The Alabama Commission on Higher Education, a statewide 12-member lay board appointed by the
Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Speaker of the House and confirmed by the Senate, is the
state agency responsible for the overall statewide planning and coordination of higher education in Alabama,
the administration of various student aid programs, and the performance of designated regulatory functions. The
Commission seeks to provide reasonable access to quality collegiate and university education for the citizens of Alabama.
In meeting this commitment, the Commission facilitates informed decision making and policy formulation regarding wise
stewardship of resources in response to the needs of students and the goals of institutions. The agency also provides a state-level framework
for institutions to respond cooperatively and individually to the needs of the citizens of the State.
The origin of the Commission can be traced back to the findings of the Alabama Education
Commission of 1958. This group was the first investigative body formally to recognize
the need for the coordination of higher education in Alabama. Citing concern over the
future direction in the growth and development of higher education, the Commission stated that
"an agency…for the study and research in the interest of the coordination and development of higher
education should be established to collect information, review and analyze programs and
costs, and to otherwise provide a reliable source of information and to make recommendations
respecting all aspects of higher education." Although not followed, this recommendation
became the basis for further consideration of the concept of a coordinating board a
decade later by the 1968 Alabama Education Study Commission.
Acts 1969, Special Session, No. 14
In the spring of 1969, Governor Albert Brewer introduced a package of education reforms based
on the findings of these two groups to the Legislature during a special session. This
package included a call for the creation of a commission on higher education, "which would
be responsible for advising the Legislature on matters concerning all aspects of higher
learning from the junior college to the graduate level." On May 14, 1969
during a called Special Session, the Legislature passed Act 14, which created the Alabama
Commission on Higher Education. The Commission in its original form was an
advisory agency lacking any regulatory authority over any board or institution.
Transfer of 1202 Functions and the Alabama Student Assistance Program to ACHE
In 1976, the Commission gained some important new responsibilities when Governor George
Wallace transferred the functions of both the Alabama 1202 Commission and the administration
of the Alabama Student Assistance Program from the State Department of Education to the
Commission. Between 1976 and 1998, nine other student assistance programs have come to be
housed at the Commission.
Throughout the 1970’s, the question of how much authority the Commission should have continued to
be an issue. During this time, various committees were created to look at higher
education governance. Most of these committees’ recommendations were ignored until the end of
the decade. In 1979, Representative Leigh Pegues introduced a bill which ultimately became
Act 79-461. This act provided the Commission with approval authority over new programs of
instruction, regulatory authority over nonresident institutions operating in Alabama,
and approval authority over off-campus instruction. The Act also strengthened the
Commission’s role in planning and mandated that overrides of the Commission must be by
One of the more significant higher education reforms in Alabama took place in March 1994 when the
Articulation and General Studies Committee was created by an act of the legislature. The act
gives four specific charges to the committee: 1) develop a statewide freshman- and
sophomore-level general studies curriculum to be taken at all public colleges and
universities; 2) develop and adopt by a statewide articulation agreement for the freshman and
sophomore years for the transfer of credit among all public institutions of higher education in
Alabama; 3) examine the need for a uniform course numbering system, course titles, and
course descriptions; and 4) resolve problems in the administration or interpretation of the
articulation agreement of the general studies curriculum.
Loss of Guarantee Agency Status
In 1995, the United States Department of Education designated the Kentucky Higher
Education Assistance (KHEAA) as the official guarantee agency for Alabama institutions
participating in the Federal Family Educational Loan Program. This action
led to a substantial reduction in the Commission’s role in the student aid arena.
Acts 96-509, 96-771, 96-539 and 96-557
In 1996, Governor Fob James called for significant reforms in education. It was at
this time that the Commission was given the responsibility of developing a student
unit record data base, developing a faculty unit record system, and overseeing the
collection of facility master plans from each institution. Probably the most far reaching
higher education reform measure called for the review of all existing academic programs based
on legislatively mandated program viability standards. This reform measure
ultimately led to the consolidation or termination of over 1,000 programs.
Article I: Origin
The Alabama Commission on Higher Education was created by Alabama law:
Acts 1969, Ex. Sess., No. 14; Acts 1979, No. 79-461; Acts 1982, No.
82-486; Acts 1993, No. 93-369; Acts 1994, No. 94-202; Acts 1995, No.
95-255; Acts 1996, No. 96-497; Acts 1996, No. 96-509; Acts 1996, No.
96-539; Acts 1996, No. 96-557; Acts 1996, No. 96-771; and Acts 2000,
No. 2000-409 (Codified; Code of Alabama, Title 16, Chapter 5).
Article II: Purpose
The purpose of this organization shall be to promote an educational system that
the highest possible quality of collegiate and
university education to all persons in the State able and willing to
profit from it; and to provide for continuous study, analysis,
evaluation, planning, reporting, and recommendations as a basis for
long-range planning with established priorities on
a statewide basis
to assure a sound, vigorous, progressive, and coordinated system of
higher education for this State.
Article III: Members
The twelve members of the Alabama
Commission on Higher Education are appointed and confirmed as set
forth in Code of Alabama, 16-5-2 and 16-5-3 and are charged with
representing no particular institution nor region but rather are
deemed members at large, serving the best interests of the entire
system of higher education in the state.
If any member of the Commission shall not
be in attendance at three consecutive regular meetings for reasons
other than personal illness, family illness, or a Commission
approved absence, that member may be requested by the chairman to
submit his or her resignation to the appointing authority.
