COORDINATION PLAN FOR ACADEMIC PROGRAMS IN RHODE ISLAND PUBLIC HIGHER EDUCATION
The purpose of this document is to put into one place all the information on the coordination of academic programs across the system of public higher education in Rhode Island. In addition to the current status of academic program coordination, the document also provides the historical record of related activities.
In 1980 and 1981 the Rhode Island Board of Regents for Education studied in depth the issues associated with the coordination of public higher education. The background work on coordination was presented in one document: Coordination of Public Higher Education in Rhode Island, January 1980, and the actual policies and guidelines in another: Coordination of Public Higher Education in Rhode Island — Phase Two, February 1981.
Since these original documents were produced, the relationships among the three public institutions and among the institutions and the system have been reexamined. As a result, some changes have been made in the Board of Governors priorities and in the mission statements for the institutions and for the system. This document incorporates the most recent versions of these statements.
This coordination plan is divided into the following sections:
Background: A retrospective of the commission and consultant reports that have had an effect on the coordination of public higher education.
The System: Descriptions of the legislation and of the priorities of the Board of Governors which guide the coordination of the system of public higher education.
Role and Mission: Statements of the roles and missions of the three public institutions of higher education and the Board of Governors.
Instructional Programs: Guidelines and restrictions for instructional programs.
Providence-based Programs: Coordination and relationship of the Providence-based programs of the University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College and the Community College of Rhode Island.
This edition of the coordination plan was prepared as part of the overall revisions and updating of the Board of Governors Policy Manual completed in 1998.
There is no preferred model or perfect system of public higher education governance. The governing system in each state must reflect unique historical, economic, social, political and geographic conditions. However, what is clear is that the governing of state public higher education systems is perhaps one of the most complex balancing acts in the field of public administration. Conflicting goals, objectives and interests are a reality. Systemwide interests are not always the same as institutional priorities, and despite claims to the contrary, systemwide interests are not necessarily the sum of the interests of each state institution.
Blue Ribbon Commission Report
The Coordination of Public Higher Education in Rhode Island
The coordination of public higher education in Rhode Island is the shared responsibility of the Board of Governors for Higher Education, the Office of Higher Education and the three public institutions: the Community College of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island. Over the years, these entities and their predecessors have worked to become a more comprehensive system of public higher education geared to the needs and aspirations of the citizens of Rhode Island.
Rhode Island Commission to Study Higher Education (1959)
The Rhode Island Commission to Study Higher Education was authorized by the General Assembly in 1955, was appointed by Governor Roberts in 1957 and issued a report in 1959.
In the commission’s report, public higher education activities in Rhode Island were assessed, projections were made for the future, and recommendations were made for ways in which the challenges of the next 20 years could be met. The methods used and the content of the commission’s report were important in establishing a system approach to public higher education.
The Stokes Report (1966)
In 1966 the Board of Trustees of State Colleges retained a consultant, Harold W. Stokes, to prepare a report assessing the problems associated with academic responsibilities in public higher education in Rhode Island. The final report called for cooperation and coordination between and among Rhode Island Junior College, Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island both in Providence and statewide, and proceeded to identify ways in which the three institutions could be interrelated. This report reinforced the idea that the three institutions comprised a system.
Rhode Island Special Commission to Study the Entire Field of Education (1968)
The Special Commission to Study the Entire Field of Education was authorized by the General Assembly and was sworn in by Governor John H. Chafee in 1965. The final report, named for the commission chairman, Representative Joseph A. Thibeault, was completed in 1968. The report was accompanied by numerous background studies which analyzed past trends and projected future ones for education at all levels. A major recommendation made by the commission called for the creation of a consolidated system of education under the leadership of a single board. In 1969, legislation establishing a single Board of Regents for Education was passed with an efffective date of July 1, 1969.
Blue Ribbon Commission to Study the Funding of Public Higher Education in Rhode Island Including Compensation of Faculty (1987)
The Blue Ribbon Commission to Study the Funding of Public Higher Education in Rhode Island Including Compensation of Faculty was established by the General Assembly in 1985, with members appointed by the speaker or minority leader of the House, the majority or minority leader of the Senate, or by Governor Edward D. DiPrete. The commission’s report was prepared by Gary S. Sasse, Director of the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, who served as secretary to the commission. The focus of the report was on the system of higher education in Rhode Island and many of the recommendations were specifically framed to strengthen the system. The major recommendations made by the commission that required legislative action were incorporated into the Higher Education Excellence Act of 1987.
The Blue Ribbon Commission’s recommendations included the following:
- Expand existing institutional mission statements to include more explicit examples and reference to economic development, interinstitutional transfer policies, and systemwide goals.
- Set forth in unambiguous terms the duties and responsibilities of the commissioner and the institutional presidents.
- Increase the size of the Board of Governors to permit the expansion of the committee structure to include a budget and financial planning committee.
- Prepare annually a five-year funding plan for public higher education.
- Relate tuition and fee increases to growth in institutional spending.
- Establish a fund for making competitive grants for programs primarily aimed at strengthening undergraduate education.
- Establish a fund for making competitive grants for management and administrative improvement and innovation.
