Tag Archives: Board of Regents

Haslam takes charge in Regents chief search

Gov. Bill Haslam says he is personally leading the search for a new head of the state Board of Regents because an era of dramatic change is at hand, reports the Times-Free Press.

“As the Tennessee Board of Regents transitions to having a different look, this new chancellor position is critical,” Haslam emphasized last week as a 16-member search committee got underway.

Haslam was alluding to his major overhaul of the TBR system that now includes six universities, 13 community colleges, including those in Chattanooga and Cleveland, and 27 colleges of applied technology.

As a result of Haslam’s FOCUS Act, approved by lawmakers earlier this year, the Tennessee Board of Regents in 2017 will shed its six universities, which will operate independently with self-governing boards.

The regents will focus on a new core mission for community colleges and technical schools, one that’s central to Haslam’s Drive to 55 initiative that calls for 55 percent of Tennesseans to have college degrees or technical certificates by 2025.

All this comes as Tennessee basks in national attention over its Tennessee Promise program that offers free, last-dollar lottery-funded scholarships at TBR schools to state high school graduates.

…”Whoever the next chancellor is is going to be key in that whole effort,” Haslam said. “So for the first time ever I am actually chairing a search committee because I think the position is so important.”

The other members include five regents, faculty, student, alumni, business and community leaders Nashville…He hopes the nominee can be approved by the full Board of Regents in December and start work in January.

Board of Regents signs off on tuition increases averaging 2.6 percent

News release from Tennessee Board of Regents
The Tennessee Board of Regents (Friday) approved the lowest increases in undergraduate tuition since 1983.

Tuition rates at the six TBR universities, 13 community colleges and 27 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology will increase an average of 2.6 percent for the 2016-17 academic year.

The action, taken during the TBR quarterly meeting at Northeast State Community College, represents the lowest average increases in more than 30 years. The increases are within the range recommended by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. Continue reading

Veteran TN Capitol Hill reporter Rick Locker moves to Board of Regents

Richard “Rick” Locker, a Tennessee Capitol Hill reporter for 34 years and currently providing state government coverage for three major newspapers, has resigned to become communications director for the state Board of Regents.

Locker, a Lincoln County native and University of Tennessee-Knoxville graduate, began his newspaper career with the Knoxville Journal, serving there for three years before joining the Nashville Banner staff. He then signed on as Nashville correspondent for the Commercial Appeal of Memphis in 1982.

In 2014, Locker began covering the doings of legislators, governors, state government departments and such for the News Sentinel of Knoxville as well. This year, after Gannett bought the Commercial Appeal and the News Sentinel, his articles began appearing regularly in The Tennessean, too.

At the Board of Regents, Locker will succeed Monica Greppin-Watts, who has taken a position with the University of Alabama. He will begin the new job July 1, Locker said.

Says Locker in an email:

“I love and cherish my time at The Commercial Appeal and more recently at the News Sentinel too. Both are indispensable institutions in their communities, and the coverage they provide is essential to our democracy. It’s been a high honor and a privilege to cover state government and politics for West and East Tennesseans.”

Update/Note: See also the Nashville Scene blog post on Locker’s exit, HERE.

Regents universities offer some big discounts on out-of-state tuition

For the first time, all six four-year universities in the Tennessee Board of Regents system will offer big discounts in out-of-state tuition to some students this fall, according to WPLN. To get the discounts, students must live within 250 miles of the university and have high ACT scores.

This new rule covers a wide area. Take Tennessee State University: If you put the school in the center of a circle, and draw radius of 250 miles in all directions, you cover as far north as Indianapolis, northwest to St. Louis, east to Asheville, and down to Atlanta.

TSU senior Jordan Gaither is from Atlanta. He and his parents currently pay all his tuition out of pocket. “With me being an out of student, it is definitely a lot,” he says.

But under the new rule, his tuition for the upcoming year will be cut by about $9,000. It’s still not quite as cheap as the in-state rate, but it’s enough to take off a big burden, he says. “I don’t take that for granted at all.”

This kind of 250-mile program first started in 2014 at the University of Memphis. The campus is right on the border, and it already gave in-state tuition to students from neighboring counties, but the school wanted to attract more students from the whole region. Vice-provost Steve McKellips says some students might even stay in Memphis after college.

“This is a major initiative that helps the university, helps the community, helps the workforce development, helps the students — it kind of has a win on all four sides,” he says.

Guns-on-campus bill advancing in House, Senate

A bill that would allow full-time employees of Tennessee’s public colleges and universities holding handgun-carry permits to go armed on their campuses has now cleared committees of both the House and Senate.

Further from a Richard Locker report:

The House Education Administration and Planning Committee approved the bill (Wednesday) on a group voice vote after narrowly rejecting an amendment that would have allowed the presidents of each school to “opt out” of the law, blocking employees at that school from carrying their guns on campus.

If ultimately approved, the bill would allow full-time employees at any state college or university under the Board of Regents and University of Tennessee system who have carry permits to carry their guns on “property owned, operated or in use by the college or university.” It would not, however, allow anyone to go armed in arenas and stadiums.

Although Tennessee’s handgun-carry permit law allows permit holders to carry their guns openly or concealed, the bill requires employees to carry their guns concealed while on campus. It also requires those who carry to notify the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the campus of their intent to carry on campus — the university police at schools with campus police or the local police department or sheriff’s office at schools without campus police agencies.

