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    Document Summary
    - Report Published -

    House Document No. 8

    Document Title
    Higher Education in Virginia

    Virginia Advisory Legislative Council

    Enabling Authority
    HJR 47 (Regular Session, 1950)

    Executive Summary
    The General Assembly of 1949 made provision for a special commission to study the State-support institutes of higher education. That commission was not appointed and instead Governor Tuck requested that the Commission to Study State and Local Revenues and Expenditures undertake that study in addition to its other work. The latter commission, after investigation, found the subject too complex to cover in the time available; it did, however, consider one aspect of the matter and reported to the General Assembly of 1950, requesting that a complete and thorough study be made. The General Assembly of 1950 directed the Virginia Advisory Legislative Council to make the study set forth in the resolution preceding this report.

    The Council requested Paul Crockett of Yorktown, Member of the House of Delegates, to act as Chairman of a committee to make the preliminary investigation and report. The following committee members served with Mr. Crockett: Robert F. Baldwin, Jr., Norfolk, Member of Senate; W. C. Caudill, Pearisburg, Member of Senate; George Damm, Arlington, Member of House of Delegates; Harry B. Davis, Norfolk, Member of House of Delegates; Wert Faulkner, Glasgow; and Robert H. Tucker, Richmond. John B. Boatwright, Jr., and G. M. Lapsley served as Secretary and Recording Secretary, respectively, to the committee.

    The committee at the inception of its work realized that the task confronting it required the services of the best technical assistance that might be retained. The major research agencies in the United States in their field were consulted with a view to the retention of the best qualified of them. In the course of negotiations, it developed that a member of the staff of the United States Office of Education of the Federal Security Agency might be available in a private capacity to the committee. A conference was held with Dr. Fred J. Kelly, Specialist in Higher Education, United States Office of Education, following which arrangements were completed for Dr. Kelly to serve as consultant to the committee.

    The Auditor of Public Accounts was requested to make certain financial studies of the fiscal operations of the institutions. These studies furnished data of inestimable value.

    The Bureau of Population and Economic Research of the University of Virginia cooperated wholeheartedly in the compilation of factual data. This work has been of major importance in the study.

    Many State officers and agencies, and State-supported and private institutions of higher education, and their officers, have been of great help to the committee in the furnishing of answers to questionnaires and to requests for information on almost every phase of this study.

    Whatever merit this report may have depends to a large degree upon the assistance obtained from all these sources.

    The consultant met with the presidents of the State -supported institutions, and visited their campuses to obtain firsthand information to guide him in his work. The committee also met with the presidents and sincerely appreciated their varied and valuable contributions. A spirit of mutual respect and cooperation obtained throughout the study.

    The results of similar studies in other states were carefully reviewed in an effort to obtain suggestions which might be helpful here. It was found that many of these studies emphasize the same problems of higher education as are found in Virginia.

    The committee carefully considered the data before it, the views of the presidents and other interested individuals, and the report of the consultant, and submitted its findings and recommendations to the Council.

    The committee has materially assisted the Council by submitting its report in ample time to afford a thorough review of the report and the underlying data. The Council is impressed with the excellence of the work of the committee and with the breadth of knowledge displayed by the consultant. The State is most fortunate in having been able to obtain the services of such an outstanding group in an undertaking having the scope and Ěcomplexity of the present one.

    The Council has been greatly impressed with the problems confronting the State in the field of higher education and the solutions which are hereafter presented. The attention of all who are interested in the field of higher education and its relation to the public free schools is directed to the following findings and recommendations:


    I. Virginia has ten publicly controlled institutions of higher education, some of which maintain branches at centers away from their main campuses. These ten institutions provide education in the liberal arts and sciences, both undergraduate and, to a less complete extent, graduate, and in teacher training, agriculture, home economics, engineering, military science, business administration, law, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, and nursing.

    II. Important areas of higher education in need of further development by Virginia's publicly-controlled institutions include:

    1. Research to improve the effectiveness of public school teaching and the consequent better training of public school superintendents, principals and teachers.

    2. Public education in the field of health, especially in keeping well.

    3. Research to improve the conservation and utilization of the State's natural resources, comparable with the research program now carried on in agriculture.

    4. Short technical and semi-professional courses to prepare for the many types of callings which require post-high school training but do not require four-year curricula.

    5. Research in the basic arts and sciences to assure constant improvement in our cultural standards.

    6. Social and economic education of both youth and adults to prepare for a better understanding of our increasingly complex state, national and international problems.

    III. There are six boards, all appointed by the Governor, controlling higher education in Virginia: one for the University and Mary Washington; one for V. P. I. and Radford; one for V. M. I.; one for William and Mary; one for the Medical College of Virginia; and one (the State Board of Education) for Longwood, Madison and Virginia State College. These boards have been created at different times and for different purposes. Each operates with commendable eagerness to build up its own program.

    IV. The several institutions and their governing boards have had little occasion to develop a concept of a unified State-wide system of higher education into which the program of each institution would fit and thus enable each institution to contribute to an integrated, strengthened system of State higher education. Indeed, there has been no statutory machinery through which a State-wide integrated system of higher education would logically come about.

    V. The failure to develop a State-wide concept of higher education has had several effects:

    I. Institutional welfare rather than State welfare has tended to dominate the planning by the several institutional officers and governing boards.

