Introduced Version Senate Bill 169 History

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Senate Bill No. 169

(By Senators Chafin and Fanning)


[Introduced February 14, 2005; referred to the Committee

on Education; and then to the Committee on Finance.]


A BILL to amend and reenact §18B-1A-6 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to adding Bluefield State College to those colleges which may meet the need for graduate education in its region.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §18B-1A-6 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:

§18B-1A-6. Graduate education.
(a) Intent. -- It is the intent of the Legislature to address the need for high quality graduate education programs to be available throughout the state.
(b) Findings. -- The Legislature makes the following findings:
(1) Since West Virginia ranks below its competitor states in graduate degree production, particularly in the areas that are important to the state's competitive position in the new economy of the twenty-first century, there is a considerable need for greater access to graduate education, especially at the master's degree level;
(2) There is a significant disparity in access to part-time graduate degree programs among the different regions of the state and part-time graduate enrollments are heavily concentrated in the counties immediately surrounding Marshall University and West Virginia University;
(3) There is a particular need for increased access to graduate programs linked directly to the revitalization of the regional economies of the state; and
(4) There is a particular need for improved quality and accessibility of preservice and in-service programs for teachers in subject matter fields.
(c) In order to meet the need for graduate education, the commission shall be responsible for accomplishing the following:
(1) Ensuring that West Virginia University and Marshall University expand access to master's degree programs throughout West Virginia, with a strong emphasis on collaboration with the baccalaureate colleges and community and technical colleges in each region;
(2) Ensuring that any institution providing a master's degree program under the provisions of this section provides a meaningful, coherent program by offering courses in such a way that students, including place-bound adults, have ample opportunity to complete a degree in a reasonable period of time;
(3) Focusing on providing courses that enhance the professional skills of teachers in their subject areas; and
(4) Ensuring that programs are offered in the most cost-effective manner to expand access throughout the region and the state.
(d) Bluefield State College, Concord College University, Fairmont State College University, Glenville State College, Shepherd College University, West Liberty State College and West Virginia State College University shall meet the need for graduate education in their regions by following the procedures outlined below.
(1) The institutions shall develop as graduate centers for their regions to broker access to graduate programs by contracting with accredited colleges and universities in and out of the state. These programs shall be related directly to each region's education and economic needs.
(2) The institutions may begin collaborative programs with other institutions leading to the granting of master's degrees in selected areas that are demonstrated to be related directly to the needs of their regions and that draw on faculty strengths. An institution may continue to offer collaborative programs aimed at meeting the documented needs with the approval of the commission or, if a sustained need still exists, the institution may move to the next level.
(3) If the graduate education needs of the region have not been met through brokering and collaborative programs, the institution may explore the option of beginning its own graduate-level program leading to the granting of a master's degree. The institution may begin its own master's degree program if it can meet the following conditions as determined by the commission:
(A) Demonstrate that the institution has successfully completed each of the steps required before exploring development of its own master's degree program;
(B) Provide evidence based on experience gained in the brokering and collaborative arrangements that a sustained demand exists for the program;
(C) Demonstrate that the baccalaureate institution has the capacity to provide the program;
(D) Demonstrate that the core mission of the baccalaureate institution will not be impaired by offering the graduate program;
(E) Provide evidence that the graduate program has a reasonable expectation of being accredited;
(F) Demonstrate that the need documented in subdivision (B) of this subsection is not currently being met by any other state institution of higher education; and
(G) The commission may designate one of the institutions listed in subsection (d) of this section to develop and implement no more than four of its own masters level programs as a pilot project: Provided, That the selected institution shall move toward and achieve regional accreditation of the masters program within a reasonable time as determined by the commission. The institution shall be selected based on the following:
(i) Sufficient credentialed faculty to offer quality programs in the areas selected;
(ii) Sufficient unmet demand for the programs; and
(iii) Sustainable unmet demand based on generally accepted projections for population growth in the region served by the institution.
The programs authorized by this clause may not be restricted by the provisions of subdivisions (1), (2) and (3) of this subsection nor by the provisions of subsection (e) of this section.
(e) There is an urgent need for master's degree programs for teachers in disciplines or subject areas, such as mathematics, science, history, literature, foreign languages and the arts. Currently, master's-level courses in education that are offered in the regions served by the state universities are primarily in areas such as guidance and counseling, administration, special education and other disciplines unrelated to teaching in subject areas. If this need is not being met in a region through the procedure established in subsection (d) of this section, then the graduate center in that region may plan a master's degree program in education focused on teaching in subject area fields in which the demand is not being met. No institution may begin a graduate program under the provisions of this section until the program has been reviewed and approved by the commission. The commission shall approve only those programs, as authorized by this subsection, that emphasize serving the needs of teachers and schools in the colleges' immediate regions. In determining whether a program should be approved, the commission also shall rely upon the recommendations of the statewide task force on teacher quality provided for in section eight, article fourteen of this chapter.
(f) The commission shall review all graduate programs being offered under the provisions of this section and, using the criteria established for program startup in subsection (d) of this section, determine which programs should be discontinued.
(g) At least annually, the governing boards shall evaluate graduate programs developed pursuant to the provisions of this section and report to the commission on the following:
(1) The number of programs being offered and the courses offered within each program;
(2) The disciplines in which programs are being offered;
(3) The locations and times at which courses are offered;
(4) The number of students enrolled in the program; and
(5) The number of students who have obtained master's degrees through each program.
The governing boards shall provide the commission with any additional information the commission requests in order to make a determination on the viability of a program.
(h) In developing any graduate program under the provisions of this section, institutions shall consider delivering courses at times and places convenient to adult students who are employed full-time. Institutions shall place an emphasis on extended degree programs, distance learning and off-campus centers which utilize the cost-effective nature of extending existing university capacity to serve the state rather than duplicating the core university capacity and incurring the increased cost of developing master's degree programs at other institutions throughout the state.
(i) Brokering institutions shall invite proposals from other public institutions of higher education for service provision prior to contracting with other institutions: Provided, That if institutions propose providing graduate programs in service areas other than in their responsibility district, the institution seeking to establish a program shall work through the district's lead institution in providing those services.
(j) In addition to the approval required by the commission, authorization for any institution to offer a master's degree program under the provisions of this section is subject to the formal approval processes established by the governing boards.

NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to more reasonably meet the regional and economic needs of the state, as set forth in the findings of the Legislature relative to locating graduate centers, by adding Bluefield State College to the number of institutions.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.
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