Alabama Senate Works to Create Separate Board for Two-Year College System

By Trip Pittman

On Thursday, March 19th, the Alabama Senate passed legislation by Sen. Trip Pittman to create an independent board of trustees to lead Alabama’s two-year college institutions. Currently, the State Board of Education oversees K-12 and community colleges. Senate Bill 191 has 21 co-sponsors and will set up an independent Alabama Community College System in lieu of the Department of Postsecondary Education.

“Businesses are choosing to move to or expand in our state because of our highly specialized training programs,” stated Sen. Trip Pittman. “With two-year colleges playing a larger role in academics, degree certification, and workforce development, it is time Alabama joins the other 32 states that use appointed, independent boards to govern their community college systems.”

In a letter to Governor Robert Bentley, the President of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), Dr. Belle Wheelan, supported the concept. SACSCOC is the accrediting authority for colleges and universities.

“I would like to strongly encourage you to separate the responsibilities of the board by establishing a separate board for the Alabama Community College System/Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education,” said President Wheelan. “Given the ever increasing complexities of planning, budgeting, and personnel issues…board members are challenged to do an effective job for either [the PreK-12 and community college systems].”

Governor Bentley would appoint the eight members of the new board, and the state senate would be required to confirm each appointee. A member can serve no more than two terms. The board will be required to meet at least quarterly. Current legislators and State Board of Education members are prohibited from serving. The new system will continue to utilize a Chancellor to serve as CEO of the Alabama Community College System.

“In order to ensure our students are prepared for jobs in this state, it is essential that we have the best educational opportunities available in our post-secondary system,” Pittman concluded.