The newly formed Special Legislative Committee on University Governance began its work on April 12. The committee was created during the 2012 session of the Oregon Legislature and is tasked with creating a legislative framework for institutional boards at universities in the Oregon University System (OUS) that seek such boards and are prepared for institutional governance. Voting members of the committee include state senators Mark Hass (D-Beaverton), Frank Morse (R-Albany), Lee Beyer (D-Springfield), and Fred Girod (R-Stayton), as well as state representatives Mark Johnson (R-Hood River), Michael Dembrow (D-Portland), Sherrie Sprenger (R-Scio), and Val Hoyle (D-West Eugene, Junction City). HB 4061 requires the panel to include two members of the Oregon Education Investment Board (OEIB) to serve in a nonvoting capacity. Governor John Kitzhaber selected OEIB members Matt Donegan (who also serves as the president of the Oregon State Board of Higher Education) and Kay Toran for those positions.
During its first meeting, the committee selected Senator Hass and Representatives Dembrow and Johnson to serve as co-chairs of the committee, and further outlined a plan to meet every other week. The committee received background on HB 4061 and university governance from Dana Richardson, legislative director for Oregon Senate president Peter Courtney. The group decided to focus its initial meetings on examining the current state of university governance and on developing a fuller picture of how the recent reforms encapsulated in SB 909 and SB 242 have impacted the system of governance in the state. SB 909 and SB 242 passed during the 2011 legislative session, created the OEIB, and transformed the Oregon University System from a state agency to a public university system.
In a second meeting on April 26, the committee heard from Paul Kelly, the chair of the Oregon State Board of Higher Education’s committee on governance and policy, regarding the state board’s work to develop a position on institutional governing boards. They also heard from Oregon Student Association legislative director Emma Kallaway and OUS chancellor George Pernsteiner on the subject of tuition setting.
The committee is scheduled to meet again on Thursday, May 10. The Oregon Legislature will live stream online all of the committee meetings. UO interim president Bob Berdahl has been invited to testify at the May 10 hearing along with Portland State University president Wim Wiewel.