Search for chancellor postponed story

Gina Potthoff and Gina Potthoff

It all depends on how involved Ohio Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland wants to be.

It was unexpectedly announced by Ohio House Speaker Jon Husted (R-Kettering) that the governor is postponing the search for a new chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents.

Currently, the board is a direct, non-governing body that has been in charge of the higher education in Ohio for 44 years.

Members of the governing board are at present time appointed by the governor, and the chancellor is selected by the members of the board. The chancellor position is designed to reside over the Ohio Board of Regents without voting. Once members are chosen, they are independent and no longer report to the governor.

Robert DeBard, associate professor of leadership and policy studies at Bowling Green State University, views the situation as one resulting in the Ohio Board of Regents either being greatly modified or most likely eliminated to create a cabinet level post in higher education.

“Under a cabinet level post, reporting directly to the governor, there would be far less advocacy and far more accountability,” DeBard said.

This just means the governor will essentially have more control and supervision over the higher education system in Ohio.

As it is now, the Ohio Board of Regents advocates on behalf of higher education in Ohio and doesn’t necessarily govern. Instead of being a coordinating board that makes suggestions, the new cabinet would have increased accountability for the actions that are taken in the development of higher education policy.

BGSU, along with the 13 other four-year public Ohio universities, has its own Board of Trustees that decides on financial higher education issues. Currently, the University is in favor of the new change, as long as the higher education system is made stronger.

“A bill to this effect could be introduced into the legislature sometime in February. We need to wait and see what the language of the bill is,” said Larry J. Weiss, associate vice president.

With all that’s going on, how will the students of BGSU be affected?

Students should pay attention to developments concerning the Ohio Board of Regents, said Ed Whipple, vice president of student affairs.

“Students need to watch carefully, number one, for the governor’s position, his influence on either a cabinet level position if this goes through, or continue watching the Board of Regents,” said Whipple. “I think the students need to be very aware of what’s going on.”

DeBard believes this change is actually in favor of Ohio educating more students more efficiently. The key to any implemented plan is that there needs to be increased funding because as DeBard puts it, the plan is not a “cure-all” for Ohio.

If the board is eliminated, the cabinet will need to take the gradual steps to improve higher education. Weiss has faith that Gov. Strickland will see the importance of supporting higher education better than it has been at the state level.

In addition to this debate, many wonder if the scholarships and grants of the Ohio Board of Regents will be eliminated along with the board. Of course, until the actual bill comes out with the specific wording, no one can know for sure. When asked his opinion, DeBard proposed that students would most likely keep current scholarships, and if anything, be given more funds.

Only time will tell what will happen to the higher education system in Ohio. Whether the Ohio Board of Regents is eliminated or not, the public still has yet to see what kind of governor Strickland is.

“I think the big variable is the governor and the governor’s commitment to education, particularly higher education,” said Whipple.