of the Governor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education
Presented to Governor James S. Gilmore III
February 3, 2000
1. The Governor and General Assembly should provide for the establishment
of institutional performance agreements for all public four-year
colleges and universities in Virginia, Virginia's junior college,
and for the Virginia Community College System.
2. Institutional performance agreements should:
a. Reflect and be based upon clearly defined institutional missions and
higher education policies established by the Commonwealth of Virginia;
b. Empower and equip institutions to plan and act in furtherance of their
missions, subject to state policies;
c. Provide for adequate, stable, and predictable institutional funding
to the greatest extent possible within the context of the Commonwealth's
constitutionally mandated appropriations and legislative process;
d. Provide for measurement and reporting of key indicators of institutional
performance and educational quality for the benefit of students,
as education consumers, and state taxpayers;
e. Provide incentives for institutions to achieve identified quality-
and efficiency-related performance objectives and establish consequences
for deficient performance; and
f. Provide greater managerial and operational flexibility at the institutional
level in exchange for increased outcome-oriented accountability.
3. The Governor and General Assembly should establish a process, commencing
in 2000, by which each institution develops and submits to the State
Council of Higher Education a proposed institutional performance
agreement. The process should provide successively for: a. Board
of visitors' approval of the proposed agreement;
b. Submission of the proposed agreement to the State Council of Higher
Education, with prompt dissemination to the Secretaries of Education,
Finance and Administration, the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee,
and the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee;
c. Review of the proposed agreement by the State Council of Higher Education
and submission of the State Council's comments to the Secretaries
of Education, Finance and Administration, the Chairman of the Senate
Finance Committee, and the Chairman of the House Appropriations
d. Executive branch review and negotiation of the proposed agreement,
followed by the Governor's preliminary submission of a recommended
agreement or revisions thereof, if any, to the Chairman of the Senate
Finance Committee and the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee;
e. Consultation between the executive and legislative branches regarding
the terms of the recommended agreement;
f. Final submission of the Governor's recommended agreement, if any,
prior to the legislative session in tandem with submission of the
Governor's budget recommendations; and
g. Approval, modification, or rejection of the submitted agreement by
the General Assembly reflected in the enrolled appropriations bill;
4. Institutional performance agreements should be six years in duration
to provide institutions with an optimal window for strategic planning
5. Each institutional performance agreement should contain a mechanism
for adjustment and revision within the six-year term to reflect
new state-endorsed initiatives or mandates, unforeseeable programmatic
or facility changes, and unanticipated costs.
6. Institutional performance agreements should acknowledge that the
Virginia Constitution authorizes the General Assembly to alter the
funding and other conditions established in the agreement, and should
provide that the institution will be relieved of its obligations
and undertakings pursuant to the agreement upon any such material
change by the General Assembly not provided for by the agreement
7. Each institutional performance agreement should identify those material
failures in performance or other actions by the institution that
will constitute default resulting in termination of the agreement
and remedial action by the Commonwealth.
8. The State Council of Higher Education should monitor compliance with
the provisions of each institutional performance agreement and report
its findings to the Governor, General Assembly, and the signatory
institution. The Council's findings should also be made available
to the public in a readily understandable format.
9. Each institutional performance agreement should set forth the base
budget of the institution, including general and nongeneral fund
appropriations, for each of the six years during which the agreement
will be in force. The base budget should take into account enrollment
changes, inflation, the institution's competitive position on faculty
compensation relative to its peers, and other factors relevant during
the term of the agreement.
10. Each institutional performance agreement should set forth the capital
outlay and maintenance requirements of the institution during the
term of the agreement, including a description of each project and
the source of funding.
11. Each institutional performance agreement should set forth the institution's
plans for restraining growth in tuition and fees and for providing
student financial assistance during the term of the agreement, including
general and nongeneral fund appropriations for such purposes.
