§18B-1B-4. Powers and duties of Higher Education Policy Commission.

(a) The primary responsibility of the commission is to provide shared services in a cost-effective manner upon request to the state colleges and universities, the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education, and the community and technical colleges; undertake certain statewide and regional initiatives as specifically designated in this chapter, including those related to the administration of grants and scholarships and including those in conjunction with the council; to review, confirm, or approve certain actions undertaken by governing boards, as delineated in this chapter; and assist in the development of policy that will achieve the goals, objectives and priorities found in §18B-1-1a and §18B-1D-1 of this code. The commission shall exercise its authority and carry out its responsibilities in a manner that is consistent and not in conflict with the powers and duties assigned by law to the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education and the powers and duties assigned to the governing boards. To that end, the commission has the following powers and duties relating to the governing boards under its jurisdiction:

(1) Develop and advance the public policy agenda pursuant to §18B-1D-1 et seq. of this code to address major challenges facing the state, including, but not limited to, the goals, objectives, and priorities established in this chapter;

(2) In conjunction with the council, propose emergency and legislative rules in accordance with §29A-3A-1 and §18B-1-6 of this code to establish a performance-based funding formula model the commission and council shall use, beginning in the fiscal year 2024 budget cycle, in developing their annual budget requests to ensure the fair and equitable distribution and use of public funds among the state’s institutions of higher education, including the statutorily and administratively exempted schools. This funding formula model shall advance the goals of the state’s postsecondary education system by emphasizing outcomes focused on student success and institutional mission achievement. The formula shall include a range of variables that shall be weighted in a manner that corresponds to each institution’s mission and provides incentives for productivity improvements consistent with the goal of strengthening the state’s economy and workforce by developing the most competitive and capable graduates in the nation. The rule shall, at a minimum:

(A) Establish a set of objective performance metrics that reflect and support the state’s higher education goals and priorities and the methodology by which those metrics shall be used in the allocation of state funds;

(B) Ensure that a portion of each institution’s base appropriation is allocated based on outcomes achieved over a defined period of time;

(C) Incentivize postsecondary program offerings that align with the state’s higher education and workforce development priorities; and

(D) Establish safeguards to ensure stability of the funding formula model including, but not limited to, providing for periodic reviews of and revision to the performance metrics and funding methodology in addition to accounting for inflation;

(3) In collaboration with the council and the governing boards:

(A) Build public consensus around and sustain attention to a long-range public policy agenda. In developing the agenda, the commission and council shall seek input from the Legislature, the Governor, the governing boards, and the State Board of Education and local school districts to create the necessary linkages to assure smooth, effective and seamless movement of students through the public education and post-secondary education systems and to ensure that the needs of public school courses and programs can be fulfilled by the graduates produced and the programs offered;

(B) Assist governing boards in carrying out their duty effectively to govern the individual institutions of higher education;

(4) Serve as a point of contact to state policymakers:

(A) The Governor for the public policy agenda; and

(B) The Legislature by maintaining a close working relationship with the legislative leadership and the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability;

(5) Upon request, provide shared services to a state institution of higher education;

(6) Administer scholarship and grant programs as provided for in this code;

(7) Establish and implement the benchmarks and performance indicators for state colleges and universities necessary to measure institutional progress in achieving state policy priorities and institutional missions pursuant to §18B-1D-7 of this code;

(8) Establish a formal process for recommending capital investment needs and for determining priorities for state colleges and universities for these investments for consideration by the Governor and the Legislature as part of the appropriation request process pursuant to §18B-19-1 et seq. of this code;

(9) Except the statutorily and administratively exempted schools, develop standards and evaluate governing board requests for capital project financing in accordance with §18B-19-1 et seq. of this code;

(10) Except the statutorily and administratively exempted schools, ensure that governing boards manage capital projects and facilities needs effectively, including review and approval of capital projects, in accordance with §18B-19-1 et seq. of this code;

(11) Acquire legal services as considered necessary, including representation of the commission, the governing boards, employees, and officers before any court or administrative body, notwithstanding any other provision of this code to the contrary. The counsel may be employed either on a salaried basis or on a reasonable fee basis. In addition, the commission may, but is not required to, call upon the Attorney General for legal assistance and representation as provided by law;

(12) Employ a chancellor, and any interim chancellor employed shall meet all criteria required of the chancellor, pursuant to §18B-1B-5 of this code;

(13) Employ other staff as necessary and appropriate to carry out the duties and responsibilities of the commission and the council, in accordance with §18B-4-1 et seq. of this code;

(14) Provide suitable offices in Kanawha County for the chancellor, vice chancellors, and other staff;

(15) Approve the total compensation package from all sources for presidents of institutions under its jurisdiction, except the statutorily exempted schools, as proposed by the governing boards. The governing boards, except the governing boards of the statutorily exempted schools, must obtain approval from the commission of the total compensation package both when institutional presidents are employed initially and afterward when any change is made in the amount of the total compensation package: Provided, That the commission shall receive notice, but need not approve or confirm, an increase in the compensation of an institutional president that is exactly in the ratio of compensation increases allocated to all institutional employees and approved by the governing board to expressly include the president;

