Category Archives: Higher Education

Gibbons to lead new Public Safety Institute at University of Memphis

Soon-to-be-former Tennessee Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons will lead the new Public Safety Institute at the University of Memphis, reports the Commercial Appeal.

Gibbons will also serve as president of the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission, effective Sept. 1. Gibbons is leaving the state post on Aug. 31.

The Public Safety Institute is a joint venture of the Crime Commission and the U of M. It will be housed in the university’s School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy, and will draw on researchers from across the university, officials said.

Gibbons said he hopes to focus on “best practices in fighting crime” as well as evaluating current methods of combating crime.

“It is a challenge, but I do not accept the notion that our current crime rate is inevitable, that it’s something we have to live with. I reject that notion,” Gibbons said.

Governor goes along with guns-on-campus bill

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A bill allowing staff and faculty at Tennessee’s public colleges and universities to be armed on campus became law Monday without the Republican governor’s signature.

Gov. Bill Haslam said in a statement that he disagreed with the bill for not allowing institutions “to make their own decisions regarding security issues on campus.”

But the governor acknowledged that the final version of the measure had addressed concerns raised by college administrators during the legislative process by including provisions protecting schools from liability and a requirement to notify law enforcement about who is armed on campus.

“Ultimately, this legislation was tailored to apply to certain employees in specific situations,” Haslam said.

The law, which allows faculty and staff with state-issued handgun carry permits to carry, is more limited than a bill awaiting a decision by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. That measure would allow anyone age 21 and up to carry a concealed handgun on campus with the proper permit.
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House, Senate agree on compromise cut to UT diversity funding

By Sheila Burke, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — State lawmakers voted to send a message that they don’t agree with the sexually open and progressive views of the Office for Diversity and Inclusion on the University of Tennessee campus. So the Legislature on Thursday passed a bill stripping it of state funds — a total of nearly $337,000. The money will be used to fund minority scholarships instead.

Some socially conservative legislators had vowed to gut funding from the office for promoting Sex Week and after it recommended using gender-neutral pronouns on campus and advised against religious-themed parties and decorations.

The money would have gone to pay for the salaries of four people at the diversity office. The bill strips the office of funding for one year.

Sen. Lee Harris, D-Memphis, raised concerns that lawmakers were sending too strong a message and that UT administrators would be disinclined to spend money on the diversity office after that one year because it attracted so much ire from the Legislature. He worried that the minority scholarships, along with funding for the diversity office would be gone even after the year is up.

But another lawmaker disagreed that the legislature had acted too harshly.

“This is a slap on the wrist compared to the foolishness that has come out of that office in the last few years,” Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, said.
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Tuition cut for immigrant students dies in House

During an emotional speech Wednesday, Rep. Mark White announced he would not revive his bill to secure in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants at public colleges, ending a years-long effort that won support from colleges and Gov. Bill Haslam.

Further from The Tennessean:

White, R-Memphis, said earlier this month that he was optimistic the bill would return to the House floor before the end of the session. But while discussing the House effort to override a veto on the Bible bill, White remarked that he would not try to get the bill passed because it did not have enough support.

White said undocumented students cried in his office Tuesday when he informed them of his intentions.

More than 100 undocumented students had traveled to the Capitol last week to encourage legislators to reconsider the bill, which passed the Senate last year but failed in the House by one vote.

Note: Press release from Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition is below. Continue reading

House sends guns-on-campus bill to governor

The House sent to Gov. Bill Haslam Wednesday a bill that will allow full-time employees and faculty members at Tennessee’s public colleges and universities who have handgun-carry permits to carry their guns on campus.

Further from Richard Locker:

The bill, which passed the Senate 28-5 on Tuesday, won House approval on a 69-24 vote. The bill does not allow students with permits to go armed.

Senate Bill 2376 also contains provisions banning employees from going armed in sports stadiums and arenas while public events are underway there and during conferences with administrators regarding their job performance and tenure.

House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, said a survey of University of Tennessee faculty members that he received Tuesday found 86 percent of the faculty at the University of Tennessee were against the guns on campus bill. Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, read aloud emails from UT professors who said they would leave the state if the bill passes.

But Rep. Rick Womick, R-Murfreesboro, countered by saying, “For every one of these professors who want to leave, fine; there are more than enough who do want to carry and stay.”

The bill requires employees who decide to go armed on campus to notify the local law enforcement agency with primary jurisdiction over the campus of their intent to go armed, but it keeps such information confidential from students, other employees and campus administrators.

Senate goes for guns on campus

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The state Senate on Tuesday voted to allow faculty and workers with handgun carry permits to be armed on the campuses of Tennessee public colleges and universities.

The bill sponsored by Sen. Mike Bell (SB2376) passed on a 28-5 vote, and the House was expected to take up the measure on Wednesday. Republican Gov. Bill Haslam raised concerns about the measure for not giving institutions the power to opt out of allowing more guns on campus.

Bell, R-Riceville, was dismissive of the results of a survey of faculty at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville that largely opposed to measure.

“I think some of these people need to take their medication,” Bell said, adding that he hopes some professors will follow through on vows to quit if the bill becomes law.

