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Clintons Charge Big Fees to Small Nonprofits

August 20th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Information

When Condoleezza Rice headlined a 2009 fundraising luncheon for the Boys and Girls Club of Long Beach, she collected a $60,000 speaking fee, then donated almost all of it back to the club, according to multiple sources familiar with the club’s finances.

Hillary Clinton was not so generous to the small charity, which provides after-school programs to underprivileged children across the Southern California city. Clinton collected $200,000 to speak at the same event five years later, but she donated nothing back to the club, which raised less than half as much from Clinton’s appearance as from Rice’s, according to the sources and tax filings.

Instead, Clinton steered her speaking fee to her family’s own sprawling $2 billion charity.

The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, which has come under scrutiny for its fundraising and fiscal management, has taken in as much as $11.7 million in payments from other nonprofit groups. The money was paid for speeches given by Hillary Clinton; her husband, the former president; and their daughter, Chelsea Clinton, since the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency in 2001, according to a POLITICO analysis of a list of speeches voluntarily released last month by the foundation.

 

 

The groups range from smaller charities like Long Beach’s Boys and Girls Club and an AIDS service provider, Chicago House, to public policy advocacy groups, large universities and trade associations.

The cash, according to Clinton Foundation spokesman Craig Minassian, allowed the foundation “to effectively and efficiently use our resources to implement programs that are fighting HIV/AIDS and childhood obesity, increasing opportunity for women and girls, lifting people out of poverty and combating climate change.”

Few of the groups talked publicly about their payments for Clinton speeches, citing concerns about angering the family or violating provisions in the speaking arrangements.

But fundraising experts and people affiliated with some nonprofits on the list — including the Boys and Girls Club — grumbled that the hefty price tag for securing a Clinton speech is a significant drain on small charities’ fundraising and that community-based nonprofits could put the money to better use.

It’s not uncommon for charities to build fundraising events around speakers with “star power” to sell tickets, even if the strategy doesn’t always pay dividends, said Marc A. Pitman, a nonprofit fundraising coach. Such speakers are often expected to return some portion of the speaking fee as a “gift to the club or sponsorship of an event or underwriter for some outreach.” It’s less common, he said, for “a bigger nonprofit to raise funds by speaking to smaller nonprofits. I don’t know of any other foundation that collects speaking fees.”

A Boys and Girls Club volunteer who helped plan Hillary Clinton’s appearance said the arrangement “felt more like a pay-to-play type thing.”

As Hillary Clinton positions herself as a champion for everyday Americans during her presidential campaign, scrutiny has been directed at the $139 million in speaking fees she and her husband have collected since leaving the White House — including millions of dollars from nonprofit groups. Bill Clinton collected millions in personal income from speeches to hospitals and synagogues, as well as $100,000 from the British nonprofit National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and even $150,000 from the Long Beach Boys and Girls Club, the same group that sought out Hillary Clinton in 2014. She earned $12 million on the speaking circuit from the beginning of last year through March, when she stopped giving paid speeches as she prepared to launch her presidential campaign.

In their defense, the Clintons say they have donated other speaking fees to their own charity, which has balanced domestic efforts like fighting childhood obesity and heart disease with far-flung international efforts like increasing access to HIV/AIDS medication, ivory poaching in Africa and earthquake recovery in Haiti.

 

Bill Clinton, asked last week if he would continue giving paid speeches should his wife be elected president, suggested he would not. But he also aggressively defended their speaking forays, which have yielded at least $139 million in speaking fees for the couple — not including fees paid directly to the foundation.

“I give 10 percent of my paid speeches, a little more actually, have gone directly to the foundation,” he said, adding “and Hillary gave even more of her paid speeches to the foundation.”

Leaders of several nonprofits that paid speaking fees to the Clintons said fundraising tickets sold quickly after the announcement of a Clinton appearance. Others questioned whether financing six-figure speaking fees adhered to charity best practices, which dictate that costs should be less than one-third the amount brought in by the events.

That doesn’t appear to have been the case when Hillary Clinton addressed a University of Nevada-Las Vegas fundraiser last year, an event university spokesman Tony Allen called “a tremendous success.” The university’s accounting shows the event netted $110,000 for the school’s foundation after paying off expenses including Clinton’s $225,000 speaking fee.

Allen told POLITICO the event also raised an additional $237,000 in scholarship donations. But student leaders had called on Clinton to donate some or all of the speaking fee — which one called “a little outrageous” — back to the school to “enrich thousands of students and faculty on campus.” She instead steered the cash to her family’s foundation.

And a small charity called the Happy Hearts Fund, which rebuilds schools destroyed by natural disasters, donated $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation in conjunction with a Bill Clinton speech at its 2014 gala, only after trying unsuccessfully to get him to appear for free. It reportedly was told by the Clinton Foundation that “they don’t look at these things unless money is offered, and it has to be $500,000.” The gala at which Clinton spoke brought in $1 million less than its previous gala in 2012, a Happy Hearts Fund spokesperson told POLITICO. Praising Clinton for raising awareness “about the need for sustained response in countries impacted by natural disasters,” the spokesperson suggested the fundraising decline was unrelated to the former president. “Differences in amounts between years result from a myriad of factors including donor interest, the time of year events are held and how much other fundraising we do in a given year,” said the spokesperson.

Representatives from several other charities that paid Bill and Hillary Clinton for speeches said they typically do not pay speaking fees — only expenses — but they made exceptions to land the Clintons.

 

Bill Clinton has, in fact, delivered some free speeches to nonprofits, including one to the gay rights group GLAAD, which gave him an award at its April 2013 gala in Los Angeles. It paid only Clinton’s travel expenses to the ceremony, where he memorably spoke out against the Defense of Marriage Act — a bill he signed into law as president that recognized marriage as between a man and a woman, which was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2013.

And last week, he said: “I have done more appearances for other people than I have given paid speeches.”

Hillary Clinton’s campaign did not respond to questions. The Clinton Foundation and a spokesman for Bill Clinton referred questions to the Harry Walker Agency, which arranges the Clintons’ speeches but did not respond to a request for comment.

Some charities that donated to secure Clinton speeches said the deal was a bargain.

“The fee that we paid was greatly reduced from what his asking fee was at the time,” said Mark Fowler, the acting executive director of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding. It donated $25,000 to the Clinton Foundation to get him to give a speech accepting a 2006 award. Judging by the group’s tax filings that year, it appears to have made more than $230,000 from the gala, but Fowler suggested that calculation was secondary. “We don’t just look for people who can raise money for us. We look for people who are uniquely aligned to our mission, and Clinton was, and his speech is still remembered by many people.”

The Clinton Foundation is not only aligned with the Boys and Girls Club, but the two organizations also formed a partnership to provide healthy eating and exercise opportunities to kids outside of school. Announcing it in January 2014 — 10 months before Hillary Clinton’s speech to the Long Beach chapter — at a Clinton Foundation conference, Bill Clinton noted that he was a former Boys and Girls Club member and praised the organization for working to “create a culture of wellness to sustain healthier environments for young people most in need.”

