Universities work to boost performance, state aid amid conflicting expectations
INDIANAPOLIS | The Indiana Commission for Higher Education has developed a performance-based funding formula to increase the number of college graduates at the state's seven public universities.
The funding formula rewards schools for growth in number of overall degrees, on-time graduation rates, student retention, number of degrees in science, technology, engineering and math and those granted to students receiving federal PELL grants. Remediation rates and a productivity metric defined by each school also factor into the calculations.
Ball State University has a lot riding on performance funding. The school would see no increase in funding over the next two years under the budget state lawmakers are crafting. Only Indiana State University in Terre Haute, which would see a 1.1-percent loss in funding, has fared worse under the performance-based funding formula.
Ball State President Jo Ann Gora told the House Ways and Means Committee in January the school has been at a disadvantage because it has worked to raise admission standards and the quality of programs while keeping enrollment around 16,000. That strategy, along with Ball State's focus on non-STEM degrees, has hurt its funding, she said.
"Because our strategy has been to get better, not bigger, this is not a strategy that has been rewarded by the funding formula — although we think this is a good strategy for Hoosiers," Gora said. "The formula is a one-size-fits-all. And yet the institutions were asked to differentiate."
Texas man convicted in Ind. home improvement scam that netted him $37,000
FRANKLIN, Ind. | A central Indiana jury has convicted a Texas man on home improvement fraud charges alleging that he bilked six suburban Indianapolis residents out of more than $37,000.
A Johnson County jury convicted 50-year-old Randy L. Madewell of Danbury, Texas, on three felony home improvement fraud counts and three misdemeanor counts.
The Daily Journal reports Madewell was arrested in January 2012 after six Greenwood residents told police they gave him money for roofing repairs that were never done. Court records say Madewell spent more than $37,000 he took from the residents on clothing, fishing gear, a fishing boat and a motorcycle instead of roofing supplies.
Deputy prosecutor Joe Villanueva says Madewell faces similar charges in other central Indiana counties. He had operated a Brown County roofing business.
Feds seek shorter sentence in Kuwait bribery case for man who cooperated
EVANSVILLE, Ind. | Federal prosecutors are seeking a reduced sentenced for an Indiana man who pleaded guilty to conspiring to bribe contracting officials at a U.S. Army base in Kuwait.
Wajdi Birjas pleaded guilty to bribery and money laundering conspiracy charges in 2010, but his sentencing has been delayed four times. The Evansville man could face more than seven years in prison when he's sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Evansville.
But the Evansville Courier & Press reports prosecutors are recommending a roughly three-year sentence for Birjas, citing his assistance in helping them convict two co-conspirators.
The Justice Department says Birjas paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to three officials in exchange for a Kuwaiti contractor receiving defense contracts worth $1.7 million. In exchange, he got a share of the profits.