§ 16-59-6. Commissioner of postsecondary education.
The council on postsecondary education, with approval of the board, shall appoint a commissioner of postsecondary education, who shall serve at the pleasure of the council, provided that his or her initial engagement by the council shall be for a period of not more than three (3) years. For the purpose of appointing, retaining, or dismissing a commissioner of postsecondary education, the governor shall serve as an additional voting member of the council. The position of commissioner shall be in the unclassified service of the state and he or she shall serve as the chief executive officer of the council on postsecondary education, the chief administrative officer of the office of postsecondary commissioner, and the executive director of the division of higher education assistance. The commissioner of postsecondary education shall have any duties that are defined in this section and in this title and other additional duties as may be determined by the council, and shall perform any other duties as may be vested in him or her by law. In addition to these duties and general supervision of the office of postsecondary commissioner and the appointment of the several officers and employees of the office, it shall be the duty of the commissioner of postsecondary education:
(1) To develop and implement a systematic program of information gathering, processing, and analysis addressed to every aspect of higher education in the state, especially as that information relates to current and future educational needs.
(2) To prepare a strategic plan for higher education in the state aligned with the goals of the board of education's strategic plan; to coordinate the goals and objectives of the higher public education sector with the goals of the council on elementary and secondary education and activities of the independent higher education sector where feasible.
(3) To communicate with, and seek the advice of those concerned with, and affected by the board of education's and council's determinations.
(4) To implement broad policy as it pertains to the goals and objectives established by the board of education and council on postsecondary education; to promote better coordination between higher public education in the state, independent higher education in the state as provided in subsection (10) of this section, and pre k-12 education; to assist in the preparation of the budget for public higher education; and to be responsible, upon direction of the council, for the allocation of appropriations, the acquisition, holding, disposition of property.
(5) To be responsible for the coordination of the various higher educational functions of the state so that maximum efficiency and economy can be achieved.
(6) To assist the board of education in preparation and maintenance of a five-year (5) strategic funding plan for higher education; to assist the council in the preparation and presentation annually to the state budget officer in accordance with § 35-3-4 of a total, public higher educational budget.
(7) To recommend to the council on postsecondary education, after consultation with the presidents, a clear and definitive mission for each college.
(8) To annually recommend to the council on postsecondary education, after consultation with the presidents, the creation, abolition, retention, or consolidation of departments, divisions, programs, and courses of study within the public colleges to eliminate unnecessary duplication in public higher education, to address the future needs of public higher education in the state, and to advance proposals recommended by the presidents of the public colleges pursuant to §§ 16-33-2.1 and 16-33.1-2.1.
(9) To supervise the operations of the office of postsecondary commissioner, including the division of higher education assistance, and any other additional duties and responsibilities that may be assigned by the council.
(10) To perform the duties vested in the council with relation to independent higher educational institutions within the state under the terms of chapter 40 of this title and any other laws that affect independent higher education in the state.
(11) To be responsible for the administration of policies, rules, and regulations of the council on postsecondary education with relation to the entire field of higher education within the state, not specifically granted to any other department, board, or agency and not incompatible with law.
(12) To prepare standard accounting procedures for public higher education and all public colleges.
(13) To carry out the policies and directives of the board of education and the council on postsecondary education through the office of postsecondary commissioner and through utilization of the resources of the public colleges.
(14) To enter into interstate reciprocity agreements regarding the provision of postsecondary distance education; to administer such agreements; to approve or disapprove applications to voluntarily participate in such agreements from postsecondary institutions that have their principal place of business in Rhode Island; and to establish annual fees, with the approval of the council on postsecondary education, for aforesaid applications to participate in an interstate postsecondary distance education reciprocity agreement.
(15) To the extent necessary for participation, and to the extent required and stated in any distance learning reciprocity agreement, to implement 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 said reciprocity agreement.
(16) To exercise all powers and duties of the division of higher education assistance as set forth under the terms of chapter 57 of this title.
(P.L. 1981, ch. 32, § 3; P.L. 1987, ch. 596, § 5; P.L. 1991, ch. 266, § 1; P.L. 2001, ch. 86, § 54; 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; P.L. 2019, ch. 88, art. 9, § 6.)