News release from state attorney general’s office:
Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper has filed suit seeking the removal of Lewis County Trustee Clark D. Carroll from office for allegedly stealing approximately $45,000 from his office and falsifying financial records to conceal the theft, Cooper announced today.
The ouster lawsuit was filed Wednesday afternoon in the Lewis County Circuit Court based on information uncovered during a Tennessee Comptroller’s audit. Carroll was elected as Lewis County Trustee and took office on Sept. 1, 2010. The suit alleges that he wrote checks payable to himself or to cash and failed to deposit cash received by his office for the payment of property taxes on numerous occasion totaling approximately $45,000 between Oct. 24, 2011 and June 15, 2013. The lawsuit further alleges Carroll admitted to state investigators that he unlawfully took the funds for personal use.
As Trustee of Lewis County, Carroll is paid $58,739 per year to collect taxes from Lewis County citizens. His term expires Aug. 31, 2014. Based on state law, the Attorney General is required to investigate allegations of wrongdoing and institute ouster proceedings against a public officer if there is reasonable cause to believe the officer has violated the law in connection with the duties of his office.
The Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury began conducting an annual audit of Carroll’s office in July 2012. Auditors found that Carroll wrote checks from the county’s bank account to himself and subsequently cashed the checks. The audit also found that cash received by Carroll’s office had not been deposited into county accounts. Further investigation revealed that Carroll fabricated information on check memos, check stubs, and false receipts for deposits. The lawsuit cites Carroll for theft of property, official misconduct, forgery, failure to deposit official funds, and failure to reimburse public funds.
The Attorney General’s Office has asked the Court to suspend Carroll pending final adjudication of the case and has requested a hearing.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A former University of Tennessee trustee says more women should be appointed to the board.
There are thousands more women than men enrolled on the four UT campuses, but only seven women sit on the 26-member board that oversees the operations of the state’s nameplate university. Three of them have only one-year terms as faculty and student representatives.
Anne Holt Blackburn, a Nashville television news anchor on WKRN-TV, cycled off the board when her six-year term expired in June. She said female members are more passionate about certain issues than men on the board are and the women think differently about issues.
“The more diverse we are, the better service we can give our state, Blackburn said.”
The Knoxville News Sentinel (http://bit.ly/TYSoH7) reported since taking office, Gov. Bill Haslam has maintained the status quo, appointing three men and one woman to replace the same number of each gender whose terms expired. He has not yet appointed Blackburn’s replacement.
“One of the challenges we have is making sure we represent the whole state both geographically, which we have to by statute, and with diversity in terms of gender and race and background of experience,” Haslam said before the Board of Trustees meeting on the Agriculture campus earlier this month.
“Running a university system the size of UT right now, it’s a complex institution, so we need to make sure we have the right background and the right insight,” Haslam said.
As governor, Haslam is a voting member of the UT Board of Trustees.
Merrill Schwartz, director of research at the Association of Governing Boards, said the percentage of women on governing boards of public universities nationwide more than doubled between 1977 and 1997, but has plateaued.
The UT board is slightly below the national average in female membership.
“If the goal is 50 percent, then that’s a long way to go,” Schwartz said.
Judith Glazer-Raymo, a faculty member at Columbia University who studies gender issues and higher education, said women assets to governing board because of they are often more collaborative and they tent to see the issues that are important to faculty and students.
“Teamwork and collaboration are important characteristics of a governing board,” she said.
News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the appointments of seven new members to Tennessee’s higher education boards.
Evan Cope and Adam Jarvis will serve as new members of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC). Vicky Gregg, Shalin Shah and Victoria Steinberg will serve as new members of the University of Tennessee (UT) Board of Trustees. Ashley Humphrey and Dr. Bob Raines will serve as members of the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR).
The governor serves as chairman of the board of directors for the TBR and UT systems, and in July, Haslam announced his focus on post-secondary education in Tennessee, particularly in the areas of affordability, access, quality and workforce development.
