Columbia, SC — The Oct. 14 editorial, “Board of regents would improve cost, quality,” says South Carolina needs such a board to “oversee all of South Carolina’s institutions of higher learning, rather than allowing them to keep pursuing uncoordinated missions.”
As a college professor in South Carolina since 1980, I have talked with colleagues from other states who work at institutions governed by a board of regents. They report that the governance provided by those boards is not always satisfactory.
We are told that duplication of programs is wasteful, I believe the problem has been overstated. Institutions make programmatic decisions based on the needs of their students and the region they serve, their missions and their resources.
It is true that some programs (nursing and engineering, for example) are expensive, but since our region needs more nurses and engineers, this duplication is warranted. It seems unlikely that institutions would make decisions that are not in their best interests.
All of our public colleges and universities were established by the Legislature. The Commission on Higher Education was established by the Legislature. It is reasonable to assume that a board of regents created and populated by the Legislature would function about as well as the other oversight boards lawmakers created.
I did not recognize the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, an organization that was quoted in the editorial. Now that I have done some research, I would suggest that it is not the most reliable source for information about higher education. Organizations with impressive-sounding names are not always what they appear to be.