A higher ed eye on the legislature | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A higher ed eye on the legislature

Posted By on Sat, Mar 14, 2015 at 7:57 AM

A friend on a university faculty provides a summary of some legislative concerns discussed recently on campus. It's just a tiny sliver of an example of the hundreds of issues, some with profound impact, that sluice through the Capitol in a short and under inspected amount of time:

* FAIR DISMISSAL: SB930 by Linda Chesterfield would impose a fair dismissal act on higher education (on top of existing tenure protection, apparently). Chesterfield is reported to have said this relates to a personnel action at Pulaski Tech.

* REALIGNMENT: HB 1581 has passed and gone to the governor. It's a higher education realignment task force, conceived along the lines of a discussion at a recent ALEC conference. Will it produce a recommendation to move all two- and four-year systems into a single state system? The various little kingdoms that would be affected add up to a lot influence (except that the legislature has also moved to prevent use of public money to pay people to lobby the legislature).

* GUNS: Rep. Charlie Collins' guns-on-campus bill is balled up in Senate Judiciary for the time being. Higher ed people — universally opposed — were not happy that Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he wouldn't oppose the bill. A former paid NRA spokesman oppose a gun bill? They shouldn't have been surprised.

* ONLINE EDUCATION: There's broad legislative support for the UA Systems' eVersity on-line education initiative. Faculty grumbles that it is exempt from the regulation of other institutions. eVersity counters that it doesn't depend on public dollars. Colleges point out that, in fact, it has been startedwith contributions from publicly supported campuses.

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