Bill Clinton was the featured speaker at the Long Beach Boys and Girls Club’s March 2007 corporate luncheon — the event his wife and Rice would later headline. Held on the top-floor office of a donor’s downtown suite, it’s considered “a must-attend” for the city’s movers and shakers and has drawn appearances from Margaret Thatcher, Henry Kissinger, Tony Blair, Rudy Giuliani and former Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush.

Bill Clinton charged the group $150,000, which was reported as personal income — not a donation to the Clinton Foundation — on his wife’s federal financial disclosure form.

A Boys and Girls Club supporter said that, comparatively, Hillary Clinton’s speaking fee was “a little less offensive” than “writing a check to them and having them profit from it.”

But Hillary Clinton’s $200,000 speaking fee was the largest paid to any speaker, according to sources familiar with club finances. Partly as a result, her appearance was among the least profitable for the group of any event in the 25-year-old series, netting only $106,000 for the club, they said.

By contrast, the Condoleezza Rice luncheon five years earlier raised nearly $258,000 after expenses and Rice’s give-back of her speaking fee were tallied, according to sources and the organization’s tax filing.

An extra $150,000 — the difference between the yields at Rice’s speech vs. Clinton’s — can go a long way at an organization that, like the Boys and Girls Club, has an annual budget of less than $3 million.

Neither Rice nor the club responded to questions, and the tax filing detailing the finances of Clinton’s appearance has yet to be filed.

But Boys and Girls Club sources told POLITICO that another reason Clinton’s speech yielded less for the club was that her representatives requested more complimentary seats for her entourage than previous speakers had sought. As a result, there were fewer tickets for sale at prices ranging from $1,500 for individual tickets to $50,000 for a platinum table sponsorship.

That irritated some supporters, who also noted disapprovingly that Clinton gave her speech (which was billed as closed to the press), then took off without visiting any of the club’s facilities to meet the children who benefit from its services.

By contrast, Rice spent the morning before her speech (which was open to the media) touring a club facility and talking with its children about the importance of staying in school and chasing their dreams, according to an account in the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

“With Hillary, it was more businesslike,” said a volunteer involved in the planning. “She did acknowledge what we do for the community, but it felt like a little bit of hypocrisy because her speaking fee was higher than anyone we’ve ever had, and she didn’t donate anything back.”

By 6/16/15
Politico

Matt Yurus contributed to this report.

Tech companies deploy own certification courses to build credentials sought in job applicants

August 19th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Information

Peter Janzow was in the midst of a successful career in ed tech, including at one point founding Brownstone Learning, a homework management startup. When he got laid off, suddenly his bachelor’s degree in history, from Knox College—his only academic credential—felt inadequate and dated.

“Do I need to reskill?” he wondered. “I became very familiar with what’s going on in terms of alternative credentials.” One thing quickly became clear to him, he says: “We’re all going to be lifelong learners; we need to get credit for that in a way that’s demonstrable.”

Fast-forward to today, and Janzow has landed at Acclaim, Pearson’s first big bet on the next generation of learning credentials. The platform, built on top of Mozilla’s open-source badges framework, provides organizations a way to grant and verify badges, and students with a way to claim and share them.

“If we can provide verified credentials, that’s solving a real employer need,” says Janzow, who leads the Acclaim team, a startup embedded within Pearson VUE.

Acclaim arrives at a time when traditional academic degrees are falling out of favor, in part due to their staggering cost, and online learning options are on the rise. Back when badges emerged on the scene in 2012, education pundits were optimistic that these new digital credentials could be a “fantastic bargain” by allowing students to bypass the expense of college tuition. “If digital badges infiltrate the credential market, they could shake the economic foundations of a higher-education industry that over the last 30 years has consistently increased prices much higher than inflation and family income, resulting in over $1 trillion in outstanding student loan debt,” Kevin Carey wrote in The New York Times. But so far, it’s been private employers, not universities, that have taken the lead.

Meanwhile, demand for continuing education has exploded, thanks to technology’s impact. Amid this rapidly shifting landscape, it has become incredibly difficult for prospective students to evaluate the return on investment associated with a course or program; for companies, it has become difficult to find qualified new hires and keep employees’ skills fresh.

The solution, many companies have decided, is to get more deeply involved in education and training themselves. In April, LinkedIn bought course provider Lynda.com for $1.5 billion, helping to close the gap for the recruiters and job-seekers on its site. And it is Microsoft—and not an educational institution—that is the top certificate-issuer on LinkedIn, in a ranking dominated by technology companies like Cisco and Google. Last year, Microsoft became one of Acclaim’s first customers when it entered into a partnership with INSEAD, resulting in an online course on “Business Strategy and Financial Acumen.”

“Microsoft is in a moment of transition right now,” says Hilary Albert, who manages the program. “We have tens of thousands of people we need to change and train.”

 


A sample dashboard from startup Degreed

 

Microsoft ran a pilot of the course last fall for nearly a thousand employees, and is now on track to offer the course three times per year. In the most recent session, 83% of students completed the course and 66% earned a certificate.

Albert attributes the course’s completion rates—high in comparison to many other online courses—to the paired value of the Microsoft and INSEAD brands. “It’s a way for people to take part in a prestigious institution. It’s a way to differentiate yourself from other people that work here. And because it’s a cobranded badge, it has value outside of Microsoft,” she says. According to LinkedIn, profile views for members with certifications are six times higher than for those without.

Adobe, Autodesk, IBM, Microsoft: Acclaim has a growing list of private-sector customers, and so far has issued more than 1 million badges. For some badges, claim rates (meaning the course or objective was completed and passed) are as high as 90%—a promising sign that the marketplace is seeing value in the credentials.

But challenges remain. One of the dangers for Acclaim and its customers is that the new badges will get lost in the sea of certificates, nanodegrees, and other résumé-builders.

“I think that the [Mozilla] community overemphasized the wide-open nature of badges at the start,” Janzow says, noting that “literally any individual can issue any badge based on any criteria.” The result has been a system in which many badges are offered but few are claimed.

That issue of diluted value extends to certifications more broadly, says Matt Sigelman, CEO of Burning Glass, which uses data analytics to better match people and jobs. “There are only a couple hundred that get mentioned in job postings,” he says. “Are we just creating a different kind of noise?”

Expanding the new credentials to nontechnical industries poses another challenge. In fields like software development, where skills are defined and measurable, credentials have largely kept pace with evolving employer expectations. But in fields where softer skills like communication are prized, the credentials remain inchoate—another rationale for companies moving education in-house, where they can design the curriculum to their specifications and closely monitor student progress.

 


Another view of the Degreed platform

 

The last challenge is figuring out where the new wave of credentials will live. Students issued badges by Acclaim customers will have to claim their badge by creating an account; once logged in, they’ll be able to share the badge on LinkedIn and elsewhere. Other badge-issuers are using Mozilla’s “backpack,” also designed as a central hub for students to manage their badges over time. Then there are options like Degreed, a startup that pulls all of your learning—from badges to more traditional forms of company-sponsored professional development—into a central dashboard.

