fb pixel

Log In

Reset Password

University oversight is about to change in Oregon

I read about Southern Oregon University being "endorsed with conditions," to create a self-governing board of trustees. In the article it said the board would answer to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, not the Oregon State Board of Higher Education. I had never heard of the HECC before that. Where did it come from?

— Judy B., Ashland

Judy, we're not surprised you had never heard of the Higher Education Coordinating Commission before. It was established in 2012 through the passage of Oregon Senate Bill 242. Then, it was a not-so-powerful panel with little funding and even less oversight concerning higher education policy in Oregon. Now, the 14-person commission chaired by Oregon's governor, who appoints it members, is slated to take the helm of higher education in Oregon effective July 1, 2014.

House Bill 3120, passed by the legislature in 2013, is what transformed HECC — referred to as "heck" — into the higher-education powerhouse it will soon become.

Once the Oregon State Board of Higher Education is dissolved at the end of June, the commission will provide oversight for the institutional boards of each of Oregon's seven public universities — pending likely endorsements for independent boards at SOU and Eastern Oregon University — and develop budget recommendations and allocate funds to community colleges and public universities, among other responsibilities.

Basically, Judy, HECC will take over most of the authorities of the current State Board of Higher Education, the Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development, the Oregon University System's chancellor's office and the Oregon Student Access Commission.

According to the Governor's office, HECC will represent an unraveling of power from several state boards and commissions to form a more centralized and straightforward approach to governance of higher education in Oregon.

Bottom line, you're going to hear about HECC plenty from now on, Judy.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.