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Press Releases

Haslam Names Smith to TN Board of Regents

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; September 3, 2013:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has appointed J. Parker Smith to the Tennessee Board of Regents as the representative of the First Congressional District.

“I am grateful to Parker for serving our state in this important way,” Haslam said. “His experience and commitment will be valuable on the board.”

Smith, 60, is vice president and general manager of Worldwide Manufacturing Support and Global Quality for Eastman Chemical Company. He has spent his entire career with Eastman, which he began as a co-op student while at North Carolina State University. He has served as superintendent of the Centralized Maintenance Division in Kingsport and the leader of the Eastman Chemical Worldwide Maintenance and Reliability Team.

“I am honored to be appointed by Governor Haslam to the Tennessee Board of Regents,” Smith said. “I appreciate the opportunity to serve Tennessee’s universities, community colleges, and colleges of applied technology as we strive to meet the state’s needs for a highly trained workforce and a better educated population.”

Smith volunteers with the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce, Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, Tri-Cities Airport Commission, Boy Scouts of America, Sequoyah Council, Kingsport Library Commission, Kiwanis Club of Engineering, Kingsport Commission on Higher Education and the Kingsport Economic Development Board.

Smith and his wife, Kay Ann, currently reside in Kingsport, and they have one son, Ross. They are active members of First Broad Street United Methodist Church.

Categories
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.

Categories
Education Featured Tax and Budget

Higher Spending Requested for Higher Ed

Tennessee higher education officials, sensing the wind in the back of the state’s education reform efforts, boldly made their request to Gov. Bill Haslam Tuesday for a budget increase of $28.7 million.

Haslam has asked all state agencies to submit a contingency plan for 5 percent reductions, and the state’s higher education schools complied with an outline that would trim $55.1 million from their books.

But leaders of the state’s public colleges and universities seized upon the initiatives from K-12 education and higher education like the Complete College Act as a means of persuasion with the governor. The $28.7 million request represents a 2.7 percent increase in funds.

“This is an interesting time,” Richard G. Rhoda, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, told Haslam during a budget hearing. “We have a new way of looking at it.

“The state has higher education serving the needs of the state. We have a new master plan. We have a new funding formula that reinforces that master plan based on outcomes. We’re seeing positive movement.”

Rhoda said there are indicators of more students completing degrees, better retention rates and improvements in the amount of remedial and developmental courses that have been falling to higher education. But even as a higher ed official, Rhoda pointed to the significance of what the state is doing in K-12 as the foundation for improvements in higher education.

“The reforms in higher education are great, but the bigger context is how it fits the other reforms in K-12,” Rhoda said. “For us to succeed really is predicated on those improvements in K-12. Just suffice it to say we very much support those.”

Rhoda sat between Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan and University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro at the hearing at the Capitol in Nashville. All three seemed keenly aware of the daunting financial obstacles facing students and families in affording college. THEC approved its budget request last week, but it came along with proposed increases in tuition that would range from 3-10 percent depending on the schools in the state’s higher education system.

Morgan made a pitch similar to Rhoda’s.

“The combination of Race to the Top, the Complete College Act, the talk is right,” Morgan said.

“There’s a tremendous amount of energy out there and discussion going on and realization that it really is about the state’s future.”

The education officials knew they were preaching to the choir in Haslam, who has made the ties between education and job growth a major theme in his first year in office. But it didn’t make the governor’s job any easier in funding education requests. Haslam cut the budget for higher education in his first year in office by 2 percent, or $20 million.

But the three educators brought even more ammunition to the table. DiPietro pointed to efforts to operate more efficiently in universities. Morgan said the costs at schools actually haven’t gone up at the pace of what students are experiencing in paying tuition.

Rhoda broke down funding trends for Haslam. He told the governor that 10 years ago a university’s funding came roughly 60 percent from the state and 40 percent from the students, while community colleges received about 70 percent from the state at that time.

