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Dive Brief:

  • Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican, is on the brink of replacing the entire membership of the state board of higher education.
  • After legislation that Cox signed this year shrank the number of board seats from 18 to 10, the governor opted not to retain any of the past appointees. He nominated 10 new individuals, nine of whom require approval from the Republican-controlled state Senate. The 10th is a student member.
  • His senior communications adviser, Jennifer Napier-Pearce, did not respond to a request for comment Friday. But she told Deseret News that Cox “wants Utah’s colleges and universities to be more aligned with workforce needs and responsive to keeping tuition low, and he believes this board will do that.”

Dive Insight:

Chief executives in many states appoint higher education governing board members, typically those who reflect their goals or political ideologies. 

But board members usually cycle out over time instead of getting replaced in one fell swoop, as Cox intends. The 18 members Cox is replacing have been on the board varying amounts of time. 

Under the new law, board members are on the board for up to six years at a time, and they can serve two consecutive terms.

The law passed in part because a state audit last year criticized the effectiveness of the board. Lawmakers believed shrinking it could help address this.

This is the second time in three years board governance has been overhauled.