CBHE Meets, Higher Education Moves Forward

(JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.) -The Coordinating Board for Higher Education (CBHE), along with presidents and chancellors from Missouri"s postsecondary institutions, met on the campus of Bryan College in Springfield on Thursday to discuss a variety of issues on the horizon for higher education.

Updates were provided on the readiness of the Missouri Department of Higher Education (MDHE) to put into practice the provisions contained within Senate Bill 389, slated for enactment into law on August 28, 2007. The fast track implementation efforts to have all components in alignment for the execution of Access Missouri as the state's new need-based financial assistance program were reported to be on track and on budget. To provide for a smoother transition into the new program, the Coordinating Board also directed Higher Education Commissioner Dr. Robert Stein to file administrative rules to provide uniform and standard parameters for eligibility and definitions for operation.

In a separate agenda item, the board also adopted a revised policy for institutional requests for capital improvement funds. The revisions, stemming from the work of a community college working group, include language that specifies maintenance and repair projects are to be funded through the institutions' operating budgets. The revised policy also states that a list of capital improvement funding requests for community colleges will be separate from the list for public universities. The intent of the revised policy is to provide guidelines that reach across the sectors to work for all public institutions. These revisions will serve as a foundation for FY2009 capital funding requests.

The board also heard testimony from respected higher education finance expert Brenda Albright. She offered insight into the challenges and opportunities for establishing an effective higher education funding formula that will be used to request appropriations for Missouri's public colleges and universities during the legislative process. Ms. Albright recently met with members of the newly formed Higher Education Funding Formula (HEFF) task force to provide a national context for the undertaking of such an endeavor. Members of the HEFF Task Force will present their recommendations to the CBHE within the next year.

In closing statements Dr. Stein noted, "Higher education is now clearly on the radar screen for the important role it plays in shaping the direction of our state’s future. In order to better serve Missouri citizens, our students, and our communities, post-secondary education must work to be more accountable, more accessible, and more affordable. I look forward to our entire sector moving forward and working collaboratively toward realizing that goal."