SECTION 1. It is hereby declared to be a paramount goal of the commonwealth to provide a system of public higher education of high quality, sufficient in terms of programs, access and funding to enable all residents of the commonwealth the opportunity to reach their individual potential and to lead lives as full participants in the political and social life of the commonwealth and as contributors to its economy.
It is therefore the intent of this legislation to establish a commission on the funding needs for quality public higher education to undertake an investigation of the current state and funding of the commonwealth’s system of public higher education and to make proposals to the legislature for improvements in programs, staffing and funding needed to assure the achievement of the aforesaid goal.
The mandate of the commission shall be to investigate and describe the current state of public higher education and its funding, including but not limited to state appropriations, tuition and fees and other sources of funding; to determine and describe the requirements for a system of public higher education which will provide high quality post-secondary education that meets the needs of students and of the commonwealth over the next 10 years; and to recommend to the legislature proposals to strengthen and improve our public higher education system and a method to assure the needed funding for a high quality system of public higher education.
The issues to be addressed by the commission shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
1. Whether the programs currently offered by the system are adequate to assure that students receive a high quality education that will meet their needs and those of the commonwealth over the next 10 years;
2. Whether the current funding system provides fair and adequate funding for all public higher education institutions to ensure that all students are offered a high quality education that meets their needs and the needs of the commonwealth;
3. Whether the costs borne by students are fair and appropriate and assure access to higher education for Massachusetts residents, and whether the state should provide a higher amount and percentage of funding; and,
4. What specific measures are necessary to improve the quality of education being delivered, including examining and making proposals concerning the following:
a) The use of adjunct or part-time faculty, as well as the pay, benefits, responsibilities of, and support services provided to, adjunct faculty under the current system;
b) The number and use of full-time and tenure-track faculty across the system;
c) The ability of the current system to attract and retain highly qualified faculty and staff; and,
d) The number of developmental students being served under the current system and at which institutions, and the adequacy of academic and related support systems in place for both the number and types of students served.
The members of the commission shall consist of the following: the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on higher education, who shall serve as co-chairs; the speaker of the house of representatives or a designee; the president of the senate or a designee; the minority leader of the house of representatives or a designee; the minority leader of the senate or a designee; the chair of the house committee on ways and means or a designee; the chair of the senate committee on ways and means or a designee; the secretary of education; the commissioner of higher education; the secretary of administration and finance or a designee; a representative of the community college presidents as chosen by their presidents’ council; a representative of the state university presidents as chosen by their presidents’ council; the president of the University of Massachusetts; a representative of each of the following organizations, as chosen by the respective organization: the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the American Federation of Teachers-Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Community College Council, the Massachusetts State College Association, the Massachusetts Society of Professors/Faculty Staff Union, Massachusetts Society of Professors Lowell, UMass Lowell Classified/Tech Union, UMass Lowell Grant and Contract Fund Employees, Professional Staff Union (Boston), Classified Staff Union, Professional Staff Union (Amherst), University Staff Association and the Association of Professional Administrators; the student representative on the board of higher education and the student representative on the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees; and, no more than three (3) members of the business community to be chosen by the governor to represent the various industries and geographic regions of Massachusetts.
The commission shall conduct public hearings across the commonwealth at public higher education institutions and at other accessible locations.
The University of Massachusetts and the board of higher education shall cooperate with the commission in its work and shall provide the commission with any and all data concerning programs and funding.
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