Monday, September 22, 2003

Council tightens rules on endowments

By Charles Wolfe
The Associated Press

HEBRON - Under new rules adopted Sunday, Kentucky's universities could no longer use federal grants to get matching money from the state's "Bucks for Brains" endowment funds.

The institutions also would be limited in the amount of endowment money that could be used for "mission support" - teaching assistants, class supplies and other items that, while mundane, are indispensable to teachers and researchers.

The rule changes adopted by the Council on Postsecondary Education were prompted by the criticisms or recommendations of state auditors and the General Assembly's permanent oversight committee.

Council member Ronald Greenberg of Louisville said some of the matching money has in the past been used for ordinary operations, not for pursuing top faculty.

The endowment match program, which started in 1998, was conceived as a way to pump some adrenaline into university research efforts. It gave the institutions a tool for recruiting top-flight teachers and researchers through endowed chairs, professorships and fellowships.

The legislature appropriated $120 million for endowment matches this year. The University of Kentucky gets $66.7 million and the University of Louisville gets $33.3 million. The six regional universities get the remaining $20 million.

Part of the concept of Bucks for Brains was that the institutions would go after more private money. Though that did happen, the rules also permitted them to put up other government funds for match purposes - using tax dollars to get more tax dollars.

Also Sunday, the council reported that fall enrollment at all campuses, public and private, is estimated at a record 226,910, which would be an increase of 5,728, or 2.6 percent, over 2002.

Official totals will not be known until January.

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