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Nonprofit news roundup for Jan. 30, 2009

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Science Foundation faces porn claims, funding questions

In response to allegations that top staffers at the National Science Foundation spent significant time on the job viewing pornography on the Web, Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa is asking Congress to reconsider new funding for the group, The Associated Press reported Jan. 30. Grassley, the top Republican in the Senate Finance Committee, has sent a letter to the Office of Inspector General requesting all documents relating to inappropriate use of the foundation’s network.

Harvard alums ask endowment managers to refund bonuses

In the wake of a hit of more than $8 billion to Harvard University’s endowment, a few of the school’s alumni are pushing for a return of the $21 million in bonuses paid to the endowment’s money managers in December, The Boston Globe reported Jan. 29 (see Harvard story). Ten member of the class of 1969 made the request in a letter to Harvard’s president after the school’s endowment dropped to about $28.7 billion in October from a high of $36.8 billion in June.

Remittances to Mexico take first tumble

The amount of money that Mexicans working in the U.S. sent back home dropped to $25 billion in 2008 from $26 billion the previous year, says Mexico’s Central Bank, The Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 27 (see remittance story). Because of the rising U.S. unemployment rate, remittances saw their first decline since Mexico began recording money flows from abroad 13 years ago. The drop could deal an economic blow to Mexico, where remittances are the second-biggest source of hard currency after oil.

Los Angeles theaters face uphill battle

Despite years of pinching pennies, Los Angeles nonprofit theaters are struggling to keep their heads above water as donations grow scarce, The Los Angeles Times reported Jan. 28 (see theater story). Theater groups throughout the U.S. already are canceling seasons and closing their doors. To cope with the crisis, Los Angeles groups are trimming budgets, slashing ticket prices and considering “pay-what-you-can” performances.

In Brief:

* In the face of a potential 30 percent drop in its endowment, Vanderbilt University has instituted cost-saving measures, including a freeze on new construction and recruitment of students and faculty to serve as groundskeepers, The Tennessean reported Jan. 28.

* With its endowment predicted to drop from a high of $2.8 billion in mid-2008 to $2 billion this coming June, Brown University is looking for ways to cut spending by $60 million and is considering layoffs, The Providence Journal reported Jan. 29.

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