- Dedicate by statute a fixed percentage of the statewide asset protection fund for public higher education.
- Create a faculty salary improvement fund.
- Monitor on a periodic basis programs of questionable overlap and include a fiscal note on the cost of such programs.
- Study the most appropriate and cost effective structure for public higher education in the future.
Legislative action taken on the Blue Ribbon Commission’s recommendations resulted in the expansion of the Board of Governors and the establishment of an Incentive Fund for Excellence, a Challenge Fund for Administrative Improvement, a dedicated asset protection fund, and a faculty salary improvement fund. In addition, the Board of Governors approved expanded institutional mission statements, adopted a policy on the duties and responsibility of the commissioner, revised its tuition and fee policy, adopted regulations for the Incentive Fund and Challenge Fund, and authorized a study of the structure of public higher education.
Education Commission of the States Team (1988)
A recommendation in the Blue Ribbon Commission report led to the retention of a study team under the auspices of the Education Commission of the States (ECS). The charge to the team was to suggest the most appropriate and cost-effective relations that could exist between the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College and between Rhode Island College and the Community College of Rhode Island. Further, the team was to consider the options of merging institutions, developing joint programs in selected academic areas, developing partnerships, and/or defining expected quality differences in duplicative programs. (1987:105)
The ECS team concluded “that Rhode Island should be proud of its public higher education system” and that the “system of coordination and governance is fundamentally sound.” (1988:ExS) Suggestions were made in four areas for further strengthening the system. (1988:ExS)
- The Board of Governors should identify ways to translate its broad goals into a “compelling public agenda.”
- The Board of Governors should give more emphasis to the distinctiveness of each institution in terms of the student clientele; should affirm and clarify the institutional missions so that the differences will be understood by both the internal and external constituencies of the system; and should require more emphasis be given to the relationship between the institutions and the larger system.
- The Board of Governors should continue the periodic review of its responsibilities and those of the commissioner to ensure that sufficient time and resources are devoted to system leadership functions.
- The Board of Governors should strengthen its periodic self-evaluation process by–
- clarifying roles and responsibilities,
- focusing on system priorities, and
- holding the presidents accountable for the system as well as institutional responsibilities.
Board of Governors Strategic Planning Process (Initiated 1994)
The Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education initiated its strategic planning process in the summer of 1994. The purpose of this endeavor was to generate discussion and to reach consensus about what public higher education should be in Rhode Island, whom it should serve, and what taxpayers and students should expect from the system. During the first phase of the process, considerable data were gathered and analyzed regarding the demographic and economic context in Rhode Island within which the public system of high education functions. This analysis was completed by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) in December 1994. From the analysis, and its own experience and ideas, the Board of Governors, at the spring retreat in March 1995, identified several priority areas for further development as planning issues. This action brought the first phase of the planning process to completion.
In the summer of 1995, the second phase of the planning process began, which was to gauge public reaction to six major planning priorities. A booklet entitled Are the Right Questions Being Asked? outlined questions and issues surrounding the identified priority areas. The booklet was distributed widely across the state in the fall of 1995, through meetings, mailings and e-mail, to educational, business, non-profit, and governmental groups. Essentially, those responding agreed with the selection of the six priority areas by the Board of Governors. This validation completed the second phase of the planning process.
Under the direction of the new commissioner, in the fall of 1996, the third phase of the strategic planning process was initiated. This phase entailed the development of a master plan for higher education that can serve as a framework for guiding important decisions to be made by the Board and to provide direction to the institutions. The framework is to consist of a series of goals and measurable objectives for the public system of higher education related to the six priority areas.
Significant Legislative and Executive Actions and Events
1969: The General Assembly created the Board of Regents for Education and delegated considerable responsibility to the Board of Regents including the oversight of the public higher education system.
1970: The first Board of Regents for Education was appointed by Governor Frank Licht.
1973: The Board of Regents legislation was amended and all members were appointed by Governor Philip W. Noel.
1981: The Higher Education Act of 1981 established the Board of Governors for Higher Education (and the Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education). Members of the Board of Governors were appointed by Governor J. Joseph Garrahy.
1982: The first Commissioner of Higher Education, Eleanor M. McMahon, was appointed by the Board of Governors.
1989: The second Commissioner of Higher Education, Americo W. Petrocelli, was appointed by the Board of Governors.
1995: Commissioner Petrocelli retired December 31, 1995.
1996: The third Commissioner of Higher Education, Stephen T. Hulbert, was appointed by the Board of Governors, effective July 1, 1996.
II. The System of Public Higher Education in Rhode Island
A strong system of public higher education is fundamental to Rhode Island’s continuing economic development, general prosperity, and social and cultural vitality.
Blue Ribbon Commission Report
With the creation of the Board of Governors for Higher Education by the General Assembly in 1981, the powers and duties relevant to higher education were assigned to the Board in Section 16-59-4 of the General Laws of Rhode Island. The specific powers and duties related to the coordination of the system of public higher education include the following:
- To approve a systematic program of information gathering, processing, and analysis
- To approve a master plan defining broad goals and objectives for higher education
- To formulate broad policy to implement these goals and objectives
- To prepare annually a state higher education budget
- To approve institutional tables of organization
- To create, abolish and consolidate departments, divisions, programs and courses of study
- To establish clear and definitive institutional missions
- To promote maximum efficiency, economy and cooperation in the delivery of public higher education.