12. Each institutional performance agreement should describe the institution's
plans for attracting increased financial support from nonpublic
sources and the assistance and incentives, if any, that the Commonwealth
will provide to encourage and enhance the institution's private
13. Each institutional performance agreement should state the institution's
commitment for the enrollment of Virginia undergraduate students
during the term of the agreement.
14. Each institutional performance agreement should contain mission-driven
and institution-specific standards of performance, expectations,
and consequences related to educational quality and administrative
efficiency and productivity. Specifically, each institutional performance
agreement should include (a) an array of performance measures, including
some applicable system-wide and others developed for the particular
institution; (b) institution-specific expectations and targets for
performance based upon such measures; and (c ) institution-specific
financial and non-financial incentives and other specific consequences
tied to such performance.
15. Each institutional performance agreement should set forth the institution's
specific initiatives and undertakings for enhancing the quality
of its programs and outcomes (student learning, research, and public
service), and the corresponding measures of performance and consequences.
16. Each institutional performance agreement should set forth the institution's
specific initiatives and undertakings for enhancing its administrative
efficiency and productivity, and the corresponding measures of performance
17. Each institutional performance agreement should set forth the institution's
plans for increased development and utilization of advanced technology
in its administrative, instructional, research, and public service
18. Each institutional performance agreement should address the extent
and nature of any deregulation, enhanced managerial autonomy, and
streamlined reporting applicable to the institution.
19. Each institutional performance agreement should set forth actions
the institution will take to develop and implement analytical tools
for use by institutional managers and governing boards in assessing
the cost of particular degree programs, the financial impact of
programs over time, and other issues bearing on the allocation of
resources to the institution's mission-driven priorities.
20. Each institutional performance agreement should set forth the financial
performance standards and requirements applicable to the institution,
including the Commonwealth Management Standards and the administrative
best practices established by the State Council of Higher Education.
21. Each institutional performance agreement should set forth actions
the institution will take during the term of the agreement to review
its mission statement, align its policies and budget with the mission,
and carry out ongoing strategic planning activities. AFFORDABILITY
22. The Governor and General Assembly should provide resources to maintain
the ceiling on tuition and mandatory E&G fees until the cost of
a public college education in Virginia has recovered from the recession-related
tuition increases of the early 1990s and is again competitive nationally.
The State Council of Higher Education and institutions' boards of
visitors should monitor fee increases to ensure they do not undermine
the gains made in affordability as a result of tuition rollbacks
23. Once the effects of recession-era tuition increases have been reversed
and the cost of public higher education in Virginia is competitive
nationally, the Governor and General Assembly should provide resources
to limit tuition increases for Virginia resident students to the
rate of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index. To the
extent a college or university claims a need for revenue increases
over and above inflation, all alternative sources of those additional
revenues--reprioritization of existing resources, savings from greater
efficiencies, private donations, auxiliary revenues and additional
general fund tax revenues--should be explored.
24. The State Council of Higher Education should develop a process through
which institutions and their boards of visitors will be required
to notify the public and receive public comments on proposed increases
in mandatory non-E&G fees before requesting such increases through
the budget process.
25. To inform and assist students and their parents as higher education
consumers, boards of visitors should require that any publication
of student costs list each charge separately, including tuition
and each mandatory fee, and describe what costs and/or services
each charge covers. Further, boards of visitors should require that
any changes anticipated in tuition and fees during a student's expected
four-year term be reported.
26. The Governor and General Assembly should adopt the calculation of
"true need" recommended by the State Council of Higher Education
and supported by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission,
as the basis for the Commonwealth's higher education financial aid
policy. Further, the Governor and General Assembly should assign
the highest priority to ensuring that the Commonwealth achieves
and maintains full funding of such "true need."
27. Once the Commonwealth achieves full funding of "true need," the Governor
and General Assembly should establish a merit-based scholarship
program that will further encourage students to achieve academic
excellence. Performance on the Commonwealth's nationally acclaimed
Standards of Learning tests should be a central factor in assessing
such academic excellence.
