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Meeting of the Board of Regents | January 2008

Tuesday, January 1, 2008 - 9:45am

sed seal                                                                                                 







Johanna Duncan-Poitier




Preliminary Report of the New York State Commission on Higher Education


January 4, 2008


Goals 2 and 4






Issue for Discussion


What are the key findings and recommendations of the Commission on Higher Education and how do they relate to the Regents Statewide Plan for Higher Education and the Regents P-16 Action Plan?


Reason(s) for Consideration


              For Information


Proposed Handling


The item will come before the Higher Education and Professional Practice Committee for discussion at its January 2008 meeting.


Procedural History


On May 29, 2007, the Governor signed an Executive Order creating the New York State Higher Education Commission, charging it to “conduct a review and analysis of New York’s colleges and universities, with particular emphasis on public higher education and the SUNY and CUNY systems.”  Regent Cofield and Commissioner Mills were appointed as members of the Commission.  The Commission’s membership includes faculty, students, and administrators at SUNY, CUNY, and independent institutions, school personnel, and representatives of the private sector.  The Executive Order directed the Commission to make a preliminary report “in a form and with sufficient specificity to assist the Governor and the Legislature in the budgeting process” and to make its final report by June 1, 2008.  It made its preliminary report on December 17, 2007. 


Background Information


Attached is the Executive Summary of the Commission Report and the Summary of Findings and Recommendations.  The Report makes 28 recommendations, grouped in seven categories: Expanding Research Capacity; Connecting Faculty, Researchers and Students to a World of Ideas; Developing a Diverse Workforce; Adapting Quickly to Change; Making Excellence Available to All; Organizing for Excellence; and Resources Required for Excellence.  In general, the recommendations align well with the priorities of the Regents Statewide Plan for Higher Education and the Regents P-16 Action Plan.  The Statewide Plan’s 13 priorities are:


(A1) High Educational Quality,

(A2) Articulation,

(A3) Affordability,

(A4) Closing Performance Gaps,

(A5) Students with Disabilities,

(B6) Preparation for College,

(B7) Information and Assistance in Preparing for College,

(C8) Strong Graduate Programs to Meet the State’s Needs,

(C9) Creation of New Knowledge through Research,

(D10) An Adequate Supply of Qualified Professionals,

(D11) An Adequate Supply of Qualified Teachers, School Leaders, and other School Professionals,

(E12) Encouraging a Highly Effective System, and

(E13) Funding a Highly Effective System. 


  • Under Expanding Research Capacity, the Report’s five recommendations (A $3 Billion Empire State Innovation Fund; Recruit 2,000 Full-Time Faculty to SUNY/CUNY, including 250 Eminent Scholars; Recruit 4,000 Doctoral Students to SUNY/CUNY; Strengthen NYSTAR; and Scientific Collaboration through Global Science Excellence Clusters) support the Regents Statewide Plan’s priorities for High Educational Quality, Strong Graduate Programs to Meet the State’s Needs, and Creation of New Knowledge through Research that seek more full-time faculty, and greater investment in graduate education and research.


  • Under Connecting Faculty, Researchers and Students to a World of Ideas, the three recommendations (Technological Infrastructure, Incentives for Academic Libraries to Pool Electronic Information, and International Education) support the same Statewide Plan priorities.


  • Under Developing a Diverse Workforce, the three recommendations (Workforce Training Alignment, Support the Role of Higher Education in Workforce Development, and Community Service) support the Statewide Plan priorities for High Educational Quality and Encouraging a Highly Effective System that seek to strengthen and improve the coordination of higher education. 


  • Under Adapting Quickly to Change, the recommendation (Expedite Program Review) is consistent with the Statewide Plan priority for Encouraging a Highly Effective Higher Education System, under which SED is committed to reviewing the Commissioner’s Regulations and statutes in collaboration with the sectors to identify requirements that may no longer be necessary.  Several years ago, SUNY System Administration and SED staff jointly developed a format for proposed SUNY programs incorporating all information needed for both reviews.


  • Under Making Excellence Available to All, three of the recommendations (Education Partnership Zones, College Readiness, and Opportunity Programs for Educationally and Economically Disadvantaged) support the Statewide Plan priorities for Preparation for College, High Educational Quality (in higher education), Closing Performance Gaps, and Affordability, which seek to improve undergraduate education as well as the transition between high school and college, and to close the gaps between white students and members of underrepresented minority groups, as well as the thrust of the P-16 Plan.  The EPZ proposal is a similar concept to the Regents proposed Regional Education Alliances.  The three proposals would help to assure that more high school graduates are ready for college, reducing the need for remediation, thereby having a meaningful effect on the cost of offering higher education in all sectors.


The recommendation in this category about SUNY and CUNY Articulation and Transfer supports the Statewide Plan priority for Articulation, reducing cost to students and allowing them to enter graduate study or the workforce more quickly.  However, it is not clear that the recommendations would address the needs of students transferring across sectors Two recommendations in the category (TAP and Fees and Low-Cost Student Loans) also support the Statewide Plan priority for Affordability for low and middle income students.  In the 1950s, New York had a State loan program that was a precursor of the Federal Family Educational Loan program; it was abolished when the federal program was created.


  • Under Organizing for Excellence, the three recommendations (SUNY Structure and Mission Differentiation, Regulatory Reform, and SUNY System Administration) relate to the Statewide Plan priority for Encouraging a Highly Effective System, which seeks to enhance the excellence of our higher education system, although they pertain primarily to SUNY and CUNY.


  • Under Resources Required for Excellence, the seven recommendations (NYS Compact for Public Higher Education, Differential Tuition, Community College Finances, Capital Reinvestment, Greening of CUNY and SUNY, Layered Capital Financing, and Capital Matching Program) support the Statewide Plan priority for Funding a Highly Effective System in ways that encourage excellence.  However, the proposal for the NYS Compact for Public Higher Education assumes that the master plans approved by the Regents and the Governor will include long-range investment programs.




The Governor will deliver the State of the State message on January 9 and present the Executive Budget recommendations on January 22.  In February, the Committee will have an opportunity to review the relationships between the Executive Budget recommendations for higher education, the Commission’s Preliminary Report, the Regents priority legislative proposals and budget request in the area of higher education, and the priorities of the Statewide Plan and the P-16 Plan. 






Timetable for Implementation







Attachment 1


Attachment 2