Press Releases

Alexander Announces Report On Simplifying Federal Regulations on Colleges, Universities

Press release from U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; February 12, 2015:

Chairman Alexander announces Feb. 24 hearing on report recommendations to streamline and reduce federal regulations, while protecting students and taxpayers

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 12 – A bipartisan group of senators on the Senate education committee, Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), today announced a report detailing ways Congress and the Department of Education could streamline and reduce federal regulations for America’s 6,000 colleges and universities, while protecting students and taxpayers. Chairman Alexander also announced a hearing to discuss the findings of the report on February 24.

Click HERE to access the report, supported by the American Council on Education.

In November 2013, these senators formed the Task Force on Government Regulation of Higher Education, a group of 16 college and university presidents and higher education experts co-chaired by Vanderbilt University Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos and University System of Maryland Chancellor William Kirwan, to conduct a comprehensive, nonpartisan review of the U.S. Department of Education’s regulations and the reporting requirements on colleges and universities.

The task force’s objective was to provide specific recommendations on reducing, eliminating or streamlining duplicative, costly or confusing regulations and reporting requirements to Congress and the administration in anticipation of the ninth reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

“The stack of federal regulations on colleges and universities today, which stretches as tall as I am, is simply the piling up of well-intentioned laws and regulations, done without anyone first weeding the garden,” said Senate education committee Chairman Alexander. “This report will guide our efforts to weed the garden and allow colleges to spend more of their time and money educating students, instead of filling out mountains of paperwork. I thank the members of the task force, Chancellors Zeppos and Kirwan, and the American Council on Education for their hard work on this report—and I look forward to discussing their findings in our committee.”

“When I helped convene this Task Force, I had one goal in mind: to support our institutions of higher education – help them be them as they work to educate our next generation,” Senator Mikulski said. “I have heard many concerns from these institutions regarding federal requirements that, while well-intentioned, often end up being duplicative and burdensome.  I agree that we need to regulate, not strangulate.  I thank the Co-Chairs of the Task Force, Chancellors Kirwan and Zeppos, for leading such a monumental effort.”

“Over a year ago when this task force began its work, I noted the ‘tidal wave’ of regulations facing institutions of higher education and the resulting higher tuition costs to students,” said Senator Burr. “Not only has this report confirmed, with specificity, the extent of these problems, it shows that every day the situation worsens as a result of the Department of Education’s never-ending addiction to regulating colleges and universities.  My hope is Congress can put the report’s recommendations to action as soon as possible.  I also want to thank the members of the task force, but am especially appreciative of President Tom Ross and Chancellor Harold Martin for accepting my invitation to advocate for North Carolina’s views on the task force.”

“Our colleges and universities are the gateways to success in the 21st century economy for this generation and the next,” Senator Bennet said. “We look forward to reading more about the task force’s ideas to help these institutions focus more on improving the quality of education and less on regulations. This report will be part of the process for reauthorizing the Higher Education Act. We’re extremely grateful for the hard work of the task force, particularly Bruce Benson of the University of Colorado and Senator Bill Armstrong of Colorado Christian University for bringing a Colorado perspective to the panel.”

“I appreciate the senators’ commitment to finding solutions to the challenges America’s colleges and universities face due to the sharp increase in the amount and complexity of government regulation,” Vanderbilt University Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos said. “As higher education administrators continue to work to keep costs down, increase accessibility, and make college more affordable, this task force represents a valuable opportunity to recommend more efficient regulations that will benefit students and families while we maintain responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars. It has been a privilege to engage with Chancellor Kirwan and my higher education colleagues in this important endeavor.”

“It has been an honor to serve with Chancellor Zeppos as co-chair of the Task Force on Federal Regulation of Higher Education and I applaud the hard work of all Task Force members in addressing this issue,” said Chancellor William Kirwan. “While the Task Force recognizes the importance of federal oversight in our accountability to taxpayers, we all stand to better serve our students by making certain regulations less cumbersome. We look forward to the feedback from members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, and I personally extend my gratitude to Senators Mikulski, Alexander, Bennett and Burr for their foresight and commitment to ensure high quality, affordable, and accessible higher education opportunities for our nations’ citizens.”

“I appreciate the opportunity to have served on the Task Force, and want to express my thanks to the bipartisan group of senators who recognized the need to create it and to my fellow Task Force members for their hard work, especially our co-chairs, Chancellors William E. Kirwan of the University System of Maryland and Nicholas S. Zeppos of Vanderbilt University,” said American Council on Education President Molly Corbett Broad. “I look forward to the report’s findings and recommendations being explored in detail during the upcoming Senate hearing.”

