Gilmore Establishes Second Panel to Assess Quality of Higher Education

Article excerpt

RICHMOND - Gov. James S. Gilmore III yesterday named a 39-member commission to assess how Virginia's colleges and universities can offer quality education at an affordable price in the 21st century.

Mr. Gilmore insisted that his largely Republican panel of educators, lawmakers and business leaders will not conflict with the 11-member State Council on Higher Education, which oversees day-to-day operations at the state's 15 public four-year colleges and 23 community colleges.

"By no means" is the new panel redundant, the Republican governor told reporters after his speech at the Richmond Marriott.

"I don't believe that we have an appropriate policy for higher education in this state and I think we need to establish one."

In his prepared remarks, Mr. Gilmore said he has a simple objective.

"The parents, the students and the taxpayers of the 21st century deserve a formal blueprint to guarantee them a high-quality and affordable college education 25 years from now," he said.

Mr. Gilmore urged members of the panel to consider how Virginia's colleges and universities can improve instruction and use new technology. But he also underscored that they must be accountable for how they spend tax dollars - $1.3 billion each year.

"The people of Virginia own every brick and every book at each public college and university in Virginia," he said. "It will be incumbent upon this commission to design an accountability structure for the use of those bricks and books."

Members of Virginia's education establishment welcomed the panel, which Mr. Gilmore promised during his campaign for governor.

"They're making my job easier," said William B. Allen, new director of the State Council on Higher Education.

"This is a vibrant state with lots of concern and interest in higher education. …