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January 24, 2019 - State Regents Accept Function Change and Mission Expansion Subcommittee Recommendations

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At their meeting Thursday, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education announced acceptance of recommendations from the Function Change and Mission Expansion Subcommittee, which was formed to develop recommendations and action items related to institutional requests for function change and/or mission expansion for State Regents’ consideration. This action follows the State Regents’ May 25, 2018, approval of a moratorium on consideration of potential changes in college and university function and mission through June 30, 2019. 

“The work of the State Regents’ Function Change and Mission Expansion Subcommittee to evaluate trends across the nation in defining institutional function and mission at all institutional tiers reflects and complements recommendations from the Task Force on the Future of Higher Education,” said State Regent and Chair of the Function Change and Mission Expansion Subcommittee Ronald H. White. “The subcommittee has developed ways to further strengthen the delivery of higher education while providing additional transparency in the process.”

Function change requests can create new levels of instruction offered by institutions, such as authorizing a community college to offer a bachelor’s degree or a regional university to offer a doctoral degree. Function changes also impact the associated costs for such instruction and related expenses. Mission expansion requests can increase the breadth of academic programs offered by institutions within their established function, such as adding a graduate or associate degree program at a university that historically offers only bachelor’s degrees. In both scenarios, institutions are required to fully explore collaborative opportunities with institutions already holding the requisite function and mission in their service area.

Under the revised policy, institutions will have the opportunity to request an exception to operate outside the scope of their function as defined by the State Regents for specific purposes, such as unmet workforce needs in the service area. A two-tier review process would analyze the viability of the proposed function exception and assess its potential impact on the institution, local community, and state as a whole. The rigorous process is clearly delineated in the policy revisions and includes a report from the governing board regarding the exception request.

“The policy revisions recommended by the subcommittee and approved by the State Regents establish a process to review the viability of institutional requests for function and mission modification in the context of national higher education best practices,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “The revised policy provides guidelines and criteria to assist the State Regents as they consider institutional requests within the framework of the recommendations issued by the Task Force on the Future of Higher Education.”

Formed in March 2017, the Task Force on the Future of Higher Education examined all aspects of system operations, including academic models, online education, structure, fiscal services and operational efficiencies, workforce development, and information technology. The Task Force unanimously approved its Report on the Future of Higher Education at its Jan. 31, 2018 meeting, and the State Regents subsequently accepted the Task Force report and recommendations at their Feb. 1 meeting.

Four State Regents served on the Function Change and Mission Expansion Subcommittee. Regent Ronald H. White served as chair of the subcommittee, and Regent Joseph L. Parker Jr. served as vice chair. Regent Jay Helm, current chair of the State Regents, and Regent Jeff Hickman, Academic Affairs Committee chair, also served on the subcommittee.

In addition to the four State Regents, the following campus presidents served as voting members of the subcommittee:

Several chief academic officers from state system institutions served as non-voting academic resource members in order to share their knowledge and expertise with the subcommittee, including:

The State Regents’ revised Functions of Public Institutions policy will soon be available online at www.okhighered.org/state-system/policy-procedures/part3.shtml. The report and recommendations of the Task Force on the Future of Higher Education can be accessed online at www.okhighered.org/future/.