General Business Operations & Finance

close up of conference meetingRecently on American higher education campuses, the U.S. Secretary of Education was shouted down during a commencement speech; a Nobel Prize winning biologist was disinvited to speak following student outrage related to his past comments linking intelligence to race; and a faculty member held his ground when his colleagues at a large religious institution purportedly questioned whether he should host a speaker whose presence would “make students feel uncomfortable.”  These largely publicized incidents are just a fraction of the speaker controversies sweeping across America’s campuses.  While this issue is not an entirely new one and examples can be gleaned throughout U.S. higher education’s history, they are occurring at a much more frantic and seemingly urgent rate due in part to social media campaigns and the increasing speed and breadth of online communication. Continue Reading Disinviting Controversial Speakers — the Temptation of No Platforming: Key issues for administrators to consider

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has released a public service announcement warning of fraud schemes aimed at colleges, universities, and their constituents. The May 5 announcement outlines several – unfortunately effective – schemes that have taken off since July 2016, including:

  • Vendor Bank Account Scam
  • Fake “Education Tax” Scam
  • Phishing Scheme Involving Requests for W-2 Tax Information and
  • Phishing Scheme Involving Payroll Fraud

The announcement explains in plain language how each scam works and how schools, employees, and students can guard against falling victim to them.  Consider sharing this information with your institutional community and remain vigilant in protecting your systems and data.

Myths or Facts ConceptThe Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996—commonly referred to as “HIPAA”—is a federal law imposing certain data privacy and data security requirements with respect to medical information, including the personal health information of individual persons.  Colleges and universities maintain medical information related to employees and students in a host of locations, including human resources files, student records, and in the records of on-campus health and counseling centers, among others.  Higher education administrators unfamiliar with the intricacies of HIPAA often believe the law imposes more obligations on colleges and universities than it actually does.  This post dispels some of the most common myths relating to HIPAA and higher education.

Myth #1: HIPAA applies to all medical information we maintain as a college or university.

While HIPAA’s privacy rule does govern the privacy of protected health information (PHI), HIPAA’s privacy rule only applies to HIPAA “covered entit[ies].”  As a general rule, covered entities include: (1) health plans; (2) health care clearinghouses; and (3) healthcare providers who electronically transmit health information in connection with certain electronic transactions relating to billing, payment, and/or insurance coverage. Continue Reading Top 5 Common HIPAA “Myths” That Arise In Higher Education

This morning, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer. The Court is considering whether excluding churches from an otherwise neutral and secular aid program administered by a state agency violates the Free Exercise and Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

Continue Reading A Level Playing Field for Religious Colleges and Universities? The Potential Impact of the Supreme Court’s Trinity Lutheran Decision

Caution - Cost Cutting AheadPresident Trump’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released: America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again.  The Budget Blueprint provides an overview of the President’s budget priorities for fiscal year 2018.

With respect to education, the Budget Blueprint proposes $59 billion in funding for the U.S. Department of Education (ED).  This would represent, a $9 billion (or 13%) reduction from the current funding level.

Some of more specific proposals in the President’s Budget Blueprint that would impact colleges and universities include the following:

  • Eliminating the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program;
  • Reducing the Federal Work-Study program significantly;
  • Maintaining level funding for Pell Grants;
  • Cancelling $3.9 billion in unobligated carryover funding in the Pell Grant Program; and
  • Maintaining $492 million in funding to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions.

Continue Reading President Trump’s Budget Blueprint: $9 Billion Proposed Reduction to Department of Education

Pregnant Business WomanHusch Blackwell’s Hayley Hanson and Katie Jo Luningham have co-authored a NACUANOTE titled The Pregnant and Parenting Student. The article discusses the state of regulatory guidance, Department of Education investigations, and litigation related to student pregnancy and parenting issues on campus. Because institutions must be prepared to address pregnancy-related issues that implicate an array of services, this NACUANOTE provides various suggestions and approaches available to colleges and universities when working with pregnant and parenting students.

Husch Blackwell will continue to monitor developments in pregnancy-related guidance, regulations and caselaw as Department of Education leadership and student lawsuits evolve. For more information about how to handle institution-specific questions about pregnant or parenting students on your campus, please contact a member of our Higher Education group.

Legal series

On January 27, 2017, the White House handed down an Executive Order suspending entry into the United States, as well as issuance of visas, for individuals “from countries of particular concern.” The Order also directs the implementation of additional screening mechanisms for all foreign national travelers to the United States. Colleges and universities that employ foreign national workers and enroll foreign students should be cognizant of the Order and its impact on the ability of their foreign national workers and students to obtain a visa and travel to the United States. Continue Reading Executive Order on Immigration and its Impact on Colleges and Universities

Money puzzleOn Tuesday, November 22nd, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas issued an order granting a motion for preliminary injunction brought by 21 states and numerous business associations to stop the implementation of the new FLSA salary level test for exempt employees.

In order for an employee to be considered “exempt” from minimum wage and overtime requirements under the FLSA, the employer must determine that the employee’s position meets a three part test. First, the position must earn a salary. Second, the employee must meet the minimum salary level test for each week worked for the employer. And third, the employee’s “primary” duties must be the performance of exempt work as described in the regulations. Continue Reading Texas Federal Court Halts New FLSA Salary Level Test

Since November 9th, all schools have been asking the same question—what does the election mean for higher education?  During President Obama’s administration, higher education has experienced a dramatic increase in the number of Dear Colleague Letters (“DCL”) and enforcement by the Department of Education (“ED”). Specifically, President Obama’s ED has focused on Title IX and Title IV. President-Elect Trump may cease enforcement of all the DCLs issued by President Obama’s ED. President Bush set this precedent in 2001 when he directed ED to cease all enforcement of DCLs issued under President Clinton’s administration.  Continue Reading What President-Elect Trump’s Department of Education Could Mean for Colleges and Universities

miceli_julieHusch Blackwell welcomed Julie Miceli as Partner to its Chicago office on October 3, 2016.

A member of the firm’s Healthcare, Life Sciences & Education industry team, Miceli served as in-house counsel at a major private research institution prior to joining Husch Blackwell. She also served as the deputy general counsel for higher education and federal student aid at the U.S. Department of Education, and prior to that, as the chief of staff and special counsel to the General Counsel for that agency.  She began her practice as assistant attorney general in the Education Section of the Ohio Attorney General’s office, providing legal counsel to the state’s public colleges and universities, two state Boards and a commission, before going in to private practice representing educational institutions. Continue Reading