angelica] sensed she was on shakier ground than other low-income students and never understood why. The answer is buried in the aid archives: Emory repeatedly inflated her family’s income without telling her.

Angelica reported that her mother made $35,000 a year and paid about half of that in rent. With her housing costs so high, Emory assumed the family had extra money and assigned Mrs. Lady an income of $51,000. But Mrs. Lady was not hiding money. She was paying inflated post-hurricane rent with the help of Federal disaster aid, a detail Angelica had inadvertently omitted.

By counting money the family did not have, Emory not only increased the amount it expected Angelica to pay in addition to her financial aid. It also disqualified her from most of the school’s touted program of debt relief. Under the Emory Advantage plan the school replaces loans with grants for families making less than $50,000 a year. Moving Angelica just over the threshold placed her in a less-generous tier and forced her to borrow an additional $15,000 before she could qualify. The mistake will add years to her repayment plan.

She discovered what had happened only recently, after allowing a reporter to review her file with Emory officials. […] Emory officials said they had to rely on the information Angelica provided and that they will not make retroactive adjustments. “The method that was used in her case was very standard methodology,” said J. Lynn Zimmerman, the senior vice provost who oversees financial aid. “I think that what’s unusual is that she really didn’t advocate for herself or ask for any kind of review. If she or her mother would have provided any additional information it would have triggered a conversation.”

Just remember, students. If the administration places extra barriers between you and your education and doesn’t inform you, it’s your fault for not fighting back. Unless you do, in which case you will be accused of exaggeration and intimidation.

Times writer Jason DeParle adds, “Emory can hardly be cast as indifferent to low-income students. It spends $94 million a year of its own money on financial aid and graduates its poorest students nearly as often as the rest.” The Emory Advantage program is a tremendous initiative, allowing the College to uphold a need-blind admission policy at a time when many other schools are abandoning theirs. It made possible by large donations within the last 15 years. Yet stories like this cannot but make us wonder about the discrepancy between PR and on-the-ground operations.

Thanks to Tressie MC for the Twitter heads-up.

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Wagner: “Disruptively innovative”

President Wagner delivered his annual State of the University address to a packed room this afternoon. We bring you some highlights:

  • The state of the university is “goooood” (imagine the pitch dropping halfway through, with a tiny question mark at the end).
  • Campaign Emory is likely to hit its goal of raising $1.6 billion by December. We should also expect an announcement of an “anchor” donation for the next fundraising campaign. This one’s gonna fund really wild things like student financial aid.
  • Speaking of which, Oxford College no longer has a need-blind admissions policy. The Druid Hills campus stands by its policy of selecting students based on merit rather than their deep pockets, but the $84 million a year cost of financial aid is a burden. Everyone wants to reduce attrition rates and put scholarship money to better use.
  • As one of only 200 research universities among 4600 institutions of higher education in the U.S., and one of a smaller group of R1 schools, Emory represents a “tiny niche” in the education market, but an important one.
  • Gray Crouse, professor of biology and president of the Governing Committee, has advised Wagner that the old way of running research universities is economically unsustainable. Crouse warns that “most faculty are oblivious” to this fact. (Wonder if that includes the economists and education policy analysts?)
  • The economy will affect “the college experience at the most fundamental levels”: curriculum, teaching, promotion and tenure standards, lab management, the residential experience… We couldn’t tell you how any of these items will actually change.

Clearly, what we really need are “new income streams.” Apart from expanding our partnership with Georgia Tech, examples were scarce.

  • There is a new holding company called “Emory Innovations Inc.” Officially separate from the university, it will retain patents for things that would “support our revenue goals.”
  • Where business practices are concerned, we should learn from former Emory president Atticus Haygood, who said, “Let us stand by the good and let’s make it better.” Presumably, this only applies to investment portfolios.
  • Pres. Wagner has spoken to Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-Fil-A, on two occasions, but he has not responded to letters on behalf of 9 GLBTQ student groups and GALA, the Gay and Lesbian Alumni Association. He will “not stand in the way of Sodexo” (loaded words) if it chooses to change up the franchises on campus. Emory students seem to have been voting against the company with our wallets…
  • We need to “capitalize on our literary assets” and live up to that #1 ranking in USA Today without encouraging literary scholarship or creativity in other languages or connecting literature to other endeavors.

Thanks to a strong showing by the SRC and supporters, the cuts dominated the Q&A. Andrew Zonderman presented the SRC’s statement of demands and handed Wagner a list of prepared questions. To the question “Are you willing to work with us?” Wagner answered yes.

  • Katherine Bryant of neuroscience asked about the crises facing Emory’s reputation, capped off most recently with the threat of censure by the AAUP (“where we’ll join a long list of eminent peers inclunding the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the University of Dubuque, and North Idaho College”). Wagner responded, “Quite the contrary”: peer institutions have been commending Emory for its courageous leadership. He wasn’t too concerned with the AAUP statement insofar as it represented opinions from on campus. The only faculty who count teach at other universities.
  • Amber Jones of the DES wanted to compare the university’s rhetoric of diversity with its actions with regard to the compromised positions of African American and Latino/a undergraduates, graduate students and faculty (“we know that because that’s part of what we study”). They quarreled over the figures on minority students’ dropout rates. Asked how he justified cutting a division that has produced the highest proportion of black PhD graduates in the country for the last twenty years, Wagner replied, “Whatever rationale the deans have used, I’m sure they took that into account.”

According to Wagner, the faculty need to take more initiative in governing the institution and examining the status of the liberal arts.

  • Professor Kevin Corrigan of the ILA: “Why would you allow the effective dismemberment of the ILA before the committee on the liberal arts, headed by Provost Lewis, got down to business?” No definite answer, although Wagner was sure he had sent Corrigan a warning letter back in March.
  • Corrigan also asked if Wagner had a “real vision for the liberal arts.” Wagner had come prepared. A liberal arts education requires critical thinking, creativity, integrity: “I think we’re failing because we just emphasize the critical thinking part.” (Cf.) The liberal arts also requires an “authentic identity,” something that isn’t defined by an institutional tie–thus, Wagner says, the Goizueta Business School, the medical school and the law school are all liberal arts schools. (I always knew my humanities background made me a phony.)

I’ve compiled this from my own notes, and am happy to correct inaccuracies or omissions. @EmoryCuts and the Wheel are following the speech as well.

Tomorrow The next day, the zombies walked on Asbury Circle.

Edited to add: You can now watch Wagner’s speech–sans Q&A–on YouTube.

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Board of Trustees

Is this ever bureaucratic. A Naming and Inscriptions Subcommittee, really? Anyway, some of you may be interested in this list of current board members, including some major donors and faculty counselors.

http://www.emory.edu/secretary/documents/2012%20Committee%20Assignments%20%20Updated%208.15.12.pdf

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A few new petitions

Rescind the cuts or no alumni donations. This one is timely, since Dean Tedesco sent out a call for donations one business day after announcing the cuts.

Department or program-specific:
Keep the Journalism Program.
Save Emory University’s Economics Ph.D. program.

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