28. Once the Commonwealth implements a merit-based scholarship program,
the Governor and General Assembly should address critical work force
needs--including current shortages in the fields of teaching and
technology--with an additional targeted scholarship program.
29. The Governor and General Assembly should increase the amount of the
Tuition Assistance Grant sufficiently (a) to eliminate at least
the independent colleges' competitive disadvantage resulting from
the recent tuition rollback at public institutions and (b) to enable
Virginia's independent institutions to continue assisting the Commonwealth
in meeting demand for increased student enrollment.
30. To assist the Governor and General Assembly in determining the appropriate
funding level for the Tuition Assistance Grant program in the future,
the State Council of Higher Education should study the cost effectiveness
of the Tuition Assistance Grant program in achieving its statutory
goals and the capability and willingness of Virginia's independent
colleges to assist the Commonwealth materially in meeting anticipated
31. Funding decisions should be made in the context of multi-year institutional
performance agreements that combine adequate and reliable financial
resources and managerial flexibility with institution-specific performance
standards and accountability.
32. Funding decisions should be based on objective criteria that treat
similarly situated institutions similarly and should provide sufficient
resources to enable each institution to fulfill its institutional
33. Funding decisions should make adequate provision to offset annually
the impact of inflation on all aspects of each institution's programs,
activities, and operations.
34. Funding decisions should continue to reflect the Commonwealth's commitment
to attracting and retaining high-quality faculty, and should take
into account the distinctive features, needs, and objectives of
each Virginia institution, the level of faculty compensation at
peer institutions, cost-of-living variations, and other relevant
35. Funding decisions should continue to reflect the Commonwealth's commitment
to forward-looking and cost-effective investments in science and
36. Funding decisions should reflect the impact of increasing student
enrollment at those institutions that participate in meeting the
growing enrollment demand throughout the Virginia higher education
37. Funding decisions, and especially funding increases, should be predicated
on continuous restructuring efforts and the achievement of increased
productivity and quality as a result of those efforts. Continuous
restructuring should also include systematic and periodic reviews
of operations to identify opportunities for reducing costs.
38. Institutions that meet 100% of management standards should be permitted
to carry over up to 2% of their total Education and General (E&G)
budget to the next fiscal year. Such funds should be retained by
the institution for application to operational and capital needs.
39. The Commonwealth should pursue policies that will provide greater
managerial and operational flexibility at the institutional level.
However, the Commonwealth should not embrace and adopt such policies
without a corresponding commitment from the institutions to increased
accountability for outcomes. The General Assembly should end the
current decentralization pilots, in place since 1994, and adopt
legislation that would permit the Governor to grant requests from
individual institutions for decentralization of financial management
activity. However, such requests must be originated and approved
by an institution's board of visitors and the conditions upon which
such decentralization is granted should be subject to post-function
audits by the Commonwealth and other such checks and assurances
as the Commonwealth's fiscal officers might recommend, in order
to assure continued effective and efficient fiscal operations.
40. The General Assembly should consider the forthcoming recommendations
of the Governor's Distance Learning Steering Committee, created
pursuant to the recommendation of this Commission, to make the most
of each institution's ability to offer off-site classes and programs.
The Commonwealth should fully exploit the potential of distance
learning capabilities to meet the growing demand for higher education
without incurring the high costs associated with duplication of
programs and expansion of institutions.
41. While the Commonwealth moves forward expeditiously with institutional
performance agreements, the State Council of Higher Education should
study the feasibility, benefits, and costs, if any, associated with
implementation of a simplified funding model for Virginia's public
institutions of higher education that would provide each Virginia
resident enrolled in a state college or university a tuition grant.
42. Boards of visitors should fulfill their fiduciary obligations to
scrutinize carefully institutional expenditures and identify ways
to preserve and enhance affordability consistent with the institution's
43. Boards of visitors should require that proposed and actual institutional
expenditures be reported to them in such format and detail as will
permit them to assess the cost-effectiveness of particular degree
programs, to assess the financial impact of programs over time,
and to address other issues bearing on the allocation of resources
to the institution's strategic goals and mission-driven priorities.
