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Nonprofit news roundup for March 17, 2008

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Smithsonian names new head

The Smithsonian Institute has named G. Wayne Clough, president of the Georgia Institute of Technology, as its new head, The New York Times reported March 16. Clough faces a $2.5 billion shortfall and repercussions from his predecessor Lawrence M. Small’s resignation last year after an accounting scandal.

Nonprofit hospitals get $666M settlement

The U.S. government will pay a $666 million settlement to 667 hospitals, most of them nonprofit, that had sued for back payments resulting from a Reagan-era reimbursement policy, The Wall Street Journal reported March 13 [subscription only]. It may be the largest Medicare reimbursement settlement in history, The Associated Press reported March 13.

Berkeley raises $1.1B to keep professors

The University of California-Berkeley has raised a $1.1 billion war chest to fight raids on its faculty by wealthier Ivy League universities, Bloomberg News reported March 14. The money will endow chairs for 100 professors.

Second senator joins televangelist probe

U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, Democratic chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has thrown his support behind an investigation into allegations of lavish spending by six “prosperity gospel” Christian ministries, The Associated Press reported March 12. The investigation was instigated by Sen. Charles Grassley, who has been portrayed by some of the uncooperative ministers as a “renegade” with no real power.

Historically black colleges struggle

Historically black colleges are struggling with cutbacks in federal and state spending, competition from mainstream institutions, and critics who question their relevance in a post-segregation era, The Kansas City Star reported March 13. Though these schools represent only 4 percent of U.S. higher-education institutions, they educate 40 percent of the country’s African-American college graduates.

Petre demands Australia’s rich give back

Australian philanthropist Daniel Petre, a former Microsoft executive, says his country’s wealthy “have a free ride and shirk their responsibility,” The Age reported March 15. Petre, whose philanthropic foundation funded a recent report showing that rich Australians give less than their American, Canadian and British counterparts, says Australians have to start “demanding” that their wealthy give back.

Saudi top cleric discourages Al-Qaida philanthropy

Saudi Arabia’s top religious authority warns Saudis not to give money to “evil” organizations, The Associated Press reported March 9. The warning by Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Abdullah al-Sheikh comes just after a plea from Al-Qaida’s number-two leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, to collect money for needy families in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Siebel funds join stem-cell research at Berkeley, Stanford

The Siebel Stem Cell Institute will bring together top researchers from the University of California-Berkeley and Stanford University to seek root causes of some of the world’s most devastating diseases, The Mercury News reported March 13. The institute is funded by a $9 million gift from the Thomas and Stacey Siebel Foundation.

Chinese museums try free admission

The Chinese government is subsidizing free admission to 600 museums at a cost of 200 million yuan, or $28 million, The People’s Daily Online reported March 14. The initiative, which will fund 800 more museums next year, aims to give tax payers better access to high culture, but also threatens to overwhelm facilities, China View reported March 5.

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