Coordinating Commission Executive Director Marshall Hill has played a prominent role in a select national group responsible for plans that will streamline regulations and allow universities and colleges to more easily offer online courses across the country.
The Commission on the Regulation of Postsecondary Distance Education last week released a report that seeks to free higher education institutions from the maze of costly, inefficient and inconsistent regulations and laws in different states that often make it difficult to offer online courses to students who reside outside an institution’s home state. The report outlines an interstate reciprocity system to address this issue. The plan also sets in place consumer protections to safeguard students.
This commission included roughly 20 higher education leaders from across the country, including state officials, regional accreditors and federal regulators. Hill, who also serves as chair of the State Higher Education Executive Officers executive committee, was a vocal and active member of this group, which formed in May 2012.
While the plan is based on the voluntary participation of states and institutions, it is expected to be widely adopted across the country since the proposal was developed by a diverse group of leaders representing the full spectrum of stakeholders in postsecondary distance education policy.
There currently is legislation pending in the Nebraska Legislature that would authorize the Coordinating Commission to enter into such reciprocity agreements on behalf of the state. Originally introduced as Legislative Bill 467, this legislation is now included as an amendment – AM 852 – to Legislative Bill 331. LB 331 has been designated as a Speaker Priority Bill.
> Press release from Commission on the Regulation of Postsecondary Distance Education
> Full report
The Coordinating Commission has received applications from Bryan College of Health Sciences and the University of South Dakota to offer new degree programs and courses in Nebraska.
Bryan College of Health Sciences seeks authorization to offer an Education Doctorate in Nursing Education and a Baccalaureate of Science in Health Professions-Healthcare Studies.
The University of South Dakota seeks authorization to offer a master of arts in Speech-Language Pathology, three graduate courses in Reading Recovery®, and a course in Science, Culture and History of the Missouri River.
The commission will consider the applications at its April 25 meeting, to be held at Southeast Community College in Lincoln.
The Coordinating Commission has offered testimony on 15 higher-education-related bills being considered this session of the state legislature. Executive Director Marshall A. Hill spoke on behalf of the commission. Below is a summary of those bills, as well as a link to the commission’s submitted testimony.
- LB 47 – Proponent – Change provisions related to career academies
- LB 116 – Neutral – Create dual-enrollment requirements
- LB 162 – Proponent – Establish process for reverse-transfer notification
- LB 163 – Proponent – Require an annual report on workforce needs and education credentials
- LB 331 – Proponent – Revise provisions for Nebraska Opportunity Grant
- LB 332 – Proponent – Revise provisions for Access College Early grant program
- LB 367 – Neutral – Adopt the Twenty-First Century Developmental Education Act
- LB 465 – Opponent – Adopt the College Choice Grant Program
- LB 466 – Proponent – Make technical adjustments to the Coordinating Commission’s out-of-state institution approval process
- LB 467 – Proponent – Add to Coordinating Commission’s authority relating to online offerings
- LB 478 – Opponent – Make revisions to the Access College Early grant program
- LB 480 – Neutral – Create the Nebraska Career Technical Education Grant Program
- LB 491 – Opponent – Make revisions to Nebraska Opportunity Grant
- LB 546 – Neutral – Make changes to process of review and approval of revenue-bond projects
- LB 651 – Opponent – Eliminate property tax funding for community colleges
The commission will testify on two more bills (LB 334 and LB 400) on March 18, and one bill (LB 497) on March 19.
UPDATE (March 19, 2013): The Commission has testified on its final three bills of the 2013 session:
- LB 334 – Proponent – Appropriates additional funds for Nebraska Opportunity Grant
- LB 400 – Neutral – Appropriates additional funds for state’s community colleges
- LB 497 – Neutral – Ends current provisions allocating lottery funds to Education Innovation Fund and Nebraska Opportunity Grant on June 30, 2016, and calls for a study of potential uses of those
The Nebraska Unicameral has been in session since the first week of January. Since then, senators have introduced more than 20 bills that would directly impact higher-education in Nebraska.
The Commission is required by statute to recommend legislation deemed necessary to improve higher education in Nebraska, as well as to provide information and advice to the Legislature.
During the legislative session, the Commission regularly produces a Legislative Update that tracks higher-ed bills of interest, including those proposed by the Commission.
The Coordinating Commission at its Jan. 24 meeting voted to fund through a federal grant program four projects designed to improve teachers’ content knowledge and professional skills.
The Commission administers the Improving Teacher Quality (ITQ) grants for Nebraska. These grants are designed to help increase student achievement by providing educators with professional development activities to improve their knowledge and teaching skills. The grants provide funds to partnerships established between Nebraska postsecondary institutions and high-need, low-income local education agencies (LEAs), most often school districts. The partners use the funds for specific projects pertaining to core academic subjects.
A full list and descriptions of the selected programs, as well as the funding they’ll receive, can be found on the Commission website. Programs will benefit teachers from school districts across the state.
Ben Civic has joined the Coordinating Commission as its new director of the College Access Challenge Grant.
Civic, a Rhode Island native, earned his bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of Colorado at Boulder and his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Nebraska College of Law. Civic brings a variety of experience to the Commission, including time spent as a federal grain inspector and a legal intern at The Mediation Center.
The College Access Challenge Grant is a federally funded program designed to increase the number of underrepresented students who enter and remain in postsecondary education. The Governor has designated the Coordinating Commission as the State of Nebraska’s administer of this grant.
Civic also will administer the Commission’s ACE Plus scholarship program as part of his duties.
The Coordinating Commission recently submitted to the Governor and Legislature its postsecondary operating budget and capital construction recommendations for the 2013-15 biennium.
The commission has constitutional responsibility to review and modify the biennial budget requests of Nebraska‟s public postsecondary institutions and make recommendations on those requests to the Governor and Legislature. Through this review, the commission can assure consistency with the Comprehensive Statewide Plan for Higher Education and promote effective use of state funds in support of public postsecondary education in Nebraska. The Commission reviews budgets and makes its recommendations in October of every even-numbered year.
Similarly, the commission reviews the biennial capital construction requests of the University of Nebraska, the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture and the Nebraska State College System. With its statewide perspective, the commission provides a unified prioritization of all approved capital construction requests. The commission makes these recommendations to the Governor and Legislature at the same time it makes recommendations on budget requests.
Both the budget and the capital construction reports are now available on the commission website.