Governor may appoint chancellor for higher ed

Tim Magaw

Gov. Ted Strickland is trying to assert more power over higher education in Ohio, and he’s attempting to do so by taking away one of the Ohio Board of Regents’ main functions — appointing the chancellor.

The Board of Regents is a nine-member coordinating board that provides higher education policy advice to the governor and the Ohio General Assembly. The chancellor carries out the policies of the board.

“(The chancellor) advocates for and manages state funding for public colleges and universities,” said Jamie Abel, assistant director of communications and spokesman for the board.

A bill was introduced Tuesday that would transfer the appointment of the chancellor to the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. This would make the Board of Regents an advisory board to the chancellor. The bill also calls for the transfer of the board’s duties to the chancellor.

President Lester Lefton said the impact of that kind of move cannot be determined until that person’s particular responsibilities are lined out. However, he said the prospect of having an adviser in the governor’s cabinet is not a bad idea.

“Having an informed, knowledgeable adviser for higher education in the governor’s cabinet is possibly a reasonable and responsible move on the part of Gov. Strickland,” Lefton said.

Earlier this month, the Board of Regents offered its own set of proposals. In a statement, Board Chair Donna Alvarado said the proposals are intended to address concerns about higher education, especially in the areas affordability, accountability and efficiency.

“It has become clear during our deliberations that the current higher education structure and authority granted to the board are no longer adequate to achieve desired outcomes for Ohio,” Alvarado said in a prepared statement.

Some of the Board’s proposals are:

– The governor should serve at the direction of the board.

– The governor should have the opportunity to name a board member shortly after taking office.

– The board should be able to consolidate “duplicative” degree programs.

– The board should be able to set tuition ranges.

Lefton said capping tuition and setting ranges is neither effective nor efficient. Each institution is different, and some of these decisions should be made by the individual institution, he said.

“The Board of Regents doesn’t have the in-depth information about the individual schools the way each school’s board of trustees does,” Lefton said.

Contact administration reporter Tim Magaw at [email protected].