Weekly Market Update

SESSIONS ON FREE SPEECH IN HIGHER EDUCATION

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions called for a "national re-commitment to free speech on college campuses" last Thursday, saying the Justice Department would start intervening in campus free speech cases. Sessions denounced American universities for suppressing free speech, claiming that they had wrongfully created ideological "echo chambers" and had allowed protesters to shut down speakers they disagreed with. Debate about the First Amendment's role on college campuses has divided university faculties, with some arguing for unrestricted speech, no matter how inflammatory, and others advocating that boundaries be established. Higher education professionals such as Geoffrey Stone, a University of Chicago law professor, questioned whether the Justice Department would protect all forms of free speech and would intervene in a "principled and honest way."

In Other News

  • Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has sued Navient Corp., the nation's largest servicer of federal and private student loans. The lawsuit claims Navient has been "deceptive" and "predatory," causing harm to student borrowers by putting profits "ahead of the interests of millions of families across our country who are struggling to repay student loans."
  • Brown University's endowment netted a 13.4% return for the fiscal year, surpassing its 11.1% benchmark. The endowment has grown from $2.6 billion (in 2012) to $3.5 billion, producing more than $1.3 billion in investment returns and contributing more than $800 million to support Brown's operating budget during that period.
  • The University of Louisville's athletics board voted on Monday to start the process of firing Hall of Fame basketball coach Rick Pitino, less than a week after a federal investigation alleged his program was involved in paying recruits.
  • Grace University announced Tuesday that it will cease all academic operations at the end of the 2017-2018 academic year. The university said it is closing primarily due to declining enrollment.
  • President Trump will nominate the next chair of the Federal Reserve in the coming weeks, and the selection process is accelerating as he meets with top contenders. It is unclear if Trump is considering reappointing Janet Yellen, the current Fed Chair.

Rating Agency Update

  • Moody's placed University of Louisville's A1 rating and University of Louisville Foundation's A3 rating under review for possible downgrade.
  • Moody's assigned Aa3 to Macalester College's Series 2017 Bonds. The outlook is stable.
  • Moody's affirmed Northern Kentucky University's A1 rating. The outlook is negative.
  • Moody's affirmed Western Kentucky University's A2 rating. The outlook is stable.
  • Moody's affirmed Eastern Kentucky University's A1 rating. The outlook negative.
  • Moody's affirmed Murray State University's A1 rating. The outlook is negative.
  • Moody's affirmed Morehead State University's A2 rating. The outlook is negative.
  • Moody's affirmed University of Kentucky's Aa2 rating. The outlook is stable.
  • Moody's assigned A1 and S&P assigned A+ to American University's Series 2017 Bonds. The outlook is stable.
  • S&P affirmed Colgate University's AA rating. The outlook is stable.
  • S&P lowered Mount Aloysius College's rating from A to A-. The outlook is stable.
  • S&P lowered Mercyhurst University's rating from BBB- to BB+. The outlook is stable.
  • S&P reinstated Michigan State University's A-1+ rating.
  • S&P affirmed Hobart and William Smith Colleges and Colleges of the Seneca's A rating. The outlook is negative.
  • S&P assigned A- to York College of Pennsylvania's Series 2017 PP4 Revenue Refunding Bonds. The outlook is stable.