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Press Releases

Summerville to File Bill to Freeze College Tuition at Current Rates

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; July 22, 2013:

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.), July 22, 2013 — State Senator Jim Summerville (R-Dickson) has announced plans to file legislation in the Tennessee General Assembly to freeze tuition at the current rates at state colleges and universities. The announcement comes after the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) and the University of Tennessee (UT) system recently adopted hikes in tuition ranging between 3 to 6 percent.

“The current increases are an outrage, especially in light of this year’s increase in appropriations to these higher education systems,” said Senator Summerville. “No other governmental department consistently raises their costs to the taxpayers at such a high rate on an annual basis.”

The General Assembly approved a budget providing a $108.6 million increase for higher education, including $65.7 million in additional funds for the Tennessee Board of Regents, $37.6 million for the University of Tennessee system and $5.2 million for the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. A 2010-2011 study by the Bloomberg News College Board found that 56 percent of public four-year college students average $23,800 in student loans upon graduation.

“Over the past decade, tuition at public colleges and universities has increased by an astounding 62 percent,” added Summerville. “These ever-increasing costs lead students to take out more loans, thus saddling themselves with debt that can take almost a lifetime to pay back.”

Summerville said his legislation, the “Tennessee College Students’ Tuition Relief Act,” is currently in the drafting stage but will freeze tuition for several years. He said bill will include cost reduction recommendations to help the state’s higher education system realize efficiencies. This could include top-heavy administrative office expenses and excessive salary packages for college coaches.

“Non-instructional cost is a good place to start in looking for savings,” added Summerville. “If we are going to meet our goals of raising our college graduation rates, we must get a handle on the rising costs. This legislation is a big step in the right direction to accomplish this.”

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Press Releases

Glover Tapped to Head TSU

 Press Release from the Tennessee Board of Regents, Nov. 27, 2012:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Nov. 27, 2012) – The Tennessee Board of Regents unanimously approved Glenda Baskin Glover as the next president for Tennessee State University today.

Glover will assume her leadership role January 2 after the contract for Interim President Portia Shields expires.

The Board met via telephone at 1:30 p.m. to consider TBR Chancellor John Morgan’s recommendation for Glover, who currently serves as dean of the College of Business at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi.

Glover, a 1974 TSU graduate, was selected after an extensive nationwide search that began earlier this year. A licensed attorney and certified public accountant, Glover earned her bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from TSU, an MBA from Clark Atlanta University, the J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and her Ph.D. in business economics and policy from George Washington University. Her complete resume is available at http://tinyurl.com/tsuglover.

“I am truly honored and excited about returning to my alma mater, Tennessee State University, in this monumental leadership role,” Glover said after the vote. “It is indeed a privilege to be selected as president of such a historic institution that has enriched the lives of so many students, and empowered thousands of families and communities, and still continues to do so today.”

TSU, Tennessee’s only public HBCU (historically black colleges and universities), is a doctoral/research intensive institution located in Nashville. It recently earned a Top 20 ranking for HBCUs by U.S.News & World Report and has been listed as one of the Top HBCUs in the United States by Black Enterprise magazine. Washington Monthly named TSU as one of the nation’s top universities in its 2011 College Rankings because of its success in educating and graduating academically talented, low-income students who become service-oriented leaders in their professions and communities.

The TBR is the nation’s sixth largest higher education system, governing 46 post-secondary educational institutions, including TTU. The TBR system includes six universities, 13 two-year colleges and 27 technology centers, providing programs across Tennessee to more than 200,000 students.

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Press Releases

Haslam Vacancies at TN Board of Regents, Board of Trustees

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Education; October 11, 2012: 

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the appointments of two new members to boards overseeing Tennessee’s public colleges and universities.

Darrell Freeman of Brentwood will represent the 7th Congressional District on the Tennessee Board of Regents. Raja Jubran of Knoxville will represent the 2nd Congressional District on the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees.

Darrell S. Freeman is founder and executive chairman of Zycron, a Tennessee-based information technology consulting firm, serving clients including large health care, government and utility agencies. He serves on the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s Small Business and Labor Advisory Council and Centennial Medical Center Board, and formerly served two terms as chairman of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. Freeman, a Memphis native, lives in Brentwood with his wife, Gloria. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Middle Tennessee State University.