Now, the figures have been reversed, Rhoda said. The state provides about 36 percent while student tuition and fees cover 53 percent. Rhoda, like Morgan, said cost itself is not increasing for the schools. The change, he said, is in the mix of revenue, where students are having to pay more for their share.

Haslam told reporters after the hearing that he believes there will have to be some tuition increase but that he hopes to limit it. He said he didn’t anticipate being able to grant the colleges a $28.7 million increase but that he didn’t believe he would have to hold them to a 5 percent decrease either. Haslam also pointed to capital needs at colleges and universities.

Haslam said the recent improvements in revenue figures could help the state address a $360 million budget gap.

“I’m really, really hopeful we don’t have to go 5 percent,” Haslam said. “Some of those cuts are tough.

“I feel a little better now than I did three weeks ago, but I can’t sit here today and tell you it will be 3 percent or 1 percent, instead of 5. I just don’t know that yet.”

The state reported that revenue collections for October were $791 million, 8 percent above October in 2010.

Categories
Education

AT&T Funding State Community College Scholarships

AT&T put another exclamation point on the state’s overall education reform agenda Wednesday, plunging $130,000 into scholarships for Tennessee community colleges.

The company announced that $10,000 will go to each of the state’s 13 community colleges. AT&T’s Tennessee president said it’s all tied to the education reform agenda that, in turn, is tied to workforce development in the state.

AT&T and state officials held a press conference for the announcement at Nashville State Community College.

“We recognize the critical role community colleges play here with higher education in Tennessee,” Gregg Morton, president of AT&T Tennessee, said.

“Often the community colleges don’t get the credit they deserve. If you look at the track record in terms of degrees they’re already generating, it’s a very successful track record.”

Both Morton and John Morgan, chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents, said the steps taken from the state’s Complete College Act, which will streamline taking credits from two-year schools onto four-year schools, is a significant development in education reform.

Morgan said the quality of the community colleges was good before such changes were made.

“But Tennessee, for whatever reason, tended to under-utilize our community colleges compared to most other states, particularly those states that are successful in providing high levels of education attainment,” he said.

“What this completion agenda does is it really erases, once and for all, that perception or that stigma that somehow community colleges ‘are not as good as,’ because credits earned at this school (Nashville State) will transfer to any other school in the state, and that’s a big deal.”

The scholarships will be designated for students in what are known as “accelerated pathways,” which are designed to move students through the higher education system without a lot of confusion.

Under the accelerated pathways program, instead of having multiple courses over several months, where a student might have one course on a Tuesday morning and another on a Wednesday afternoon and meander through the system, the student can now move along more expeditiously.

“What this accelerated pathway does is create a block schedule, so we’re telling students if you will come to us from 8:30 to 2 o’clock every day, over a period of time we will give you what you need to complete your degree,” Morgan said.

“You don’t have to go through the course-shopping, the course-selection process, you don’t have to worry about whether or not that section will be available when you need it We will structure that program for you.”

Morgan said the block schedule allows students to plan the rest of their lifestyles, like carrying jobs, around that class schedule.

The system also places students with cohorts, where they can move along together. The scholarships are designed to target non-traditional and under-served students.

Morton said the state currently has the proper focus on students.

“The initiatives underway here, I think, make Tennessee unique in many respects,” Morton said. “We’ve been able to get beyond a lot of the partisan bickering you see certainly in Washington and other states to focus on what’s important for our students here in Tennessee.

“It’s an exciting time, and it’s important for the business community to be involved in this initiative in partnership with both higher education and K-12 education because these students are looking for a job. It’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs. We’re all kind of inter-related here.”

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Categories
Business and Economy Education

SCORE Conference Accents Connection Between Education, Economic Growth

They held an education summit in Nashville on Tuesday and Wednesday, and it turned into a jobs summit.

And that’s pretty much what organizers of the event had in mind all along.

