The Tennessean: Lamar Alexander teams with Vanderbilt head in D.C.

Posted on February 25, 2015

Sen. Lamar Alexander is collaborating with the leader of Vanderbilt University in an effort to reshape federal regulations on thousands of colleges and universities across the country.

Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos traveled to Washington, D.C., Tuesday to testify before the Senate education committee, which Alexander chairs. During his testimony, Zeppos said complying with an overabundance of federal regulations costs his university $146 million every year.

"Put another way, this equates to approximately $11,000 in additional tuition per year for each of our 12,757 students," Zeppos said in his prepared remarks.

Zeppos was co-chair of a task force commissioned in 2013 by a bipartisan group of senators, including Alexander, to recommend changes to government regulations on higher education. The Task Force on Federal Regulation of Higher Education, which includes current and former college leaders from across the country, submitted a report with dozens of recommendations earlier this month.

Alexander said the task force's report provides a "blueprint for how to eliminate wasteful red tape" for colleges and universities. The Tennessee Republican plans to use some of the recommendations to sculpt proposed changes to the Higher Education Act before it is reauthorized.

Critics have nicked the task force because it included current and former administrators, but no representatives of college students, faculty or staff. Alexander said those points of view would be included in hearings in April.

Alexander hopes to bring the revised Higher Education Act up for a vote by the end of the year.

At the senator's request, Zeppos and his co-chair, Chancellor William E. Kirwan of the University System of Maryland, will continue working to build bipartisan support for some of their recommendations, according to Beth Fortune, vice chancellor for public affairs at Vanderbilt.