The 1981 legislation also created the Rhode Island Office of Higher Education and the position of Commissioner of Higher Education. The duties assigned to the commissioner include the development and implementation of activities necessitated by the Board of Governors responsibilities.
Expectations of the Public System of Higher Education
Four systemwide goals for higher education in Rhode Island were identified by the Board of Regents in the mid-1970s and became the priorities of the Board of Governors. These goals — excellence, opportunity, diversity, and accountability — are described briefly below. The Blue Ribbon Commission recommended that these goals be expanded to include more specific definitions and examples, to be more explicit with regard to the value of higher education to the economy of the state, and to emphasize interinstitutional and systemwide relations. Some examples suggested in the Blue Ribbon Commission report have been refined and are included at the end of each goal description.
Excellence in instruction, research, and public service is expected and is sought by the institutions of higher education and by the Board of Governors. Excellence requires talent, professional commitment, and the support and resources necessary to sustain such qualities. Maintaining excellence requires self-assessment and responsiveness to what such evaluation suggests.
The adoption by the Board of Governors of a policy for promoting quality at the institutions emphasizes this commitment. The policy provides for periodic reporting to the Board of Governors on institutional efforts to improve quality (Board of Governors Policy: June, 1986). The creation by the Board of Governors of the Incentive Fund for Excellence and the Challenge Fund for Administrative and Managerial Improvement provided additional resources for encouraging excellence.
Goal Indicator: Excellence —
Prestige of the institution
Adequacy of resources
Performance of students and faculty
The opportunity to participate in higher education is made possible through the variety of programs and services offered throughout the state by the three public institutions of higher education. These programs are open to all potential students without regard to age, race, sex, or physical handicap.
In an effort to promote access to higher education, the cost to students is kept as low as possible. The Board of Governors in fact has adopted a tuition policy which includes the provision that public institutions should maintain sufficiently low tuition so that no student, after receiving available federal and state support, is unable to attend a public institution due to inadequate finances. Financial assistance is available to students from federal, state and institutional programs and through the generosity of individuals, businesses, industries, and foundations.
Goal Indicator: Opportunity/Access —
Participation by students who differ in terms of income, residency and career goals
Differential entrance criteria for each institution
Diversity and Responsiveness
The system of higher education is composed of three institutions — a community college, a college and a university — and each institution has a distinct history and character. Through a diverse range of instructional programs, research and public service, these institutions meet the educational needs of individual students and the public service and manpower needs of the state and region. The available degree, certificate, and non-credit programs cover nearly all academic and technical fields and the research and public service efforts are considerable. As needs and demands change, the institutions are able to respond accordingly because of the imagination and inventiveness of faculty and administrators.
Diversity within the system has been achieved without unnecessary program duplication. The Blue Ribbon Commission reconfirmed the finding that 85 percent of the program offerings at the three institutions (255 of the 302 distinct degree programs offered in 1986) are exclusive to one institution. (See Appendix B for an updated inventory of degrees programs. Also note that Section Four of this document includes a review of program overlap between the three public institutions.)
Goal Indicator: Responsiveness —
Contributions to the economic needs of the state
Provision of services to the public sector
Improvement of the quality of life in the state
Coordination and Accountability
A framework exists for coordinating institutional programs and activities within the system while seeking to sustain the quality of those programs and services, to protect academic freedom, and to maintain the integrity of the institutions. This framework is formed by two Board of Governors policies: “Regulations Governing Instructional Program and Organizational Changes” and “Articulation and Transfer between and among Public Institutions of Higher Education in Rhode Island” and by the procedures for short-term and long-term planning, for fiscal accountability, and for information collection and dissemination. This framework enables the Board of Governors to fulfill its legislated responsibilities, to minimize unnecessary duplication of effort, to improve management, and to promote the wise and effective use of human, financial and physical resources.
Goal Indicator: Coordination and Accountability —
Evidence of improvement in student knowledge and skills
Efficient use of resources
Effective management and coordination of institutional missions and roles
with a recognition that differentiated missions may require differentiated
levels of support
At the 1992 retreat of the Board of Governors, the Board identified several priority issues which were to guide the planning process. These issues were assigned to various Board of Governors committees for special consideration and eventual recommendations to the full Board. The identified issues were —
- Defining the Board of Governors mission and values
- Seeking new methods of financing
- Managing efficiently
- Encouraging diversity
- Reconsidering Board of Governors policies to reflect mission
- Promoting coordination
As was mentioned in the previous section, in 1994 the Board of Governors launched its strategic planning process. As a result of this project, the Board of Governors revised and refined the priority issues. Currently, there are six priority areas around which the strategic, long-range plan for public higher education is being developed. This six priority areas are —
- Defining the mission of public higher education
- Developing financial strategies
- Expanding telecommunications/infrastructure
- Clarifying roles and responsibilities
- Ensuring accessible and affordable education
- Defining desired outcomes
III. Institutional Role and Mission Statements
Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education. It is widely agreed that institutions of higher education should be different. Far beyond the concept of diversity, institutional differences are factors of history, kinds of programs and services, size, location, and cost. Institutions develop unique characteristics and, in turn, achieve an identity unique to themselves.