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education, the organization founded by former Sen. Bill Frist, hosted the Southeast Regional Rural Education Summit at Lipscomb University, pulling together various interests in education — from the classroom to the philanthropic realm. It was notable for its emphasis on rural areas, where issues ranging from education to unemployment can be difficult and complex

But it was clear the event was not simply about educating kids in rural communities. It was about preparing them for the workforce and, in turn, boosting the economy in those rural areas.

“It’s making real this close connection between education and jobs,” said Jamie Woodson, the former state senator and president of SCORE.

“They’re so interrelated. It’s not just something we talk about theoretically. It really is a matter of economic viability for these communities around our state and the families that support those communities.”

To drive home that point, the event had a high-powered panel discussion Tuesday morning that included Kevin Huffman, the state’s commissioner of education, and Bill Hagerty, the state’s commissioner of economic and community development, along with Frist and Woodson. Huffman said the jobs of the future will be different from jobs in the past. Hagerty said the connection between jobs and education is very tight.

But the same angle was evident in a morning panel discussion Wednesday. Joe Barker, executive director of the Southwest Tennessee Development District, drove home the point of workforce development and in the process referred to a megasite in West Tennessee aimed at economic development.

Barker also referred to the REDI College Access Program. REDI stands for Regional Economic Development Initiative.

“The key part of this is to recognize we’re an economic development organization. We’re not an educational entity,” Barker said.

“We got involved in the College Access Program purely from an economic development sense.”

He spelled out some details of the large tract of land set aside as the Haywood County Megasite.

“It is a large, potentially very attractive industrial site for heavy manufacturing. It is the only certified megasite left in the state of Tennessee,” Barker said.

“Leaders came together to talk about what we could do as a region to enhance attracting jobs to that megasite, and at the end of the day it all went back to the quality of our workforce and our educational attainment levels.”

John Morgan, chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents, the largest higher education organization in the state, zeroed in on the high number of students who require some type of remedial education when they enter the state’s colleges. He focused on the community colleges in the Board of Regents system since they will be the institutions dealing most with remedial education.

“Roughly four out of five freshmen who come to our community colleges require some kind of remedial or developmental education,” Morgan said. “Of those, about three out of four will have math deficiencies.

“That’s kind of the big problem. But even when you look at reading, about one-third end up in developmental or remedial reading courses, and about half end up in writing courses. That’s troubling.”

Morgan pointed to the state’s Complete College Act, which is geared toward moving students more seamlessly toward college degrees.

“In an environment where completion is now the agenda, where our schools are incented in a very strong way through our outcome-based formula to focus on completion, obviously that represents a substantial challenge,” Morgan said.

Morgan said no matter how well Tennessee handles remedial education, real success will come only when students arrive at college prepared to learn.

“We can cry about that. We can whine about the lack of preparation if we choose to,” Morgan said. “But that’s not going to help us hit our numbers. It’s not going to help us achieve our outcomes.

“So what we have to do is figure out how we at our institutions can work with our high schools, with our middle schools, with our communities to lead to better success for students as they come to us.”

Morgan said there will always be a need for remedial and developmental courses for adult learners, pointing out that if he were to go back to college he would probably “test in” to needing some kind of help.

But the summit was still somewhat out of the ordinary for its focus on rural communities.

“There is a great deal of focus and data related to urban turnaround strategies,” Woodson said. “But we wanted to look at rural communities — and a third of Tennessee students are in schools in rural communities — which is particularly important. So we thought it would be smart and productive to focus on that.”

David Mansouri, director of advocacy and communications for SCORE, echoed that desire.

“A lot of the education reform going on nationally is focused on urban areas,” he said. “In talking to folks and learning from people across the state, there was a real need, not only convening about rural education but to talk about best practices, then bring folks together to replicate those practices.”

Woodson said the idea for the rural summit came from listening tours SCORE has conducted across the state, adding that those efforts will continue.

“This really resulted from those conversations,” she said.