44. In reviewing and adopting the institution's budget, request for state
funds, and tuition and fees, each board of visitors should consider
whether it is fully realizing the potential for private sources
of funding for the institution and whether funds received from private
sources are being utilized fully and effectively in furtherance
of the institution's strategic goals and mission-driven priorities.
45. Each institution's budget requests to the Governor and General Assembly
should be accompanied by a certification by the board of visitors
that it has reviewed and considered the request, that the request
reflects the priorities the board has established for the institution
pursuant to its mission and strategic plan and that the request
is endorsed and supported by the board. QUALITY
46. The State Council of Higher Education should oversee implementation
of the quality assurance plan detailed in the text of the Commission's
Final Report (a copy of the approved draft is attached to these
47. Boards of visitors should set and maintain admission standards consistent
with their institutional missions.
48. Virginia's community colleges and the Commonwealth's four-year colleges
and universities should develop strategic and effective articulation
agreements which (1) ensure a place in Virginia's diverse system
of higher education for all Virginians who have the ability to benefit
from collegiate-level study, and (2) ensure easy access to baccalaureate
education as a critical component of both a well-trained work force
and an educated citizenry.
49. The Commonwealth should encourage creative partnering between Virginia's
community colleges and the state's most selective four-year colleges
and universities that ensures access for those community college
graduates who would benefit from the collegiate experience of these
50. The Governor and the General Assembly should lead in the development
and implementation of a comprehensive plan to continue efforts to
fulfill the Commonwealth's constitutional obligation to eliminate
any remaining vestiges of discrimination that might exist in its
system of higher education. The plan should have real goals for
enhanced educational opportunity and measures for accountability
as well as support and input from the education and private sector
51. The board of visitors at each four-year institution should review
its general education curriculum at least every six years and ensure
that it provides students with "a core of common learning." The
exact makeup of the core should be mission-driven and should include
broad learning in mathematics, the sciences, technology, history,
literature, and communication skills. Study of a foreign language
is a powerful way for students to develop a deep appreciation for
cultural differences--an attribute so important for an educated
person in our global economy--therefore, the Commission strongly
urges institutions to establish or maintain a foreign language requirement
as part of their general education curricula.
52. Presidents should implement a plan for posting all course syllabi
on each institution's web site where students, parents, and taxpayers
alike can review what is being taught in particular classes, departments,
and programs, including general education.
53. Each board of visitors should carefully examine the average grades
of its graduates over time, across the institution, and in its various
colleges, programs, and departments, to determine the impact of
grade inflation at the institution. If grade inflation has occurred,
the board should direct steps to impose consistency and rigor on
the grading process. The State Council of Higher Education should
provide assistance to boards in this endeavor as necessary and appropriate.
54. Boards of visitors should examine their faculty performance review
criteria and tenure review process and ensure that those processes
encourage and support the dedication of time and energy to undergraduate
teaching and reflect that such teaching is the central job and concern
of the institution. Boards should consider financial incentives
for faculty who make teaching a priority and exhibit excellence
in the classroom. In addition, boards should consider establishing,
as a priority, providing the training and support necessary ultimately
to require faculty to incorporate technology into their work in
the classroom as appropriate to their field.
55. Boards of visitors should require that successful implementation
of their post-tenure review policy be tracked and reported as institutional
priorities. Each institution's policy should set forth real and
significant consequences for any tenured faculty member who does
not meet the established standards, including a required remedial
effort, a probationary period, and a dismissal policy.
56. Boards of visitors should establish policies that allow the institutions
to be purposeful in their decisions with regard to how instruction
is offered to their students and become familiar with the various
alternatives to tenure currently in use around the country, in particular
the use of short- and long-term contracts, so that they might use
such alternatives should circumstances dictate the need to do so.