    2. Competition rather than cooperation among the institutions has often characterized their relations with each other and with the General Assembly.

    3. Institutional programs have not taken due account of the needs of the State. Illustrations are cited in Item II above. Another example is the increased development of liberal arts programs in teacher training institutions while the State has a serious and growing shortage of well trained teachers.

    4. There has been a tendency for each institution to enlarge unduly the scope of its offerings both by adding courses in fields historically associated with it and by extension into fields not heretofore served by it, thus accentuating the problem of duplication. The cost of duplication is not limited to professional fields, but is found to a great degree in the maintenance in two or more institutions of senior college departments of instruction in the arts and sciences for very small numbers of students.

    5. There has been no administrative machinery to deal constructively with the potential development of the State-supported system of higher education.

    6. There has been no policy-making agency to deal on a State-wide and continuing basis with such questions as:

    a. Student aid in the form of loans, grants, scholarships and jobs.

    b. Admission requirements for (1) Virginia students and (2) out-of-State students.

    c. The extent to which the fees charged (1) Virginia students and (2) out-of-State students should pay the cost of their education.

    d. Graduate as well as undergraduate courses and instruction.

    VI. For the proper functioning of the legislative process in making appropriations and in fixing legal responsibilities, the Governor and General Assembly urgently need an administrative mechanism to present a unified budget in terms of a State-wide program of higher education. This budget for (1) maintenance and operation and (2) capital outlays, should be based upon an evaluation of the functions and operations of the several institutions as parts of a State-wide plan designed to meet the needs of the people of the State. Such a mechanism would be a great aid to the Governor and the General Assembly both during and between sessions in providing advice with respect to requests for funds.

    VII. The present Virginia plan of coordination through a voluntary council of presidents is not designed to meet, nor will it meet, the needs of a State-wide program of higher education due to the absence of facilities for long-range planning of a unified and comprehensive program and to the lack of suitable means of integrating the budgetary requests from the six governing boards.

    VIII. The need for a coordinating mechanism is generally recognized among persons most closely connected with the administration of institutions of higher education. There is some sentiment for creating such an agency to serve only in an advisory capacity to the Governor, particularly in the field of budget making. This concept, however, fails to meet the needs of the situation, particularly in that: (1) the group would serve the General Assembly only indirectly, because to the extent that its advice were available to the General Assembly, its usefulness as a confidential advisory group to the Governor would be impaired; (2) personnel of the necessary caliber would not be readily available for service on a group whose recommendations were known only to the Governor; (3) the activities of the group would be limited by the desires of the Governor and would depend for their effectiveness upon the views and interest of succeeding Governors; and (4) if the members of the group are to serve in a confidential relationship with each Governor, all the membership should be appointed by him, thus no continuity of experience or policy would be established whereas long and overlapping terms are essential to enable the Board to acquaint itself with the programs of the institutions and with the overall State needs in higher education.

    IX. Virginia institutions receive a smaller proportion of their support from State appropriations and a larger proportion from student fees than is the case in most other States.

    X. Appropriations for higher education have maintained for many years the same relative position percentage-wise to other educational appropriations and to the general fund.

    XI. With the help of the State Auditor of Public Accounts the institutions operate systems of fiscal controls which are excellent for keeping account of the condition of the several funds. Data are provided by the system which make possible general and specific cost studies of the institutions. The system makes possible determining the degree to which each activity - instruction, boarding, lodging, health service, is self-supporting at each institution.

    XII. The present is an excellent time to establish a workable plan to evolve a State-wide system of higher education taking into account the facilities at the institutions and the needs of the State, because:

    1. A continuation of the present system will increase the expense to the State without a corresponding increase in needed educational services.

    2. The need of public schools for a trained and efficient corps of teachers is extreme and getting worse.

    3. The capital outlay program at the colleges is providing a greatly improved plant and the State's program should now guarantee the most efficient utilization of this plant and the careful justification of additional plant in terms of a State-wide plan.

    4. The colleges are faced with a probable decline in enrollment due to the lessening of the G. I. program and the present national mobilization.

    5. There are movements to .establish at least two additional public colleges under the control of separate boards.

    XIII. For the fiscal year ending June 30, 1950, the State contributed $5,900,000 for maintenance and operation of the institutions of higher education. It cost the institutions $5,800,000, almost exactly the same amount, to operate and maintain their grounds and buildings. What Virginia does, therefore, for higher education, is to provide land and to build and maintain their physical plants. This amounts to 28.11 per cent of the cost of providing the education and research programs of the institutions. The remaining 71.89 per cent of the cost is met from other sources, such as student fees, endowment income, and Federal grants.

    XIV. The resolution directing the study requires consideration of unit costs, revenue producing activities, financial operations within the institutions, duplication, ratios of resident and non-resident students, contributions of graduates of the institutions, admission policies, policies as to the ratio of the cost of instruction to be met by students, scholarships and loan funds, and revenues from public and private sources. These have been matters of continuing interest and concern. The Council feels that these matters are of such volume and detail that they could not properly be covered in its recommendations. They have been thoroughly considered, and it is the opinion of the Council that every question raised in the resolution not specifically covered herein will be, in time, resolved by the creation of the State Board of Higher Education recommended in this report.