Raja J. Jubran is founder and chief executive officer of Denark Construction, Inc., a Knoxville based general contracting and engineering company. He serves on the Clayton Bancorp Board of Directors and Clayton Bank & Trust Board of Directors, and is chairman of the Board Loan Committee and a member of the Board Executive Committee and the Trust Committee. He is also a member of the Clayton Foundation Board of Directors, Innovation Valley Inc. Board of Directors, the Knoxville Public Safety Foundation Board of Directors, and the Leadership Knoxville Board of Directors. He previously served as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Knoxville Area Chamber Partnership, Leadership Knoxville, and of Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation (KCDC). Jubran and his wife, Michele, live in Knoxville. He holds a degree in civil engineering from the University of Tennessee Knoxville.

In July, Haslam announced his focus on post-secondary education in Tennessee, particularly in the areas of affordability, quality and workforce development.

“If we are going to be a state that attracts companies to locate and grow here, a state that keeps its best and brightest graduates here with good-paying, high-quality jobs, there is nothing more important we can do than to focus on education,” Haslam said. “We are asking higher education to do more with less and we believe with the right team it is possible to be innovative, creative and proactive in our commitment to increase the number of Tennesseans with a college degree.”

The governor serves as chairman of the board of directors for the TBR and UT systems.

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Education NewsTracker Tax and Budget Transparency and Elections

Dems Request Special Session to Freeze Tuition

Democrats are urging the governor to head off college tuition hikes by calling lawmakers back to Nashville this summer, though their plea is not likely to prompt action.

They say lawmakers should freeze college tuition rates as officials at the state’s Board of Regents and the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees contemplate increasing college costs.

“You could call it a tuition increase. But what it really is, is a tax increase,” said Jim Kyle, the leading Senate Democrat, at a Capitol Hill press conference. “It is a tax increase on people who are trying to improve their lives and improve Tennessee by getting a better education.”

UT trustees are expected to decide this week whether to go along with proposed tuition hikes of 8 percent at the Knoxville campus, 6 percent at Chattanooga and Martin, and 4 percent at the Health Science Center in Memphis. The Board of Regents, which oversees the rest of the state’s public colleges, is considering increases ranging from 3.4 percent at Austin Peay State University to 7.3 percent at East Tennessee State University.

Democrats say the state has the money to freeze tuition, a task they say would mean handing the higher education boards $78 million. They also want to further reduce the sales tax on groceries by another penny per $100 spent. The Legislature this year approved a reduction of .25 cents per $100.

The request — made in the middle of the campaign season — is a long shot. Republicans refused to budge when those same Democrats wanted to use some $200 million in excess tax revenue to pay for even deeper cuts in the food tax.

Instead, Republicans plugged almost $30 million of excess revenues into the state budget earlier this year, but vowed to stick the rest into state reserves.

“We want to be sure we have a complete picture of what our budget commitments will look like before we interrupt the budget process and start spending funds in an ad hoc way,” said Dave Smith, a Haslam spokesman. “That shouldn’t be done from a quick-fix perspective.”

The governor told the Chattanooga Times Free Press earlier this month he wants to turn his attention to finding a better way to fund higher education.

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Press Releases

Haslam Reappoints Griscom to Board of Regents

State of Tennessee Press Release; Sept. 6, 2011: 

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the appointments of Donald Lee Gatts III and Linda S. Weeks to the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) along with the reappointment of Tom Griscom.

Gatts, the son of Tim and Angie Sells of Livingston and Donnie Gatts of Algood, will serve as the student regent. He is a pre-law student majoring in political science at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville and serves as president of the Student Government Association.

Griscom represents the third congressional district on the Board of Regents. He recently served as communications consultant to the Haslam administration during the transition. He served 11 years as executive editor and publisher of the Chattanooga Times Free Press newspaper. Griscom previously served as director of communications to President Ronald Reagan and press secretary to former Sen. Howard Baker, Jr.  He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, where he served as an instructor.