(16) Assist and facilitate the work of the institutions to implement the policy of the state to assure that parents and students have sufficient information at the earliest possible age on which to base academic decisions about what is required for students to be successful in college, other post-secondary education and careers related, as far as possible, to results from current assessment tools in use in West Virginia;

(17) Approve and implement a uniform standard jointly with the council to determine which students shall be placed in remedial or developmental courses. The standard shall be aligned with college admission tests and assessment tools used in West Virginia and shall be applied uniformly by the governing boards. The chancellors shall develop a clear, concise explanation of the standard which they shall communicate to the State Board of Education and the state superintendent of schools;

(18) Jointly with the council and in conjunction with the West Virginia Network, support systemwide technology needs through leveraged consortium purchasing, software, database and networking support, and other services including, but not limited to, the following:

(A) Expanding distance learning and technology networks to enhance teaching and learning, and promoting access to quality educational offerings with minimum duplication of effort; and

(B) Increasing the delivery of instruction to nontraditional students, providing services to business and industry, and increasing the management capabilities of the higher education system.

(C) Notwithstanding any other provision of law or this code to the contrary, the council, commission, and governing boards are not subject to the jurisdiction of the Chief Technology Officer for any purpose;

(19) Propose rules in accordance with §29A-3A-1, et seq. and §18B-1-6 of this code to ensure that, within sound academic policy, a student may transfer and apply toward the requirements of any postsecondary credential the maximum number of credits earned at any regionally accredited in-state or out-of-state institution of higher education in a manner that minimizes the need to repeat courses or incur additional costs. This requirement applies to transfer processes for all levels of postsecondary programs delivered at community and technical colleges, baccalaureate-degree-granting institutions, and graduate-degree-granting institutions;

(20) Propose rules in accordance with §29A-3A-1, et seq. and §18B-1-6 of this code to develop a program through which a student who has gained knowledge and skills through employment, participation in education, and training at vocational schools or other education institutions, or Internet-based education programs, may demonstrate by competency-based assessment that he or she has the necessary knowledge and skills to be granted academic credit or advanced placement standing toward the requirements of an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree at a state institution of higher education;

(21) Seek out and attend regional, national, and international meetings and forums on education and workforce development-related topics as, in the commission’s discretion, are critical for the performance of their duties as members, for the purpose of keeping abreast of education trends and policies to aid it in developing the policies for this state to meet the established education goals, objectives, and priorities pursuant to §18B-1-1a and §18B-1D-1 et seq. of this code;

(22) Promulgate and implement a rule for governing boards and institutions to follow when considering capital projects pursuant to §18B-19-1 et seq. of this code, which rule shall provide for appropriate deference to the value judgments of governing boards and may not apply to the statutorily or administratively exempted schools;

(23) Submit to the appropriate agencies of the executive and legislative branches of state government an appropriation request that reflects recommended appropriations for the commission and the governing boards under its jurisdiction including the statutorily and administratively exempted schools. The commission shall submit as part of its appropriation request the separate recommended appropriation request it received from the council, both for the council and for the governing boards under the council’s jurisdiction. The commission annually shall submit the proposed allocations based on the funding formula model required by subdivision (a)(2) of this section;

(24) Promulgate rules allocating reimbursement of appropriations, if made available by the Legislature, to governing boards for qualifying noncapital expenditures incurred in providing services to students with physical, learning, or severe sensory disabilities;

(25) Pursuant to §29A-3A-1 et seq. and §18B-1-6 of this code, promulgate rules necessary or expedient to fulfill the purposes of this chapter and Chapter 18C of this code;

(26) Determine when a joint rule among the governing boards under its jurisdiction is necessary or required by law and, in those instances, in consultation with the governing boards under its jurisdiction, promulgate the joint rule;

(27) Promulgate and implement a rule jointly with the council whereby course credit earned at a community and technical college transfers for program credit at any other state institution of higher education and is not limited to fulfilling a general education requirement;

(28) Promulgate a rule pursuant to §18B-10-1 of this code establishing tuition and fee policy for all governing boards under the jurisdiction of the commission, except the statutorily and administratively exempted schools. The rule shall include, but is not limited to, the following:

(A) Differences among institutional missions;

(B) Strategies for promoting student access;

(C) Consideration of charges to out-of-state students; and

(D) Any other policies as the commission and council consider appropriate;

(29) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code to the contrary sell, lease, convey, or otherwise dispose of all or part of any real property that it owns, in accordance with §18B-19-1 et seq. of this code;

(30) Provide policy analysis and research focused on issues affecting institutions of higher education generally or a geographical region thereof;

(31) Develop and approve institutional mission definitions except for the statutorily and administratively exempted schools: Provided, That the commission may use funds appropriated by the Legislature for incentive funds to influence institutional behavior in ways that are consistent with public priorities, including the statutorily and administratively exempted schools;

(32) Review and approve academic programs for governing boards under its jurisdiction, except the statutorily and administratively exempted schools. The review and approval includes use of institutional missions as a template to judge the appropriateness of both new and existing programs and the authority to implement needed changes.