57. The Governor and the General Assembly should support and maintain
Virginia's system of independent institutions with individual governing
58. The Governor should endeavor to appoint individuals to serve as visitors
who possess the necessary skills and experience to undertake the
substantial responsibility entrusted to them. They should be accomplished
individuals, with a distinct interest in higher education, who will
exercise their independent judgment in the best interest of students,
parents, taxpayers, and citizens. In making appointments to boards
of visitors, the Governor should consider the various sets of skills
that a board needs to work effectively and ensure that the members
of the body, as a group, bring the necessary skills to their work.
59. Boards of visitors should be provided with a statement of role and
responsibilities. Such a statement should describe the central areas
of concern that ought to occupy a board's attention and efforts.
A proposed statement, based on the presentations to and discussions
of the Commission, is contained in the text of the Commission's
report (a copy of the approved draft is attached to these recommendations).
60. Boards of visitors should regularly review the mission statement
of the institution to ensure that it clearly identifies the institution's
unique role in Virginia's public system of higher education and
that the institution is directing its resources to being the best
it can be in that role. Similarly, boards should review regularly
their policies, by-laws, and operating procedures to be certain
they permit and promote effective and efficient work by the board.
61. The State Council of Higher Education, in collaboration with the
Secretary of Education and the Office of the Attorney General, should
identify vehicles and opportunities to provide boards of visitors
with the information they need in order to be informed and effective
policymakers. Lists of topics on which boards need information and
documents that are critical to a board member's informed decision-making
are included in the text of this report.
62. The General Assembly should adopt a mandatory training requirement
for board members in their first year of service, such as that already
in place for local school boards. The State Council of Higher Education
should be tasked with developing a series of programs that would
allow board members to satisfy the training requirement, by acquiring
information and skills necessary to productive service on a board
of visitors, in an efficient and cost effective manner. The Commission
urges board members to continue to participate in continuing education
throughout their term of service as board members.
63. The State Council of Higher Education should adopt and implement
a matrix of performance measures that would allow it to measure
academic quality and institutional efficiency. It should include
and incorporate the Commission's quality assurance plan and should
produce an annual Report of Institutional Effectiveness. Reports
of institutional effectiveness should be made widely available to
students, parents, taxpayers, employers, and policymakers.
64. The State Council of Higher Education should continue to serve as
a statewide coordinating body for Virginia's system of higher education.
It should gather, analyze, report, and publish data about higher
education in Virginia. The State Council of Higher Education should
review the multitude of reporting requirements currently imposed
on our colleges and universities and develop and implement a plan
for consolidating and streamlining state reporting requirements.
As the repository of higher education information, the State Council
of Higher Education should serve as a clearing-house for identifying
and circulating best practices among the institutions and should
be responsible for providing information and support to boards of
visitors and their individual members. WORKFORCE TRAINING, ECONOMIC
DEVELOPMENT & RESEARCH
65. The Secretary of Commerce and Trade, the Secretary of Education,
and the Secretary of Technology must work closely together in order
to ensure purposeful and focused state participation in meeting
the demand for higher education from employers and employees, both
present and future.
66. The Commission endorses the State Council of Higher Education's
examination of the nature and extent of non-credit courses and programs
offered by the community colleges and recommends a similar review
of non-credit offerings by Virginia's four-year institutions. This
important information should be made available to the Secretaries
of Education, Commerce and Trade, and Technology for use in planning
and promoting Virginia's work force training efforts.
67. The Commonwealth must make the most of its higher education system's
potential for off-site course and program offerings. The State Council
of Higher Education and the Secretary of Commerce and Trade should
work together to identify degree, certificate, and other, non-credit
programs that are needed by businesses across the state, and the
Secretary of Technology should oversee technology initiatives for
off-site programs to ensure compatibility. The State Council of
Higher Education should assist in negotiating unified operating
standards among participating institutions.
