State government and higher education in Virginia: the Secretary of Education
The nature of the relationship between state government and higher education is problematic for both policy makers and students of higher education governance. The purpose of this study was to provide a better understanding of the position of Secretary of Education, one facet of the multi-faceted relationship between state government and higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The problem of this research effort, therefore, was to describe the historical context of the cabinet-level position and the authority and major areas of responsibility of the Secretary of Education in Virginia.
The research methodology used to execute the study was that of an exploratory field study. The investigation was conducted in five phases, with the data collected by means of: (1) reviewing legal and historical documents, and (2) conducting focused interviews.
Within the context of the historical development of the Virginia cabinet system, including the position of Secretary of Education, and the intention of the incumbent Governor to test the recommendations of the Hopkins Commission, it was not surprising that the area of budget emerged as the major responsibility of the Secretary of Education in the Dalton Administration. The assignment of budget targets was designated as the primary area of responsibility for the Secretary of Education in order to accomplish the intent of promoting effectiveness and efficiency in state government, including higher education, and controlling its growth. The creation and subsequent development of the position of Secretary of Education, with its attendant oversight and budgetary responsibilities in relation to higher education, modified the "self-denying ordinance" relationship between state government and higher education in Virginia.
The cabinet-level education position will remain inthe higher education governance structure without significant alteration of its statutory authority, including budget authority which is formally less than that granted to other functional area Secretaries. The probable future role of the position of Secretary of Education will include developing and implementing policy, especially in the area of budget, and providing executive oversight of the total education function in the Commonwealth of Virginia.