(A) The commission’s authority to review and approve academic programs for the statutorily and administratively exempted schools is limited to programs that are proposed to be offered at a new location not presently served by that institution: Provided, That West Virginia University and the West Virginia University Institute of Technology are subject to the commission’s authority as provided in §18B-1C-2 of this code.

(B) In reviewing and approving academic programs, the commission shall focus on the following policy concerns:

(i) New programs may not be implemented which change the institutional mission, unless the institution also receives approval for expanding the institutional mission;

(ii) New programs which require significant additional expense investments for implementation may not be implemented unless the institution demonstrates that:

(I) The expenses shall be addressed by effective reallocations of existing institutional resources; or

(II) The expenses can be legitimately spread out over future years and shall be covered by reasonably anticipated additional net revenues from new enrollments;

(iii) A new undergraduate program which is significantly similar to an existing program already in the geographic service area may not be implemented unless the institution requesting the new program demonstrates a compelling need in the service area that is not being met by the existing program: Provided, That the academic programs of the statutorily and administratively exempted schools are not to be taken into consideration except as it relates to academic programs offered at West Virginia University in Beckley and West Virginia University Institute of Technology in Beckley.

(C) The commission shall approve or disapprove proposed academic degree programs in those instances where approval is required as soon as practicable. The commission shall maintain by rule a format model by which a new program approval shall be requested by an institution. When a request for approval of a new program is submitted to the commission, the chancellor shall provide notice within two weeks as to whether the submission meets the required format, and if it does not the chancellor shall identify each specific deficiency and return the request to the institution. The institution may refile the request for approval with the commission to address any identified deficiencies. Within 30 days after the chancellor’s confirmation that the request meets the required format, the commission shall either approve or disapprove the request for the new program. The commission may not withhold approval unreasonably.

(33) Distribute funds appropriated to the commission, including incentive and performance-based funds;

(34) Administer state and federal student aid programs under the supervision of the vice chancellor for administration, including promulgation of rules necessary to administer those programs;

(35) Serve as the agent to receive and disburse public funds when a governmental entity requires designation of a statewide higher education agency for this purpose;

(36) Develop and distribute information, assessment, accountability and personnel systems for state colleges and universities, including maintaining statewide data systems that facilitate long-term planning and accurate measurement of strategic outcomes and performance indicators;

(37) Jointly with the council, promulgate and implement rules for licensing and oversight for both public and private degree-granting and nondegree-granting institutions that provide post-secondary education courses or programs in the state. The council has authority and responsibility for approval of all post-secondary courses or programs providing community and technical college education as defined in §18B-1-2 of this code;

(38) Develop, facilitate, and oversee statewide and regional projects and initiatives related to providing post-secondary education at the baccalaureate level and above such as those using funds from federal categorical programs or those using incentive and performance-based funds from any source;

(39) (A) For all governing boards under its jurisdiction, except for the statutorily exempted schools, review institutional operating budgets, review and approve capital budgets, and distribute incentive and performance-based funds.

(B) For the governing boards of the statutorily exempted schools, the commission shall distribute incentive and performance-based funds and may review and comment upon the institutional operating budgets and capital budgets. The commission’s comments, if any, shall be made part of the governing board’s minute record and shall be filed with the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability;

(40) Provide information, research, and recommendations to state colleges and universities relating to programs and vocations with employment rates greater than 90 percent within six months post-graduation; and

(41) Provide information, research, and recommendations to state colleges and universities on coordinating with the West Virginia State Board of Education about complimentary programs.

(b) In addition to the powers and duties provided in this section and any other powers and duties assigned to it by law, the commission has other powers and duties necessary or expedient to accomplish the purposes of this chapter and Chapter 18C of this code: Provided, That the provisions of this subsection do not shift management authority from the governing boards to the commission.

(c) The commission may withdraw specific powers of a governing board under its jurisdiction for a period not to exceed two years, if the commission determines that either of the following conditions exist:

(1) The commission has received information, substantiated by independent audit, of significant mismanagement or failure to carry out the powers and duties of the governing board according to state law; or

(2) Other circumstances which, in the view of the commission, severely limit the capacity of the governing board to exercise its powers or carry out its duties and responsibilities.

The commission may not withdraw specific powers for a period exceeding two years. During the withdrawal period, the commission shall take all steps necessary to reestablish sound, stable and responsible institutional governance.

(d) On or after July 1, 2024, nothing in this section authorizes the commission to restrict or regulate the carrying of a concealed pistol or revolver by a person who holds a current and valid license to carry a concealed deadly weapon except as expressly authorized in §18B-4-5b of this code.

(e) In conjunction with Workforce West Virginia and the Bureau for Family Assistance, the Higher Education Policy Commission must compile and maintain a list of those services available to assist and support individuals who are qualified to receive federal, federal-state, or state assistance and who want to obtain a degree, secure workforce training, or reenter the workforce. This document must be maintained on the Higher Education Policy Commission’s website, and any hard copy requested for this document must be supplied to the person requesting the information via first-class mail.