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(TRENTON) — Legislation sponsored by Assembly members Pamela R. Lampitt and Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. that would require higher education governing board members to complete a training program within six months of their appointment was released Monday from an Assembly committee.

“This is truly a commonsense piece of legislation,” said Lampitt (D-Camden), chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee. “Managing multimillion dollar institutions of higher learning, funded in large part by taxpayer dollars, should require standardized, mandatory training.”

The Lampitt/Diegnan measure (A-1557) would make completing a training program developed by the Commission on Higher Education a condition of serving as a member of a governing board of a public college or university. The training would include:

  • Information concerning governance responsibilities;
  • Ethical standards;
  • Due diligence;
  • The requirements of the “Senator Byron M. Baer Open Public Meetings Act” and the open public records law;
  • Issues associated with laws on privacy;
  • Fiduciary responsibilities of board members; and
  • The types of financial, organizational, legal, and regulatory issues that come with being a governing board member.

“This is a necessary layer of protection for taxpayers,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “It safeguards our investment in higher education by giving board members a sound basis from which to govern the academic and physical growth of our state colleges and universities.”

Under the bill, the Commission on Higher Education would be required to provide the training directly or specify approved entities that could provide the training. In all instances, the Commission would certify the completion of training by each governing board member.

If enacted, all newly appointed governing board members would be required to complete the training within six months of their appointment. All existing governing board members would have six months from the date the legislation becomes effective.

The Assembly Higher Education Committee released the measure by a vote of 7-1-2. It now heads to the Speaker, who decides if and when to post it for a floor vote.

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