Monday, February 14, 2005
Autonomy bills taking shape
The latest from our Blue Ridge Caucus politics blog
From The Roanoke Times
Virginia's public colleges and universities are asking the state to loosen some of their bureaucratic ties. By reducing red tape, college officials argue, the institutions can increase efficiency and reinvest the saved money into underfunded campus programs.
The Virginia General Assembly has two largely similar "restructuring" proposals on the table. Both plans would offer colleges three different levels of autonomy. At the lowest level, smaller schools would gain additional freedom to pay employees, contract for goods and services and dispose of surplus property. Larger, more structurally complex universities like Virginia Tech could seek the highest level of freedom from state reporting and pre-approval requirements. Each school would negotiate with state officials to achieve significant administrative independence while remaining a public university.
In return, all participating colleges would have to prepare detailed, six-year plans that spell out their tuition and fee estimates, enrollment projections and academic goals. The governor and General Assembly would retain the right to revoke those flexibilities if colleges fail to abide by their six-year plans.
Small groups of lawmakers, working closely with college representatives, will likely hammer out a compromise during the next two weeks.
- Kevin Miller