Tax Break for Colleges
WASHINGTON – The nation’s colleges and universities do not have to pay taxes on income generated from specialized credit cards that bear their names, logos or mascots, a federal appeals court has ruled.
The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco stems from a case the originated at Oregon State University and the University of Oregon.
Nonprofit alumni associations at the two universities had collected more than $1 million from banks in the state in return for permitting the school’s names, seals and logos to be imprinted on credit cards.
The appeals court determined that income was akin to royalties and therefore exempt from taxing requirements. The IRS had sought more than $390,000 in taxes from the two groups.
Tax agency lawyers contended that the alumni groups worked hard to promote the credit cards and therefore the revenue should fall under a category of the federal tax code called “unrelated business,” which is taxable.
But the appeals judges ruled that the revenue the credit cards generated for the alumni groups was a result of “their property rights, not… their services.” The court noted each group said it performed only 12 hours work in connection with cards – the equivalent of $22,000 an hour had the money generated by the cards actually been payment for that work.
Colleges Dominate Possible Presidential Debate Sites
WASHINGTON – Ten colleges and universities across the country are among the dozen sites that have submitted proposals to host presidential and vice-presidential debates next year, the Commission on Presidential Debates says.
The commission, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that was created in 1987 to sponsor general election presidential and vice-presidential debates, will announce its final site selection in January.
Next year’s schedule has not yet been finalized, but the commission is considering three debates between the presidential nominees, and one debate between the vice-presidential candidates, says spokesman John Scardino.
“For the university, it is a real chance to put your programs, your faculty and students and campus in a national spotlight,” says Deb Pozega, a spokeswoman for one contender, Michigan State University.
Tens of millions of Americans normally tune in to watch the debates. The commission released the potential debate host sites late last month. In addition to Michigan State, they are:
Centre College, Danville, Ky.; the Chamber of Commerce, Charlotte, N.C.; John F. Kennedy Library and the University of Massachusetts, Boston; Shenandoah University, Winchester, Va.; St. Petersburg Times, St. Petersburg, Fla.; the University of California, Los Angeles; University of Portland, Portland, Ore.; the University of Southern California, Los Angeles; the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis.; Wake Forest University and Winston-Salem Convention and Visitors Bureau, Winston-Salem, N.C.; and Washington University, St. Louis, Mo.
Pierce to Resign From American Association of Community Colleges
WASHINGTON – Dr. David R. Pierce, president and chief executive officer of the American Association of Community Colleges for the past nine years, announced late last month that he will step down in August.
Pierce, who graduated from a California community college in the 1950s and went on to spend four decades in the two-year college field, cited personal needs and political timing in making the announcement.
With a new administration taking office following the 2000 elections, it offers a tremendous opportunity for my successor to learn and make connections that will be beneficial to community colleges at the national level,” Pierce said. “I believe my decision is best for my family and good for the association.”
Pierce, who took over an association that had run into money troubles when he took over 1991, has been widely credited with restoring the association’s financial health. He also has won praise for his work with national politicians to raise the profile of the nation’s 1,250 community, junior and technical colleges.
“He’s done a wonderful job,” says Dr. Zelema Harris, the president of Parkland College in Champaign, Ill., a member of the committee that selected Pierce to lead the association.
“He’s taken the movement one step higher,” Harris says. “That’s what you expect leaders to do. You don’t just want them to maintain. He has expanded the vision of what community colleges are and what they can do.”
Dr. David L. Buettner, president of North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City, Iowa, where Pierce once served as president, calls his predecessor “the consummate professional.”
“Community colleges have gained credibility and stature in the eyes of business and government leaders in the last 10 years,” Buettner says. “That’s not all because of David’s efforts alone, but a lot of it is.”
Justice Thomas Dedicates Law Building
WASHINGTON – Despite some protests, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas received a standing ovation after dedicating a new law school building at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., late last month.
Six protesters held signs urging Thomas to defend affirmative action and support women’s rights. Thomas, who narrowly won confirmation to the Supreme Court in 1991, was accused of sexually harassing former colleague Anita Hill.
Thomas opened his talk with a quip about his multiracial, 8-year-old nephew, who lives with him and his wife, Virginia. “He was riding in the back of the car talking to Aunt Virginia,” Thomas said. “And he told her: ‘You know, I’m Black and I’m White and that means I’m Italian.’ He’s hilarious.”
Thomas met with law students at the private college before his speech.
“He told folksy jokes, but when he spoke of his confirmation hearing his tone changed,” says Joseph Horvath, president of the Student Bar Association. “He spoke of the stereotypes that were fostered that deprived him of his humanity.”
Nurses, Support Staff Approve Contract with Howard U. Hospital
WASHINGTON – Nurses at Howard University Hospital approved a three-year contract late last month that ended a day-long strike, provides for a 7 percent base pay increase and permits forced overtime only in emergencies.
“We got everything we wanted,” says Mary Jones-Bryant, chairwoman of the District of Columbia Nurses Association, adding that the decision to strike was “agonizing” but worth it in the end. “We showed unity here.”
Donna Brock, a hospital spokeswoman, says management’s goal was to provide nurses with the pay they deserve while making sure the institution has the resources available to invest in patient care, research and new technology. “We’re confident the agreement … allows us to maintain that balance.”
The vote came after weeks of negotiations and a 12-hour strike. Union officials would not reveal the breakdown of the vote, but Bryant said the proposal received strong approval. About 100 nurses, pharmacists and other union members voted.
The 137-year-old teaching hospital has invested heavily in new technology in recent years, but staffers at the 340-bed complex have not had raises in three years, union members said.
According to hospital personnel records, 57 percent of the nursing staff earns more than $60,000 base pay.
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