Arthur R. Pontarelli
Each public institution of higher education has a unique history and a role to play in the state. Individually and collectively they are to provide higher education programs and services — most often categorized as instruction, research, and public service
Instruction is described as those teaching and learning activities and student services which are conducted in classrooms and laboratories, libraries and learning resource centers, and outreach centers and other off-campus locations.
Research is described as that which complements and strengthens the teaching and learning activities as well as organized research which is conducted in institutes and agencies and which may or may not be related to instructional programs.
Public Service refers to those activities of the institution or its members which are carried out for the benefit of groups or individuals in the communities, state, or the region. These activities include institutes and conferences, consulting, cultural events, services to industry and government, cooperative extension, and so forth.
To clarify the role of three public institutions of higher education, role statements were adopted for each institution in 1981. In general, role statements are both permissive and restrictive; they are used in this document to delineate the scope of the institutions so that the system of higher education remains in balance.
To further describe the purposes of the individual institutions, each institution has developed a mission statement. These mission statements embrace to a varying degree the three basic elements: instruction, research and public service. Revised missions statements were approved by the Board of Governors in 1996 (the Board of Governors for Higher Education and the University of Rhode Island), in 1988 (Rhode Island College), and in 1987 (the Community College of Rhode Island).
Community College of Rhode Island Role Statement
Adopted by the Board of Regents: February, 1981
The Community College of Rhode Island is the comprehensive public two-year college in Rhode Island. Established in 1960 by an act of the General Assembly as Rhode Island Junior College, the first classes were held in 1964. The current name was adopted in 1980.
All residents of Rhode Island should have access to the programs and services available from the Community College.
The Community College may not offer instructional programs or courses beyond the associate degree level.
The Community College should maintain a balance of academic and vocational programs of instruction.
The Community College should maintain its policy of open admission for residents 18 years old or older. Individual programs may have specific requirements for admission.
The Community College should remain a non-residential institution.
Research at the Community College should be conducted by faculty in order to enhance teaching-learning activities.
Programs and services at the Community College should be offered primarily through the Warwick and Lincoln campuses and at approved off-campus sites and/or satellites. [Note: The Providence Campus was opened in September 1990.]
The Community College of Rhode Island should continue to provide:
- general education;
- associate degree programs, including those designed to permit students to enter baccalaureate granting institutions;
- vocational and technical courses and programs, which may lead to certificates or associate degrees and which provide individuals with the skills necessary for employment opportunities;
- credit or non-credit education (associate degree level or below) for the adult population in the state;
- counseling services as needed to assist students;
- developmental or remedial education for students who are eligible for admission but who are not well prepared;
- community and statewide public service consistent with available resources.
CCRI Mission and Goals Statement
Adopted by the Board of Governors: March 5, 1987
Community College of Rhode Island will provide an ambitious array of post-secondary occupational programs and courses designed to prepare students for, and enhance their competence in, paraprofessional and technical jobs in business and industry beyond what might be achieved in high school.
Community College of Rhode Island will offer programs and courses designed for students who wish to transfer their credits to other institutions of higher education, and will work closely with other Rhode Island institutions to develop and improve effective articulation and transfer programs.
Community College of Rhode Island will give special attention to the quality of its offerings and the effectiveness of its instruction.
Community College of Rhode Island will provide such student services as may be necessary to a student’s academic progress and as are feasible.
Community College of Rhode Island will provide adult residents of Rhode Island with open access to post-secondary education.
Community College of Rhode Island will make its facilities available to community groups and the public in general at as low a cost as possible.
Community College of Rhode Island will sponsor a wide range of non-profit forums, workshops, seminars, courses, lectures, exhibitions, concerts, shows and tours.
Community College of Rhode Island will assist community organizations, local businesses and industries, and appropriate state and municipal governmental agencies to develop and enhance their own educational programs, and will work with these groups to further the state’s economic development objectives.
Where feasible, Community College of Rhode Island should involve community representatives in establishing and evaluating its programs and activities.
Rhode Island College Role Statement
Adopted by the Board of Regents: February, 1981
Rhode Island College is the state’s public comprehensive liberal arts and professional college. Originally established in 1854 by the General Assembly as a state normal school, in 1924 the name was changed to Rhode Island College of Education. In 1960 the College was named Rhode Island College to reflect its broadened purpose.
The major program emphases at Rhode Island College should be at the undergraduate level. The College may not offer the associate degree.
Opportunities for graduate study should be available at the master’s level in a limited number of disciplines; Certificates of Advanced Graduate Study may be offered in certain areas within education.
The College should accept students whose high school performance placed them at the 50th percentile or above, or who have demonstrated their ability through the achievement of an associate level degree or the successful completion of college coursework. Individual programs may have specific requirements for admission.
The College should have a balanced commuter and resident population commensurate with the services and facilities available to support those students.
Research at the College should be conducted by faculty to encourage and facilitate scholarly activity as essential to effective teaching and the advancement of knowledge.
