§ 16-59-4. Powers and duties of the council on postsecondary education.
(a) The council on postsecondary education shall have, in addition to those enumerated in § 16-59-1, the following powers and duties:
(1) To approve a systematic program of information gathering, processing, and analysis addressed to every level, aspect, and form of higher education in this state especially as that information relates to current and future educational needs so that current needs may be met with reasonable promptness and plans formulated to meet future needs as they arise in the most efficient and economical manner possible.
(2) To develop and approve a strategic plan implementing broad goals and objectives for higher education in the state as established by the board of education, including a comprehensive capital development program.
(3) To formulate broad policy to implement the goals and objectives established and adopted by the board of education; to adopt standards and require enforcement; and to exercise general supervision over all higher public education in the state and over independent higher education in the state as provided in subdivision (8) and (9) of this section. The board of education and the council shall not engage in the operation or administration of any subordinate committee, university, junior college, or community college, except its own office of postsecondary education and except as specifically authorized by an act of the general assembly; provided, the presidents of each institution of higher learning shall be the chief administrative and executive officers of that institution; and provided that nothing contained in this section shall prohibit their direct access to or interfere with the relationship between the presidents and the board of education and the council.
(4) To communicate with and seek the advice of the commissioner of postsecondary education, the presidents of the public higher education institutions, and all those concerned with, and affected by, its determinations as a regular procedure in arriving at its conclusions and in setting its policy.
(5) To prepare and maintain a five-year (5) funding plan for higher education that implements the strategic financing recommendations of the board of education; to prepare, with the assistance of the commissioner of postsecondary education, and to present annually to the state budget officer, in accordance with § 35-3-4, a state higher education budget, which shall include, but not be limited to, the budget of the office of postsecondary education and the budget of the state colleges. In the preparation of the budget, the council shall implement priorities established by the board of education of expenditures for public higher education purposes of state revenues and other public resources made available for the support of higher public education. Prior to submitting the budget to the state budget officer as required by the budget office instructions and this subsection, the council shall present the budget to the board of education for its review and approval. Nothing contained in this subdivision shall authorize the council to alter the allocation of grants or aid otherwise provided by law.
(6) To maintain an office of postsecondary commissioner; to provide for its staffing and organization; and to manage and oversee a commissioner of postsecondary education pursuant to duties and responsibilities defined in §§ 16-59-6 and 16-59-7. The commissioner of postsecondary education and the office of postsecondary commissioner shall have the duties and responsibilities as defined in §§ 16-59-6 and 16-59-7.
(7) To appoint and dismiss presidents of the public institutions of higher learning with the assistance of the commissioner of postsecondary education, and to establish procedures for this, and with the assistance of the commissioner to approve or disapprove vice presidents of the public institutions of higher learning appointed by the respective presidents of the public institutions of higher learning.
(8) To establish other educational agencies or subcommittees necessary or desirable for the conduct of any or all aspects of higher education and to determine all powers, functions, and composition of any agencies or subcommittees and to dissolve them when their purpose shall have been fulfilled.
(9) To exercise the authority vested in the board of regents for education with relation to independent higher educational institutions within the state under the terms of chapter 40 of this title, and other laws affecting independent higher education in the state.
(10) To enforce the provisions of all laws relating to higher education, public and independent.
(11) To be responsible for all the functions, powers, and duties that were vested in the board of regents for education relating to higher education, including, but not limited to, the following specific functions:
(i) To approve the role and scope of programs at public institutions of higher learning with the assistance of the commissioner of postsecondary education which shall include, but not be limited to, populations to be served, the type and level of programs, and academic fields offered.
(ii) To adopt and require standard accounting procedures for the office of postsecondary commissioner and all public colleges and universities.
(iii) To approve a clear and definitive mission for each public institution of higher learning with the assistance of the commissioner of postsecondary education that is consistent with the role and scope of programs at the public institutions.
(iv) To promote maximum efficiency, economy, and cooperation in the delivery of public higher educational services in the state and cooperation with independent institutions of higher education.
(12) To incorporate into its own affirmative action reporting process periodic reports monitoring specific faculty and staff searches by the chairperson of the search committee to include the rationale for granting those interviews and the final hiring results. The institutions must empower their affirmative action officer to monitor searches in this manner; to intervene during the search; and, when necessary; to cause a search to cease if affirmative action goals are not being adequately served.
