Last year the legislature was considering SB854, a bill to strengthen state oversight of the university’s and boards it established with SB270. The boards and their lobbyists – who ironically are mostly paid with student tuition – were able to weaken the bill to the point it died in committee, but the boards did agree to a report on the effectiveness of the boards. Originally UO offered to pay for the report, but in the end they were able to get the consultants they wanted without even having to put up the money.
The state hired Carol Cartwright of AGB. Cartwright is a former president of Kent State and Bowling Green who now makes her living consulting on governance issues. She’s also on the NCAA cartel’s Infractions Committee, doling out punishments to athletes and schools with the bad luck to get caught taking or giving impermissible benefits. (The co-consultant was a Richard Novak, who from my interactions was well meaning but not in charge.)
AGB and Cartwright know who butters their bread, and the report paints the boards as doing a heck of a job, except for a few presidential hiring slip-ups at OSU, PSU, OIT, etc., which are glossed over.
Apparently the problem is not the boards, it’s the rest of the state – students, staff, faculty, and legislators. They just don’t understand their place in shared governance. AGB’s recommended solution? Take away what little power the HECC and the legislature has and give it to the Council of Presidents.
I can’t imagine the sponsors and supporters of SB 854 are happy with this report, or that it’s done anything to increase their trust in the boards or confidence in the system the legislature bought into with SB 270.
Full report here, some snippets below:
The HECC executive director and senior staff and chair of the commission should seek
enhanced opportunities to meet regularly and informally with the university presidents
and the boards of trustees. The purposes of such meetings should be an open
exchange of ideas among leaders and ways to seek clarity on any impending HECC
initiative, study, or statewide plans and goals.
HECC’s responsibility as a convener of leaders and experts to devise solutions to the
state’s educational challenges, such as efforts on Oregon’s educational attainment
goals, cannot be underestimated or dismissed. The necessity to overcome barriers
facing today’s students requires HECC’s collaborative, systemic approach that spans
the State’s higher education’s sectors. But as a strategy for tackling future critical
issues, HECC might consider the advantages of having a college or university assume
or be assigned as the lead institution, with HECC becoming an equal partner with the
participating colleges and universities. Likewise, the Legislature should not overburden HECC with new mandated studies or activities. It’s admirable that HECC has the Legislature’s confidence, but the Council of Presidents or an ad hoc group of university and community college leaders (including board members) could assume responsibility for specific assignments and would likely welcome the opportunity to demonstrate leadership on postsecondary issues of key statewide significance.
In other words AGB and Cartwright think the legislature should give oversight of the state’s universities to the state university presidents who are appointed by the boards. This would be incest, not oversight.