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Sam Houston State University’s new Conroe campus adjusts to COVID guidelines

This is the first semester that the new Sam Houston State University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Conroe has welcomed students to campus, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the year is not starting as anticipated.

The College of Osteopathic Medicine received its pre-accreditation status in September of last year, which allowed the college to start recruiting new students. The school’s first class is 75 students but in about two years the school plans to double that number to meet its full capacity of 150 students.

As the COVID-19 pandemic made its way into Montgomery County, Sam Houston State University began to plan for changes to the new year, keeping in mind all the requirements their students will have to meet to become medical practitioners. Back in March, faculty were asked to work remotely and the school began to plan for a year that looked very different from what was originally planned.


“At first, students had limited time in the building but we felt very strongly that their experiential learning, their lab learning, we needed them in the building to do that, we needed them with their faculty to do that,” said Mari Hopper, associate dean for Biomedical Sciences at the campus.

In order to bring the students to campus safely for their experiential learning, the class was divided into four groups that rotated into the building throughout the day to keep the population in the building low. Before students even arrived, the school put together a video message for them that outlined the expectations in place for being in the building (masks, hand washing, social distancing, etc) with a message from the dean. Classes started on Aug. 10 as planned.

Portions of the classes that were not lab-based are being offered through remote learning. Students can access that work through Blackboard. While some of it is synchronous learning, students accessed it while it was happening, much of it was asynchronous, so they could access it on their own time.

Within the four groups that met together, students were split into even smaller groups of five and six to study and practice together with self-directed work.

“We also recognize that students, frankly, were in need of learning support,” Hopper said. “Those small groups provided the opportunity to collaborate with their peers, and medical students really need and request that.”

The groups also help meet the students’ need for social interactions in a safe space. As of Oct. 7, Hopper said the college had not had any cases of COVID-19 in its students. Students are self-monitoring for symptoms at home and before they come to campus they sign an attestation that they are not ill. When they get to the lab their temperature is taken before they can enter.

In response to the pandemic, the school created a student response team for the possibility of a student becoming ill. The team, Hopper said, made of clinicians and faculty, isn’t there to treat

How Brown University’s Endowment Quietly Became Tops in Ivy League

Endowments often go to great lengths to seek out returns. Brown University’s goes further than most.

The $4.7 billion endowment has hired private detectives to investigate a money manager and backed unproven startup funds. The former endowment head has also hosted some prospective managers for dinner with his family to supplement Brown’s due diligence.

The approach has paid off. Brown’s endowment over the course of

Joseph Dowling

’s seven-year run has produced top-tier results.

It notched a 12.1% return in the fiscal year that ended June, Brown said last week, a top rate among college endowments. The median return of U.S. endowments in the same period was 2.6%, according to Wilshire Trust Universe Comparison Service. It was the second year in a row that Brown’s return rate beat those of the Yale University and Harvard University endowments, though they run far larger pools of money.

Joseph Dowling headed Brown’s endowment for seven years.



Photo:

Brown University

Other investors have taken note of Brown’s growing lead and wondered how Mr. Dowling and his team, including chief investment officer

Jane Dietze

, have pulled it off—and whether Brown can replicate that performance long-term.

Brown believes the endowment’s performance reflects the entire team’s work and not any individual’s, Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration

Barbara Chernow

said in a statement.

Mr. Dowling handed the reins to Ms. Dietze on July 1 and now is a member of Brown’s investment committee. He spends half his time on Brown matters, including advising Brown President

Christina Paxson

. He also recently joined forces with real-estate investor

Barry Sternlicht

to launch a blank-check company, an entity that typically goes public to raise cash in order to acquire a business.

Brown’s return over the past five fiscal years was 9.8%, surpassing the 5.7% median annualized return of U.S. endowments tracked by Wilshire TUCS in the same period.

The growth has proved crucial during the pandemic. Universities face increased student demand for financial aid and the costs of Covid-19 health measures while revenue from enrollment has shrunk. Brown expects a deficit of as much as 13% in its total operating budget for the current fiscal year, according to the administration.

Brown plans to withdraw up to $20 million in extra funds from the endowment to help cover the shortfall, Ms. Chernow said in a statement. The university also issued $700 million in bonds this calendar year.

Brown has shown a willingness to go where others might shy from under Mr. Dowling, a 56-year-old former hedge-fund manager and Providence, R.I., native whose father taught at Brown’s medical school, and Ms. Dietze, 55, a former software entrepreneur who helped manage an endowment-style fund at Fortress Investment Group.

When

Gavin Baker

, a former star mutual-fund manager for Fidelity Investments, was fundraising for his new hedge fund in 2019, some potential investors said at the time that they were intrigued but passed due in part to the circumstances surrounding his departure from Fidelity. But Brown invested.

Mr. Baker resigned from Fidelity