Rhode Island’s system of postsecondary education should foster the economic, civic, social, and cultural growth of all Rhode Islanders, their communities, and the state.
The Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner is the administrative and research arm of the Council on Postsecondary Education. The Council on Postsecondary Education is an independent public corporation vested with the responsibility of providing oversight for the system of public higher education in Rhode Island. This system presently consists of two public institutions of higher learning, Rhode Island College (RIC) and the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI), along with the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner. The Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner, which operates under the direction of the Commissioner of Postsecondary Education, is staffed by education professionals. OPC serves as the definitive resource for information on and the interpretation of Council on Postsecondary Education policy for public higher education and the postsecondary institutions in Rhode Island that are under the authority of the Council on Postsecondary Education. OPC looks for shared opportunities to advance the objectives of postsecondary education with the public and independent institutions.
The Council is comprised of eight members, plus the chairperson of the Rhode Island Board of Education (ex-oficio) and one non-voting, college student member. Council members are volunteers appointed by the governor, and they serve three-year terms except for the student member who serves a two-year term (see RIGL §16-59-2).
The Commissioner of Postsecondary Education is the state’s higher education executive officer. In fulfilling this role, the Commissioner for Postsecondary Education works closely with the presidents of the state higher education institutions to determine the benefits or disadvantages of proposed new programs, departments, division, courses of study within the scope and role adopted by the Council on Postsecondary Education and in developing tables of organization. The presidents also prepare and submit budgets to the Council on Postsecondary Education and the Board of Education for approval, and are responsible for the general management of property.
To accomplish these and additional responsibilities called for in Article 20, the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner relies on the collegial relations and civil discussions among the members of the postsecondary community and with important stakeholders from business, government, and PK-12 education.