Ohio Board Of Regents Rolls Out University De-Regulation Plan

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The two-phase plan proposes virtually de-regulating all 14 Ohio public universities, The Ohio State University included.(Photo: marada (flickr))
The two-phase plan proposes virtually de-regulating all 14 Ohio public universities, The Ohio State University included.(Photo: marada (flickr))

The two-phase plan proposes virtually de-regulating all 14 Ohio public universities. Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Jim Petro said universities are bogged down with duplicate and out-of-date mandates that cost them time and money.

“If universities can operate more nimbly, more flexibly with more freedom of action and recognizing that they are responsible managers and fiduciaries who are providing the governance and oversight. Then I think they will save money, they will have more opportunity to enact policies and procedures that will allow them to partner with businesses whether it be through research or commercialization,” Petro said.

Some of the proposed mandate relief would include ability to set term lengths for board officers, create different tuition and fees for space and facility reasons and eliminate enrollment caps.

Public universities will have the opportunity to receive additional mandate relief by becoming a so-called Enterprise University. As part of an agreement with the Board of Regents, the institution would aspire to reach goals set by the regents.

For schools looking to receive the most autonomy, they would be required to meet certain benchmarks including a five-year graduation rate of 75 percent and first and second year retention rates of 85 percent. They also would be required to give up part of their state money for a new elite scholarship program. These schools in turn would have the right to sell real estate without General Assembly approval and have more leeway on construction projects, among other regulation breaks.

Ann Brennan is chairman of the board from the University of Akron. She said it’s “maybe” an excellent idea.

“Up until now we’ve been used to being a government entity and this is going to be a big change. We need to study it at the University of Akron to see how we fit in the metrics that are being proposed. So I don’t know what we’re going to do,” Brennan said.

Petro said the plan would not make universities less transparent … although it does allow for executive sessions with specified internal auditors and for matters dealing with proprietary information.

The General Assembly has to approve the plans. If it passes, it would take effect next July.

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