With lawmakers set to vote Thursday on a landmark Republican tax bill, major university officials have stepped up their efforts to combat the bill.
Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust met with congressional representatives earlier this month in Washington to express her opposition to the bill, citing its effect on university endowments and graduate students, according to a report in The Harvard Crimson.
Other Harvard administrators, including members of the university's governing board, joined Faust in Washington to persuade lawmakers to vote against the bill, the Crimson reported.
Faust is not the only university leader to publicize her institution's opposition to the bill. Penn President Amy Gutmann called the bill "regressive" in an emailed statement sent to all University students and staff in early November, just a week after Republican lawmakers unveiled the bill, which would substantially rewrite the current tax code.
Besides cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent, the GOP bill would levy a 1.4 percent excise tax on income from university endowments greater than $250,000 per student. Ivy League universities like Harvard and Penn, whose record returns raised the total value of Penn's assets to $12.2 billion, would be among the group of schools affected by the tax.
A second part of the bill would tax stipends and the scholarships students use to pay for tuition.
“I am deeply concerned about the ways in which these measures threaten to undermine innovation," Faust wrote in an emailed statement, echoing the language used by Gutmann in her email to University affiliates on Nov. 9.
"We believe strongly that many of these changes would have a detrimental impact on our students, on Penn families, on our institution, and on the mission of higher education," read Gutmann's statement, in part.
Along with Provost Wendell Pritchett and Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli, who co-signed the university-wide email, Gutmann urged Penn students, faculty, and staff to actively lobby against the bill.
"At this pivotal moment, we urge you to express your views through social media and directly to elected officials in the House of Representatives and the Senate," her statement continued.
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