Some teeth for CBHE

Friday, December 16, 2005

It is regrettable that Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau and Three Rivers Community College in Poplar Bluff, Mo., have not been able to resolve their differences over the operation of off-campus education centers. These centers have provided affordable and convenient access to hundreds of Southeast Missouri residents who otherwise might not have pursued a college education.

And it is regrettable that both institutions are spending thousands of dollars on legal fees resulting from a lawsuit filed by Three Rivers against Southeast regarding actions taken after their partnership broke down.

A bill has been prefiled by state Sen. Gary Nodler of Joplin, Mo., chairman of the Senate Education Committee, that would authorize the Coordinating Board for Higher Education to fine institutions that violate its policies. The bill also would require institutions to submit to binding arbitration in matters like the one that has divided Three Rivers and Southeast.

The coordinating board's lack of muscle has long been a point of contention. This dispute between two fine institutions of higher education that have served Southeast Missouri so well for so long is a good example of how the coordinating board's role could be enhanced by Nodler's proposed bill. It should get serious consideration when the legislature convenes next month.

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