Higher ed. restrucuturing passes
The Virginia General Assembly wrapped up this year's legislative session yesterday, approving Gov. Mark Warner's changes to the restructured charter legislation.
During the one-day legislative session, representatives considered Warner's proposed changes to General Assembly legislation.
Warner's substitute legislation, introduced by Delegate Vincent Callahan (R-McLean) and Senator Thomas Norment (R-Williamsburg), created three levels of autonomy for Virginia public universities, but will not grant any universities previously-termed "charter" status.
"At the highest level, the Board of Visitors is given the right to sign a management agreement with the state," said Jeffrey Rossman, University Professor and Student-Staff Alliance co-founder.
According to the legislation, the Governor's office will work with universities to create management agreements, subject to General Assembly approval.
Warner's proposal for the restructuring of higher education passed the Virginia Senate with 35 votes in favor of the proposal and two in opposition. Seventy-nine members of the House of Delegates approved the legislation, while 17 voted against it.
Dissenting votes were cast overwhelmingly by Republicans.
Rossman and Virginia House of Delegates legislative aides said they did not expect the legislation would face significant opposition in the wrap-up session.
The University has followed the legislation closely and will seek the highest level of autonomy allowed by the revised legislation.
"The support of the Governor and General Assembly for higher education has been gratifying," said Nancy Rivers, assistant vice president for management and budget. "We look forward to beginning work on the management agreement."
The passage of the higher education restructuring legislation was accompanied by the General Assembly's approval of Warner's budget amendment to allow general funds to be used for out-of-state graduate student financial aid, said Rivers, who said both pieces of legislation were considered beneficial to the University.
The new legislation allows for more autonomy in capital improvements but ensures that Virginia public universities continue to use state employment procedures.