The Commission may invite or designate
representatives of the various postsecondary education segments or
institutions to sit with the Commission during regular meetings for
the purpose of ensuring that perspectives and concerns of the
educational community might be made known to the Commission.
Such advisory representatives shall be free to participate in
deliberations but shall have no vote on formal Commission business.
Article IV: Officers and Committees
The Commission shall annually elect from
its membership a chairman and a vice-chairman. Such election will
be held at the closest regular meeting of the Commission after
August 1 of each year. Elections shall be presided over by the
chairman, or in the chairman's absence, the vice-chairman. The
election of officers shall require the concurrence of a majority of
all members of the Commission. The election shall be determined by
a voice vote or a show of hands of Commission members present. No
officer shall be elected to the same office more than two
consecutive full terms. Terms of office shall begin October 1,
following the election. In the event of a vacancy in one of the
offices, written notice shall be given to all members and a special
election shall be held at the next regular meeting following the
occurrence of the vacancy. Should a vacancy occur in the office of
the chairman, the vice-chairman shall become interim chairman and
shall preside over the special election to elect a chairman.
Officers in a special election shall take office immediately upon
election and shall serve for the remainder of the unexpired term and
one full term thereafter unless such member elects to give up such
office, is elected to another office on the Commission, or a vacancy
occurs in the appointment occupied by the officer.
There shall be committees appointed by
the chairman as deemed necessary by the Commission. Committee
chairs and vice-chairs shall be appointed by the chairman of the Commission.
The Commission may under certain circumstances, and/or as desired, meet as a committee of the whole.
The chair of the committee of the whole will be the vice-chairman
of the Commission. Committees shall meet as needed to review
all matters before the Commission, but no action is to be considered
final until and unless adopted by the full Commission in a public
Additionally, there shall be an Executive
Committee of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education to consist
of the chairman, vice-chairman, and such other commissioners as
appointed by the chairman, the number of which shall not exceed
The Executive Committee is empowered to act on behalf of the Commission between
regular scheduled meetings of the Commission with said action being
subject to ratification by the full Commission at a regular or
special meeting held in accordance with all laws requiring open and
The Executive Director shall be the
secretary of the Commission. He shall present the minutes of the
previous Commission meeting to the Commission at least ten days
prior to the next regularly scheduled meeting. The chairman or
other presiding member shall witness Commission approval of minutes
by appropriate notarized signature.
Article V: Meetings
The Alabama Commission on Higher Education shall hold regular meetings as
provided by the annual adoption of a calendar of regular meeting
dates. Special meetings may be held at any time by call of the
chairman or by call of six of the membership or upon call by the
Governor. The Commission shall abide by the Alabama Open
Meetings Act, as it may be amended from time to time.
The Commission shall meet at least once
every three months. The chairman shall preside over all meetings of
the Commission. In the absence of the chairman, the vice-chairman
shall preside. In the absence of both the chairman and the
vice-chairman, the chairman shall designate a member to preside.
Roberts' Rules of Order will be used as a procedural guide
for conducting all business, unless they conflict with the
Commission’s stated bylaws.
An agenda which lists those items on
which action is expected at the meeting shall be published in
advance of the meeting date as required by law and shall be
distributed to the Commission members, the president of each
postsecondary education institution, the chairman of the governing
board of each such institution, and the public upon request. The
Commission will meet as often as seems desirable on the campuses of
the institutions of higher education in the state.
A majority of the members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum
for the purpose of conducting official business. No vote may be
taken on any matter which requires Commission action unless a quorum
is present. Commission action shall be determined by a voice vote
or a show of hands of Commission members; however, any Commissioner
may request a roll call vote on a specific matter and/or the chair
may request a roll call vote if the outcome of a voice vote or a
show of hands is in question. A show of hands vote or a roll call
vote may become necessary if an action requires more than a simple
majority vote. Proxy voting shall not be allowed. Commission
members must be physically present in order to vote.
The positive recommendation of a new instructional program,
new unit of instruction, research,
or public service, or a
new public institution of higher education (as provided in Code
of Alabama, 16-5-4(b)) shall require the concurrence of a
majority (7) of all the members of the Commission.
A new instructional program, new unit of instruction, research,
or public service, or a new public institution of higher education
that receives a negative recommendation by a majority vote of Commission
members present may be reconsidered after one year provided that in the
judgment of the Commission substantive changes indicate the need for
A new instructional program, new unit of instruction, research, or
public service, or a new public institution of higher education that
receives a favorable vote of a majority of the members present, but
which falls short of receiving a favorable vote by a majority of the
members of the Commission, may be reconsidered at the next regularly
At the Commission’s discretion, a "consent agenda" may be used to
expedite action on common issues; however, any Commissioner may request
that a specific issue(s) be held from the consent approval for further
review and/or action.
Expenses incurred by Commission members in the performance of their
duties shall be reimbursed at the rate authorized for state employees.
The Commission shall approve the Commission’s annual budget request
prior to the fiscal year for which it is effective. The Commission
shall establish such personnel policies regarding staff personnel as
deemed necessary. Such policies may be established by resolution at
any regular meeting or at any special meeting.
Bylaws amended by the Commission February 19, 1988; July 21, 1989;
October 8, 1999; June 16, 2000; and September 19, 2008;
September 12, 2014.