68. Our post-secondary institutions must make preparing new teachers
for K-12 a priority. In this context, and in order to underscore
and support the Commonwealth's commitment to higher levels of subject-area
knowledge among new teachers, every teacher preparation institution
should be expected to achieve a 70% pass rate on the Praxis II exam,
the subject area test given at the end of a prospective teacher's
training and required for licensure in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The 70% pass rate should increase over time.
69. The Secretary of Education and the Secretary of Technology should
work together to identify significant research efforts and capabilities
at Virginia's colleges and universities that relate to federal priorities.
They should educate Virginia's congressional delegation so that
the delegation might be better prepared to draw "earmarked" federal
research and development projects and dollars to Virginia institutions.
70. The Governor and General Assembly should consider and develop creative
strategies for attracting both federal and private investment in
research and development infrastructure at Virginia's colleges and
universities. Some possible programs for consideration include a
Technology Growth Fund that would offer matching funds on a competitive
basis, the establishment of multi-university, cross-disciplinary
centers aligned with existing and emerging technology industry clusters
in Virginia, and an increased physical presence in Washington, D.C.,
to attract additional federal funding. These and certainly other
ideas deserve careful study as the Commonwealth moves forward to
incorporate more strongly and directly the research and development
efforts of its research institutions into its economic development
71. The State Council of Higher Education, in close consultation with
the institutions of higher education, the Secretary of Education,
the Secretary of Technology, and the Attorney General, should promulgate
revised intellectual property guidelines. These parties should examine
the need for a single intellectual property policy for all institutions,
in order to facilitate private participation in research and development
efforts at our institutions.
72. The Governor and General Assembly should fully fund the Commonwealth's
share of the Eminent Scholars Program as recommended by the State
Council of Higher Education. The Eminent Scholars Program encourages
private contributions to Virginia's state-supported colleges and
universities by providing state funds to match eligible endowment
earnings. Institutions use the state match and the corresponding
endowment earnings to supplement salaries of about 450 leading faculty
members. This program helps universities recruit and retain top
faculty, thereby increasing and maintaining external research funding.
73. Our research institutions must give serious consideration to the
moral and ethical implications of any research they undertake and
the methods employed. Arguably, the most precious legacy of America's
founding fathers (many of who were Virginians) was not economic
prosperity but, rather, the declaration that each member of society,
regardless of power or status, has equality and dignity under the
law. This principle must be kept before us when we undertake research
where there may be opportunity to exploit those too weak or powerless
to give informed consent.
QUALITY ASSURANCE PLAN
The plan has three goals:
1. To define precisely the knowledge and skills that cross the boundaries
of the academic discipline or undergraduate major, degree type,
or institutional mission and that are expected of every graduate
of a public college or university in Virginia. There is general
agreement that the "core competencies" include at least written
communication, mathematical analysis, scientific literacy, critical
thinking, oral communication, and technology;
2. To identify measures that will assess student mastery of these core
competencies at key points in the undergraduate experience, and
at completion of the undergraduate program, while assessing the
gain in knowledge and ability in these areas since admission (the
"value added"); and
3. To provide a meaningful vehicle for public communication of the Commonwealth's
expectations for its college and university graduates (mastery of
the core competencies) and of the results attained in meeting those
expectations (assessment results) at the institutional level.
Accomplishment of these goals should take place in three stages:
1. Gathering the Information
a. The State Council of Higher Education should convene a small working
group, composed of representatives from the several constituencies
interested in assuring quality student learning outcomes, to work
in consultation with the institutions and assessment experts to
define expressly the necessary knowledge that comprises the core
competencies identified above.
b. Once the desired outcomes have been determined, the working group,
in consultation with the institutions and assessment experts, should
oversee the selection of institution-specific assessment instruments,
or a combination of instruments, to be used to measure student mastery
of the core competencies. The State Council of Higher Education
should review and approve the reliability and validity of the selected
instrument(s). Over time, the State Council of Higher Education
should explore the feasibility of developing a single assessment
tool for use system-wide in selected core competencies.
c. The working group should also establish the standard of performance
that would be expected of every graduate of a Virginia college or
university. Individual institutions should be encouraged to set
higher standards of performance for their graduates than those set
by the working group. Such standards should be mission-driven and
approved by the board of visitors. Any and all standards should
be stated in terms that can be clearly understood by the public.
d. Institutions should continue to administer common alumni survey questionnaires
and report the results to the Commonwealth and to the public. The
reporting of performance of community college students transferring
to public four-year institutions should also continue, and the data
should be aggregated in such a way as to report to the public our
community colleges' success in preparing their baccalaureate-bound
students to complete baccalaureate programs.
e. The working group should be appointed by April 1, 2000, and should
complete its work in time for the institutions to begin implementation
of the Commonwealth's quality assurance plan in the 2001-2002 academic
f. Each institution should implement its approved assessment mechanism
pursuant to this proposal as well as any further direction agreed
upon by the working group.
g. The assessment process adopted should be cost-effective and efficient
and should be consistent with the workings of the institutions and
with the criteria required by the Commission on Colleges of the
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
2. Reporting the Information:
a. Institutions should be required to measure the skills and knowledge
students acquire, at least in the core competencies, during their
college career that are beyond or in addition to those the student
brought from high school--where they begin and where they are when
they have completed the work for their degree. The institutions
should calculate and report the "value added," or longitudinal change,
in their students by attendance and graduation.
b. The State Council of Higher Education should report, as a part of
its Report of Institutional Effectiveness described in the Accountability
section of this report, the percentage of an institution's graduates
that meets the performance expectations established for each core
competency and, if a higher institutional standard is employed,
the percentage of graduates meeting that higher standard along with
an explanation of the higher standard.
c. Institutions should report the percent of matriculating students participating
in the assessment of the core competencies, the percent of graduating
students participating, and average scores or ratings on each assessment
instrument. All of this information, from each of the institutions,
in order to be useful, should be compiled in a single, concise report
that presents the information in a uniform format throughout. Accomplishments
should be reported in the context of institutional mission, the
institution's strategic plan, and specific goals.
3. Assuring the Integrity of the Degree:
a. The Commonwealth should continue to encourage the diverse assessment
of degree programs already being conducted by individual colleges
and universities. Each institution should require every department
or college offering a degree to state the general skills and abilities
that holders of that degree can be expected to possess. These expectations
might include standards in general education beyond the minimum
established in the core competencies for the system as a whole,
in addition to those in the specialty. Statements of the requirements
for the degree should include a rationale for each requirement and
a statement of how fulfillment of that requirement is accomplished
b. Each institution should assure the integrity of each of its degree
programs by publishing and circulating widely the statement of specialized
skills and knowledge a graduate of each degree program is expected
to attain, along with the results of the outcomes assessment used
to measure the success of the program.
c. The State Council of Higher Education should periodically review the
accuracy of selected statements of specialized skills and knowledge
and the validity of the assessment tools being used to measure student
mastery. The institution shall provide evidence of its accomplishment
of the stated goals by means of
d. universal or random-sample comprehensive examinations;
i) student portfolios of work to be reviewed by a State Council of Higher
Education-appointed outside examining committee
ii) data about its students' achievements;
iii) senior capstone courses or projects; iv) national program accreditations;
v) a degree-evaluation retrospective by alumni who graduated two years
earlier (printed forms sent to a random sample and/or focus groups);
vi) surveys of employers hiring graduates; or
vii) some combination of the above or other measures acceptable to the
institutions and the State Council of Higher Education. (This list
is intended to be suggestive only and by no means exclusive; there
is a vast array of assessment tools available for measuring student
PROPOSED STATEMENT OF ROLE AND RESPONSIBILITIES
1. Selection and Oversight of the President - Annual Performance Reviews
This is the single most important duty of a board. The board should
have a policy outlining a presidential search process that reflects
the importance of this duty. The board should control the process
and should be responsible for developing and narrowing its own list
of candidates. The selection of a president should be premised upon
the mission and strategic goals that already express the board's
vision for the institution. Every board also bears responsibility
for oversight of the president's performance. Review of the president's
performance should occur annually pursuant to an agreed upon process
and agreed upon goals and measures. Those goals and measures should
be directly related to the priorities developed for the institution
in the strategic planning process. The president reports only to
the board. It is up to the board to be certain that the president
is implementing its policies and accomplishing its goals for the
institution effectively and efficiently.
