Press release from Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, Dec. 1, 2015:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) commended Governor Haslam for taking next steps to ensure that colleges and universities are organized, supported and empowered in their efforts to increase the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary credential to 55 percent by 2025.
Norris appeared alongside Haslam at a press conference this morning as the Governor announced plans to begin restructuring certain roles and responsibilities of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and Board of Regents.
The initiative, dubbed “The FOCUS Act,” will be sponsored by Norris in the Senate.
The restructuring will include greater autonomy for six universities including the University of Memphis.
Norris has been a key figure in advancing education and workforce development initiatives in Tennessee. He was the moving force behind LEAP – Tennessee’s Labor Education Alignment Program – which is a key component of Drive to 55 and the State Pathways to Prosperity initiative Norris launched last year.
In a prepared statement, Haslam said, “Tennessee’s future in economic development will depend on us having a workforce that is ready for high skill, high wage jobs, and as part of that effort we have to make sure our colleges and universities are strategically aligned in supporting student success,” Haslam said. “The FOCUS Act will put us on that path.”
Norris agrees. “We are on the pathway to prosperity. The FOCUS Act moves us forward more quickly; more efficiently, which keeps us competitive as a state with a skilled and ready workforce.”
“It’s all about the 3 E’s,” said Norris. “Employment, education and economic opportunity. The FOCUS Act will help keep higher education focused on these key components which make Tennessee the place to be.”
Senator Norris represents Senate District 32, which includes Tipton and Shelby Counties.