The programs and services of the College should be offered primarily through its campus in Providence and at approved off-campus sites and/or outreach centers.
Rhode Island College should continue to provide:
- general education;
- baccalaureate, master’s and CAGS level degree programs — primarily a core of programs in liberal arts and sciences, and in a selected number of pre-professional and professional fields of study;
- community and statewide public service consistent with available resources.
Rhode Island College Mission Statement
Adopted by the Board of Governors: March 16, 1988
Rhode Island College, founded in 1854, is the comprehensive public institution of higher education in the State of Rhode Island. Its primary mission is to make its academic programs available to any qualified resident of Rhode Island who can benefit from its educational services. The College fulfills its educational mission by offering undergraduate programs in the liberal arts and sciences and in a variety of professional fields. It also offers a range of selected graduate programs in the arts and sciences, and in areas of social, public and community service. The education provided is premised on a commitment to the complementary relationship between liberal and professional education and has as its objectives preparation for advancement in professional areas, and breadth of perspective and knowledge for enlightened and constructive citizenship. The College is supported by the State of Rhode Island as its only comprehensive college, and as part of the system of public higher education which includes the Community College and the University with which articulation agreements exist for student transfer within the system.
As a comprehensive institution of higher education, Rhode Island College offers programs of study in that array of disciplines traditionally considered as the liberal arts including humanities, social sciences, sciences, and fine arts, and a broad array of professional offerings in the health and helping professions, education, management, and technology. Selected curricula are offered at the graduate level within the liberal arts and in applied and practitioner-oriented fields within the service sector.
In order to achieve its primary goal which is the intellectual growth and development of students, the faculty of Rhode Island College is committed to excellence in teaching. Teaching activities are complemented and enriched by scholarship and creative expression, as well as by service to the College, the City of Providence, the State of Rhode Island, and the wider community. The College is advantaged by its location in the metropolitan center of the state and seeks to enrich student experiences by internships and practice in the area’s many agencies and institutions.
The prevailing educational philosophy is that a strong, integrative relationship should obtain between liberal education and professional education in order to provide professional skills leading to productive career outlets and the basis for continuing personal and professional growth. Liberal education refers to learning opportunities designed to ensure that students have a breadth of educational experiences which foster the development of insights and multiple perspectives on ideas, issues and events as well as an appreciation of the interconnectedness of fields of knowledge, and the value dimensions of the human condition. Professional education refers to learning opportunities designed to give students concentrated knowledge and depth in a field directly related to a specific profession.
Rhode Island College views the student as an active agent in the educational process, assuming major responsibility for learning. The College recognizes its obligation to provide an environment that fosters students’ personal growth through recognition of individual differences, creative potential and learning styles. Rhode Island College offers its academic programs to undergraduates of traditional age as well as to older students who often study and work part-time while earning undergraduate or advanced degrees. Aware of the richness that accrues to a college from diversity in its student body (the preponderance of which comes from Rhode Island), the College recognizes the need for a more diverse student group and welcomes students from other states and countries. It is also committed to including racial and ethnic minorities, the economically disadvantaged, and students with handicapping conditions, with special effort and attention given to the inclusion of groups that are underrepresented in higher education.
Each of its many and varied programs and activities is aimed at preparing its students and alumni for meaningful lives and professional careers. By these contributions of educated talent to the Rhode Island workforce and by its own status as an employer and purchaser of goods and services, the College makes a significant contribution to the economic development of the state.
Rhode Island College responds in a positive and active fashion to its environment by contributing to the high quality of elementary, secondary and post-secondary education in Rhode Island, and by providing a multitude of educational and cultural services for educators and the Rhode Island citizenry. The College also contributes directly to the cultural life of the state through ongoing theatre and concert performances, art exhibits, lectures and films which are all open to the public. Through its educational, social and cultural programs and activities, the College seeks to contribute to the professional mobility and advancement of its students and alumni, to the economic development of the State of Rhode Island, and to the enrichment of the larger community. In the last analysis, Rhode Island College is a primary contributor to the educational, social and cultural enrichment of the citizens of Rhode Island.
University of Rhode Island Role Statement
Adopted by the Board of Regents: February, 1981
The University of Rhode Island is the comprehensive university and land grant institution in Rhode Island. The University was originally chartered in 1888 as the state agricultural school. Later designated a state college and in 1909 named Rhode Island State College, the General Assembly established the University of Rhode Island in 1951.
The University provides instructional programs through the doctoral degree level. Any associate degree level program not already operational should not be developed.
The University should accept only those students whose high school performance placed them at the 50th percentile or above, or who have demonstrated their ability through the achievement of an associate level degree or the successful completion of college coursework. Individual programs may have specific requirements for admission.
The University should retain a balance of resident and commuting students.
The University has primary responsibilities for research among the public institutions of higher education.
The University’s programs and services should be offered primarily in Kingston and at such off-campus and/or outreach centers as may be approved. The College of Continuing Education is the location for a limited core of University programs and services. The University should not offer new programs through the College of Continuing Education in Providence which would substantially overlap with programs available at Rhode Island College.