“You learn in higher education for two, four, six years. You learn in a professional context for 30 or 40 years,” says Degreed founder and CEO David Blake. “We need a better way to capture that and make all learning matter.”

Companies pay Degreed for access to the startup’s platform, but Blake says accounts are portable, even for job-switchers. “Honestly, it’s been refreshing and a bit surprising how eager companies are to empower employees,” he says. “I think some of it is because in this category of media—learning content, learning platforms—in the enterprise context, there is this long, pent-up dissatisfaction.”

Blake envisions a future in which traditional credentials, like university degrees, coexist alongside modern markers of achievement and ways of gauging experience. “Badges, nanodegrees—we’re still at this noisy level in our evolution. I think what will happen next is credentials that can bring all this together and contextualize things.”

He hopes to make Degreed the place where that happens. For now, the market remains dependent on résumé PDFs and LinkedIn profiles, funneled into the labyrinth that is job-screening software. Indeed, frustrated job searchers may welcome greater corporate involvement in training and education. But recent corporate activities go far beyond helping colleges and universities graduate career-ready students.

“We’re going to see private companies creating their own education systems,” CEB executive Jean Martin, a human resources expert, told an audience of education insiders at a recent conference. Human-resources departments are increasingly borrowing from supply chain management practices, she said, as they look to custom-engineer their “suppliers” of people. “Walmart is saying, ‘We want to source our cashiers ourselves, and we want to do it starting in the sixth grade.’ They’re seeing this huge skills gap at the same time that they’re seeing a need to reshore a lot of jobs.”

Even if Walmart does an excellent job of preparing students for those jobs, it’s unclear whether other employers would be interested in hiring workers with a credential from “Walmart U.”—a major risk should those jobs ever evaporate.

June 17, 2015
By Fast Company

uAlberta accused of using “canny tactics” to discourage pro-life groups

August 11th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Information

When it comes to censoring unpopular speech on campus, some universities are smarter than others.

The University of Calgary foolishly charged its own students with trespassing, and later with non-academic misconduct, for having set up a pro-life display on campus, tactics that were decisively rejected by the court in Wilson vs. University of Calgary last year. At Mount Royal University, security guards arrested a young man for distributing pro-life literature on campus, and detained him for several hours in a small room, with his hands cuffed painfully behind his back. After a court action was commenced, the university’s president apologized for the security guards’ conduct, and the court action was withdrawn.

June 29, 2015
By John Carpay
National Post

April 12, 2010

Last Thursday, the University of Calgary issued legal notices of trespass to 10 members of a campus pro-life group after they refused to comply with the school’s request to turn their graphic poster display inward. This is the fourth time the group has been issued campus trespassing notices. In November, charges of trespassing against 6 group members were stayed after it was determined there was not enough evidence to proceed with the prosecution. In a statement, uCalgary says that it has advised members of the pro-life club that since they are not willing to compromise on their display, they are not welcome on campus for protests. uCalgary News | Calgary Herald

 

US Supreme Court to revisit affirmative action debate

August 10th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Information

The US Supreme Court has announced that it has agreed to hear Fisher v University of Texas at Austin again. Two years ago, the case was sent back to the lower courts with the instructions to apply “strict scrutiny.” Supporters of race-conscious admissions have called the move “baffling and ominous,” speculating that the court may limit, or even end, all such affirmative action. Abigail Fisher, a white woman who was not admitted by UT Austin in 2008, said, “I hope the justices will rule that UT is not allowed to treat undergraduate applicants differently because of their race or ethnicity.”

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to review the constitutionality of the consideration of race and ethnicity in college admissions cases. And many legal experts believe the justices are likely to be skeptical of such consideration.

The case involves the admissions practices at the University of Texas at Austin. It is possible that the Supreme Court could rule in a narrow way about UT. But the case also gives the justices, several of whom are dubious of the legality of the consideration of race by schools and colleges, a chance to limit or ban the consideration of race in college admissions. The case will now be heard in the fall, with a decision likely in early 2016. The issues in this case are also likely to be debated in the 2016 presidential race.

As is the norm in cases it agrees to hear, the Supreme Court did not issue any explanation about its decision. But the notification that the justices would take the case confirmed, as expected, that Associate Justice Elena Kagan would recuse herself from consideration of the case. Kagan was solicitor general in the Obama administration before being appointed to the court, and presumably worked on the case in that capacity. With Kagan not voting, only three justices on the court are considered reliable backers of affirmative action.

The Supreme Court on Affirmative Action in Higher Education

  • 1978: In Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, the court ruled that the medical school at the University of California at Davis could not reserve some slots with separate admissions standards for minority applicants. But the court also ruled that colleges could consider race and ethnicity in admissions decisions in ways that did not create quotas.
  • 2003: In Gratz v. Bollinger, the court ruled that the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor had unconstitutionally used an undergraduate admissions system in which underrepresented minority applicants received points on the basis of their ethnic or racial background.
  • 2003: In Grutter v. Bollinger, the court ruled that the University of Michigan’s law school was within its constitutional rights in considering applicants’ race and ethnicity because it did so through a “holistic” review and not by simply awarding points based on race and ethnicity.
  • 2013: In Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, the court ruled that lower courts needed to apply “strict scrutiny” and not give colleges deference in reviews of challenges to the consideration of race and ethnicity in admissions decisions.

The Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling is in the same case that has now returned to the justices.

Ruling 7 to 1, the court in 2013 found that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit had erred in not applying “strict scrutiny” to the policies of UT Austin. The case is Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, in which Abigail Fisher, a white woman rejected for admission by the university, said that her rights were violated by UT Austin’s consideration of race and ethnicity in admissions decisions. Fisher’s lawyers argued that the University of Texas need not consider race because it has found another way to assure diversity in the student body. That is the “10 percent plan,” under which those in the top 10 percent of students at Texas high schools are assured admission to the public college or university of their choice.

The 2013 ruling essentially raised the bar for colleges in terms of how they had to justify the consideration of race and ethnicity in admissions, but did not bar its use.

In July 2014, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld, 2 to 1, the UT admissions plan. And it is an appeal of that ruling that the U.S. Supreme Court has again agreed to consider.

The majority decision from the appeals court said that just because Texas could get some diversity based on the percent plan alone does not mean it can’t do more than that. “An emphasis on numbers in a mechanical admissions process is the most pernicious of discriminatory acts because it looks to race alone, treating minority students as fungible commodities that represent a single minority viewpoint,” the judges wrote. “Critical mass, the tipping point of diversity, has no fixed upper bound of universal application, nor is it the minimum threshold at which minority students do not feel isolated or like spokespersons for their race.”

Further, the appeals court said that the University of Texas is correct not to rely solely on the percent plan, which in turn works because of segregation. The plaintiff’s “claim can proceed only if Texas must accept this weakness of the top 10 percent plan and live with its inability to look beyond class rank and focus upon individuals,” the decision says. “Perversely, to do so would put in place a quota system pretextually race neutral. While the top 10 percent plan boosts minority enrollment by skimming from the tops of Texas high schools, it does so against this backdrop of increasing resegregation in Texas public schools, where over half of Hispanic students and 40 percent of black students attend a school with 90 [to] 100 percent minority enrollment.”

The dissent argued that the majority decision did not comply with the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision. “At best, the university’s attempted articulations of ‘critical mass’ before this court are subjective, circular or tautological,” the dissent says. “The university explains only that its ‘concept of critical mass is defined by reference to the educational benefits that diversity is designed to produce.’ And, in attempting to address when it is likely to achieve critical mass, the university explains only that it will ‘cease its consideration of race when it determines … that the educational benefits of diversity can be achieved at UT through a race-neutral policy ….’

“These articulations are insufficient. Under the rigors of strict scrutiny, the judiciary must ‘verify that it is necessary for a university to use race to achieve the educational benefits of diversity.’ It is not possible to perform this function when the university’s objective is unknown, unmeasurable or unclear.”

What the Supreme Court says about these issues could be crucial to colleges nationwide. Many of them cite the idea of a “critical mass” as part of their explanation for a range of policies that consider race and ethnicity.

Another key issue for many colleges other than UT is the question of how much deference to give to colleges generally on matters related to their desire for diverse student bodies. The 2013 Supreme Court ruling said that no deference should be given to colleges just for being colleges as opposed to other kinds of organizations. And that significantly increased the burden for colleges because many courts have said, historically, that they are hesitant to question decisions on such policies as admissions.

The appeal filed by Fisher’s lawyers, urging the Supreme Court to take the case, said that the appeals court had not in fact applied the required “strict scrutiny” to the university’s actions.

“At every turn, the majority was ‘persuaded’ by UT’s circular legal arguments, post hoc rationalizations for its decision to reintroduce racial preferences and unsupported factual assertions,” the brief says, adding that the Supreme Court “has a special interest in ensuring that courts on remand follow the letter and spirit of [its] mandates …. That institutional interest is triggered here as the Fifth Circuit applied strict scrutiny in name only.”

In its reply brief, the University of Texas said the appeals court had indeed applied the Supreme Court’s standards for reviewing the consideration of race in admissions. The Texas brief said Fisher’s lawyers are in reality just trying to eliminate the right of colleges to consider race in any circumstance. “As is evident from their desire to eliminate racial preferences in education altogether, the real problem for petitioner and her amici is this court’s decisions … [that] establish that universities may consider race — when narrowly tailored to their compelling interest in student body diversity.”

Fisher was a high school senior when she first sued UT Austin in 2008. She enrolled at and graduated from Louisiana State University after she was rejected by UT, but has continued the legal case over her rejection.

Why Supporters of Affirmative Action Are Worried

Generally, Monday’s announcement was praised by those who want to limit the way colleges consider race. Fisher issued a statement that said: “I am very grateful that the Supreme Court will once again hear my case. I hope the justices will rule that UT is not allowed to treat undergraduate applicants differently because of their race or ethnicity.”

For its part, the University of Texas projected confidence. Gregory L. Fenves, president of UT Austin, released his own statement: “Our admissions policy is narrowly tailored, constitutional and has been upheld by the courts multiple times. We look forward to making our arguments before the Supreme Court later this year.”

Molly C. Broad, president of the American Council on Education, similarly expressed confidence in a statement: “As they rehear the ‘Fisher’ case, we remain confident that the justices will continue to recognize the importance of diversity and show appropriate deference to the judgments made by the University of Texas, which inform its admissions policies and practices.”

But many legal observers — including plenty who favor the consideration of race in admissions — are worried. The Supreme Court historically doesn’t take up cases just a few years after a similar case, unless there is a specific desire to change things, or a split has developed among appeals courts. In this case, the case is the same one from just two years ago, and there are no conflicting appeals court rulings.

Another reason for concern of affirmative action supporters is in simply counting justices with various voting records on government policies that involve race. Generally, the conservative wing of the court (Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and Justices Samuel Alito Jr., Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas) has provided a solid four votes against government consideration of race, consistently arguing that such policies aren’t needed today. The liberal wing of the court (which, excluding Kagan, includes Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor) has generally been sympathetic to affirmative action.

But while Justice Anthony M. Kennedy is talked about as a swing vote, and has voted with the liberal wing on issues such as same-sex marriage, that is not the case when it comes to race. In 2003, he dissented from then Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s decision upholding the consideration of race by the University of Michigan Law School. In his dissent, Justice Kennedy specifically questioned the idea of seeking a critical mass of minority students. He wrote that, at Michigan’s law school, “the concept of critical mass is a delusion used by the law school to mask its attempt to make race an automatic factor in most instances and to achieve numerical goals indistinguishable from quotas.”

Further, a book on Justice Sotomayor’s arrival on the court has provided details about the 2013 deliberations on the University of Texas case that year, and suggests that Kennedy was prepared then to write a strong rejection of the university’s admissions policies and watered down his opinion to attract more justices in what was reportedly a deeply divided court. Many experts suggest that this suggests Kennedy’s vote will be a hard one for the University of Texas and supporters of affirmative action to win.

Tom Sullivan, a lawyer who is also president of the University of Vermont, said he still believes Justice O’Connor got it right, and that “diversity in higher education is a public good.”

But he added that the task for the University of Texas will be difficult. “Given the multiple reviews of this case by the court, the university’s plan might well receive less deference than previous rulings,” he said.

Rod Smolla, who starts this week as the dean of Widener University Delaware Law School and is author of The Constitution Goes to College, said via email that he would be surprised if Justice Kennedy backed the University of Texas. “The question, in my judgment, is not whether the current principles governing race-conscious admissions will be altered, but rather how much they will be altered. Justice Kennedy is likely to tighten the current principles in a manner less hospitable to affirmative action. This could range anywhere from a complete abolition of race-conscious admissions, to requiring some form of stronger showing that no race-neutral alternatives to achieving more diverse student bodies will suffice. It is unlikely that Justice Kennedy would endorse the current regime of strong deference to the judgment of university officials on these issues.”

Michael A. Olivas, director of the Institute for Higher Education Law and Governance at the University of Houston and author of The Law and Higher Education, is a strong supporter of affirmative action. He said that there was no real reason for the Supreme Court to take the case, and that leaves him concerned. He said that the University of Texas admissions process is “the most scrutinized admissions process in higher education” in the last 20 years. And he said it is largely the same as it was in 2013.

He said that the Supreme Court should not have allowed Fisher, “who has graduated from college and who therefore has no more standing, [to] continue to get a bite at the apple.” That the Supreme Court would take the case is “disconcerting,” he said. “Once the Supreme Court acts, it ought to leave it alone.” Having agreed to another review, Olivas said, Fisher’s suit becomes “the case that will not die.”

June 30, 2015

 

Senior Executives Are Often Unaware of Development Opportunities, Study Says

January 10th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Education, Information

Nearly all senior-most nonprofit executives believe their organizations are providing formal professional development opportunities, according to a new study, even as half of those serving immediately below them report that no such opportunities are in place.

The Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington and Waldron, a consulting firm, surveyed chief executives, executive directors, and presidents—job titles for the No. 1 executive at most nonprofits—and members of leadership teams at organizations with budgets of at least $100-million and foundations with that amount or more in assets. The study included a total of 139 participants.

Ninety percent of the senior-most executives said their organization offered formal development opportunities, while just 52 percent of leadership team members said such opportunities existed.

Eighty-seven percent of senior-most executives said that succession planning was “very necessary,” and 92 percent said that developing leaders is a key part of that planning. But when asked if their organizations had succession plans in place for either emergencies or planned transitions, the majority responded no.

A majority of leadership team members also indicated that their organizations did not have succession plans in place. Seventy-one percent said they were not being developed for the top job, while 54 percent said that they did not know of a clear successor if their chief executive were to leave immediately.

Other findings:

  • Seventy-one percent of senior-most executives said they would retire from their current position.
  • Sixty-three percent of leadership team members said they would leave for a different organization.
  • Forty-nine percent of senior-most executives would recommend hiring an external candidate to succeed them.

November 24, 2014
By Megan O’Neil
The Chronicle of Philanthropy

Datawind to make “world’s lowest cost tablet” even cheaper

April 13th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Canada, Education, Information

Datawind, the Montreal-based makers of the “world’s lowest cost tablet,” is aiming to sell a tablet for $20–50% less than its $37.99 tablet. Aiming to make tablet ownership possible for anyone and everyone, Datawind says it’s able to sell the tablets so inexpensively “because of the scale of its production runs and the fact that it makes its own screens, which helps boost profit margins.” Datawind also keeps its prices down by selling directly to consumers through its website, and not seeking retail partners. In 2011, the company partnered with the Indian government to offer the affordable tablets to the country’s students.

Raja Singh Tuli, chief technology officer of Datawind, displays a Ubislate (Photo: CP, 2011)

 

The Canadian makers of the “world’s lowest cost tablet,” the UbiSlate 7Ci, think $37.99 still isn’t cheap enough.

They figure there’s still room to knock about 50% off its price and make tablet ownership possible for anyone and everyone.

 

“This idea is to bridge the digital divide, it’s really that simple, the idea is to overcome the affordability barrier,” says Datawind CEO Suneet Singh Tuli during an interview at his Toronto-area office, one of five the company has in Canada, England, Germany and India.

“We think as the Scandinavians do that (internet access) is a fundamental human right.”

On the second floor of an unassuming strip mall — strategically located within spitting distance of Toronto’s Pearson airport, where Tuli says he’s coming from or going to a few times a week — the Datawind team is working on its strategy to sell cut-rate “good enough” tablets.

The company is best known for its work with the Indian government, which it supplied with low-cost tablets for a program to get technology into the hands of students. Datawind was recently named one of the world’s 50 smartest companies by the MIT Technology Review magazine for launching those tablets, branded under the Aakash name.

While India’s government is considering proposals from Datawind and other vendors to make the next version of the Aakash, the company has turned its attention to North America and the U.K. to sell its tablets directly to consumers under the UbiSlate brand.

The cheapest version of the seven-inch tablet, the UbiSlate 7Ci, has a not-too-sharp screen resolution of 800 by 480 pixels, four gigabytes of memory, half a gigabyte of RAM, runs a current version of Google’s Android operating system and can only get online with WiFi. It sells online for $37.99 plus taxes and shipping. The next model up, the UbiSlate 7C+, costs an additional $42 to gain access to EDGE mobile networks. The most expensive model, the UbiSlate 3G7 at $129.99 plus taxes and shipping, has a better screen and processor and can also access HSDPA 3G mobile networks.

Tuli says the company can sell the tablets so inexpensively because of the scale of its production runs and the fact that it makes its own screens, which helps boost profit margins. A preloaded web browser also displays ads that generate additional revenue for Datawind — although users can choose to download another ad-free browser — and the company monetizes some downloads of apps.

Datawind has also kept its prices down by selling directly to consumers through its website and not seeking retail partners.

“Something that costs $50 to make ends up at $150 easily at retail,” he says.

“In our case, something that costs $32 to make ends up at $38 in the consumers’ hands.”

Tuli says he envisions the price of Datawind’s lower-end tablet slipping below $20 “within the next year or two,” especially if revenues from ads and apps grow.

“We think pricing will continue coming down and we think features will continue going up. We will keep our high end between $100 to $150, we don’t see ourselves going up anything higher than that, but we’ll continue pushing the barriers on the lower end,” he says.

While he insists that Canadian consumers won’t find the tablets lacking, the reviews for Datawind’s tablets in India were far from positive. And anyone who has used an iPad or a higher-end Android tablet will notice a major difference in performance.

But he believes there is a strong market of consumers who are willing to trade performance for a low price.

“What we tried to focus on was realizing that for our customer, price is the most important feature and starting with that element we said, ‘What can we bundle in to provide a performance experience that would be good enough for them?’” Tuli says.

“You want something for your kids to take to school…. Kids are going to lose them or break them and you want something that you’re not worried (about).”

March 13, 2014  |  Canadian Press

Gen Y earning less than their parents

February 26th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Information

Young adults are not to blame for their financial frustrations.

Their problem is an economy that has put them on track to be worse off than their parents. So much for the theorizing about them being spoiled, coddled and otherwise not as good as the generations that came before them.

“Young adults may see their parents having college degrees, owning a single-family home and having a certain standard of living,” said Markus Moos, a University of Waterloo assistant professor who wrote a study on 25-year income trends for people aged 25 to 34. “What they have to realize, given the findings in the study, is that they’re actually going to have a slightly lower standard of living than their parents.”

Prof. Moos looked at how earnings for young adults in Montreal and Vancouver changed from 1981 to 2006. His starting point was Statistics Canada data showing sharp declines in inflation-adjusted incomes in both cities. The next step was to see whether these declines could be explained away by socio-economic changes like today’s higher levels of postsecondary education and more workplace participation by women and visible minorities.

The decline in earnings for the young adults of Gen Y, also known as millennials, is sometimes dismissed as being a result of the fact that more of them are going to college or university. That means they get a later start in the work force than their counterparts did a generation ago, and thus are behind in salary.

But even after Prof. Moos adjusted his data for this trend, he still found young adults were making less than they did 25 years ago. He describes his study as using “statistical tools to show that somebody with the same degree, the same job and the same demographic profile is earning less today than they were in the 1980s.”

I reached much the same conclusion in myYoung Adults Really Do Have It Tougher column of last year. Now, an academic has further trashed the view that Gen Y’s problems are self-inflicted.

While based on the latest census numbers available, Prof. Moos’s study does not reflect the impact on young adults of the economic troubles of the past five years. But it’s a safe bet there has been even more Gen Y backsliding. Certainly, the economic factors cited in his study remain.