The bill is opposed by the state’s higher education administrations. The vote on the amendment allowing individual schools to opt out was 6-6, but it takes a majority to approve the amendment.

The House version of the bill, HB1736, now goes to the House Finance Committee. The Senate version is awaiting a Senate floor vote. (Note: The Senate Judiciary Committee approved 7-2 on March 29.)

…The NRA’s Tennessee lobbyist, Erin Luper, testified before the committee in support of the bill and in opposition to the opt-out amendment.

Haslam’s higher ed restructuring gets final legislative approval

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan to spin off four-year public universities from the Tennessee Board of Regents system gained final approval in the state Legislature on Monday.

The Senate voted 31-1 in favor of the measure, sending Haslam’s top legislative initiative for his signature.

Haslam’s plan calls for creating local boards for Austin Peay in Clarksville, East Tennessee in Johnson City, Middle Tennessee in Murfreesboro, Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, Tennessee State in Nashville and the University of Memphis.

The legislation gives the governor the authority to appoint eight of the nine voting members to each of the boards that will control budgets, tuition and the selection of college presidents. Continue reading

House backs Haslam’s higher ed restructuring, 71-19

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposal to remove four-year public universities from the Board of Regents system and give them their own boards won approval Thursday in the Tennessee House.

The governor has said it would give the Tennessee Board of Regents a single focus in guiding the state’s 40 two-year schools, as he continues trying to boost graduation rates in the state. But several members expressed misgivings about excluding a student vote on the new boards and concerns that the change could breed unhealthy competition for state funding among the schools.

The House ultimately voted 71-19 to pass the bill.
Continue reading

Committee ignores Morgan, approves Regents restructuring

Former Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan on Tuesday delivered his strongest criticism yet of Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan to break up the TBR system and create new governing boards for each of the six TBR universities, reports the Commercial Appeal.

Despite his remarks, the House Education Administration and Planning Committee recommended approval of the Haslam plan and sent it to its next committee review, the House Government Operations Committee.

Morgan told the committee he believes the Haslam plan will destabilize the current balance between the TBR and University of Tennessee systems, hurt the smaller Board of Regents schools, create a new structure that is “less accountable, less efficient and less effective,” and ultimately impede Tennessee’s economic growth.

Morgan said that final point, on the state’s economy, is because the governor’s “Drive to 55” initiative — in which 55 percent of adult Tennesseans would have some form of post-high school credential by 2025 — focuses on the state’s community and technical colleges to supply 60 percent of those credentials, tied to current workforce needs. Mike Krouse, executive director of the governor’s Drive to 55 initiative, told the committee that Drive to 55 is the catalyst for the higher education realignment.

“Drive to 55 is important but I think it would be a significant mistake if we underestimate the importance of the state universities to the state’s economic future,” Morgan said. “If Tennessee and every other state achieve their (higher education attainment) goals — ours was 55 percent three years ago— Tennessee will rank 48th in educational attainment. Meeting the needs of the economy we have is important but I would submit that it’s more important to create the economy we want — and that’s what universities do.”

Morgan retired in January, a year earlier than planned in protest of Haslam’s surprise plan to restructure higher education.

Higher ed privatization plan to get outside review

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration announced Wednesday that it has agreed with higher education leaders to have an outside group review the Republican’s privatization plan for building maintenance at Tennessee’s public colleges and universities.

Haslam plans to release his “business justification” for his privatization efforts by the end of the month. The governor has said the University of Tennessee and Board of Regents systems would be given the choice of opting out of the plan and emphasized that any deal would preclude any reduction in the number of employees over the length of the contract.

The independent review should help dispel concerns that the state won’t save the as much money as projected.

“I think it’s important to have that outside, third party validator saying those numbers are real,” Haslam told reporters.

In a joint statement, University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro and Regents Chancellor David Gregory agreed to consider the third-party review and said that no decision has yet been made on whether to proceed with the privatization proposal.
Continue reading

David Gregory named interim Regents chancellor

Bolstered by the endorsement of Gov. Bill Haslam, David Gregory was appointed Thursday to replace John Morgan as acting chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents after he retires at the end of the month, reports The Tennessean.

Haslam, who serves as… chairman of the Board of Regents and appoints its members, recommended Gregory during a special called meeting to replace Morgan, who is set to step down as chancellor on Jan. 31. In his resignation letter to Haslam, Morgan said he had fast-tracked retirement plans because he did not agree with the governor’s proposal to remove the six universities from the Board of Regents.

Haslam said Gregory, who is a longtime Board of Regents staff member, will serve as “a strong and steady hand” while the organization faces massive changes during the upcoming legislative session.

“It’s really important that we have someone who is known by everyone in the system,” Haslam said.

Haslam’s proposal, which will be included as part of the “Focus on College and University Success Act” coming before the legislature this year, calls for the creation of independent boards for six state universities governed by the Board of Regents. The board will continue to oversee the state’s 13 community colleges and 27 technical colleges.

Gregory will serve as an interim replacement for Morgan, and will likely handle at least part of the transition outlined in Haslam’s plan. Although Gregory had previously announced plans to retire at the end of the month, Haslam said he had agreed to stay until a permanent replacement was selected.