Office of Higher Education

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The University of Rhode Island will be offering a mini semester during the January break to help students get caught up on course work.  The semester will run from January 2nd to January 17th. One-hundred and twenty five students signed up during the first two days of enrollment.

Mini semester director John Olerio said students in especially demanding majors find it hard to finish their course work in four years.

Political Analyst Scott MacKay and Education Reporter Elisabeth Harrison discuss leadership problems at the Rhode Island Office Higher Education, after Governor Lincoln Chafee announced he would rescind his pick for Higher Education Commissioner. The candidate, attorney Eva-Marie Mancuso, raised ethics questions because she chairs the State Board of Education, the same board that would have to vote on her nomination.

  Additional reporting for this story by Ian Donnis.

A vote Monday at the State Board of Education may create a leadership void at a key moment for opponents of a new test-based high school graduation requirement.

Those opponents have lined up some 20 people from the state’s higher education community to testify at Monday’s meeting, but they may be overshadowed by a vote to turn State Education Board Chair Eva-Marie Mancuso into the state’s Interim Commissioner of Higher Education. Governor Lincoln Chafee announced Mancuso as his choice for the post on Friday.

The State Board of Education met Thursday to discuss the future of the Office of Higher Education, which is slated to stop receiving state funding in July of 2014. Lawmakers dealt the department an early blow in the new budget, cutting funding by roughly 40 percent. Education Board Chair Eva-Marie Mancuso says she was disappointed by the decision.

“I was surprised,” Mancuso said. “I was not happy because it’s premature in my mind. They gave us until next July to in fact meet that goal, and so it’s going to be challenging.”

The budget scheduled for a vote today in the Rhode Island House of Representatives includes $6 million in additional funding for public colleges and universities, but it would also make a significant reduction at the Office of Higher Education.

The spending plan cuts $1 million from OHE's budget, roughly 43 percent of the office's total funding. The budget endorsed by the House Finance Committee provides $1.2 million for OHE.

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