He says young adults have been affected by an increasing emphasis by employers on temporary or contract work instead of permanent full-time jobs. These changes affect even people working in low-paying service jobs like slinging burgers or coffee. “The study is actually able to show that somebody working in a job like that is earning less than someone who worked at the same kind of job 20 or 30 years ago.”

Gen Y is falling behind its predecessors, and it’s also getting poorer in comparison to other segments of the population, Prof. Moos said. From 1981 to 2006, a young adult’s earnings in Vancouver fell to below 70 per cent of the level for workers in older age groups, from 85 to 90 per cent.

The personal finance implications of Gen Y’s declining economic status are endless, but similar in theme: Those who have less money will bear more personal financial responsibility for their own well being.

Take retirement, for example. Temporary or contract workers likely won’t be members of company pension plans, so they’ll have to dig deeper into their paycheques to save for retirement. They may also lack health benefits, which means they’ll have to pay out of pocket for things like dental care. Other cost-saving benefits you get from working in a permanent full-time job often include a term-life insurance policy, a prescription drug plan and extended health coverage that applies if, for example, you get injured and need physiotherapy. The old personal finance rule about having an emergency fund to cover surprise expenses is a must for Gen Y, and yet these are the people who are least able to afford one.

The good news in Prof. Moos’s study, published in the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, is that an education is a big help if you’re young and you want the best possible advantage in the workplace. He found that someone with a degree earns more than someone without a degree, and this advantage has increased over time.

As covered in a column from 2013, your job and earnings prospects depend a lot on what you study in college or university. Smart educational choices may be your best defence against a job market where young adults are worse off now than they were 30 years ago.

Published 

ROB CARRICK

Why So Many Successful People Were Bad Students

February 22nd, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Education, Information

I’ll admit it. In high school, I was an uninspired student. I was passionate about my own hobbies and projects outside of school, but the day-to-day grind of classroom learning wasn’t experiential enough. A lot of the innovators I admire, it turns out, fell into the same boat:Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were all high school or college dropouts.

So at 16, with some savings and a loan from my parents, I decided to start my first business: a paintball supply company. While my classmates were enjoying summer vacation, I was getting real-world lessons in marketing and logistics.

By the time graduation approached, I knew I wanted to dedicate myself to entrepreneurship. But as I pored over lists of bursaries and scholarships, I found lots of opportunities for people interested in sports, music and drama … and really nothing for people like me. As a young entrepreneur, I felt I was stumbling in the dark without anyone to guide me. A little mentorship and guidance could have radically accelerated the entire process and improved the odds of success. The reality is that, even with lots of heart and perseverance and hustle, I still had to get pretty lucky to be where I am now.

This is why last month, I launched The Next Big Thing, a charitable foundation to identify the world’s brightest young entrepreneurs. Through the The Next Big Thing, I want to help those who are like me, “unconventionally driven.” And right now we’re seeking 10 promising innovators from the ages of 18-23 who will be selected for a special 6-month program in Vancouver, Canada.

The chosen group of young entrepreneurs will use my company HootSuite’s headquarters as a homebase to work on their individual business plans, connect with mentors (including Dragon’s Den-ers and Ted Talk-ers) and collaborate with partners like the Emily Carr University of Art + Design. And they’ll be supported with $10,000 each in grant funding so that they can focus their time and effort on turning their ideas into viable businesses.

Our goals are simple: Get tomorrow’s most promising entrepreneurs out of the classroom and into the business world. Remove the usual obstacles—grades, degrees and work experience. Reward ingenuity and accelerate the pace at which a good idea becomes a business reality.

After all, tomorrow’s economy depends on today’s entrepreneurs. In the US, new firms and young businesses account for approximately 70 percent of total job creation. Small businesses are the largest employer in the country, representing 53 percent of the country’s workforce and contributing to 46 percent of the nonfarm private GDP. One of the best ways we can ensure a more promising future for us all is to find new and creative ways to support our best and brightest young business leaders.

Thomas Edison, himself dismissed as dumb and scatterbrained in school, may have said it best more than a century ago: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Part of promoting youth entrepreneurship means finding ways to make sure young people don’t give up on great ideas too soon.

I hope this is a small step in that direction.

November 20, 2013

Ryan Holmes, HootSuite CEO

Unease at Clinton Foundation Over Finances and Ambitions

October 26th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in Information

Soon after the 10th anniversary of the foundation bearing his name, Bill Clinton met with a small group of aides and two lawyers from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. Two weeks of interviews with Clinton Foundation executives and former employees had led the lawyers to some unsettling conclusions.

The review echoed criticism of Mr. Clinton’s early years in the White House: For all of its successes, the Clinton Foundation had become a sprawling concern, supervised by a rotating board of old Clinton hands, vulnerable to distraction and threatened by conflicts of interest. It ran multimillion-dollar deficits for several years, despite vast amounts of money flowing in.

And concern was rising inside and outside the organization about Douglas J. Band, a onetime personal assistant to Mr. Clinton who had started a lucrative corporate consulting firm — which Mr. Clinton joined as a paid adviser — while overseeing the Clinton Global Initiative, the foundation’s glitzy annual gathering of chief executives, heads of state, and celebrities.

The review set off more than a year of internal debate, and spurred an evolution in the organization that included Mr. Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, taking on a dominant new role as the family grappled with the question of whether the foundation — and its globe-spanning efforts to combat AIDS, obesity and poverty — would survive its founder.

Now those efforts are taking on new urgency. In the coming weeks, the foundation, long Mr. Clinton’s domain since its formation in 2001, will become the nerve center of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s increasingly busy public life.

This fall, Mrs. Clinton and her staff will move into offices at the foundation’s new headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, occupying two floors of the Time-Life Building. Amid speculation about her 2016 plans, Mrs. Clinton is adding major new initiatives on women, children and jobs to what has been renamed the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

Worried that the foundation’s operating revenues depend too heavily on Mr. Clinton’s nonstop fund-raising, the three Clintons are embarking on a drive to raise an endowment of as much as $250 million, with events already scheduled in the Hamptons and London. And after years of relying on Bruce R. Lindsey, the former White House counsel whose friendship with Mr. Clinton stretches back decades, to run the organization while living part-time in Arkansas, the family has hired a New York-based chief executive with a background in management consulting.

“We’re trying to institutionalize the foundation so that it will be here long after the lives of any of us,” Mr. Lindsey said. “That’s our challenge and that is what we are trying to address.”

But the changing of the guard has aggravated long-simmering tensions within the former first family’s inner circle as the foundation tries to juggle the political and philanthropic ambitions of a former president, a potential future president, and their increasingly visible daughter.

And efforts to insulate the foundation from potential conflicts have highlighted just how difficult it can be to disentangle the Clintons’ charity work from Mr. Clinton’s moneymaking ventures and Mrs. Clinton’s political future, according to interviews with more than two dozen former and current foundation employees, donors and advisers to the family. Nearly all of them declined to speak for attribution, citing their unwillingness to alienate the Clinton family.

