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PEER review raises question on whether...

PEER review raises question on whether Mississippi should have a single college governance board

By: Sarah Ulmer - June 8, 2022

The PEER Committee released the report looking into whether or not the state should change the current postsecondary governance in Mississippi. 

The Joint Legislative PEER Committee released a report on Wednesday that took a look at the governance structure for Mississippi’s institutions of higher learning, community colleges, and medical center.

Currently, Mississippi’s model consists of two postsecondary governance boards, one which oversees Universities (Institutions of Higher Learning, IHL) and the Mississippi Community College Board. In their conclusion, PEER reported that there are no current best practices for governance but did recommend some options for restructuring.

The IHL oversees Mississippi’s eight public universities. Originally, the state established individual boards for each institution but in 1943 Mississippians voted to create the IHL board which would oversee them all.

The Mississippi Community College Board was originally the Commission of Junior Colleges in 1928. In 1986, the Legislature reconstituted the Commission as the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges. It was given its current name in 2011.

If the state were to consider consolidating into one governance board they would need to take into account the regulatory and support provisions provided by the IHL as well as the support functions of the MCCB.

The report made the following findings in their review: 

  • Mississippi’s postsecondary governance consists of two boards: a governing board that manages the state’s eight four-year universities (Board of Trustees of the Institutions of Higher Learning) and a coordinating board that coordinates the state’s 15 community colleges (Mississippi Community College Board).
  • There is limited information about best practices for reorganizing postsecondary governance. Therefore, when considering restructuring postsecondary governance state leaders should: focus on the ends, not the means; identify the core issues the state is trying to address; examine options within the existing governance; and note that a change in governance of institutions managed and controlled by the IHL Board of Trustees would require an amendment of Section 213A of the Mississippi Constitution of 1890.

If state leaders were to create one governance PEER recommended they consider the following:

  • To change the current postsecondary governance model, state leaders should consider:
    • Should Mississippi have an overarching/unifying postsecondary governance structure (e.g., an overarching coordinating body for community colleges and universities)?
    • Which approach does Mississippi want to utilize to govern its universities and/or community (e.g., maintain existing structure, governing boards for each university, a multiple-university system that has its own board, or one merging into a single, centralized board) colleges?
  • To change UMMC’s governance model, state leaders should consider:
    • Can Mississippi identify sufficient cause to change the existing UMMC governance (e.g., adjust involvement of IHL Board in decision-making)?
    • Does Mississippi want a single entity to govern UMM (e.g., eliminating half of UMMC’s current dual governance [UM and IHL Board] and requiring UMMC to report only to one board)?
    • Does Mississippi want UMMC to be governed by a UMMC-specific board (e.g., removing UMMC from its current dual governance and reconstituting UMMC under a single board)?
    • Does Mississippi want to separate UMMC’s clinical enterprise (i.e., hospitals, clinics, and telehealth) from UMMC’s academic and research components (e.g., creating a separate governing arrangement for the clinical enterprise with a non-profit or other healthcare providers)?

You can review the full report below: 

PEER Review of post secondary governance by yallpolitics on Scribd

About the Author(s)
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Sarah Ulmer

Sarah is a Mississippi native, born and raised in Madison. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University, where she studied Communications, with an emphasis in Broadcasting and Journalism. Sarah’s experience spans multiple mediums, including extensive videography with both at home and overseas, broadcasting daily news, and hosting a live radio show. In 2017, Sarah became a member of the Capitol Press Corp in Mississippi and has faithfully covered the decisions being made by leaders on some of the most important issues facing our state. Email Sarah: