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Friday, April 27, 2012

Elimination of USNH chancellor’s officer ‘too extreme,’ says Senate

CONCORD – A House Republican proposal for cost efficiency within the four-year college system hit a big time road block Thursday.

The House of Representatives has approved eliminating the chancellor’s office at the University System of New Hampshire and moving all its responsibilities to the USNH board of trustees and the presidents of the four respective campuses.

House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt, R-Salem, maintained that erasing more than 70 employees and more than a million-dollar budget could lower tuition for students.

“This piece of legislation is directly on point to our agenda,” Bettencourt said of the bill, HB 1692.

But the Senate Finance Committee unanimously decided to gut the measure and replace it with an annual requirement that the trustees submit an accountability and transparency report about the university system office to the Legislature.

“The report shall include a description of the results from efforts to control costs and prices while sustaining and improving the quality of programs and services and student success in earning degrees,” the amended bill states.

Sen. Chuck Morse, R-Salem, said getting rid of the chancellor’s office was “too extreme” a policy matter.

“There can always be more efficiency throughout government and higher education but the chancellor’s office does serve an important function,” Morse said.

The amended bill now heads to the full Senate for debate next week.

Kevin Landrigan can reached at 321-7040 or klandrigan@nashuatelegraph.com; also check out Kevin Landrigan (@KLandrigan) on Twitter and don’t forget The Telegraph’s new, interactive live feed at www.nashuatelegraph.com/topics/livefeed.