Showing posts with label elite colleges. Show all posts
Showing posts with label elite colleges. Show all posts

Monday, March 15, 2021

All Sales Final! No Refunds! Students lose lawsuit for tuition reimbursement against four Rhode Island universities that closed their campuses during COVID pandemic

Almost exactly one year ago, American higher education shut down in response to the COVID pandemic.  All across the United States, universities closed their campuses and switched from face-to-face instruction to online teaching.

Over the past several months, students brought dozens of lawsuits against their colleges, seeking partial tuition refunds for the 2020 spring semester. They argued that the quality of teaching suffered when teaching shifted to computerized learning.

Some student plaintiffs found sympathetic courts, but a federal judge in Rhode Island dismissed students' lawsuits against four Rhode Island schools: Brown Univesity, Johnson & Wales University, Roger Williams University, and the University of Rhode Island.

 Judge John McConnell ruled that the four universities had no contractual obligation to deliver in-person instruction during the spring of 2020.  In Judge McConnell's view, the universities' recruitment materials, which touted lovely campuses and stimulating classroom environments, were mere "puffery" and did not amount to a contractual obligation to teach classes face-to-face.

I think Judge McConnell ruled correctly. Confronted with the coronavirus pandemic, American colleges and universities had no choice but to switch instruction from the classroom settings to an online format.

I sympathize with the students who brought these lawsuits, particularly the one brought against Brown University, an elite Ivy League school. Brown's tuition and fees total $58,000 per year. Students did not shell out that kind of money to take classes by sitting in front of a commuter in their parents' basements. 

Nevertheless, America's college leaders were justified in closing their campuses last spring. It was the only responsible thing to do. Surely they realize, however, that they cannot teach students via computers over the long term, even if the coronavirus pandemic stretches out for many months or years to come.

The total cost of attending America's most prestigious colleges now amounts to about $70,000 a year or even more. Most students will have to take out student loans to cover the bill.

If Brown's academic leaders think their students will take out student loans indefinitely for computerized instruction, they are in for a rude awakening.  No one will go into six-figure debt to get an online diploma, even if the credential is from Brown University.

Thus if the COVID pandemic isn't quickly brought under control, it will be the end of expensive private-college education.  After all, a young person smart enough to be admitted to Brown is smart enough not to pay $58,000 a year for an online college degree.


Burt v. Board of Trustees of the University of Rhode Island, __ F.3d ___, C.A. No. 20-465-JJM-LDA (D.R.I. March 4, 2021).

Monday, September 26, 2016

My retirement account outperformed Harvard University's endowment fund this year: I must be one smart S.O.B!

Harvard University's $35 billion endowment fund lost money this year. For its most recent fiscal year, Harvard's endowment fund is down 2 percent. Wow! Even my piddling little retirement account did better than that. In fact, it did twice as well as Harvard.

Does that mean Harvard should hire me to manage its endowment fund? No, although I would gladly take that job for a modest 1 percent of assets under management. But Harvard's lackluster endowment-fund performance is a reminder that Harvard people are not as smart as they think they are.

In fact, I'm convinced that Harvard folks are no smarter than the average educated American. Actually, they may be less smart. Harvard and the nation's other elite colleges are now so mired in postmodern jargon about race, gender, sexual identity, etc. that they've forgotten how to analyze and solve problems, which should be one of the core purposes of a liberal education.

Our country is now largely governed by nabobs who got their degrees from Harvard, Yale, and a couple of dozen other elite universities. All nine of our Supreme Court Justices graduated from either Harvard's Law School or Yale's. President Obama: Harvard Law School. Hillary Clinton: Yale Law School. John Kerry: A Yale man.

And look where we are. Who can deny that our nation is less safe today than it was 10 years ago? Who can deny that the American middle class has lost ground over the last 20 years?

And yet we allow a handful of arrogant, poorly educated, and condescending idiots to run our lives. And now, in the highly publicized transgender bathroom case, we are about to allow nine old geezers on the Supreme Court to tell us if traditional bathroom rules in American colleges and schools violate Title IX. Which is ironic. The Supreme Court is going to dictate bathroom etiquette for American educational institutions, and the Justices are so old that most of them are wearing Depend diapers and don't even go to the bathroom anymore.

Image result for u.s. supreme court justices
Hey, your fly's unzipped!


Geraldine Fabrikant. Yale Endowment Shines vs. Returns for Its Peers. New York Times, September 26, 2016, p. B2. Accessible at