“Maybe this will give UT a chance to hire some conservative teachers if we have a mass exodus of some of these liberals who responded to this,” he said.
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House votes take funding from UT diversity program

The House voted Monday night to strip the University of Tennessee’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion of $5 million in state funding, leaving the bill’s fate to the Senate. At UT-Knoxville, student supporters plan “a class walk-out and rally” to protest the action.

From WPLN:

The move is meant to shut down a program that drew attention last year for suggesting the use of gender neutral pronouns and for recommending Christmas parties be referred to as holiday celebrations.

Those were just the latest actions on the UT Knoxville campus that have irked conservatives in the Tennessee legislature, like Rep. Roger Kane, R-Knoxville.

“There is diversity, but what this center does is it creates a sense of divisiveness,” Kane said Monday night, just before the chamber approved the funding change (Note: The vote: 66-22).

The House measure (HB2248) would take money for the diversity office and split it between scholarships for minority students and decals for police cruisers that say “In God We Trust.”

The state Senate is working on a separate plan to defund the diversity office. It, too, would put money into minority scholarships but not the “In God We Trust” stickers.
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TN public universities spent $50M on coach salaries in 2015

Public universities in Tennessee spent $50.7 million on coaches’ salaries in 2015 with the University of Tennessee and the University of Memphis leading the way, according to data compiled through a USA TODAY national investigation.

Further, as reported by the Commercial Appeal:

The University of Tennessee, with an operating budget of $126.6 million, spent $18.2 million on salaries, or 14.3 percent of its budget. The University of Memphis, with an operating budget of $43.4 million, spent $11.2 million on salaries, or 25.8 percent of its budget.

Only one of the other seven public universities in the state — Middle Tennessee State — spent more than $5 million on coaching salaries. Middle Tennessee paid its coaches $5.3 million, or 16.8 percent of its budget.

At Tennessee, the athletic program’s spending on coaches salaries hasn’t increased as quickly as it has at Memphis, but the $18,160,180 the Vols spent in 2015 is almost $7 million more than the Tigers’ $11,191,649 and the highest total in the state.

The gap between Tennessee and the other schools in the state is much larger in support staff and administrative compensation. Tennessee spent $20,470,689 in that category in 2015. No other state school spent more than $6,075,765.

Tennessee has been able to spend more in compensation in part because it has had to pay less money in severance packages. Tennessee has spent a total of $21,087,757 on severance pay since 2005 including $7,969,849 in 2013 when football coach Derek Dooley and his staff were fired. Tennessee also spent $3,719,285 in severance in 2011 when basketball coach Bruce Pearl, baseball coach Todd Raleigh and athletic director Mike Hamilton were fired and $6,953,625 in 2009 after football coach Phillip Fulmer was fired.

Arliss Roaden, former THEC executive director, dies aged 85

Arliss L. Roaden, who served as president of Tennessee Technological University from 1974 until 1985 and then almost a decade as executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, has died at age 85, according to the Cookeville Herald-Citizen.

At THEC, Roaden was initially appointed by then-Gov. Lamar Alexander and continued with Ned McWherter as governor.

The official obituary is HERE.

Excerpt from the Herald-Citizen:

Arliss was a member of Woodmont Baptist Church (in Nashville) for 30 years where he served as moderator and deacon and found great joy in singing in the choir and teaching Sunday school most of his life. Dr. Roaden enjoyed a distinguished career in education. He served as the executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, president of Tennessee Technological University, and dean of the graduate school and vice provost for Research at The Ohio State University. He was past chairman of the Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation and served on the board of trustees of Bryan College and the board of trustees of the National Center for Youth Issues. He also served as vice president of NCAA for Division I schools.

Beyond his work as an educator, Dr. Roaden has authored, and co-authored five books and numerous professional research articles. His passion for supporting youth led to his work with the Middle Tennessee Council of Boy Scouts of America and STARS, a school-based program that addresses youth problems of drugs, alcohol, and bullying.

He received the Resolution of Commendation from the Tennessee Legislature and the Centennial Medallion from The Ohio State University for Outstanding Faculty and Alumni. He also received the Outstanding Alumni Award from Cumberland University in Kentucky. The Roaden University Center at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville was named in his honor and the Ohio Valley of Athletic Conference inducted him into its Hall of Fame.

He is survived by his loving wife of 65 years, Mary Etta Mitchell Roaden; daughter, Janice Skelton (John) of Columbus, Ohio; sister, Reba Moore (Herman) of Corbin, Ky.; four grandchildren, Michelle Muse (Steven), David Skelton (Amanda), Mindy Scibilia (Marc), Karen Bailey (Nick); and three great-grandchildren, Andrew Hagen, and Alexis and Emily Muse.

…Visiting hours will be from noon-2 p.m. on Saturday, April 16, with a celebration of life service to follow at 2 p.m. Visiting hours and celebration will both be held at Woodmont Baptist Church, 2100 Woodmont Blvd., Nashville, TN, 37215.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Arliss and Mary Etta Roaden Scholarship Fund, University Development, Tennessee Technological University, Campus Box 5047, 1000 N Dixie, Ave., Cookeville, TN, 38501-9921.