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Recommendations 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 Committee;

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 and implementation.

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 itself.

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 fundraising efforts.

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 and consequences.

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 activities.

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 and restraint.

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 enrollment increases.

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 mission.

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 factors.

35. Funding decisions should continue to reflect the Commonwealth's commitment to forward-looking and cost-effective investments in science and technology.

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 system.

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 mission.

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 recommendations).

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 institutions.

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 communities.

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. ACCOUNTABILITY

57. The Governor and the General Assembly should support and maintain Virginia's system of independent institutions with individual governing boards.

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 efforts.

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.


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 year.

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 and assessed.

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 learning outcomes.)


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 policies.

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 strategic plan.

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 behalf.

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.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Please contact University News Services at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: Montpelier


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