The Virginia House of Delegates Education Committee had a busy day on Wednesday, striking down an amendment on a bill that requires residency for state universities, as well as hearing the results of a poll on higher education.

Although the Senate tried to diminish legislation that requires top leaders on university governing boards to be Virginia residents, the Committee has decided to keep the law intact, making the Senate bill conform with the House version.

The bill, created by Del. R. Steven Landes, R-Augusta, requires both the rector and vice rector, or chair and vice chair at local universities, to be residents of the state. While the Senate had approved an amended version that required residency for only one of the top two positions, lawmakers argued that House bill (HB1402) is necessary in an effort to uphold the accountability of boards not only to the universities that they serve, but also to the residents of the state.

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“If you’re a Virginia resident, obviously you understand the concerns and pressures, especially regarding affordability and costs of higher education,” said Landes to The Richmond Times Dispatch.

The bill does have a grandfather clause for current board members holding leadership positions who do not live in the state.

In addition to its ruling on the legislation, the committee also heard results of a poll on Virginia residents’ thoughts on education. The poll’s findings, presented by Robyn McDougle, interim executive director of the Commonwealth Educational Policy Institute at Virginia Commonwealth University, stated that 54% would pay higher taxes to drive down the costs of higher education with need-based financial aid. The poll also found that 74% want college administrators to spend private, non-taxpayer sources of available funding on reducing tuition and fees and helping students pay for school.


image copyright Virginia General Assembly