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Last Thursday, Mr. Clinton arrived two hours late to an exuberant welcome at a health clinic about 60 miles north of Johannesburg. Children in zebra-striped loincloths sang as Mr. Clinton and Ms. Clinton made their entrance, and the former president enthusiastically explained how his foundation had helped the South African government negotiate large reductions in the price of drugs that halt the progress of HIV. Aaron Motsoaledi, South Africa’s minister of health, heaped praise on the effort. “Because of your help we are able to treat three and a half times more people than we used to,” he told the crowd.

The project is typical of the model pioneered by the Clinton Foundation, built around dozens of partnerships with private companies, governments, or other nonprofit groups. Instead of handing out grants, the foundation recruits donors and advises them on how best to deploy their money or resources, from helping Procter & Gamble donate advanced water-purification packets to developing countries to working with credit card companies to expand the volume of low-cost loans offered to poor inner city residents.

The foundation, which has 350 employees in 180 countries, remains largely powered by Mr. Clinton’s global celebrity and his ability to connect corporate executives, A-listers and government officials. On this month’s Africa trip, Mr. Clinton was accompanied by the actors Dakota Fanning and Jesse Eisenberg and the son of the New York City mayoral candidate John A. Catsimatidis, a longtime donor.

For most of the foundation’s existence, its leadership has been dominated by loyal veterans of the Clintons’ political lives. Ira C. Magaziner, who was a Rhodes scholar with Mr. Clinton and ran Mrs. Clinton’s failed attempt at a health care overhaul in the 1990s, is widely credited as the driving force behind the foundation’s largest project, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, which, among other efforts, negotiates bulk purchasing agreements and price discounts on lifesaving medicines.

Mr. Band, who arrived at the White House in 1995 and worked his way up to become Mr. Clinton’s closest personal aide, standing behind the president on golf courses and the global stage, helped build the foundation’s fund-raising structure. He conceived of and for many years helped run the Clinton Global Initiative, the annual conference that draws hundreds of business leaders and heads of state to New York City where attendees are pushed to make specific philanthropic commitments.

Today, big-name companies vie to buy sponsorships at prices of $250,000 and up, money that has helped subsidize the foundation’s annual operating costs. Last year, the foundation and two subsidiaries had revenues of more than $214 million.

Yet the foundation’s expansion has also been accompanied by financial problems. In 2007 and 2008, the foundation also found itself competing against Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign for donors amid a recession. Millions of dollars in contributions intended to seed an endowment were diverted to other programs, creating tension between Mr. Magaziner and Mr. Band. The foundation piled up a $40 million deficit during those two years, according to tax returns. Last year, it ran more than $8 million in the red.

Amid those shortfalls, the foundation has sometimes catered to donors and celebrities who gave money in ways that raised eyebrows in the low-key nonprofit world. In 2009, during a Clinton Global Initiative gathering at the University of Texas at Austin, the foundation purchased a first-class ticket for the actress Natalie Portman, a special guest, who brought her beloved Yorkie, according to two former foundation employees.

In interviews, foundation officials partly blamed the 2008 recession and difficulties in getting donors to provide operating support rather than restricted grants for specific programs for the deficits.

But others criticized Mr. Magaziner, who is widely seen within the foundation as impulsive and lacking organizational skills. On one occasion, Mr. Magaziner dispatched a team of employees to fly around the world for months gathering ideas for a climate change proposal that never got off the ground. Another time, he ignored a report — which was commissioned at significant expense from the consulting firm McKinsey & Company — on how the foundation could get involved in forestry initiatives.

Mr. Magaziner’s management style and difficulty keeping projects within budget were also raised in discussions that surrounded the 2011 Simpson Thacher review. (One person who attended a meeting with Mr. Magaziner recalled his lying on a conference room table in the middle of the meeting because of terrible back spasms, snapping at a staff member.)

Mr. Band repeatedly urged Mr. Clinton to fire Mr. Magaziner, according to people briefed on the matter. Mr. Clinton refused, confiding in aides that despite Mr. Magaziner’s managerial weaknesses, he was a visionary with good intentions. The former president, according to one person who knows them both, “thinks Ira is brilliant — and brilliant people get away with a lot in Clinton world.”

Indeed, by then, Mr. Magaziner had persuaded Mr. Clinton and the foundation to spin the health initiative off into a separate organization, with Mr. Magaziner as its chief executive and the Clinton Foundation appointing a majority of its board members. The financial problems continued. In 2010 and 2011, the first two years when the health initiative operated as a stand-alone organization, it ran annual shortfalls of more than $4 million. A new chief financial officer, hired in 2010, left eight months later.

A foundation official said the health initiative had only three chief financial officers in 10 years and that its financial problem was a common one in the nonprofit world: For all the grant money coming in — more than $160 million in 2011 — Mr. Magaziner had also had difficulty raising money for operating costs. But by the end of 2011, the health initiative had expanded its board, adding two seats. Chelsea Clinton took one.

Growing Ventures

As the foundation grew, so did the outside business ventures pursued by Mr. Clinton and several of his aides.

None have drawn more scrutiny in Clinton circles than Teneo, a firm co-founded in 2009 by Mr. Band, described by some as a kind of surrogate son to Mr. Clinton. Aspiring to merge corporate consulting, public relations and merchant banking in a single business, Mr. Band poached executives from Wall Street, recruited other Clinton aides to join as employees or advisers and set up shop in a Midtown office formerly belonging to one of the country’s top hedge funds.

By 2011, the firm had added a third partner, Declan Kelly, a former State Department envoy for Mrs. Clinton. And Mr. Clinton had signed up as a paid adviser to the firm.

Teneo worked on retainer, charging monthly fees as high as $250,000, according to current and former clients. The firm recruited clients who were also Clinton Foundation donors, while Mr. Band and Mr. Kelly encouraged others to become new foundation donors. Its marketing materials highlighted Mr. Band’s relationship with Mr. Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative, where Mr. Band sat on the board of directors through 2011 and remains an adviser. Some Clinton aides and foundation employees began to wonder where the foundation ended and Teneo began.

Those worries intensified after the collapse of MF Global, the international brokerage firm led by Jon S. Corzine, a former governor of New Jersey, in the fall of 2011. The firm had been among Teneo’s earliest clients, and its collapse over bad European investments — while paying $125,000 a month for the firm’s public relations and financial advice — drew Teneo and the Clintons unwanted publicity.

Mr. Clinton ended his advisory role with Teneo in March 2012, after an article appeared in The New York Post suggesting that Mrs. Clinton was angry over the MF Global controversy. A spokesman for Mr. Clinton denied the report. But in a statement released afterward, Mr. Clinton announced that he would no longer be paid by Teneo.

He also praised Mr. Band effusively, crediting him with keeping the foundation afloat and expressing hopes that Mr. Band would continue to advise the Global Initiative.

“I couldn’t have accomplished half of what I have in my post-presidency without Doug Band,” Mr. Clinton said in the statement.

