Press Releases

Haslam Announces Higher Ed Board Appointments

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; August 13, 2013:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the appointments of eight new members and five re-appointments to Tennessee’s higher education boards as well as the selection of the chair of Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) and vice chair of the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR).

Robert Fisher, Pam Koban and Keith Wilson will serve on THEC. Brad Lampley, Bonnie Lynch, Sharon Pryse and Thaddeus Wilson will serve as new members of the University of Tennessee (UT) Board of Trustees. Deanna Wallace will join TBR as a new member. Cato Johnson was elected chair of THEC, and Emily Reynolds was elected vice-chair of TBR.

“I want to thank the new and current members for serving and the important work they do,” Haslam said. “We’re focused on strengthening higher education in Tennessee, and I look forward to working with everyone involved in tackling the iron triangle of affordability, accessibility and quality.”

Fisher is a 2011 graduate of Rossview High School. He is a junior studying political science at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga (UTC), where he is a member of the Brock Scholars Program. He currently serves in the student government association as the student body president. Fisher, a Clarksville native, will serve as the student representative on THEC.

Koban has served in faculty and administrative roles in both the UT and TBR systems. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee Knoxville and her master’s degree from the Fogelman School of Business at the University of Memphis. She serves on the board of trustees for Montgomery Bell Academy and has served as chairman of the board of directors for the Martha O’Bryan Community Center. She will represent the fifth congressional district on THEC.

Keith Wilson is the publisher of the Kingsport Times-News and president of the Northeast Tennessee Media Group, which includes the Kingsport Times-News, the Johnson City Press, the Herald and Tribune in Jonesborough, the Erwin Record and The Tomahawk in Mountain City. He serves as a member of the Kingsport Higher Education Advisory Board. In 2012, he was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce. He will represent the first congressional district on THEC.

Lampley serves as partner in charge of the Nashville office of Adams and Reese. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee Knoxville and earned his juris doctorate from the University of Tennessee College of Law. He played offensive line at UT and was named to the Southeastern Conference’s All-Academic Team three times. He recently completed a term as chair of the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl. He will represent the seventh congressional district on the UT board.

Lynch is a 2016 M.D. candidate at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology from the University of Tennessee Knoxville. She represents the College of Medicine Class of 2016 as secretary. Lynch will represent students on the UT board.

Pryse is president and CEO of The Trust Company. She earned her bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Tennessee Knoxville. She currently serves on the board of directors of Leadership Knoxville and the YMCA of East Tennessee. She is a past chair of United Way of Greater Knoxville. She will represent the second congressional district on the UT board.

Thaddeus Wilson is an associate professor at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center where he joined the faculty in 2000. He is an associate professor of Radiology and Biomedical Engineering and Imaging and recently served as faculty senate president. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Christian Brothers University and earned his master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He will serve as a faculty trustee on the UT board.

Wallace is a business systems technology instructor at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Nashville and serves as an online instructor and course developer for the Regents Online Degree Program. She earned a Bachelor of Business Administration and Master of Education from Austin Peay State University. She will serve as a faculty representative on TBR.

Johnson is the senior vice president of corporate affairs at Methodist Healthcare. He has served on THEC since 2008. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Memphis and is past president of the University of Memphis Alumni Association. In January, the University of Memphis awarded him the Arthur S. Holmon Lifetime Achievement Award.

Reynolds is the senior vice president of government relations for the Tennessee Valley Authority. She was originally appointed to TBR in 2010 and was re-appointed by Haslam in 2012 to serve a six year term. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Stephens College. She served as state director and chief of staff for U.S. Senator Bill Frist, and from 2003-2007 she served as the 31st secretary of the U.S. Senate.

Haslam also reappointed Danni Varlan and Ashley Humphrey to TBR, and Raja Jubran, Charles Anderson Jr. and George Cates to the UT board.

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

Press Releases

Bredesen Names Republican Replacements to Board of Regents

Press Release from Phil Bredesen, Tennessee Governor, Sept. 29, 2010:

NASHVILLE – Governor Phil Bredesen today announced three appointments to the Tennessee Board of Regents, which oversees a system of six state universities, 13 community colleges, and 26 technology centers with a combined annual enrollment of more than 200,000 students.

Named to the Tennessee Board of Regents today were Tom Griscom of Chattanooga, Emily J. Reynolds of Nashville, and Danni Varlan of Knoxville. They will fill positions created by the resignation of three members – Pamela P. Fansler, Judy T. Gooch, and J. Stanley Rogers – who volunteered to step down from their positions on the Board of Regents.

“I want to thank the three former members of the Board of Regents for their honorable service and their contributions to higher education and the state of Tennessee,” said Bredesen. “Pam, Judy and Stanley are true heroes, both for their service to the Board of Regents and for their willingness to help me reconcile issues that have been raised regarding the makeup of the Board. These three individuals have more than 20 years of combined service to the Board of Regents and have always acted in the best interests of the students and faculty of these institutions.”

Rogers was first appointed by Governor Ned McWherter and served on the Board of Regents for 16 years. During his tenure he held the position of vice chairman of the Board and helped govern the system during a period of significant enrollment growth. Rogers participated in the hiring of the majority of current presidents and directors at universities, community colleges and technology centers.

Fansler served on the board for three years and most recently served as chairman of the Finance and Business Operations Committee. Her responsibilities have included managing the Regents system budget during difficult economic times. She has also overseen the Board’s management of its capital budget and capital outlay priorities.

Gooch served on the Board for five years and devoted a significant portion of her service as an advocate for the state’s 26 Technology Centers. She served as chairman of the Technology Centers Committee and was a champion for increasing the awareness of the important role Technology Centers play in the state’s higher education system.

“I appreciate the willingness of those appointed today to serve the state in this important capacity,” Bredesen said. “These individuals will help the Board oversee the TBR system and direct our efforts to achieve the goals of the Complete College Tennessee Act.”

Tom Griscom recently resigned after 11 years as executive editor and publisher of the Chattanooga Times Free Press newspaper. Griscom’s previous experience includes serving as director of communications for President Ronald Reagan, press secretary for Senator Howard Baker, and he has taught at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. Griscom graduated from the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga.

Emily Reynolds served as secretary of the U.S. Senate, was chief of staff to Senator Bill Frist, and served as special assistant to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Howard H. Baker. Reynolds is currently Senior Vice President of Government Relations at TVA. Reynolds graduated from Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri.

Danni Varlan is president of East Tennesseans for Airfare Competition, which works to bring competitive air service to McGhee Tyson Airport. She has served as program director of Leadership Knoxville and is chairman of the board of directors of the Salvation Army and is on the board of directors of East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and Habitat for Humanity.

Learn more about the Tennessee Board of Regents at