After pushing changes to teacher tenure laws in 2011 and overhauling civil service this year, Gov. Bill Haslam now plans to take a close look at Tennessee’s system of higher education, including its “cost structure,” reports Action Andy Sher. “You’ll see us turning our attention a lot more to post-secondary education,” the governor said in an interview with Chattanooga Times Free Press reporters and editors last week. “I do think it’s kind of where the challenge is right now.”
Haslam said in addition to examining higher education costs, he wants to boost the number of Tennesseans with college degrees, ensure educational quality and find ways to better mesh the types of graduates with employers’ needs.
Today, members of the Tennessee Board of Regents’ Finance Committee are scheduled to look at yet another round of tuition increases this fall. Recommendations include boosts of 3 percent to 6 percent at most four-year universities and two-year colleges such as Chattanooga State and Cleveland State. Students at the Regents’ state technology centers, meanwhile, are looking at a 5 percent to 10 percent tuition hike.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The House has approved a bill to make the names of applicants to lead public colleges and universities confidential.
The chamber voted 79-12 on Thursday in favor of the measure that the bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Gerald McCormick of Chattanooga, said he introduced on behalf of the University of Tennessee’s board of trustees.
McCormick said the bill would encourage more candidates to apply for the jobs without fear of hurting their current employment. The names of the three finalists would become public at least 15 days before a decision is made about who gets the job, up from seven days in the original version.
The Senate would have to agree to that change before the measure can head for the governor’s consideration.
Under the theme “believe in better,” Gov. Bill Haslam proposed Monday a $31 billion state budget for the coming year that provides a 2.5 percent pay raise for state employees while abolishing 1,166 government jobs.
The budget also allocates $263 million toward the $2.1 billion in construction on college and university campuses that the higher education system had proposed and seeks $70 million in additional state funds to give businesses expanding or relocating in Tennessee.
“So I stand here tonight and ask you: Is the current state of our state good enough? I think the answer is no. I think we can believe in better,” Haslam said in his prepared “state of the state” speech.
“We can believe in better for how state government serves Tennesseans.We can believe in better when it comes to the education of our children and we can believe in better when we talk about a stronger, healthier economy for our state.”
(Note: For text of the governor’s prepared remarks, click here: 013012_State_of_the_State_Address_-_FINAL.doc
Overall, the proposed budget would spend $31.08 billion. When the current year’s budget was adopted, it was pegged as costing $30.2 billion. But money has been added to current year spending since then – mostly in federal funds, but some in college tuition increases and otherwise – to build the current year total to $31.93 billion, officials said.
Thus, the budget for next year is presented as actually spending less than in the current year, though officials acknowledged that the $31.08 billion will likely increase by next year, just as the current year’s budget has increased.
News release from state Department of Education:
NASHVILLE — Nine school districts and two nonprofit organizations today were awarded a total of $686,820 in Race to the Top funds by the Tennessee College Access and Success Network in its inaugural grant competition.
The network aims to establish a college-going culture in communities across the state by removing barriers to higher education, promoting college persistence, and increasing postsecondary completion rates for all Tennesseans. Driven by this mission, the network held its first grant competition to create new and expand existing college access and success programs. Schools and nonprofit organizations applied for three different grant opportunities: Seed Grant, Model Program Grant, and Catalyst Grant. The network received 66 grant applications from across the state, and the nine winning project proposals will serve more than 11,300 students and families across the state. School systems and nonprofits have proposed projects such as offering students ACT tutoring, taking them on college visits and paying for their college application fees.
Gov. Bill Haslam said Friday he is considering a proposal from the state’s colleges and universities to issue large-scale bonds to fund construction needs on campuses across the state, reports Meagan Boehnke. “We are very serious about looking at capital for higher education. Interest rates are low and construction rates are lower than typical because of the slow economy.” Haslam said following a University of Tennessee board of trustees meeting. “My responsibility and the legislature’s as well, is to say, as we take on that indebtedness, ‘What is the right amount?’
” At the same meeting Friday on the agriculture campus, trustees passed a preliminary updated list of the system’s building priorities, which Haslam asked both systems to do in recent months.
The list, which totals $837 million, will be combined with Tennessee Board of Regents’ list in December by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. UT President Joe DiPietro has said previously that he’d like to see as much as $1.5 billion in bonds, but Haslam was hesitant to talk numbers.
“One of the things we’ve done well in Tennessee over the years is not take on too much debt, and the arguments from higher education is that this a great time to take on debt because it’s so cheap,” Haslam said. “I think it’s a valid argument, but we just have to balance it. As a state, we don’t want to take on indebtedness out of proportion of where we have been and what has given us a strong bond rating that we’ve just worked to protect.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Veteran political adviser Tom Ingram has been appointed leader-in-residence at the Andrews Institute for Civic Leadership at Lipscomb University.
A Lipscomb graduate, Ingram is the founder of the FIRST Group in Washington, D.C., and the Ingram Group in Nashville. He is general consultant to former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, a GOP presidential hopeful, and has worked with U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, as well as Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.
His role will be to contribute to Lipscomb’s new master’s in civic leadership program, and he will work with students on leadership case studies and publications on leadership and Tennessee political history.
Ingram said in a news release he is honored to help the Andrews Institute break new ground in leadership education.