Even that news release was a source of controversy within the foundation, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions. Mr. Band helped edit the statement, which other people around the Clintons felt gave him too much credit for the foundation’s accomplishments. (The quotation now appears as part of Mr. Band’s biography on the Teneo Web site.)

Mr. Band left his paid position with the foundation in late 2010, but has remained involved with C.G.I., as have a number of Teneo clients, like Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical and UBS Americas. Standard Chartered, a British financial services company that paid a $340 million fine to New York regulators last year to settle charges that it had laundered money from Iran, is a Teneo client and a sponsor of the 2012 global initiative.

Last year, Coca-Cola’s chief executive, Muhtar Kent, won a coveted spot on the dais with Mr. Clinton, discussing the company’s partnership with another nonprofit to use its distributors to deliver medical goods to patients in Africa. (A Coca-Cola spokesman said that the company’s sponsorship of foundation initiatives long predated Teneo and that the firm plays no role in Coca-Cola’s foundation work.)

In March 2012, David Crane, the chief executive of NRG, an energy company, led a widely publicized trip with Mr. Clinton to Haiti, where they toured green energy and solar power projects that NRG finances through a $1 million commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative.

Officials said the foundation has established clear guidelines for the Clinton Global Initiative to help prevent any favoritism or special treatment of particular donors or sponsors.

Teneo was not the only worry: other events thrust the foundation into internal turmoil. In 2011, a wave of midlevel program staff members departed, reflecting the frustration of much of the foundation’s policy personnel with the old political hands running the organization. Around the time of the Simpson Thacher review, Mr. Lindsey suffered a stroke, underscoring concerns about the foundation’s line of succession. John D. Podesta, a chief of staff in Mr. Clinton’s White House, stepped in for several months as temporary chief executive.

While much attention has focused on Mrs. Clinton’s emerging role within the foundation, advisers to the family say her daughter’s growing involvement could prove more critical in the years ahead. After years of pursuing other career paths, including working at McKinsey & Company and a hedge fund, Ms. Clinton, 33, has begun to assert herself as a force within the foundation. Her perspective is shaped far more than her parents’ by her time in the world of business, and she is poised to play a significant role in shaping the foundation’s future, particularly if Mrs. Clinton chooses to run for president.

She formally joined the foundation’s board in 2011, marking her growing role there — and the start of intensifying tensions between her and Mr. Band. Several people close to the Clintons said that she became increasingly concerned with the negative impact Mr. Band’s outside business might have on her father’s work and that she cited concerns raised during the internal review about potential conflicts of interest involving Teneo.

It was Ms. Clinton who suggested that the newly installed chief executive, Eric Braverman, be considered for the job during a nearly two-year search. A friend and a former colleague from McKinsey, Mr. Braverman, 38, had helped the Clintons with philanthropic projects in Haiti after the earthquake there. And his hiring coincided with Ms. Clinton’s appointment as the vice chairwoman of the foundation board, where she will bear significant responsibility for steering her family’s philanthropy, both in the causes it tackles and in the potential political and financial conflicts it must avoid.

Ms. Clinton has also grown worried that the foundation she stood to inherit would collapse without her father, who turns 67 next week. Mr. Clinton, who had quadruple-bypass surgery in 2004 and no longer eats meat or dairy products, talks frequently about his own mortality.

Mr. Catsimatidis said Ms. Clinton “has to learn how to deal with the whole world because she wants to follow in the footsteps of her father and her mother.”

Shifting the Emphasis

Over the years, the foundation has dived into virtually any cause that sparked Mr. Clinton’s interest: childhood obesity in the United States, sustainable farming in South America, mentoring entrepreneurs, saving elephants from poaching, and more. That list will shift soon as Mrs. Clinton and Chelsea build their staffs to focus on issues including economically empowering women and combating infant mortality.

In the coming months, as Mrs. Clinton mulls a 2016 presidential bid, the foundation could also serve as a base for her to home in on issues and to build up a stable of trusted staff members who could form the core of a political campaign.

Mrs. Clinton’s staff at the foundation’s headquarters includes Maura Pally, a veteran aide who advised her 2008 presidential campaign and worked at the State Department, and Madhuri Kommareddi, a former policy aide to President Obama.

Dennis Cheng, Mrs. Clinton’s deputy chief of protocol at the State Department and a finance director of her presidential campaign, will oversee the endowment drive, which some of the Clintons’ donors already describe as a dry run for 2016.

And Mrs. Clinton’s personal staff of roughly seven people — including Huma Abedin, wife of the New York mayoral candidate Anthony D. Weiner — will soon relocate from a cramped Washington office to the foundation’s headquarters. They will work on organizing Mrs. Clinton’s packed schedule of paid speeches to trade groups and awards ceremonies and assist in the research and writing of Mrs. Clinton’s memoir about her time at the State Department, to be published by Simon & Schuster next summer.

 

Published in the New York Times: August 13, 2013

By  and 

Lydia Polgreen contributed reporting, and Kitty Bennett contributed research.

75% of students don’t buy required textbooks

August 29th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in Education, Information

This summer, E-textbook publisher Bookboon.com conducted a survey of college students in the United States, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark. In total, nearly 10,000 students completed a questionnaire found in the Bookboon student newsletter and on Facebook, consisting of eleven questions regarding the use of textbooks. And the results can’t be good news for traditional textbook publishers.

In the United States, over 75% of students decide not to buy the textbooks their classes require, in large part because students find textbooks too expensive and are discouraged by the simple fact that quite often, only a few chapters from the books are needed for study.

On average, US students spend $655 per year on required textbooks. But according to the survey, more than nine out of ten students find textbooks too expensive, resulting in the 76.6% of US students who make the decision not to purchase the required books. (In the UK, the numbers are even more startling, with 83.3% of students not always buying required textbooks.)

So instead, according to the survey, students are constantly on the lookout for cheaper options, including copying the needed chapters, finding online alternatives, or, in the case of 60% of those surveyed, buying their textbooks second hand. Indeed, only 25% of students buy their textbooks new, despite the recommendation of their professors to purchase the latest editions. (The remaining 16% of students find other alternatives, including borrowing or renting the required textbooks.)

Given this, it may not be surprising to learn that 58% of college students in the US prefer digital textbooks: students find them easier to carry, to read from, and believe they are cheaper.  But on the other hand, the survey results were very different in Europe. Bookboon’s COO Thomas Buus Madsen wrote, “American students are at least a couple of years ahead of their European counterparts. In countries such as German, the UK, and the Netherlands, only 30-40% of the students prefer digital textbooks.  Most European students stick to paper. This is partly because eReaders and e-textbooks are less available. Additionally, publishers, professors and universities in Europe are less active in promoting and adopting the use of e-textbooks compared to the USA.”

Of course to put the $655 yearly price tag for textbooks into perspective, consider this: a 2011 study done by the Student Health Service of the University of Pennsylvania showed that students in the US also spend roughly $900 a year on alcohol.  Perhaps, in part, to drown out their sorrow at spending $655 on textbooks.

Read the entire survey here.

Read more by Edward Nawotka
September 11, 2012