As a land grant and sea grant institution, the University should continue to have statewide
responsibility for cooperative extension services. Such services and programs should
complement and not replace the endeavors appropriate to the other public institutions of
The University of Rhode Island should continue to provide:
- general education;
- baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral level degree programs in liberal arts, the sciences, and in pre-professional and professional fields of study;
- community and statewide public service consistent with available resources.
University of Rhode Island Mission Statement
Adopted by the Board of Governors: September 25, 1996
The University of Rhode Island is the principal public research and graduate institution in the State of Rhode Island with responsibilities for expanding knowledge, for transmitting it, and for fostering its application. Its status as a land grant, sea grant, and urban grant institution highlights its traditions of natural resource, marine, and urban related research. The University is committed to providing strong undergraduate programs to promote students’ ethical development and capabilities as critical and independent thinkers. To meet student and societal needs, it offers undergraduate professional education programs in a wide range of disciplines. Graduate programs provide rigorous advanced study and research opportunities for personal and professional development. With undergraduate and graduate programs in the liberal arts and sciences and focus programs in the areas of marine and environmental studies; health; children, families, and communities; and enterprise and advanced technology, the University strives to meet the rapidly changing needs of the State, the country, and the world.
To help achieve the teaching, research, and service objectives referred to above and to extend intellectual, cultural, and social horizons, the University offers a variety of special programs, including opportunities for learning outside the classroom and for community service. Committed to effective learning, the University encourages close student-faculty interaction. Distinctive programs such as interdisciplinary research partnerships involving faculty, students, and practitioners from within and outside the University are supported. It collaborates with governmental and other agencies, with other educational institutions, and with industry. It maintains extensive outreach and continuing education programs. The University sponsors an extensive array of concerts, performances, and exhibitions in music, theater, and other fine arts, and maintains significant recreational facilities and notable programs in intramural and intercollegiate athletics.
The University seeks talented undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff from a wide array of cultural, economic, and ethnic backgrounds who collaborate in an intellectual and social community of mutual respect to learn, to be enriched, and to produce significant research and scholarly and creative works. Its students in all their diversity — from Rhode Island, across the country, and around the globe — are expected to be active participants both in and beyond the classroom. Their performance, potential and commitment mark them as capable of advanced study and as future leaders.
To fulfill its special obligations to the State of Rhode Island, the University cooperates in offering programs with other Rhode Island institutions of higher education, public and private. It is committed, through cooperative governance, to an on-going evaluation of programs, priorities, and processes in order to improve existing programs and to anticipate changing needs and new challenges. Aspiring to have a quality and extent of influence beyond the state, with breadth of vision and boldness of approach, the University of Rhode Island strives for excellence for Rhode Island and for the country.
Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education Mission Statement
Adopted by the Board of Governors: August 6, 1992
Amended by the Board of Governors: June 15, 1995; September 25, 1996
The Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education has as its mission the promotion and operation of an excellent, efficient, affordable system of higher education from the community college through the graduate and professional school levels. The primary purposes of the system are to provide access to higher education free of discrimination for residents of the state, and to enrich the intellectual, economic, social and cultural life of the community.
To fulfill this mission, the Board of Governors shall adopt relevant policies for the public institutions of higher education, foster cooperation with the independent institutions of higher education, regulate the proprietary schools, and advance the cohesiveness and interdependency of the system of higher education. In addition, cooperative ventures with other education and training sectors and with institutions of higher education around the world are encouraged.
IV. Implications for Instructional Programs
Tomorrow, the man or the woman who does not understand that learning must be a continuous way of life, who cannot communicate, who does not work productively, who finds leisure dull, who does not understand both the physical and the social world, who cannot make thoughtful and responsible moral judgments, will be a waste both to himself and to society.
The Thibeault Commission Report
In 1979, an analysis of the degree programs offered by the three public institutions of higher education in Rhode Island was completed. In 1986, the analysis was redone for the Blue Ribbon Commission; it was updated again using fall 1992 data and fall 1996 data, and now using data as of of July 1, 1998.
The 1998 analysis showed that there were 250 distinct programs offered across the system; of the distinct degree programs, 208 (83.2 percent) were exclusive to one institution. Of the duplicative programs, 36 (14.1 percent) were classified as appropriate overlap in light of the need to provide program diversity at each institution and the need to serve different student populations. Only 3 programs (1.2 percent) of the total were classified as being of questionable overlap.
The complete 1998 Degree Programs Offering Analysis, which was based upon data as of July 1, 1998, is included as Appendix B.
As a result of the extensive discussions that preceded the adoption of the coordination plan by the Board of Regents in 1981, program guidelines were developed to restrict the expansion of an institution into certain areas. Since these guidelines have not been revised by the Board of Governors, they are considered still to be in effect. The guidelines are listed below by program area.
- No additional undergraduate program in education should be offered by the College or by the University.
- No additional graduate program in education should be offered by the University.
- No additional master’s or CAGS programs should be offered by the College unless there is unusual evidence of need for professionals in the field under consideration. Should there be a need and demand for a master’s or CAGS program in education, the College may propose such a program.
- Neither the University nor the College should offer a doctoral-level degree program in any field of education.
