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MINUTES: September 24, 2018 Governance Subcommittee Meeting
Summary notes from Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education Governance subcommittee meeting on September 24
Subcommittee members participating: Mr. Becker; President Gee; Dr. Paine; Mr. Payne
Commission members participating: President Martin
Mr. Payne convened the meeting at 9:00 a.m. He began by asking President
Gee to provide his observations on the current governance structure based on
his 38 years of experience as a university president.
President Gee said that he believed we need very strong institutional governing
boards and these boards should be held to a high standard. The members
of these boards are held accountable to the Governor and the Legislature through
gubernatorial appointment and oversight from the Legislative Oversight Committee
on Educational Accountability (LOCEA). President Gee went on to say that
the regional institutions need access to services and technical assistance, and
that a state service agency is the most efficient way to provide those services
and assistance. He said the state must avoid redundancy of governance and
duplication of oversight. He believes HEPC was created as a coordinating
board but over time it has become a regulatory agency, and in so doing has gone
beyond its original bounds. President Gee further suggested that the decentralization
of authority in higher education is a trend in many states across the country.
Mr. Payne then asked Dr. Paine to comment based on the recent changes in governance
in the K-12 system.
Dr. Paine said that Governor Justice began the process because he felt there was
redundancy and inefficiency in the way the K-12 schools are governed at the state
level. As a result, the Office of the Secretary of Education and the Arts,
the Office of Education Performance Audits, and the Regional Education Services
Agencies (RESAs) were abolished. Dr. Paine said these changes led to 466
positions being eliminated, leading to significant savings that have been returned
to support education. He also observed that the Governor and the State
Board of Education believe in having strong county superintendents and county
boards of education, in many ways parallel to strong presidents and institutional
President Gee said Dr. Paine’s comments affirmed that the recent changes in the
K-12 system can serve as a very useful example for higher education.
Mr. Payne asked Mr. Becker for his opinion on the issue of higher education governance.
Mr. Becker said that the state went to the effort of establishing institutional
governing boards and clearly the Governor and Legislature want them to continue,
so he believes we should strengthen these boards. He believes HEPC should
be a service agency, not a regulatory body. Mr. Becker also raised the
question about the way the service agency would be governed.
Mr. Payne replied that there are two main options: (1) a board consisting of members
selected by the institutional governing boards would oversee the office and select
the director; or (2) the Governor would appoint the director. He said this
was an issue that needed further discussion.
Dr. Paine said that the first model is similar to the model used by the RESAs,
which were led by a board consisting of county superintendents and one member
from each county board of education in the region. While the RESAs were
in operation, Dr. Paine felt this governance structure worked well.
Mr. Payne concluded the meeting by saying that he would work on a draft report
based on this discussion and distribute it to the subcommittee members for their
review prior to the next full commission meeting on October 2. He also
thanked President Martin for sharing information about the structure of the State
Council for Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV) and the tiered system that Virginia
has for higher education governance. He said this information would be
shared with the subcommittee and the full commission.
Mr. Payne adjourned the meeting at 9:16 a.m.