CBHE Meets, Moves to Adopt New Policies

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Members of the Coordinating Board for Higher Education (CBHE), along with its college presidential advisory committee, met Thursday on the River Campus of Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau. In a meeting that also provided budgetary and legislative updates, the board voted on a series of reports that will significantly impact the landscape of higher education in Missouri.

Considerable movement was realized in the CBHE's statutory responsibility of establishing and maintaining a coordinated plan for higher education throughout the state. With ongoing collaboration from presidents, chancellors, and designees representing all sectors of Missouri's postsecondary education system, a framework has been developed to strategically plan a course for higher education. That plan, while embracing the various missions of Missouri's colleges and universities, will focus on raising educational attainment and ultimately strengthening the economic vitality of our state. The board voted to adopt the plan in a provisional status, and announced plans for a specially convened meeting to be held in July to finalize the document, remove its provisional status, and officially authorize it as board policy. Next steps dictate developing clear operational measures, baselines, benchmarks, and targets that will provide indicators of progress to serve as accurate measurement of the plan's objectives.

Complementing the objectives established within the coordinated plan, the board also reviewed and approved the Higher Education Funding (HEF) Task Force's recommendation for new funding policies that will be used when requesting appropriations for Missouri's public colleges and universities during the annual legislative budget process. HEF's approach implements a business plan that communicates the value of higher education in our state and addresses how key needs would be met when funded adequately. With extensive support provided by COPHE (Council on Public Higher Education), MCCA (Missouri Community College Association), and Linn State Technical College, the task force recommendation sets the highest priority as funding our institutions' core missions. Strategic initiatives and funding based on performance are the next priorities, respectively. The commissioner of higher education will continue to work with presidents and chancellors to identify and collect relevant information for developing a FY 2010 budget request for the CBHE to review at its September, 2008 meeting.

The board also approved the Curriculum Alignment Initiative (CAI) Report. Driven by Senate Bill 389 and a need to provide clear and consistent messages to students in the education pipeline, the goal of CAI is to develop competencies for first general education courses in key disciplines. In another collaborative effort recognizing the perspective of all sectors of higher education, CAI is composed of a steering committee that oversees educator workgroups representing seven key academic areas of discipline: Arts and Humanities, Engineering and Technology, English and Communications, Foreign Languages, Mathematics, Sciences, and Social Sciences. Entry level competencies were developed in six of these areas and exit level competencies for 13 courses were also identified. Additionally, optimal competencies are in progress for professional fields involving math, engineering, technology, and science (METS). In approving the report, the board acknowledged the ongoing work required to fully realize the goals of CAI and agreed to continue toward developing assessments for both entry- and exit-level competencies, completing review of the mathematics gap analysis between CAI competencies and K-12 standards, and developing course level exit competencies beyond the initial 13. Efforts will also be undertaken to effectively publicize competencies.

The meeting was the first for newly appointed board members Dr. Helen Washburn and Mary Beth Luna Wolf. Washburn, from Columbia, is a Democratic appointment from Missouri's ninth Congressional District, and Republican Luna Wolf of St. Louis represents the third district.

The CBHE convenes for five scheduled meetings per year at locations throughout the state. The next regularly scheduled meeting will be held September 11, 2008, at Central Methodist University in Fayette. Board books featuring all agenda items, as well as approved official meeting minutes, may be found on the MDHE Website at http://www.dhe.mo.gov/cbheindex.html.