Background Image for Header:
MINUTES: July 27, 2018 Full Commission Meeting (in-person)
Co‐Chairman of the Commission, President Gordon Gee convened the inaugural meeting of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Four‐Year Higher Education at 11:00 a.m. at the Bridgeport Conference Center in Bridgeport, West Virginia. The following Commissioners were present: Delegate Rick Atkinson, President Kendra Boggess (Co‐Chair), Delegate Brent Boggs, Senator Mitch Carmichael, Dr. Amelia Courts, Delegate Paul Espinosa, Mr. Michael Farrell, President Gordon Gee, President Jerry Gilbert (Co‐Chair), President Anthony Jenkins, Mr. Dale Lee, President Mirta Martin, Mr. Andrew Payne, Senator Roman Prezioso, and Mr. Gary White. Ms. Ellen Cappellanti, Mr. Eric Lewis, and Superintendent Steve Paine joined the meeting by phone.
Also in attendance were approximately 25 audience members and support staff.
President Gee began the meeting with a welcome and asked each member to provide a brief introduction.
Discussion of Commission’s Guiding Principles
President Gilbert provided an explanation of the Governor’s charge to the commission to help direct the commission’s work. Per the charge, the commission will recommend policies, structure and organization to improve four‐year higher education and increase access, retention and degree attainment.
President Boggess described the guidelines for the commission’s meetings. All meetings are subject to the Open Governmental Meetings Act; a quorum of the commission must be present to conduct business; a call‐in number will be provided for members of the public; and, minutes of the meetings will be made and approved by the commission.
Each member of the commission was provided an opportunity to express their questions and issues of concern.
History and Context
Dr. Jay Cole, Senior Advisor to the President at West Virginia University, presented the history of governance of four‐year public higher education in West Virginia. The presentation included an overview of the strengths and weaknesses of the different governance models.
- What information do commissioners need?
- Other comments/questions
Commission members were given an opportunity to make requests for information that will require additional research. Many of the responses related to economic data, budget trends, institutional comparisons, student populations, and comparisons to other state systems.
Timeline planning to complete work
The commission co‐chairs plan to meet early next week to determine the future meeting schedule.
At the conclusion of discussion, President Gee adjourned the meeting at 2:15 p.m.
Co-Chairman of the Commission, President President Gordon Gee convened the inaugural meeting of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Four‐Year Higher Education at 11:00 a.m. at the Bridgeport Conference Center in Bridgeport, West Virginia. The following Commissioners were present: Delegate Rick Atkinson, President Kendra Boggess (Co‐Chair), Delegate Brent Boggs, Senator Mitch Carmichael, Dr. Amelia Courts, Delegate Paul Espinosa, Mr. Michael Farrell, President Gordon Gee, President Jerry Gilbert (Co‐Chair), President Anthony Jenkins, Mr. Dale Lee, President Mirta Martin, Mr. Andrew Payne, Senator Roman Prezioso, and Mr. Gary White. Ms. Ellen Cappellanti, Mr. Eric Lewis, and Superintendent Steve Paine joined the meeting by phone.
Approximately 25 audience members and support staff were in attendance.
President Gee began the meeting with a welcome and asked each member to provide a brief introduction.
President Gilbert followed with an explanation of the Governor’s charge to the commission, and discussed guiding principles to help direct the commission’s work to improve public higher education and promote educational attainment. A copy of the Governor’s charge is attached.
Delegate Espinosa emphasized the importance of addressing funding inequities among public institutions and expressed concern that adequacy of funding was specifically mentioned in the Governor’s executive order but not in the guiding principles. He believes funding should be front‐and‐center in the commission’s deliberations.
Mr. Lewis agreed that funding is a key issue and suggested that the guiding principles should specifically refer to funding levels and the funding allocation formula.
President Gee stated that the recommendations of the committee regarding the structure of public higher education will ultimately inform conversations about funding needs. He expects the commission to make the case for increased recognition of the value of higher education and adequate funding.