“While college isn’t for everyone, when only 23 percent of Tennesseans have a degree from a four-year institution, we need to do a better job of preparing more students to go to college and to graduate,” Haslam said. “I appreciate the willingness of these men and women to serve the state, and I look forward to working with them as we work to tackle these complex issues.”
Gov. Bill Haslam has sent an invitation to members of the UT Board of Trustee, the Board of Regents and others sheds for a meeting next week that will launch his planned review of higher education with an eye toward some sort of changes, reports Richard Locker. “Governor Haslam is kicking off his review of post-secondary education in Tennessee by convening higher education and business leaders from across the state. The meeting will also feature presentations by three leading higher education policy experts and the Governor will moderate discussions after each presentation,” the invitation says.
The governor’s press office said Monday that the invitation list also includes the top administrators of the two college and university systems, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (which serves 35 private, nonprofit institutions), the two speakers of the state House and Senate, the chairmen of the House and Senate finance and education committees, and officers of the Tennessee Business Roundtable and Tennessee Chamber of Commerce. The meeting will run from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the governor’s residence.
Haslam has said that topics he wants to explore include higher ed financing, construction needs and “governance” — the administrative structure of the two college and university systems and the campuses themselves. That includes, he has said, greater autonomy for the University of Memphis within the Board of Regents system.
And while state appropriations for K-12 public education have steadily increased during the recession, they have actually declined for higher education, including another 2 percent cut in general appropriations for the upcoming school year. As a result, tuition and fees have steadily increased as students and their families have picked up an increasing share of the costs of their college educations. Through the mid-1980s, the state paid about 70 percent of what its public colleges and universities cost to operate. By the 2011-12 school year, the state’s share was down to 34 percent for the universities and 40 percent at the community colleges, according to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.
From 1993, when many of last year’s college freshmen were born, through the last school year, tuition and mandatory fees paid by in-state students on the state’s public campuses rose by an average 340 percent. Over the last two weeks, the two governing boards have approved tuition and fee increases of 8 percent at UT Knoxville, 7 percent at the U of M and several other TBR schools, and between 4 and 5 percent at community colleges.
Gov. Bil Haslam told University of Tennessee trustees Thursday he wants to spend the coming months examining the cost of college and ways the state could help make it more affordable, according to the News Sentinel. “This is a critical time around higher education. I think we all know the status quo will not hold,” Haslam said during his remarks to the board. “The old model of higher education, I think everyone is saying — from academic circles to business circles across the country — that it won’t look the same 10 years from now.”
His comments at the annual board of trustees meeting were followed with a unanimous approval of an 8 percent tuition increase in Knoxville and a plan to require full-time students to pay for an additional three credit hours each semester.
The new tuition model, which would go into effect in fall 2013, requires all new full-time students to pay for 15 credit hours instead of the current 12 hours.
Though Haslam reiterated the need to keep college costs reasonable, the governor also expressed support for Knoxville’s plan because it “makes sense” academically and financially.
“For parents and families paying for education, the sooner you get out the better it is for that family,” Haslam said before the meeting. “The longer you are in school the less chance you have at graduating. If we can keep people on that schedule to graduate in four years, that would raise graduation rates, which is one of our big challenges in the state.”
As part of a new initiative to zero in on higher education issues, Haslam said he also wants to look at workforce development, which would include touring the state to hold round tables with community, business and education leaders to ensure students are prepared for the jobs available.
Part of the task ahead, Haslam said, is creating a culture change in a state that undervalues education.
“We have to do a better job of defining what reality looks like. What does it look like now not to have a high school diploma? What does it look like not to have a two-year or four-year degree in terms of your future?” Haslam said. “I think the heightened awareness will be good for us as a state”
He also wants to hold a summit in Nashville next month with legislative leaders, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and members of both the UT trustees and the Tennessee Board of Regents to “kick start” his initiative.
The governor indicated he wanted to work on the cost side of his plans in time for the legislative session.
