Overview

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About the Council on Postsecondary Education

The Council on Postsecondary Education is an independent public corporation vested with the responsibility of providing oversight for the system of public higher education in Rhode Island. This system consists of three public institutions of higher learning, the University of Rhode Island (URI), Rhode Island College (RIC), and the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI), along with the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner. The Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner, which operates under the direction of the Commissioner of Postsecondary Education, is the administrative and research arm of the Rhode Island Council on Postsecondary Education. 

The Council has eight voluntary members, along with the Chair of the Board of Education ex-officio and one non-voting student member. Council members are appointed by the Governor and serve three-year terms, except for the student member who serves a two-year term (see RIGL §16-59-2).

 

History

In 2013, the Rhode Island General Assembly created the Board of Education to foster coordinated and innovative policymaking and planning across the entire PK-20 public education system in our state. Created together in 2014, the Council on Postsecondary Education and the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education comprise the Board of Education. This consolidated governance structure replaced the Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education and the Board of Governors for Higher Education.

The Rhode Island Council on Postsecondary Education is the successor to the Rhode Island Board of Governors of Higher Education, which emerged from a previous reorganization of governance. In 1981, the General Assembly effectively divided the Board of Regents, then responsible for education from kindgergarten through the graduate level, into two governing units -- the Board of Regents, which retained responsibility for Elementary/Secondary Education, and the Board of Governors, which was given responsibility for higher education.

 

Mission

The mission of the Council on Postsecondary Education is to provide an excellent, efficient, accessible and affordable system of higher education designed to improve the overall educational attainment of Rhode Islanders and thereby enrich the intellectual, economic, social and cultural life of the state, its residents, and its communities.

 

Duties of the Council on Postsecondary Education 

The Council is the state's legal entity for public higher education, and as such, it has the capacity to sue and be sued, to employ personnel, to own real property, and to engage in collective bargaining. In addition, the Council has specific powers laid out in RIGL §16-59-4:

 

Information and Planning
  • Approve a systematic program of information gathering, processing, and analysis addressed to every level of higher education in Rhode Island
  • Develop and approve a strategic plan implementing broad goals and objectives for higher education in the state as established by the Board of Education, including a comprehensive capital development program
  • Formulate broad policy to implement the goals and objectives of the Board of Education

 

Supervision
  • Adopt standards and require enforcement and exercise general supervision over all public higher education in the state and over independent higher education in the state 
  • Not engage in the operation or administration of any subordinate committee, university, junior college, or community college, except its own office of postsecondary education and except as specifically authorized by an act of the General Assembly, provided, the presidents of each institution of higher learning shall be the chief administrative and executive officers of that institution 
  • Communicate with and seek the advice of the Commissioner of Postsecondary Education, the presidents of the public higher education institutions and all those concerned with and affected by its determinations as a regular procedure in arriving at its conclusions and in setting precedent
  • Govern the Division of Higher Education Assistance and exercise all powers and duties of the Division of Higher Education Assistance

 

Budget
  • Prepare and maintain a 5-year funding plan for higher education that implements the strategic financial recommendations of the Board of Education
  • Prepare, with the assistance of the Commissioner of Postsecondary Education, and present annually to the State Budget Office a higher education budget – which shall include the budget of the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner and of the state colleges. Prior to submitting the budget to the State Budget Office, the Council shall present the budget to the Board of Education for its review and approval.

 

Appointments and Staffing
  • Maintain an Office of Postsecondary Commissioner; provide for its staffing and organization; and manage and oversee a Commissioner of Postsecondary Education (pursuant to duties defined in §16-59-6)
  • Appoint/dismiss presidents with assistance of the Commissioner of Postsecondary Education
  • Approve/disapprove vice presidents of the public institutions of higher education with assistance of the Commissioner of Postsecondary Education
  • Appoint, with approval of the Board, a Commissioner of Postsecondary Education to serve as the Chief Executive Officer of the Council, Chief Administrative Officer of the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner, and Executive Director of the Division of Higher Education Assistance (the Governor also serves as an additional voting member of the Council for this appointment, pursuant to RIGL §16-59-6)
  • Delegate to the presidents the authority and responsibility for operational and management decisions related to their institutions, consistent with the goals of the statewide strategic plan for postsecondary education, provided that president may be required to provide information on updates to the Council