2. Mission--Examination, Redefinition if Necessary, and Expression A
board of visitors serves in a policymaking role. The board is the
body ultimately responsible for the institution. The board must
make certain that the institution's mission reflects and directs
the relative commitment to undergraduate, graduate, and/or professional
programs, as well as the desired balance between teaching, research,
and service. An institution's mission should drive the development
of a strategic plan and should be reflected in budgets and personnel
3. Strategic Planning for Accomplishment of Mission--Setting Goals and
Priorities Boards of visitors are responsible for leading the institution
in an ongoing strategic planning process. In conjunction with the
president, and in consultation with faculty and other internal groups,
as well as external constituencies, the board must develop priorities
and goals necessary to the accomplishment of the institution's mission.
In order to make decisions about the allocation of resources, boards
must have priorities; in order to measure success, boards must set
goals for accomplishment of those priorities.
4. Development of Institutional Budgets that Reflect the Mission Driven
Priorities Defined by the Board The board should review and approve
the process by which the institution's budget will be formulated
and hold its president and administration accountable for directing
a process that seeks input from the board early and often. The budget
should reflect the priorities developed for the institution in the
strategic planning process. The board must make clear and make certain
that high priority programs are allocated sufficient resources and,
if resources must be reallocated to do so, that the reallocation
is from low priority or non-productive areas. The board is responsible
for ensuring that the institution's mission and priorities are visible
in and expressed through its budget.
5. Academic Integrity of the Institution The board must protect and advance
the academic quality of the education offered by its institution.
In doing so, the board should consider several issues, including
admission standards, graduation requirements, and issues related
to academic quality, such as grade inflation, faculty productivity
and priorities, use of technology in the classroom, and faculty
development and incentives for outstanding teaching. The board should
consider all of these issues in the context of an institution's
6. Oversight of Affiliated Foundations--Priorities for Fundraising and
Expenditures Should be Consistent with Mission and Goals Set by
Board for Institution As set forth by Attorney General Baliles'
1983 memorandum, all private funds donated to an institution's private
affiliated foundations are private dollars committed to a public
purpose. Boards of visitors must assure that funds committed to
benefit a public institution of higher education are applied in
a manner consistent with the mission, priorities, and goals of that
institution. Regular detailed reporting of expenditures should be
required and carefully reviewed. In addition, private affiliated
entities use the name and relationships of the institution in their
fundraising efforts. Boards of visitors should be fully informed
and approve of the activities undertaken in their name and on their
7. Audit Planning and Review An institution's internal auditor should
report directly to the board of visitors or a committee of the board.
The board can use the audit function for a variety of purposes.
A careful review of financial audits will reveal whether or not
the institution's actual allocation of resources is consistent with
the board's priorities and with the financial position of the institution.
In addition, audits allow the board to ensure that good business
practices are in place and a part of the campus culture. With purposeful
use of internal audits, boards can select accountability measures,
review results accomplished, and determine how effectively its policies
have been implemented.
8. Assuring Fiscal Efficiency--Minimizing Costs without Sacrificing
Quality The board is ultimately responsible for the cost-effective
operation of its institution. It should use all of the tools at
its command to assure itself that, and to create a culture where,
every taxpayer's, student/parent's, and private dollar is used wisely
and well. Boards should articulate to those on the campus that more
efficient use of the dollars makes more dollars available for the
education of more students. In addition, decisions with regard to
enrollment and tuition and fees must not be allowed to place a college
education beyond the reach of the average citizen.