From a Richard Locker notebook:
The state Senate approved a bill Monday night that allows Tennessee’s higher education governing boards to keep confidential the names of and information on all applicants for presidents and chancellors of state colleges and universities except for the three finalists.
The bill was set for a House floor vote as well but was postponed to Wednesday. Its Senate sponsor, Sen. Jim Tracy, D-Shelbyville, said the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees and the Tennessee Board of Regents requested the bill to “encourage more qualified applicants. Many of the best candidates will not apply for fear of losing support where they are if they are not chosen” for the new position, Tracy said.
The University of Tennessee saved more than $52 million through 132 cost-cutting initiatives in a bid to maximize its leaner budget and build goodwill with the state, reports Megan Boehnke. “One of the reasons we did it was, of course, it was the right thing to do, and the second reason we did it was so we could tell our story to the Legislature and the governor and hopefully they would figure a way to give us no change or an increase in appropriations,” said UT Trustee Doug Horne at the Effectiveness and Efficiency for the Future committee meeting Friday on the Knoxville campus.
The committee, formed in 2008 as a way to find savings within the university at a time of drastic budget cuts, presented an update that showed 78 projects completed, another 44 in progress and 10 that are proposed.
The initiatives on the Knoxville campus include eliminating some vacant positions, a campaign to reduce energy consumption, a recycling program that decreases the waste removal costs and reducing campus bus services during semester breaks. The Knoxville campus expects a savings of more than $17 million and is working with TVA on a long-term energy savings plan that could result in several million dollars in savings.
University of Tennessee trustees on Thursday approved a 12 percent tuition increase for students in Knoxville and funded raises for employees across the system who haven’t had an increase in four years.
For the first time, money from tuition will exceed money the system receives from the state, a milestone the Knoxville campus passed several years ago.
“This is not a situation where we are raising the amount of revenue we have available to run the university,” said board Vice Chair Jim Murphy. “We’re raising tuition to try to get part of that cut back, and we’re still cutting.”
The $1.861 billion budget trustees approved, which reflects the elimination of federal stimulus money, is about 2.7 percent less than last year. Those cuts have already been accounted for, said President Joe DiPietro.
In addition to the tuition bump, the board also approved a $200 per year increase in the student facilities fee to renovate and possibly build new academic space, and a $40 per year fee to fund a new University Center.
The full Megan Boehnke story is HERE.
See also Richard Locker for the Memphis reporter’s perspective and WPLN has Haslam quoted as saying college is still a good deal for Tennessee students despite the tuition increases.
University of Tennessee Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy Cheek is slated to earn a $27,600 boost in pay, and all UT employees will be eligible for a raise as well, should trustees approve the proposed budget today, reports Megan Boehnke. Trustees attended four committees Wednesday during the first of a two-day annual meeting. The group will convene again today for two more committees and the full board meeting, where trustees will set next year’s tuition, act on committee items and elect a new vice chair.
So far, the trustees preliminarily eliminated free football tickets for former board members, OK’d the hiring of the next chancellor of the Institute of Agriculture and approved the salary of university officers.
Compensation for the president, five chancellors and some senior staff – the general counsel, treasurer and certain vice presidents – has to be approved by the board. All UT employee salaries are part of the entire university budget, which must also be approved by the board.
Based on the proposed salary increase formula, all faculty and staff would receive an across-the-board 2 percent to 3 percent increase and be eligible for a merit and equity increase or bonus, depending on the campus where they work.
Cheek will get an 8 percent raise, including a cost-of-living raise, which is in line with what’s available for all employees in Knoxville, said system President Joe DiPietro. If approved, Cheek will earn $372,600.
The Knoxville campus, Institute of Agriculture and system employees based in Knoxville will receive a 2 percent cost-of-living raise and be eligible for a 3 percent merit pool raise. The money in the pool represents 3 percent of the entire payroll, but the increases are awarded only to employees with a high performance rating, and the amount can vary, DiPietro said.
Cheek’s merit and equity raise is based in part on market research showing he was underpaid compared to people in similar positions across the nation.