In addition to Zeppos, Kirwan and Broad, Task Force members include: Former Senator Bill Armstrong, president of Colorado Christian University; Bruce Benson, president of University of Colorado; Thomas Chema, president emeritus of Hiram College; Margaret Drugovich, president of Hartwick College; Dana Hoyt, president of Sam Houston State University; Brice Harris, chancellor of California Community College System; Jonathan Kaplan, CEO of Laureate Online Education; Neil Kerwin, president of American University; J. Michael Locke, former CEO of Rasmussen College; Harold Martin, chancellor of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University; Claude Pressnell, president of Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association; Tom Ross, president of University of North Carolina; and Bob Templin, president of Northern Virginia Community College.

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.”

Press Releases

TN Higher Ed Leaders Join Call for Immigration Reform

Press release from Tennesseans for Immigration Reform; June 6, 2013:

NASHVILLE, TN – Twenty-one chancellors and presidents of Tennessee’s top higher education institutions have sent a joint letter to Senator Lamar Alexander and Senator Bob Corker urging their swift action and support for comprehensive immigration reform.

The letter urges the senators to support a bipartisan solution that would ensure international students educated in American universities will have a clear path to contribute to the American economy and create jobs in the U.S. after they graduate.

“As leaders of the higher education institutions that are preparing the creators of tomorrow’s scientific breakthroughs, we call on you to address a critical threat to America’s preeminence as a global center of innovation and prosperity—our inability under current U.S. immigration policy to retain and benefit from many of the top minds educated at our universities.”

To help protect America’s lead in innovation and new job creation, the university leaders’ letter calls for swift action on the issue, stating “we simply cannot afford to wait any longer to fix our broken immigration system.”

“The important role immigrants play in American innovation must not be discounted or diminished; their contributions and inventions lead to new companies and new jobs for American workers, and are an enormous boon to our economy.”

Among those signing the letter are: Jimmy Cheek, Chancellor of The University of Tennessee in Knoxville; John Morgan, Chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents system; Nick Zeppos, Chancellor of Vanderbilt University; Shirley Raines, President of the University of Memphis; and Brian Noland, President of East Tennessee State University.

Other signatories include: Dr. Robert Fisher, Belmont University; Dr. John Smarrelli, Christian Brothers University; Dr. Harvill Eaton, Cumberland University; Dr. James Williams, Fisk University; Dr. Greg Jordan, King College; Dr. Gary Weedman, Johnson University; Dr. James Dawson, Lincoln Memorial University; Dr. Randy Lowry, Lipscomb University; Dr. Kenneth Schwab, Middle Tennessee School for Anesthesia; Dr. Bill Greer, Milligan College; Dr. Gordon Bietz, Southern Adventist University; Dr. Richard Phillips, Southern College of Optometry; Dr. Glenda Glover, Tennessee State University; Dr. Philip Oldham, Tennessee Tech University; Dr. Dan Boone, Trevecca Nazarene University; and Dr. Nancy Moody, Tusculum College.

A copy of the complete letter follows:

Tennesseans for Immigration Reform

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Senator Lamar Alexander
455 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Bob Corker
425 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Alexander and Senator Corker:

Thank you for your continued strong support of our colleges and universities here in Tennessee. We are grateful for your focus and leadership for expanded student access, achievement, completion and research success throughout our great state.

That’s why we are writing to seek your help and support on one of the most important national issues directly impacting our institutions—and Tennessee’s future economy—comprehensive immigration reform.

As you know, Tennessee has witnessed significant growth in the number of foreign-born contributors to our society. In fact, more than eight times as many Tennesseans today are foreign born than was the case 50 years ago. We continue to see a growing international presence throughout the Tennessee economy as well.

As leaders of the higher education institutions that are preparing the creators of tomorrow’s scientific breakthroughs, we call on you to address a critical threat to America’s preeminence as a global center of innovation and prosperity—our inability under current U.S. immigration policy to retain and benefit from many of the top minds educated at our universities.

The United States has historically been the world leader in innovation, invention and creation of ideas that drive economic prosperity. Research shows that in 2011, foreign-born inventors were credited contributors on more than 75 percent of patents issued to the top 10 patent-producing universities in the U.S.

It is in our universities, however, where we educate and train the next generation of researchers, innovators and leaders, and we are proud that the United States remains a top magnet for the world’s brightest and most driven students.

Across the U.S., in 2009, students on temporary visas represented 45 percent of all graduate students in engineering, math, computer science and physical sciences—earning 43 percent of all master’s degrees and 52 percent of all Ph.Ds.

The important role immigrants play in American innovation must not be discounted or diminished; their contributions and inventions lead to new companies and new jobs for American workers, and are an enormous boon to our economy.

However, after we have trained and educated these future job creators, our antiquated immigration laws too often turn them away to work for our competitors in other countries.

Limited numbers of visas force American-educated immigrants to leave the country or face untenable delays for a permanent visa. Top American-educated engineers from India and China face wait times of up to 9 years to get a permanent visa, and new applicants from these countries may face considerably longer waits.

