Governor testifies before Special Committee on University Governance, state board adopts recommendations

On May 22, Governor John Kitzhaber appeared before the Oregon Legislative Assembly’s Special Committee on University Governance to express his support for the process established by the committee to examine institutional boards as well as the concept of providing a pathway for institutional boards for universities that want them. According to the governor, the idea of local boards is consistent with the philosophy expressed in Senate Bills 909 and 242 and the Oregon Education Investment Board (OEIB) that drives responsibility and accountability closer to service delivery. He added that the central question is not whether to establish local boards, but what powers should be vested in those boards and what mecha¬nisms are needed to ensure they continue to serve public interests and fulfill their responsibilities to the people of Oregon. The governor outlined the areas of consideration he felt most important for the committee: tuition-setting, salary and benefits, access to state bonding for capital needs, ownership of existing buildings, purchasing and procurement rules, and employment practices and contracts. The committee also heard from Bob Davies, Eastern Oregon University president, and Mark Weiss, Western Oregon University president.

The committee met again on June 7 to hear from representatives from the office of state treasurer Ted Wheeler and the Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT). Laura Lockwood-McCall, debt management director for the Oregon State Treasury, discussed bonding issues relevant to university governance and Christopher Maples, OIT president, offered his view on institutional boards.

The Oregon State Board of Higher Education also considered the governance issue, ratifying the recommendations of its governance and policy committee on institutional governing boards. State board member Paul Kelly presented the recommendations at previous special committee hearings.