Weeks will serve as the faculty regent. She is an associate professor of English at Dyersburg State Community College.  She serves as a member of the TBR system-wide Student Rules Committee, and as chairperson of the Teaching-Learning Technology Roundtable.  A 1984 graduate of Memphis State University, Weeks holds a master’s in English (technical and professional writing) from the University of Memphis.

“It is a privilege to have these three citizens serve the state of Tennessee in this capacity,” Haslam said. “They possess the skills, expertise and knowledge required to help guide the system, and I appreciate their commitment and willingness to serve.”

The 18-member Tennessee Board of Regents is the governing body of the Board of Regents system, which includes Tennessee’s Technology Centers, Community Colleges and four-year public universities unaffiliated with the University of Tennessee.  The board oversees the educational and operational activities of the statewide system. The governor serves as an ex officio voting member of the board and, by election, as chair.

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Business and Economy Education News NewsTracker Tax and Budget

Rising Health Care Costs Limiting Middle-Class Edu. Opportunities, says Governor

Middle-income families are the ones facing the most pressure on tuition increases at state colleges and universities, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said Friday. And he reiterated a theme he’s been hitting on a lot lately — that health care costs are the reason higher education is getting financially squeezed in Tennessee.

Haslam was commenting on news this week that the University of Tennessee’s Knoxville campus is seeking a 12-percent increase in tuition when the UT Board of Trustees meets next week. Tennessee Board of Regents schools, meanwhile, are looking at potential increases of 8.8 percent to 11 percent for the coming school year.

Haslam, who as governor is chairman of both systems, will attend meetings of the two organizations next week where tuition will be addressed. The UT Board of Trustees meets Wednesday and Thursday. The Board of Regents meets Thursday and Friday.

“We have a major issue around keeping college affordable for middle-class families in Tennessee,” Haslam told reporters Friday after a speech to a state convention of veterans in Nashville. “I think the TBR schools and the UT schools need to make sure they’re doing everything to keep costs down.

“But we also have to be realistic. Part of their problem is we’re giving them less funding as a percentage of their budget than we used to, and it’s quite a bit less. If you look at our budget now compared to 30 years ago, so much more of the state’s budget is taken up with health care costs. That had to come out of somewhere, and where it’s come out of, frankly, is higher ed.”

Haslam had already put a 2-percent cut to higher education in the state budget this year. He has repeatedly talked about health care expenses when discussing a lack of funding for higher education.

The state recently approved applying Hope scholarships to students taking summer classes, but even with that move the state had to impose an overall cap of 120 hours for the scholarships because of limited funds from the lottery.

The governor put a finer point on the issue Friday when he talked about how tuition affects students and their families.

He said the state had maintained its funding well on basic K-12 education in the last 30 years but that government has slowly trimmed funding for its universities at the same time.

“That’s a discussion I want to have: How can we make certain we’re running both systems — and each campus — as inexpensively as possible?” he said. “We have to do that.”

Haslam said that when meeting tuition costs, middle-income families have a tougher time obviously than higher-income families, but often also even than lower-income families.

“Most of our lower-income families through scholarships and grants can have tuition,” Haslam said. “They’re not totally taken care of, but they’re not in horrible shape.

“Families of more upper means are obviously OK. The middle-income families are the ones where their kids are working and taking on loans, and we’re about to price them out of it — right when we need to increase the percentage of students with degrees. So it’s a major challenge. It’s a long-term trend that the state has been involved with.”

Haslam made a speech in Memphis on Wednesday where he emphasized the need to produce more college graduates in Tennessee to meet the demands of a modern workforce. He has cast that issue as one of the keys for the state to compete for jobs, which factor into the state’s overall economic future.

“The challenge for us is to try to figure out how to keep funding higher education,” Haslam said Friday. “And their challenge is to take out as much cost as they can out of the system.”

The University of Tennessee Board of Trustees oversees campuses at Chattanooga, Martin and the Health Sciences Center in Memphis as well as the flagship campus in Knoxville.

The Tennessee Board of Regents is comprised of 46 schools and is the sixth largest system of public higher education in the nation. Its universities include Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville and the University of Memphis.

The Board of Regents also oversees 13 community colleges and 27 technology centers.

