With the change in political power in the House of Representative come many changes for higher education. Colleges and universities may want to pay attention to the career of a little-known, very conservative, woman from rural North Carolina who will now administer some federal policy on higher education.

The Chronicle of Higher Education conducted an interview with U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC-5th), who is the new chair of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, and Competitiveness. According to the interview:

Asked about Republicans’ plans to slash discretionary spending to 2008 levels, Ms. Foxx said higher education “should never be afraid of accountability.”

“If it can’t prove the worth of a program, then it needs to examine itself,” she said. “Wherever taxpayer dollars are being spent, there has to be accountability.” When questioned about whether she supported the president’s ambitious graduation goal for community colleges, she said she was “curious to find out what the basis is for the claim that we have to graduate five million more people.”

So she’s, well, critical of higher education. (Note that it’s not actually claim; it’s a goal.) Alex Pareene once called her “a small-minded, hateful, simplistic, miserable excuse for an elected official” too, but all is not lost. While Foxx implied she might be willing to cut funding for some higher-education programs, her actual background suggests more generosity

Foxx was the president of the Tar Heel State’s Mayland Community College from 1987 to 1994. At $56.50 a credit (or about $1,695 a year), Mayland is one of the most affordable community colleges in the country. The average American community college costs $2,360. The fact that Mayland is so much cheaper has almost everything to do with the munificence of North Carolina taxpayers.

Foxx replaces Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX-15th), who chaired the subcommittee in the last congress. [Image via]

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer