Today, Governor Bobby Jindal announced that he has signed HB 1171 -- or the LA GRAD Act (Louisiana Granting Resources and Autonomy for Diplomas Act) -- into law. The LA GRAD Act -- which is part of the Governor's 2010 legislative package -- enacts performance expectations and incentives at colleges and universities in order to increase student performance, to better meet state and regional needs and improve institutions' overall competitiveness, effectiveness, and efficiency. Speaker Jim Tucker sponsored HB 1171.
Governor Jindal said, "The LA GRAD Act provides a very strong incentive for our colleges and universities to increase retention and graduation rates, more closely align academic programs with workforce needs, and to excel in research that will move Louisiana's economy forward. The new law connects, for the first time ever, performance and autonomy, giving campuses and their management boards the ability to earn greater operational flexibility. The LA GRAD Act will help improve our institutions' competitiveness, effectiveness, and efficiency -- and more importantly, we can better prepare our students to compete for jobs in the 21st century."
Louisiana Community and Technical College System President Dr. Joe D. May said, "I would like to thank Governor Jindal and House Speaker Tucker for their leadership and support in passing this groundbreaking legislation. The LA GRAD Act recognizes the importance of technical and community colleges and the bill does a remarkable job in outlining their roles in the overall higher education structure. Through this legislation, LCTCS will be able to continue meeting the workforce development needs throughout the state along with expanding the opportunity for individuals to begin their higher education career at one of Louisiana's two-year institutions."
President of the University of Louisiana System Randy Moffett said, "There were many challenges this legislative session and several positive results. We are pleased with the final budget in that it mirrors Governor Jindal's original proposal to stabilize campus funding in order to plan for next year's fiscal challenges. Perhaps the most significant piece of legislation passed was the Louisiana GRAD Act. As a longtime proponent of measuring performance, the University of Louisiana System embraces this landmark legislation, which increases expectations for higher education."
LSU Chancellor Michael Martin said, "We at LSU are very pleased that the LA GRAD Act has passed, and we appreciate Gov. Jindal and the Legislature's support for the bill. This support shows their commitment to higher education in Louisiana, and we're happy to see that they understand the value higher education brings to the state."
President of the Council for A Better Louisiana (CABL) Barry Erwin said, "CABL has been a strong supporter of the GRAD Act since the very beginning. We believe this is innovative legislation which will give our post-secondary institutions the resources they need to drive improvements in performance in a number of critical areas. Over time this new law has the potential to transform higher education in Louisiana in numerous positive ways."
Adam Knapp of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber of Commerce said, "The LA GRAD Act was our top legislative priority and is the most important piece of legislation related to higher education reform in years. We partnered with a coalition of forty-seven business groups from across Louisiana, who collectively believe that change is critical to the future of higher education, that its performance must improve, and that financial autonomy is fundamental to that effort. We applaud Governor Jindal and the Legislature in successfully advancing this critical piece of legislation through the session."
With this new law, all public postsecondary institutions will be given the option to enter into a six-year performance agreement with the Board of Regents and agree to meet specified performance targets aligned with their unique role, scope, and mission. In addition to annual financial audits, participating institutions will be required to submit certain organizational data to the Legislature and the Legislative Auditor in order to evaluate efficiency and overall effectiveness.
For meeting established performance targets, institutions will be eligible to receive limited tuition and operational flexibility subject to the approval of their management boards. The Board of Regents will annually monitor each institution's progress and report to the Legislature. It may revoke an institution's agreement at any time for failure to abide with the specified terms. At the end of the six-year agreement period, an expert panel much like the Postsecondary Education Review Commission will conduct a comprehensive review of each participating institution's performance. Based on this review, the Board of Regents may recommend renewal of any institution's performance agreement to JLCB, which will approve or deny the renewal request.