Mission & Responsibilities

Mission

The mission of the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner (OPC) is to support the work of the Board of Education and the Council on Postsecondary Education in providing an excellent, accessible and affordable system of higher education designed to improve the overall educational attainment of the citizens of Rhode Island, support economic development, and enrich the civic, social and cultural life of all living in the state of Rhode Island.

 

Scope

The Office serves as the definitive resource for information on and the interpretation of Council policy for public higher education and the postsecondary institutions in Rhode Island that are under the authority of the Council on Postsecondary Education (the University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, and the Community College of Rhode Island). The Office looks for shared opportunities to advance the objectives of postsecondary education with the public and independent institutions.

The Commissioner of Postsecondary Education is the state’s higher education executive officer. In fulfilling this role, the Commissioner for Postsecondary Education works closely with the presidents of the state higher education institutions to determine the benefits or disadvantages of proposed new programs, departments, division, courses of study within the scope and role adopted by the Council on Postsecondary Education and in developing tables of organization. The presidents also prepare and submit budgets to the Council on Postsecondary Education and the Board of Education for approval, and are be responsible for the general management of property.

To accomplish these and additional responsibilities called for in Article 20, the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner relies on the collegial relations and civil discussions among the members of the postsecondary community and with important stakeholders from business, government, and PK-12 education.

 

Roles & Responsibilities

Pursuant to Article 20 of the FY15 appropriation act (RIGL 16-59-1RIGL 16-59-2RIGL 16-59-6 as amended) relating to the Board of Education and the Council on Postsecondary Education, the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner is charged with performing the following duties:  

  • DATA ANALYSIS: Systematically gather, process, and analyze information on all aspects of postsecondary education in Rhode Island, including identifying current and future needs [16-59-6(1)];
  • STRATEGIC PLANNING: Develop a strategic plan encompassing the broad goals and objectives for the state’s higher education system aligned with those of the Board of Education and the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education, and with the activities of the independent higher education sector, where feasible, including a 5-year strategic funding plan [16-59-6(2), [16-59-6(6)];
  • POLICY DEVELOPMENT: Formulate broad policy to implement the goals and objectives established and adopted by the Board of Education and Council on Postsecondary Education promoting coordination between public and independent higher education, PreK-12 education, and other stakeholders [16-59-6(3)], [16-59-6(4)];
  • FISCAL: Assist in budget preparation for public higher education, prepare standard accounting procedures for all public colleges and universities, and, on direction of the Council, be responsible for appropriation allocations and the acquisition, holding, and disposition of property [16-59-6(4)], [16-59-6(12)];
  • REGULATORY & ADMINISTRATIVE: Administer policies, rules, and regulations of the Council on Postsecondary Education including those duties relating to independent higher education institutions in Rhode Island under the terms of RIGL 16-40-1 et seq. and any other relevant laws [16-59-6(10), [16-59-6(11)];
  • ADVOCACY & IMPLEMENTATION: Make recommendations to the Council on Postsecondary Education regarding the mission of each public institution and their programmatic operations and carry out the Council’s policies and priorities [16-59-6(7)], [16-59-6(8)], [16-59-6(9)], [16-59-6(13)].

 

More information on each of these areas of responsibility can be found in the RIOPC Article 20 chart.

 

Division of Higher Education Assistance

The Division of Higher Education Assistance (DHEA) was created in 2015 when the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner assumed the duties, functions, and responsibilities of the Rhode Island Higher Education Assistance Authority (RIHEAA) (RIGL § 16-57-7). DHEA’s mission is to enhance educational access and choice for the residents of Rhode Island. The Division provides financial assistance and advice to students and families about their options for affording higher education.