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Senate Education Chairwoman Wants Expanded Search for New Chancellor

Press Release from Sen. Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville; Aug. 5, 2010:

(NASHVILLE, TN), August 5, 2010 – Below please find the text of a letter sent to the 18 members of the Tennessee Board of Regents from Senate Education Chairman Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville) regarding the position of Chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents:

“After reading reports that there is only one applicant under review for Chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents, I am writing to ask that you conduct an expanded search for this top position in higher education in our state. The person chosen to lead Tennessee’s higher education system should be steeped in scholarship and must lead by example. The Board should also look at applicants with senior managerial experience in public education.

This is even more important at this juncture in our state’s education future, as we look to fulfill the reforms passed by the legislature this year in our First to the Top and Complete College Tennessee Acts. Under the First to the Top act we raised academic standards for K-12 students across this state. The Complete College Tennessee Act also set lofty goals to push Tennessee students to obtain advanced post secondary degrees.

Under the Board’s new guidelines, an applicant is only required to have an associate’s degree from a community college or technological center or a bachelor’s degree. This is a significant departure from the previous search requirements which mandated an applicant have an earned doctorate degree. In fact, this education requirement was previously deemed so important that it was listed on the first line of the stated requisites.

The action of the Board in this regards is such a major deviation from general practice that it would leave one to conclude that the requirements were rewritten to fill the position with an applicant already selected. It means that the Tennessee Board of Regents may become the only higher education system in the United States requiring neither an advanced nor terminal degree for its chief academic officer. Other possible applicants have obviously drawn the conclusion that the search has been completed, limiting the Board’s ability to make a reasonable effort for the best qualified person to lead our state’s top position in higher education.

In conclusion, I am making this request that you expand the search for this most important position in higher education in our state. Tennessee students deserve your utmost attention to this most important decision.

Sincerely,

Dolores Gresham

Chairman, Senate Education Committee”

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