HECC meets with leaders at SOU

, Posted: Thu, June 12 2014 at 3:13 PM, Updated: Fri, June 13 2014 at 9:41 AM

Ashland, Ore. -- Southern Oregon University leaders met with members of the Higher Education Coordinating Commission to talk about the future of Oregon's new education system.

The HECC was appointed by the Governor Kitzhaber and will replace the Board of Education in order to revamp the states university system.

HECC will oversee policy and funding for Oregon's educations system but each of the states seven universities will develop individual boards to guide their respective futures.

Ben Cannon, the Executive Director, of the Higher Education Coordinating Commission explained the groups role.

"It means that the state is dedicated to supporting student success but not micro managing institutions. That responsibility of governing local public universities and community colleges, the state rests within institutional boards. The state, (HECC) is responsible for funding them. In other words, create incentives and support systems."

The commission admits it will not be able to change Oregon's troubled education system alone. Oregon lawmakers will need to follow through with their recommendations.

Peter Buckley, who represents Oregon's Southern district said,
" HECC will recommend a budget distribution but it's still up to the legislators to come up with the funding and I am cautiously optimistic that 2015 is the year for higher education in Oregon.

In 2013 SOU's president announced a four-million dollar shortfall and that the process of retrenchment would begin. That process dissolved 32 of the university's programs and eliminated 25 faculty members.  

However, even with the  current crisis state funding is still less than it used to be. A year from now an oversight board of trustees will be created and eventually give the university the power to model its own destiny.

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