President Boggess described the guidelines for the commission’s meetings, including that all meetings are subject to the West Virginia Open Governmental Meetings Act, that a quorum must be present for the commission to conduct business, that calling in to the meeting will be an option for commission members, and that minutes will be kept by staff and approved by the blue ribbon commission.
President Gee outlined further details about how the commission will work, including that commission members may request data or information to aid in their deliberations, that all commission recommendations must be approved by majority vote, that members may add dissenting opinions to the consensus report and recommendations, that the commission’s report will be delivered to the Governor by December 10, 2018 and that the Governor and Legislature have the final authority on taking any action related to the report.
Senator Prezioso said the commission should broaden its charge to include the community colleges. He expressed the need to address this sector and to examine the entire system, two‐year and four‐year, holistically.
Mr. Lee asked about adding faculty to the commission. He believes it is important to hear from the different constituency groups, including staff and students. To increase access to the commission and its work, he also asked about livestreaming the meetings and archiving the videos for later review and use, as has been done for meetings of the governor’s task force on PEIA.
Mr. Farrell, noting the deadline to complete the commission’s work by December 10, inquired about the staff who will help the commission and assist with preparation of the report. President Gee responded that the commission would hear later from Dr. Jay Cole, one of the people who will help with gathering data and preparing the report. President Gee also identified Ms. Molly George Cassis, HEPC Board and Operations Coordinator, who will provide support for the commission’s work. Mr. Farrell stated that all of HEPC’s staff will be available to assist the commission.
President Gee commented that he has been a president for 38 years and that things in higher education have changed dramatically over that time. He believes that higher education needs to regain the public’s confidence and this commission is an important way to do that. He commented further that West Virginia needs to do a better job of keeping students in state to attend college and of recruiting students from other states to come here for college. He also stated that changes in the job market should inform changes in the way we educate college students.
President Boggess said that everything the commission does needs to be datadriven. The commission should be aware of the potential economic impact of its recommendations. She also expressed her belief that this work is all about the students and that it is critically important to maintain access points to higher education around the state
President Gilbert suggested that each member have an opportunity to speak and put any questions or issues of concern on the record.
Delegate Espinosa reiterated the critical importance of the funding methodology. He said the Legislature provided a clear directive to HEPC to give a recommendation for funding institutions in an equitable manner.
President Martin talked about the need to “follow the money.” Based on her professional experience in the banking industry, she said she knows that following the money is the key to understanding the system. She also emphasized the need to make higher education more accessible, to put students first in the commission’s deliberations, and to bring every provider of higher education to the table
Senator Prezioso said that almost everyone on the commission had some experience “chasing the elusive funding formula.” He stated his opinion that the education delivery system is working but the education funding system is broken. He also stated that HEPC was to be a visionary body to look at all higher education but it has been reformed multiple times and some of those reforms, including carving out the community and technical colleges, have watered down HEPC’s duties and powers.
Mr. Farrell encouraged the commission not to be a “rubber stamp.” He said that commission members have diverse expertise and experiences, and this diversity will enable the commission to solve problems. He agreed with others that the commission needs data to inform decisions and recommendations. He also said that from now until December 10 will be the commission’s time to make a difference and make the right decisions about the future of higher education in West Virginia.
Delegate Atkinson expressed the need to reach rural and first‐generation students with more effective marketing about college. He stated his belief that we have a great product with our higher education system and that we need more first‐generation students to take advantage of that great product.
Mr. Payne advised the commission to focus on getting the structure right and then let that structure drive the funding formula.
Mr. Lee reiterated the need to hear from all constituency groups and to look at the issues holistically.
Senator Carmichael called on the commission to reach for the ideal, not settle for the merely pragmatic, and to ensure that the commission’s work would serve to improve the lives of all of the state’s citizens. He said the goal and objective of the commission should be to energize and reset higher education in West Virginia.