TNReport.com is a not-for-profit news service supported by readers like you.

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Education Featured News Transparency and Elections

TBR Hearings To Be Continued?

Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Dolores Gresham isn’t entirely pleased with the way this week’s public examination of the operations, make-up and public relations savvy of the Tennessee Board of Regents’ came off.

For one thing, Gresham, R-Somerville, told TNReport Thursday afternoon that she was “perhaps irritated” Regent Agenia Clark didn’t show up during the two days of education committee hearings into the TBR’s controversies of late.

Clark, who chaired the regents’ “search committee” that recommended Deputy Gov. John Morgan as the best candidate to serve as chancellor to the board, was said by TBR vice chairman Greg Duckett to have a scheduling conflict.

Gresham, however, said Clark communicated nothing in the way of an excuse or reason for her absence with the committee ahead of time.

“I was very disappointed that Regent Clark did not make herself available,” Gresham said. “She was, after all, the chair of the search committee, and in that position could give us insights that no one else could.”

Gresham said she’ll talk with committee members and the Senate leadership “to see what our options may be.”

The committee spent Tuesday and Wednesday investigating Morgan’s selection to head the state’s higher education system, after criticism that the process unfairly favored him. Morgan was the only candidate interviewed for the job, and previous educational requirements for the job – which Morgan would not have met – were lowered.

Inside Higher Ed, an online journal of news, opinion and job listings covering colleges and universities in America, published an article titled “The Politician as Chancellor” back in August that outlined “a remarkable set of coincidences resulted in the state’s deputy governor getting the job.”

The article also quoted Clark, who reportedly “challenged the notion that the regents kept the applicant pool small to favor Morgan.” Wrote Doug Lederman, editor of Inside Higher Ed and author of the article:

(Clark) said she spoke privately to several strong candidates (including some more traditional ones) who were discouraged from applying because Tennessee’s strong open records law would have revealed their identities early in the process, putting their current jobs at risk. The same thing happened during the 2008-9 search that the board scuttled, she said, well before Morgan appeared on the scene.

Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, made a formal request toward the end of the second day of hearings Wednesday to once again call Clark before the Senate Education Committee.

“She’s been the one that’s not here, and the one that carried out the most processes, if you will,” said Ketron, a vocal critic of the TBR’s activities of late. “The process is what we’re trying to get to: how we establish it and make it better from this point forward.”

But Duckett, the acting vice chairman for TBR, suggested that a committee interview of Clark — a no-show not just at the Senate hearings, but TBR functions in general “since the Morgan appointment backlash,” the Tennessean reported on Wednesday — would do little to reform the board’s practices and better its performance henceforth.

“If we are going to improve the system prospectively, then we need to look at procedures that will help us not be in this position in the future,” said Duckett.

Sens. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, and Jamie Woodson, R-Knoxville, sided with Duckett.

“It seems to me that why we are here is we have to figure out what we have to do going forward,” said Berke, who himself wasn’t in attendance during the committee’s Tuesday hearing. “And bringing in Ms. Clark, or having another day of hearings, or anything else, is not going to push us in that direction.”

“I do not see how trying to have more discussions and more days up here about the selection process that had a candidate that Lt. Gov. Ramsey called ‘highly qualified,’ that many of the people up here praise, is going to do us any good,” Berke said.

Ditto, said Woodson.

Gresham, growing perceptibly miffed as she spoke, responded that “criticism of these hearings as being a distraction from the real education issues” is wrongheaded.

Gresham expressed “grave concerns” about the judgment and transparency exhibited lately by the TBR — which she noted is responsible for “a $2 billion budget, $7.4 billion in capital assets and provides education opportunities for 200,000-plus students.”

“I kind of question the logic of saying we don’t need to go forward or have more hearings because nothing’s going to change,” said Gresham. “That is the same kind of logic that we heard: ‘Well there is no sense in having any other interviews because we know it is going to be this one guy.’ So, I don’t agree with that at all.”

Doug Lederman
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News

Regents Say Morgan Was Right Choice

The selection of a key Bredesen aide to head the state’s higher education system was a sound decision, even though the process to choose him has come under sharp criticism.

