Regents board member takes issue with governor's proposal

A Board of Regents member said the body should have a little more power.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Ohio Board of Regents member Bruce Beeghly doesn't think the governor's plan to have the chancellor of higher education become a Cabinet appointee reporting directly to him is a good idea.
Beeghly, a former Youngstown State University trustee, said he thinks the chancellor's job should remain where it is -- appointed and controlled by the Ohio Board of Regents.
He also said instead of weakening the regents' power, the Legislature should give it more selective authority to bring about more collaboration and cooperation among the state's public institutions of higher learning.
The Ohio Board of Regents is the coordinating body for higher education in the state. Created in 1963 by the General Assembly, the 11-member public board, appointed by the governor, has a direct, nongoverning relationship with all of Ohio's colleges and universities and right now is in the process of picking a new chancellor.
The candidate list has been narrowed to six finalists who were scheduled to be interviewed next week, but the Board of Regents has put the search process on hold in light of the proposal announced earlier this week by Gov. Ted Strickland.
Strickland's reasoning
Strickland said he wants better fiscal and quality control over Ohio's system of public colleges and universities and can do that by controlling the chancellor's position.
Strickland is a Democrat but his suggestion for moving the chancellor directly under the control of the governor has Republican support.
Rep. Jon A. Husted, speaker of the House, said that he would also like to see the chancellor report directly to the governor and that a bill will soon be introduced to give the governor that authority.
It's an arrangement that the Board of Regents and others have said is rare.
Beeghly said there are few, if any, other states that have that type of setup.
Under the governor's plan, there is a "potential" for the system to become very politicized, he said.
"The Board of Regents has very few actual powers as it is," Beeghly said, noting that the governor and the Legislature have always controlled the budget and spending.
One of the board's few powers is hiring the chancellor. To take the reporting nature of that job away would largely negate the need for the regents, he said.
Acts as buffer
Over the board's 40 years, it has served a very useful purpose as a buffer between the politicians and those involved in higher education, he said.
The board developed longer-range "big picture" goals for higher education in the state and is the one body in Ohio that looks at higher education statewide, he said.
Each of the 14 public institutions has its own agenda without much regard for what is going on elsewhere, Beeghly said.
He said he hopes the Legislature will take those factors into account and do some careful research into what other states are doing before taking any action.
The state has been pushing collaboration and cooperation among its colleges, and universities and the Legislature should allow the regents to keep the chancellor and give them some additional limited power to foster that same goal of collaboration, particularly in areas of research projects and graduate programs, Beeghly said.
The board is drafting some proposals of its own to present to the governor and Legislature, he said.

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