Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Jim Petro Thursday charted a new course for higher education in the state, presenting a plan allowing Ohio's 14 public universities to be free from mandates which stifle efficiency and innovation.
"Ohio's universities are a driver of economic development in the state. By allowing our universities to be free from mandates and operate as an enterprise of the state, Ohioans gain increased efficiency, effectiveness, and competitiveness that will help drive our 21st Century economy," said Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Jim Petro.
This summer the Ohio General Assembly and governor passed a State operating budget which takes bold steps toward improving Ohio's already great universities. Historic construction reform, commercialization expansion, and the ability for universities to enter into lease-back agreements were accomplished to help universities realize cost savings. The Enterprise University Plan, in concert with the tuition cap and the three-year degree program, is aimed at giving universities freedom to innovate while helping keep university costs manageable for Ohio families.
While keeping in place the tuition cap of 3.5% per year for the two-year budget, The Enterprise University Plan can:
The Enterprise University Plan would remove mandates. For example: The Plan would eliminate statutory enrollment limits for public universities, eliminate the requirement that the state controlling board must approve funds for the purchase of real property and allow universities to discount tuition to maximize the utilization of campus facilities.
"With a stagnant population we can no longer delay taking bold action to allow our public universities to drive economic development through innovation. By implementing the proposals in this report, the Ohio General Assembly can take the next step to ushering in a return to prosperity in the Buckeye state," said Petro.
The Enterprise University Plan consists of two phases that will each require enacting legislation:
Phase One provides all of Ohio's 14 public universities with the reduction of mandates and regulations. Universities will be asked to submit three reports that will help the Board of Regents and the state better determine campus and technology utilization, and their impact on Ohio through jobs placement.
Examples of mandate relief:
Phase Two provides a framework for Ohio's 14 public universities to receive greater autonomy from the state through further reduction of mandates. Universities which agree to strive for aspirational benchmarks measuring fiscal and academic stability can enter into an agreement with the Board of Regents to become an Enterprise University. As part of this agreement a university would agree to invest a portion of their State Share of Instruction (SSI). One proposal calls for this investment to be made to the Preeminent Scholars Award Foundation.
Enterprise Universities which meet very high benchmarks measuring fiscal and academic stability would be eligible to advance to International Enterprise University status. These universities will receive the highest level of autonomy through the reduction of mandates and duplicative oversight. These agreements require universities to sustain maintenance of effort that could raise benchmark standards.
Benchmarks to Earn International Enterprise University status are:
The Board of Regents will work with universities, the Ohio General Assembly and the governor's office to aggressively pursue a culture of continuous improvement at Ohio's universities to ensure the maximum benefit for Ohio and its economy.
Throughout the process of creating The Enterprise University Plan, care has been taken to engage key stakeholders including meeting with the American Association of University Professors, the Inter-University Council and the administrations of Ohio's public institutions. Input will be sought through the upcoming legislative process.