(13) To incorporate a specific category for accountability on affirmative action goals and implementation as part of the board's annual evaluations and three-year (3) reviews for the presidents of each of the public institutions of higher education.
(14) To make a formal request of the governor that, whenever an opportunity arises to make new appointments to the board, that the governor make every effort to increase the number of African Americans, Native Americans, Asians, and Hispanics on the board.
(15) To develop coherent plans for the elimination of unnecessary duplication in public higher education and addressing the future needs of public education within the state in the most efficient and economical manner possible.
(16) To delegate to the presidents of each public higher education institution the authority and responsibility for operational and management decisions related to their institutions, consistent with the goals of the statewide strategic plan for postsecondary education; provided, however, that the presidents may be required to provide information or updates to the council regarding any delegated operational or management decisions.
(17) To approve application and renewal fees for all postsecondary institutions situated in Rhode Island, public or private, that choose to participate in an interstate, postsecondary distance-education reciprocity agreement.
(18) To the extent necessary for participation, and to the extent required and stated in an interstate distance learning reciprocity agreement, the council shall promulgate procedures to address complaints received from out-of-state students in connection with, or related to, any Rhode Island postsecondary institution, public or private, that has been approved to participate in an interstate, distance-learning reciprocity agreement.
(19) To serve as the governing body of the division of higher education assistance and exercise all powers and duties of the division of higher education assistance as set forth under the terms of Chapter 57 of this title; however, any debts, liabilities, or obligations of the council that result from its status as such governing body shall be payable solely from the revenues or assets of reserve funds set forth and established by the prior Rhode Island higher education assistance authority and/or the Rhode Island division of higher education assistance created pursuant to Chapter 57 of this title, and not from any assets or property held by the council on postsecondary education pursuant to this chapter.
(20) To guarantee one hundred percent (100%) of the unpaid principal and accrued interest of any eligible loan made by a lender to any eligible borrower in existence prior to July 1, 2015 for the purpose of assisting the students in obtaining an education in an eligible institution, subject, however, to the limitation regarding any debts, liabilities, or obligations of the council set forth in section (19) above, and in § 16-57-12.
(21) To prescribe rules and regulations deemed necessary or desirable to carry out the purposes of serving as a guaranty agency for the loans set forth in § 16-59-4 (20), including without limitation rules and regulations:
(i) To ensure compliance by the division with the requirements imposed by statutes or regulation governing the guaranty, insurance, purchase, or other dealing in eligible loans by federal agencies, instrumentalities, or corporations,
(ii) To set standards of eligibility for educational institutions, students, and lenders and to define residency and all other terms as the division deems necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter, and
(iii) To set standards for the administration of programs of postsecondary student financial assistance assigned by law to the division, including but not limited to savings programs. Administrative rules governing savings programs shall authorize the division, in conjunction with commissioner of postsecondary education, to negotiate reciprocal agreements with institutions in other states offering similar savings programs for the purpose of maximizing educational benefits to students in this state.
(22) To establish penalties for violations of any order, rule, or regulation of the division, and a method for enforcing these.
(23) To set and collect fees and charges, in connection with its guaranties and servicing, including without limitation reimbursement of costs of financing by the division, service charges, and insurance premiums and fees and costs associated with implementing and administering savings programs established pursuant to this chapter.
(24) To hold and operate property previously held by the higher education assistance authority in trust for the state, and to acquire, hold, and dispose of the property and other like property as deemed necessary for the execution of its corporate purposes.
(P.L. 1981, ch. 32, § 3; P.L. 1981, ch. 291, art. 13, § 1; P.L. 1987, ch. 596, § 5; P.L. 1991, ch. 264, § 1; P.L. 1996, ch. 404, § 22; P.L. 2004, ch. 595, art. 34, § 1; P.L. 2006, ch. 8, § 1; P.L. 2006, ch. 28, § 1; P.L. 2014, ch. 145, art. 20, § 5; P.L. 2015, ch. 141, art. 7, § 7; P.L. 2015, ch. 207, § 2; P.L. 2015, ch. 231, § 2.)