By Wesley Kerrick–
The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education recently re-elected its chair and vice chair, keeping them at the helm of an agency that plays a vital role in U of L’s key decisions.
At its Feb. 8 meeting in Frankfort, the council granted a second term as chair to Pam Miller, a former French and history teacher. Miller also served as the mayor of Lexington, KY for 10 years before being appointed to the council.
Dan Flanagan, a business owner and former faculty member at Campbellsville University, will continue as vice chair.
Miller said in a phone interview that at its next meeting, the council will set a ceiling on tuition for U of L’s 2013-2014 academic year. Typically, she said, universities want to raise tuition; however, U of L will not be allowed to raise tuition any higher than the council’s limit.
“That’s one of the most impactful decisions that we make,” Miller said.
Acquiring enough state funding for universities like U of L is the most pressing concern for the council, Flanagan said in a phone interview with the Cardinal. “It’s been a really, really major struggle for the past several years.”
He also said that the whole council is committed to an effort to increase funding, and that due in large part to the economy, money from the state is hard to come by.
Miller said that with each year, a greater portion of state funding is taken up by corrections, Medicaid and pensions. That makes it increasingly challenging for Kentucky’s universities to get the funding they need. “I’m an advocate of tax reform at the state level,” Miller said.
When the Kentucky legislature created the council in 1997, it charged it with making sure the state meets its education reform goals. The Kentucky Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997 declares that by the year 2020, U of L should become “a premier, nationally-recognized metropolitan research university.”
“It seems to me from the outside looking in,” Flanagan said, “that U of L has certainly stepped up to the plate.” Since 1997, U of L has raised its graduation rate from 28.5 percent to 52.1 percent in 2012, according to a report on its website.
“The University of Louisville is a star in terms of their student success improvement,” Miller said, citing its rising graduation rate. “It’s very impressive, and it’s not easy to do. Making that headway shows real effort.”
Miller’s biography on the council’s website says the Lexington resident became chair in Jan. 2012. “I care a lot about the state of Kentucky and its economy and its progress,” she said, “and I believe that higher education is the key.”
Flanagan, a large-scale farmer and retired pastor, lives in Campbellsville. A graduate of U of L’s Kent School of Social Work, he has held various positions in state government and at Campbellsville University. He was elected vice chair in Jan. 2012. Flanagan said he has a “great love and concern” for postsecondary education in Kentucky.
The council is composed of 15 members. This consists of 13 citizens, one faculty member, and one student, each appointed by the governor. The Commisioner of Education is an ex-officio member.
The committee licenses non-public institutions, approves academic programs, and collects performance data on universities and other institutions of higher education.
Miller was originally appointed to the Council on Postsecondary Education by Governor Steve Beshear in June of 2008, meaning that she has served four terms on council. Flanagan was appointed in 2005, also by Beshear, meaning that he has served eight terms on council.
Photos courtesy of Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education