May 2, 2009
Tenure won't mean much if the college goes bankrupt
It shouldn't be surprising to anyone who met a payroll, although many ivory tower leftists from Maine to California are surprised as can be that a wave of bankruptcies among private colleges could lie ahead. Yalman Onaran of Bloomberg writes:
Even the rich schools have problems:[Richard] Kneedler [president of Frabklin & Marshall College] says 207 independent colleges, or almost a third of the 678 he analyzed, don't have enough capital to keep going for the long haul -- a 35 percent surge from a year ago. These schools are at risk of closing during a prolonged crisis. Failures would rise further if the recession persists beyond 2009, says Kneedler, who's now a management consultant at Towson, Maryland-based Yaffe & Co."If the markets normalize in a year, most might survive," he says. "If we've got a second year like this, the number of schools in danger will multiply by 10."
In December, falling interest rates had already forced Harvard to sell $500 million of bonds to cover swaps it had bought to protect against rising rates.Harvard will have to sell more assets to meet its obligations to private equity firms in coming years, says Steven Davidoff, a law professor at the University of Connecticut, who has studied the school's endowment. Private equity firms require commitments from investors for more money when buying opportunities pop up.Across the Charles River, Boston University, with more than 30,000 students, has frozen staff hiring and salaries. It spent more than $500 million in the past five years on a 6,300-seat ice hockey arena, home to the 2009 men's national champions, and dorms with two- to four-bedroom suites. Another centerpiece, the $100 million fitness center, features a 35-foot (11-meter) rock- climbing wall, indoor track, Olympic-size pool and hot tub.
(Jack Kemp is not the politician of the same name)