Morrow part of group invited to White House to discuss financial aid issues

The Coordinating Commission’s Ritchie Morrow recently met with White House officials in Washington, D.C., to discuss a variety of student financial aid issues, including those that may result from the potential re-authorization of the federal Higher Education Act.

Morrow, the commission’s financial aid coordinator, was part of a group representing the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs (NASSGAP). Morrow is currently serving as president of NASSGAP, which funded the trip to D.C.

Morrow and the NASSGAP group met with James Kvaal, the deputy director of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council, and Ajita Talwalker, considered one of the White House’s top higher-education advisors.

Morrow administers the Access College Early scholarship program and the Nebraska Opportunity Grant. Combined, the two programs award more than $15 million annually to Nebraska students.

Bishop appointed to Court of Appeals, resigns commissioner post

Coordinating Commission Vice Chair Riko Bishop of Lincoln has been appointed to the Nebraska Court of Appeals, 1st District. As a result, Bishop resigned as a commissioner, a post she held since 2007.

Bishop most recently worked as an attorney with Perry, Guthery, Haase & Gessford, P.C., L.L.O. Her work has focused on general civil litigation and appeals, with the last five years focused primarily on domestic matters, worker’s compensation, and school law issues.

Bishop represented the 1st District as a member of the coordinating commission. The 1st District covers Lancaster and Seward Counties. Commission members are appointed by the governor and approved by the legislature.

Clark Anderson of Lincoln has replaced Bishop as vice chair of the commission.

Hill resigns as executive director of Coordinating Commission

Marshall Hill has resigned as executive director of Nebraska’s Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education. Dr. Hill, who joined the commission in 2005, will now serve as the executive director of the Colorado-based organization charged with the national initiative to make distance education courses more accessible to students across state lines. The initiative – known as the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, or SARA – will create interstate reciprocity in the regulation of postsecondary distance education.

Dr. Hill’s final day with the commission was Aug. 15. The executive committee of the commission appointed Dr. Carna Pfeil, the commission’s associate director for finance and administration, as interim executive director. The full commission will ratify this appointment at its Sept. 19 meeting.

The coordinating commission is an independent state agency, with duties and responsibilities specified in the state constitution. The commission is governed by a board of 11 commissioners from throughout the state, appointed by the governor and approved by the legislature. The commissioners are responsible for hiring the commission’s executive director.

Dr. Hill can be reached in his new position at

Kaplan University seeks authorization for new offering; Commission approves Herzing request

The Coordinating Commission has received an application from Kaplan University-Omaha to offer a new degree program in Nebraska.

Kaplan seeks authorization to offer a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) in Pre-licensure Nursing.

The commission will consider Kaplan’s application at its Aug. 1, 2013 meeting at Central Community College in Grand Island Sept. 19 meeting in Lincoln.

UPDATE 6/13/2013: Omaha School of Massage and Healthcare of Herzing University sought authorization to offer an associate of science degree and diploma in Chiropractic Technician. The commission approved Herzing’s application at its June 13, 2013 meeting at Western Nebraska Community College in Scottsbluff.

Hill plays key role in national plan to streamline online authorization

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.

Additional information:

> Press release from Commission on the Regulation of Postsecondary Distance Education

Full report

Bryan College of Health Sciences, University of South Dakota seek authorization for new offerings

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.

Commission offers testimony on higher-ed bills

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 47Proponent – Change provisions related to career academies
  • LB 116Neutral – Create dual-enrollment requirements
  • LB 162Proponent – Establish process for reverse-transfer notification
  • LB 163Proponent – Require an annual report on workforce needs and education credentials
  • LB 331Proponent – Revise provisions for Nebraska Opportunity Grant
  • LB 332Proponent – Revise provisions for Access College Early grant program
  • LB 367Neutral – Adopt the Twenty-First Century Developmental Education Act
  • LB 465Opponent – Adopt the College Choice Grant Program
  • LB 466Proponent – Make technical adjustments to the Coordinating Commission’s out-of-state institution approval process
  • LB 467Proponent – Add to Coordinating Commission’s authority relating to online offerings
  • LB 478Opponent – Make revisions to the Access College Early grant program
  • LB 480Neutral – Create the Nebraska Career Technical Education Grant Program
  • LB 491Opponent – Make revisions to Nebraska Opportunity Grant
  • LB 546Neutral – Make changes to process of review and approval of revenue-bond projects
  • LB 651Opponent – 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 334Proponent – Appropriates additional funds for Nebraska Opportunity Grant
  • LB 400Neutral – Appropriates additional funds for state’s community colleges
  • LB 497Neutral – 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