[Note: In 1982 the Board of Governors, following the recommendation of the Committee to Study Doctoral Programs in Education, suggested that Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island develop a proposal for a joint doctoral program in education and human services that would incorporate the major strengths of each institution. At the request of the then President of the University of Rhode Island, Frank Newman, consideration of this issue was postponed until the organizational structure of the University could be reviewed internally. In 1988 a joint committee composed of personnel from the University, the College and the Office of Higher Education was formed. Over the next several years, the committee developed and agreed upon the content and joint administrative oversight of the doctoral program in education. In 1993, the joint doctoral program was approved by the Board of Governors, and with a generous grant for the Alan Shawn Feinstein Foundation, the program was instituted in 1994.]
• To accommodate student demand, the education programs at the College and the University may be maintained. Student demand trends will be monitored by the institutions and periodic reports will be prepared and presented to the Board of Governors.
Foreign language program proposals at the College should be based on high evidence of student demand. State needs for individuals fluent in particular languages should also be taken into consideration.
New programs in allied health will be fully articulated with other institutions to insure students a smooth transition from one program to another and a career development progression in the professional field.
No new graduate level or undergraduate level programs in health professions or in allied health should be developed by the College. Programs identified as necessary to address manpower needs should be developed and proposed by the University.
The College should not develop a master’s in art therapy that has as a central component a health-related curriculum.
Social Work Programs
The College is the only public institution which may offer programs in social work.
All new technology programs at the Community College should be based on manpower needs and the availability of institutional resources.
Any “2+2” technology program at the College will necessarily be fully articulated with the Community College.
Any graduate-level program at the College in industrial technology must be based on strong evidence of student demand and availability of institutional resources to sustain the program.
[Note: In 1992, the Board of Governors approved the establishment of a master of science in industrial technology at Rhode Island College.]
- No institution may introduce as new programs any which are available at one of the other two institutions.
- All new programs should be fully articulated with existing programs to insure students a smooth transition between programs and to provide students a career development progression.
- The Community College may not offer programs or courses beyond the associate level.
- The College should not offer programs in these fields which are considered within the responsibility of the University: Agriculture, Engineering, Home Economics, Library Science, Oceanography, and Pharmacy
- The College should not offer graduate-level programs in these fields: Business, Public Administration, and Anthropology. [Note: Any proposal for an anthropology graduate program must be based on strong evidence of student demand and on institutional resources to sustain a graduate program.]
- The University should not develop any associate level programs not already in operation. [Note: The University of Rhode Island has eliminated the two associate programs that it did have: Fisheries and marine Technology (eliminated in 1986) and Dental Hygiene (eliminated in 1994).]
- The University may not offer programs in Providence, through the College of Continuing Education, which substantially overlap with programs available at the College. (See Section Five.)
V. Providence-Based Programs
We strongly urge that the Board of Governors lay to rest the option of merger.(1988:ExS)
Education Commission of the States Team
Agreed upon by the Postsecondary Education Executive Council (PEEC): September 25, 1996
The potential overlap in program offerings by the three public institutions of higher education (all of which now have a Providence base) has been a source of concern for educational policy makers for at least the last twenty years. Over these years, this issue has been well studied: at the end of this section, there is a summary of the significant results/conclusions of these studies. In most cases in the past, the governing board took action to direct the institutions as to which programs each might offer and which ones they were excluded from offering. Basically, by action of the Board of Regents and more recently by the Board of Governors, the educational programs were essentially divided among the institutions.
With the changes anticipated, or already occurring, in the environment of public higher education in Rhode Island, it is no longer appropriate to talk about prohibitions, but rather to consider the best and most cost-effective way of accomplishing goals and of utilizing the available resources of the system as a whole. There are several factors that argue for a more enlightened approach:
- When considering the demographics of the state, in terms of where people live and work, clearly Providence is the center of the state. To best meet the needs of the residents and workers, higher education programs should be easily accessible to the Providence area, but overlap and duplication should be kept to a minimum in the system of public higher education.
- Since the mission of the Board of Governors for Higher Education is “the promotion and operation of an excellent, efficient, affordable system of higher education” (in Providence as well as elsewhere), since the resources available to complete the mission are becoming evermore scarce, and since both efficiency and quality are more likely to be achieved through cooperation rather than competition, collaborative efforts should be supported and encouraged.
- The University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College and the Community College of Rhode Island are different types of higher education institutions. Each has its own history and traditions and has evolved to meet differing sets of needs and expectations. Nonetheless, the common thread of being higher education institutions that meet the needs of students results in a certain amount of duplication of programs. Over the years, the Board of Governors has encouraged reduction in overlapping programs, and recently has voiced interest in even further reductions through collaborations and eliminations.
- Current technology and future technological advancements will provide a means for individuals to access higher education that has only been talked about in the past. If public higher education is going to be a significant player in the delivery of the programs of the future, it must be prepared, and able, to take advantage of electronic transmission. Recognizing this fact, the Board of Governors initiated and the voters approved a $40.6 million bond referendum to upgrade the telecommunications systems. With the advent of electronically-delivered programs, cooperation within the system becomes both easier and even more important.