Yet, while we turn away American-educated, trained and funded scientists and engineers, there is a growing skills gap across America’s industries. One quarter of U.S. science and engineering firms report difficulty in hiring, and the problem will only worsen as the U.S. is projected to face a shortfall of 230,000 qualified advanced-degree workers in scientific and technical fields by 2018.

While we are sending away highly skilled workers trained at American universities, competing economies are welcoming these scientists and engineers with streamlined visa applications and creating dedicated visas to ensure that the foreign students who graduate from their own universities can stay and contribute to the local economy.

We simply cannot afford to wait any longer to fix our broken immigration system.

We hope you will work together with your colleagues in the Senate on a comprehensive and bipartisan immigration reform solution that ensures our top international graduates have a clear path to stay here to help us create more American jobs and to ensure that America is the world’s leading home for innovators and innovation.

Thank you again for your outstanding leadership—and for your consideration on this important issue.


Robert C. Fisher
Belmont University

John Smarrelli, Jr.
Christian Brothers University

Harvill C. Eaton
Cumberland University

Brian Noland
East Tennessee State University

H. James Williams
Fisk University

Gregory D. Jordan
King College

Gary E. Weedman
Johnson University

B. James Dawson
Lincoln Memorial University

Randy Lowry
Lipscomb University

Kenneth L. Schwab
Middle Tennessee School for Anesthesia

Bill Greer
Milligan College

Gordon Bietz
Southern Adventist University

Richard W. Phillips
Southern College of Optometry

John Morgan
Tennessee Board of Regents

Glenda B. Glover
Tennessee State University

Philip B. Oldham
Tennessee Tech University

Dan Boone
Trevecca Nazarene University

Nancy B. Moody
Tusculum College

Nicholas S. Zeppos
Vanderbilt University

Shirley C. Raines
University of Memphis

Jimmy G. Cheek
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Press Releases

Haslam Higher Ed Initiative: Affordability, Access, Quality

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam; January 15, 2013: 

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced that Randy Boyd will join his administration as special advisor to the governor for Higher Education to focus on affordability, access and quality of state programs.

Boyd will consult with a formal working group appointed by Haslam made up of the governor, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC), chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR), and president of the University of Tennessee. Although Boyd’s position will be full-time, he will be working for the state on a voluntary, unpaid basis.

“Over the past six months, I’ve spent a lot of time learning from experts in our state and across the country about the challenges we face in higher education,” Haslam said. “Only 32 percent of our state’s adult population has a post-secondary degree, but if we are going to a have a workforce that’s job-ready, we need to be at 55 percent by 2025. The conversation needs to be about K to J with the ‘J’ meaning jobs.

“It is clear to me that unlike K-12 education where there is general consensus about how to improve education. That isn’t the case when it comes to tackling the ‘iron triangle’ of affordability, access and quality in post-secondary education. I am grateful that Randy has agreed to join our team to head up this crucial effort. He will bring a business, workforce alignment perspective and a demonstrated passion for improving access to higher education to this issue. I believe it says a lot about the importance of this issue to the future of our state when someone of Randy’s caliber is willing to come from the private sector and serve in this way.”

In 2009, Boyd helped start tnAchieves, a non-profit organization that has sent over 3,200 high school graduates to community college free of charge with mentors. Of those students, 68 percent are the first in their families to attend college, and more than 65 percent have family incomes below $50,000. The organization serves 26 counties providing universal college access to those high school graduates.

“I am passionate about improving educational opportunity for all our citizens,” Boyd said. “To achieve the governor’s mission, we will need to broaden the net and to provide greater access. I’m excited about this opportunity because Gov. Haslam is determined to make a material impact. I believe our state has a rare opportunity, and I am honored to be able to assist.”

Boyd, 53, is chairman of Radio Systems Corporation, which he started in 1991. Radio Systems is headquartered in Knoxville and has more than 600 associates worldwide with offices in seven countries. The company produces over 4,000 technology-based pet products under brand names such as Invisible Fence, PetSafe, SportDOG, and Premier. It is a private company with sales over $300 million.

Boyd received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee in industrial management in 1979 and a master’s in liberal studies from Oklahoma University in 1988.

Boyd also currently serves on the board of a number of organizations including the University of Tennessee College of Business Dean’s Advisory Council, the University of Tennessee Alumni Association, and Knox County’s Great Schools Partnership. He also established the PetSafe Chair of Companion Animal Behavior within the Small Animal Clinical Sciences department of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Tennessee.

He has received several awards including Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year for the Southeast in 2008, Tennessee Business Magazine’s CEO of the Year in 2009, UT’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2009, and was inducted into Junior Achievement’s East Tennessee Hall of Fame in 2008.

He and his wife, Jenny, have two sons. Boyd begins his role in Nashville today, January 15.