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September 13, 2006

Yale under scrutiny

"Yale under scrutiny" is not just my title; it's the title of an article in the Yale Alumni Magazine, and if you want to find out what the American universities are trying to cover up these days, you just have to read their magazines online.

I'll get to that article in a minute, but I'd first like to address the article that appears immediately above it: "Ex-Taliban spokesman rejected for degree program." I have one word upon reading this article: "Mwahahahaha!!"

A former spokesman for the Taliban will likely continue taking courses in Yale College this year -- but not toward a Yale degree. Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, whose presence on campus set off a heated controversy earlier this year, was rejected this summer by the university's Eli Whitney Program, which admits a small number of older students every year to pursue bachelor's degrees. "I was saddened by Yale's decision, but I am not disappointed," Hashemi told the Yale Alumni Magazine in an e-mail from Pakistan.
The university's explanation of its decision to reject him? Not that critics were right in objecting to its having offered the Taliban spokesman a place at Yale. No, it was that this year the university used a tougher standard to determine which students in this program would be admitted into the bachelor's degree program.
The admissions office applied a tougher standard to this year's Eli Whitney applicants than it has in the past. In previous years, up to 30 percent had been invited to attend. This year only 2 of 29 made the cut. "The program had come under scrutiny this past spring," university officials said in a prepared statement, "and Yale president Richard C. Levin had directed that, pending a full review, the standard for admission to this program should be as rigorous and demanding as that used in the admission of full-time regular Yale College students."
In other words, Yale didn't single out Hashemi; it just didn't have room under the new, tougher standard. Mwahahahaha!!

The final word will be given to Bob Schuster, identified as a Wyoming lawyer and "one of Hashemi's financial supporters," who said, "He is a young man who is moderate, articulate, and bright, and he can be a bridge between our cultures and countries." Mwahahahaha!!

But this level of arrogance is not limited to Yale; it's widespread among universities. Back in my former life, when I was a paid trouble-maker in a policy office, I proposed a bill that would be called the "Colleges Are Not Above the Law Act." One title of the bill was called the "College President's Floral Display Act," based on charges that Stanford University had improperly charged floral displays for its president's house to the overhead on government research grants (not to mention cedar closets, maintenance of a yacht, and country club dues). Here's a link for people with Times Select.

Apparently, there's still a need for my proposal. The "Yale under scrutiny" article tells of a government investigation into "Yale's management of [certain] grants and its related bookkeeping."
In June, the university learned that it was being investigated by three federal entities -- the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Defense, and the National Science Foundation. Yale has been served subpoenas for documents on 47 grants awarded over 10 years and worth $45 million (about 2 percent of the $2 billion in federal grants that Yale received in that time).
When it comes to an explanation of the subpoenas, Yale pleads ignorance: "Yale says it doesn't know what prompted the current subpoenas." It speculates that there could be a whistleblower or that the subpoenas could be the outgrowth of an earlier audit, at which "the university didn't acquit itself well."
DHHS accused Yale of slipshod accounting on a $1.7 million grant for research on gene expression in stem cells. The report charged Yale with claiming $193,779 in costs that didn't comply with the rules of the grant by, for example, charging for supplies originally purchased for other research, without justifying the transfers. It also faulted the principal scientist for spending less than the required amount of his time on the research.
Yale bonus: The same issue of the magazine has an interview with Yale's president. This is way too much for me to handle at one time. I can't even think of Yale for more than a few minutes at a time, if I think of it at all. But I commend to you the following exchange, which I'm slightly editing. Read the whole thing if you're worried I'm removing any context:
[YAM]: * * * I was struck by DHHS's statement that Yale "does not have procedures for monitoring" how much time key people spend on their grants. Usually the audits say procedures are "inadequate" or the like. The current subpoenas include faculty time records -- even personal calendars. Do you think this finding that Yale "does not have procedures" might be a factor in the subpoenas?

[Yale president]: I don't know. We do have procedures, but there is substantial room for improvement in our reporting of effort devoted to federal grants. * * *
One last word: Mwahahahaha!!