President Jenkins said that the state needs to break the culture that keeps students away from college, and that affordability is a major part of this cultural barrier. He also urged the commission “not to pull something off the national shelf” but to come up with an approach and a solution that is tailored to West Virginia’s needs.
Dr. Courts expressed agreement with many points made by others and her hope that the commission is ambitious and bold. She also said that the commission’s work was personal because of her children and her desire for them to succeed.
Mr. White said he would apply his 40‐plus years of business experience and his experience with multiple education task forces to the commission’s important work. He expects the commission to make data‐driven recommendations and believes that funding should follow structure.
Delegate Boggs observed that central West Virginia has much in common with southern West Virginia, and that accessibility to higher education is a priority for both of these regions. He echoed Dr. Courts in that these issues are personally important to him because of his children. He complimented the recent presentation by former North Carolina Governor Hunt and the staff of the Hunt Institute as the best and most valuable time he has spent at a professional conference and said that West Virginia needs to replicate North Carolina’s results.
r. Lewis [joined by phone] concurred with the great importance and value of numbers and data as drivers of the commission’s work. He said in the past, funding was based not on a formula but on an institution’s legislators. He said we need a fair and data‐driven formula and that we need to work quickly because we do not have much time to get it done. He expressed a desire to be assigned to any subcommittee on funding. He also agreed that we need to recruit more outof‐ state students to attend college in West Virginia.
President Gee reiterated the need for the commission to focus on affordability, access, attainment and graduation rates. Businesses create jobs in areas that can provide workforce training and access to higher education support.
At this point, the commission adjourned for lunch.
After lunch, the commission reconvened for a presentation about the history of governance of four‐year public higher education in West Virginia. Cole gave a presentation on the history of the governance of public, four‐year higher education in West Virginia and outlined a variety of different governance structured and approaches. More detail will be provided in subsequent meetings.
After the presentation, President Gee asked the commission members what they needed in order to continue their deliberations. The following is a summary list of responses related to substantive data and information.
- Identify states of interest and provide a “deep dive” into the models of governance and funding in these states ‐ should include services that peer states provide through their service agencies
- More detail on how West Virginia institutions overlap and/or compete
- Operating budgets for all institutions in West Virginia
- Cuts to budgets over past years
- Comparison of money spent in classroom versus administrative cost at each institution
- Maps, percentages and numbers for out‐of‐state students and residential and commuting students at all institutions in West Virginia
- Identify specific bureaucratic barriers
- National reports from organizations such as the Education Commission of the States that discuss innovation and best practices
- Data on transportation issues and how students get to campus at more isolated institutions in West Virginia
- Data that reflects the fiscal reality at the institutional level
- Data that shows the financial health of each institution in West Virginia
- Examples and guidance about how to recruit additional students from other states
- Data on the role of out‐of‐state student tuition dollars across the system
- A discussion about the variation of capacity across institutions— some institutions need more technical assistance than others
- Data on administrators: faculty: students ratios for all institutions in West Virginia
- Suggestions for how to define and measure quality and how to select peer institutions to benchmark quality
- List of all locations/campuses for each institution in West Virginia
- Economic impact analyses for all institutions in West Virginia
- Data on at‐risk student populations at each institution
- Data on the cost of doing business in West Virginia higher education, pre‐ and post‐ division of the 2‐ and 4‐year systems
- Personnel costs at HEPC and CCTCE compared to peer states
- Data on economic impact and cost of doing business from other systems (e.g., the University of North Carolina, University of Houston System, University of Alaska System)
- List of governance structure and approaches in other states. Different models of governance across states and a “map” of responsibility and duties for each model
The following are responses related to procedure:
- Creation of subcommittees
- Immediate public comment period and solicitation of comments from stakeholders
- A web portal to share the commission’s work and gather public comments and feedback
- At the conclusion of this discussion, President Gee adjourned the meeting.