With these points in mind, the Providence-based agreement, now called the Providence Accord, which reflects the future, as well as the past, has been drafted and is presented below. The Postsecondary Education Executive Council (PEEC) adopted the revised statement on September 25, 1996.
The Providence Accord
In reference to the programs offered by the public institutions of higher education in Rhode Island — the University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College and the Community College of Rhode Island — in the greater Providence area, it is agreed that —
- There be developed a new spirit of cooperation and collaboration among and between the three public institutions of higher education in their approach to programs, particularly in the Providence area.
- There be a process established to encourage the development of collaborative/cooperative programs among and between institutions that would include a description of how such programs will be initiated, managed, funded and evaluated.
- Any proposed new programs, particularly in the Providence area, be scrutinized in terms of the degree to which the programs promote collaboration and coordination, not duplication.
- There be a periodic review of the systemwide offerings in the Providence area, prepared by the Rhode Island Office of Higher Education, and that this information be reported through the Postsecondary Education Executive Council (PEEC) to the Board of Governors.
History of Providence-Based Program Reviews
The first recorded review of the programs at the University of Rhode Island College of Continuing Education and Rhode Island College occurred in 1981 (it should be noted that in 1981, the Community College of Rhode Island did not have a Providence-based location). At that time, eight programs offered by URI College of Continuing Education and Rhode Island College were identified as overlapping. Steps were taken by the Board of Governors to reduce this number. These steps included the following actions:
2/4/81 MA program in English at URI-CCE phased out.
2/4/81 BA program in Secondary Education at URI-CCE phased out.
8/24/83 Bachelor of General Studies program at URI-CCE reviewed and changes introduced in the organization and requirements of the program to reduce duplication.
8/24/83 Undergraduate programs in History at URI-CCE and RIC subjected to periodic monitoring of enrollment, use of overload faculty, and program costs.
7/18/85 BA program in Speech Communication at URI-CCE phased out.
7/18/85 BA programs in Economics, English and Psychology continued at both URI-CCE and RIC but are subjected to periodic monitoring in terms of student demand.
In 1985, the Commissioner appointed an interinstitutional committee to consider: Can the operation of the URI College of Continuing Education be justified given the nearby location of Rhode Island College? The committee reviewed the programmatic, physical, and fiscal feasibilities of forming a combined unit to offer continuing education programs in Providence for both URI and RIC. The committee reached the conclusion that —
- Except for a few baccalaureate degree areas, the degrees available at URI College of Continuing Education and those available at Rhode Island College were distinctly different. For those that were the same (Economics, English, History, and Psychology) a cyclical review was scheduled.
- On the basis of the availability of classroom space at Rhode Island College, it was not possible at that time to move the URI College of Continuing Education to the RIC campus.
- Even if the physical move were possible, innumerable difficulties in providing administrative services and student services to different student bodies on the same premises were predicted to result. (1985:11)
In 1987, the Blue Ribbon Commission to Study the Funding of Public Higher Education in Rhode Island including Compensation of Faculty, reviewed this issue and concluded that, until faculty and space problems could be solved, it would not be feasible to combine the continuing education functions of the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College.
Another recommendation of the Blue Ribbon Commission was to secure a national expert to suggest the most appropriate organizational relationship between the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College, as well as between Rhode Island College and the Community College of Rhode Island. This recommendation led to a study and subsequent report prepared by the Education Commission of the States (ECS) team. THE ECS team, in considering the issue, identified two key questions to be addressed:
- Would a merger make a significant enough improvement over the current system to justify the change?
- If not, what improvements could be made in the current system?
The answer to the first of these questions was “no.” The response to the second, with regard to URI College of Continuing Education and Rhode Island College, included the following suggestions: that the Coordination Plan be used as the vehicle to eliminate areas of controversial overlap and that all three public institutions of higher education should be sensitive to the need for coordinated efforts in Providence.
In 1993, approval was granted by the Board of Governors for Higher Education for two new
majors to be offered at the University of Rhode Island College of Continuing Education as
part of the Bachelor’s of General Studies: Applied Communications and Health Services.
Blue Ribbon Commission Final Report of the Blue Ribbon Commission to Study the Funding of Public Higher Education in Rhode Island Including Compensation of Faculty, February 1987.
Education Commission of the States Enhancing the System: Options for Improving Organizational Relations Among Rhode Island Public Institutions of Higher Education, February 1988.
Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education
Are the Right Questions Being Asked?, September 1995.
Rhode Island Board of Regents
Coordination of Public Higher Education for Education in Rhode Island, January 1980.
Rhode Island Board of Regents for Education
Coordination of Public Higher Education in Rhode Island — Phase Two, February 1981.
Rhode Island Office of Higher Education
Degree Program Offerings Analysis, October 10, 1996 and July 1, 1998
Rhode Island Office of Higher Education
Memorandum from Commissioner McMahon to the Blue Ribbon Commission, “Overlap in Continuing Education in the Providence Area,” February 25, 1986.
Rhode Island Office of Higher Education
Review Committee on Overlap in Continuing Education Report, May 3, 1985.
Rhode Island Special Commission Education to Study the Entire Field of Education
Education in Rhode Island: A Plan for the Future, June 1968.