Bill requires further training of university regents

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In a public hearing Wednesday afternoon, the Senate Committee on Higher Education referred for consideration to the Senate a bill that would require further training of university system regents. 

The bill’s author Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, said the bill would make ethics training mandatory and address limitations of the authority of the governing board. 

“The intensive short course will be required before a governing board member can vote on budgetary and personnel matters,” Zaffirini said.

The bill would also create a process by which the coordinating board can receive anonymous complaints and allegations of mismanagement or abuse of power. 

The committee also referred to the full Senate another bill authored by Zaffirini that would deny community college students eligibility for the B-on-Time program, which offers zero-interest loans to students who, having maintained a certain grade point average, graduate in four years. 

“Currently, community college students rarely use the program because they often do not meet the full-time student and timely graduation requirements,” Zaffirini said. 

Leslie Helmcamp, policy analyst for the Center for Public Policy Priorities, said student counseling could improve the B-on-Time program.

“We support the continuation of the program and making it specific to students at four-year institutions, because it does better support that population,” Helmcamp said. “One thing we wanted to see, however, was a loan counseling program of some sort. Many students don’t understand how the program works and accordingly can’t take advantage of it.”