That was the message delivered by a handful of members of the Tennessee Board of Regents and Gov. Phil Bredesen’s administration, who were grilled by the Senate Education Committee Tuesday afternoon on how they picked Deputy Gov. John Morgan for the post.

Several members, such as TBR Acting Vice Chairman Gregory Duckett, admitted the process could have been done differently. However, he and other members said they were happy how the appointment turned out, despite negative publicity implying the fix was in.

The selection, which neglected to include interviews with other candidates, left some lawmakers believing Morgan’s appointment was a “sort of rigged process,” said Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville.

But chairwoman Dolores Gresham says the controversy shows that better oversight is needed from her committee.

“The law already gives us oversight, and perhaps it’s our own oversight that we need to improve and be more alert to,” she said after the meeting.

TBR officials did not interview any candidates other than Morgan when deciding who would be the next chancellor for Tennessee’s university and college system. Officials also reduced the education requirements necessary for the position from a doctorate to an undergraduate degree, saying they changed it to open up the process.

“You don’t have to know how to fly a 747 to be a CEO of an airline company,” said John “Steve” Copeland, a member of the board.

Board members said their priority was hiring a chancellor who could run the $2 billion higher education system while working with state lawmakers and implementing the Complete College Act of 2010, a law aimed at boosting graduation rates that Morgan helped get passed.

The committee interviewed five of the 12 regents, all of which said they were happy with Morgan as the new chancellor. Four others will sit before the Senate committee on Wednesday, and another four are not attending.

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NewsTracker

TBR’s Batting Order

Members of the Senate Education Committee are planning to play some hard ball with the Tennessee Board of Regents today and tomorrow.

At issue is the board’s controversial appointment of Deputy Gov. John Morgan to the top spot overseeing the state’s higher education system. The Board hired the high-ranking Democrat last month without interviewing any other candidates. Morgan also lacks a doctorate degree, which had traditionally be required for the job until this year.

Senators will begin interviewing all but four of the board’s appointed members Tuesday afternoon. The hearings will likely continue on Wednesday, said Nathan James, a research analyst for the committee.

Here’s the lineup:

Tuesday:

Gregory Duckett

Fran Marcum

J. Stanley Rogers

Judy T. Gooch

John S. “Steve” Copeland

Wednesday:

Gregory Duckett

John Farris

Pam Fansler

Howard Roddy

Barry Gidcomb

Not attending:

Ageina Clark

Jonas Kisber

Robert P. Thomas

Paul Montgomery

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Press Releases

Dems Say Ramsey Targeting Higher Ed

Press Release from the Tennessee Democratic Party, September 13, 2010:

Republican Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s condescending remark about college professors should alarm voters across the state about the Republican commitment to education and job creation, Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester said.

Ramsey told Capitol Hill reporter Tom Humphrey that many in the academic world “step off campus and they’re lost. They like to get up in the morning, comb their beard, put on their wire-rimmed glasses, throw their little tweed vest on and go to school for three hours… and hate Republicans.”

“Mr. Ramsey and the Republican leadership at the General Assembly have shown their true colors with a remark like that,” Forrester said. “It really calls into question their commitment to higher education and even helping our local school systems better educate our children.

“Mr. Ramsey and the state GOP not only want to cut programs intended to reduce infant deaths, they also now want to give the boot to any child who wants to go to college. That boot is going to hamper job creation in this state if it’s not careful.”

Forrester pointed out that a well skilled work force is vital to many businesses and industries.

“How in the world do you recruit top-notch companies and industries into a community if you don’t have the workers with the necessary skills to hire or the educators we need to teach those skills?” Forrester asked. “Our teachers and college professors shape and hone young minds every day.

“If we don’t have the commitment we need in the General Assembly or in the governor’s office to better educate and train our work force, then this entire state is lost. Fortunately we have had that commitment in Gov. Phil Bredesen and Democratic leaders in the Legislature.

“And I know Mike McWherter and the rest of our Democratic candidates across the state have the commitment to create more jobs in our communities by ensuring companies and businesses in Tennessee have the employees they need to compete in an increasingly global and high-skilled economy. I’m not sure that commitment is there with some on the other side of the aisle,” he added.