Creating a South Carolina College and University Board of Regents
S.43 seeks to consolidate the governance of public institutions of higher education in South Carolina into the new South Carolina College and University Board of Regents. The board would be comprised of 17 members, 2 members would be elected by the general assembly from each congressional district, and 3 members would be appointed by the Governor. The Regents would be tasked with developing a coordinated system of higher education in South Carolina, and university board of trustees would advise and assist the Board of Regents. Specific powers of the Board of Regents over public higher education institutions would include: determining academic programs, setting tuition rates, setting enrollment levels, preparing budgets, and approving the establishment of any new institutions.
Applying a consolidated governance structure to South Carolina’s public colleges and universities is a reform that is long overdue. SCPC and the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) jointly issued a report that found that the current disperse governing structure of South Carolina Higher Education has contributed to rising tuition, duplicative programs, and unnecessary expansions, in our competing public universities. South Carolina’s public colleges and universities should work jointly to best serve citizens and students and a State Board of Regents make this possible.
This bill is laudable for attempting to establish a State Board of Regents but the membership of the Board as laid out in the bill can be improved. All members of the Board of Regents should be appointed by the Governor in order to establish clear lines of accountability for its actions. Part of the problem with South Carolina higher education today is a governance structure heavily tied to the legislature and devoid of accountability.