The NC-SARA Board met in Atlanta on May 11, 2017. Eighteen of the 22 members attended in person; three participated by phone.
This was the first meeting for four new members: Kathleen Curry Santora, CEO of the National Association of College and University Attorneys; Peter Smith, Orkand Chair and Professor of Innovative Practices in Higher Education, University of Maryland University College; Larry Tremblay, Deputy Commissioner for Planning, Research and Academic Affairs, Louisiana Board of Regents; and Michael C. Zola, Vice President for Government Relations and Policy Analysis, American Association of State Colleges and Universities. All four attended the meeting.
During the meeting, the Board heard reports on the progress of the SARA initiative and took numerous actions.
Forty-seven states (plus the District of Columbia) are now members of SARA. SARA-enabling legislation has been introduced in Massachusetts and Florida (Florida legislation has now passed both houses of the legislature); similar legislation is planned for California in 2018. More than 1,500 institutions now participate in SARA, and institutional renewal rates are above 99 percent.
The Board approved $10,000/year affiliation fees for small U.S. territories that choose to affiliate with a regional compact to enable their institutions to participate in SARA, instead of the $50,000/year fees charged the much-larger non-compact states (NY, NJ, PA) and the District of Columbia.
The Board received a third-quarter FY 2017 finance report and approved a budget for FY 2018. The SARA initiative is on strong financial grounds.
There was considerable discussion about having NC-SARA provide additional, student- and institutional-focused information resources on its website. Phase I of that new initiative, approved by the Board, will focus on three general topics: state authorization of distance education and how it affects students, experiential learning opportunities across state lines, and complications surrounding distance education enrollment in programs intended to lead to professional licensure. The target date for the availability of those resources is January 1, 2018.
A second part of the proposed new initiative (Phase II) would create a student-searchable database of distance education programs offered by any SARA institution that would choose to have its programs listed. A student would be able to search by degree level, discipline, and/or state (i.e., master’s programs in social work, for example, offered by SARA schools and available via distance education). The Board will further study and consider Phase II.
Board materials for the May meeting are available on the NC-SARA website at: http://nc-sara.org/content/sara-development-documents (See the bottom of that page.)