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Emerson dean probed for consulting job with loan firm

Enrollment official put on paid leave

Emerson College placed its dean of enrollment on paid leave yesterday after a US Senate report said he received $36,000 in consulting fees from a loan company the college allegedly promoted to students.

Daniel Pinch had a consulting contract from 2001-2003 with Collegiate Funding Services Inc., according to the report released Thursday by Senator Edward M. Kennedy. The report said the firm was on the college's preferred lender list during that period.

In a brief telephone interview last night, Pinch said that he wanted to let a "fair, independent review" continue and that he felt he didn't do anything wrong.

"When the independent review is completed I feel that it will show that CFS was not on our preferred lender list," he said.

The accusations against Pinch are part of a wider congressional inquiry into marketing practices in the student loan industry. The report, for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, criticized Pinch and other college officials for allegedly accepting perks from lenders they recommended to students. It also mentioned Citizens Bank for throwing "lavish meetings" for members of a student loan advisory board, which included representatives of several local and national universities.

David M. Rosen, Emerson's vice president for public affairs, said the college takes the accusations seriously and will investigate swiftly.

The Senate report said Pinch earned $1,500 a month as a "government relations liaison" for Collegiate Funding Services, which is now part of J.P. Morgan Chase amp; Co. It said his business relationship "crossed over from consulting work into advocacy and lobbying." Pinch drafted letters to congressmen at the company's request, allowed his name and college to be used in the firm's marketing materials, and recommended the company to other colleges, the report said. The firm allegedly offered to invest $50,000 in a business venture Pinch had launched, in exchange for a stake in the company. The report cited a response from Chase saying it appeared the deal was not executed.