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.”

Press Releases

New Members Named to UT Board of Trustees

Press Release from Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, June 22, 2011:

Appointments Effective July 1

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the appointment of J. Brian Ferguson and Tommy G. Whittaker to the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees.

Haslam also appointed Dr. Janet Mary Rasmussen-Wilbert, Ed.D., as a non-voting faculty trustee and Teresa K. Fowler as a non-voting student trustee and reappointed Spruell Driver, Jr.

Ferguson is a director of Owens Corning and the American Chemistry Council. He joined Eastman in 1977 and after years of service at the global chemical company, Ferguson was promoted to president of the group headquartered in Northeast Tennessee. He has since retired as Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Eastman. He served as director of NextEra Energy since 2005.

Whittaker is the President and Chief Executive Officer of First Farmers Bancshares in Portland, Tenn. Whittaker serves on the First Farmers Bancshares, Inc. Board of Directors, Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation Board of Directors, Portland Community Education Foundation Board of Trustees, Portland Housing Board of Commissioners, Tennessee Bankers Association Board of Directors, Tennessee Bankers Association Government Relations Committee and American Bankers Association Grassroots Committee.

Driver, graduated from UT-Knoxville in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering and graduated from Duke Law School in 1991. The Tennessee attorney has served on the UT Board of Trustees previously and served as president of the UT National Alumni Association from 2004 until 2005. Driver has also served on the UT College of Engineering Board of Advisers and as the director of the Judicial Education and Program Services Division of the Administrative Office of the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Dr. Wilbert is professor of health and human performance and athletic training coordinator at the University of Tennessee at Martin. Wilbert also serves as faculty senate president at UT Martin and previously served as chair and co-chair of the Tennessee Athletic Trainers’ Society (TATS). Dr. Wilbert joined UT Martin in 2000 to start the athletic training program.

Fowler graduated from Camden Central High School in 2009 and is currently a sophomore at the University of Tennessee at Martin. The nursing student was appointed Student Government Association Attorney General for 2010-2011 and elected Student Government Association Student Court Justice. Fowler is University Scholars Vice President and has served as University Scholars Community Service Chair. Fowler is also a member of the National Honor Society at UTM, National Association of Student Nurses and serves as Volunteer Girls State Senior Counselor.

“Higher education is a critical component in creating a high quality workforce in Tennessee,” Haslam said. “In today’s economic climate, 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 26-member UT Board of Trustees is the governing body of the University, overseeing the educational and operational activities of the statewide University System. The governor serves as an ex officio voting member of the board and, by election, as chair.

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UT’s Coach Summitt Honored by Haslam, TN Women’s Group

Gov. Bill Haslam wore an orange tie Friday, and his orange ties showed as he presented an award to University of Tennessee women’s basketball Coach Pat Summitt, inducting Summitt into the Tennessee Economic Council on Women‘s Hall of Fame.

The honor put Summitt in elite company as only the third inductee, following Jane Eskind, the first woman to win a statewide election in Tennessee, and Martha Craig “Cissy” Daughtrey, a senior judge on the U.S. 6th District Court of Appeals. Eskind was an activist for the Tennessee League of Women’s Voters and won a seat on the state Public Service Commission in 1980.

Summitt has won 1,037 games and eight NCAA championships as head coach of the Lady Vols.

Haslam said Summitt is a model for excelling.

“If Pat were a CEO, she would be a great one. If she were a school principal, her school would be the best one in the district. If she were a lawyer, she would be arguing before the Supreme Court,” he said.

“If she were running for governor, I wouldn’t be standing here.”

Haslam, former mayor of Knoxville, noted that every player who has finished at the program has graduated, that you never hear about a player for Summitt getting into trouble and that every player for Summitt talks about their playing career as being a formative experience in their lives.

“Would that all of college athletics were like that,” he said.

“It is an honor for me to play a role in recognizing Pat. There are a lot of great Tennesseans, but as governor I can’t think of anybody I am more proud of than Pat Summitt.”

Joan Cronan, women’s athletic director at the school, told a story of how the Lady Vols were playing in the Southeastern Conference tournament in Nashville last season and didn’t play well in the first half of a game. At halftime, Cronan invited Haslam to go to the locker room with her. He said sure. Summitt was intense. Cronan and Haslam were standing against the wall in the back of the locker room. Summitt stopped and asked, “Governor, what do you have to say to these girls?”

According to Cronan, Haslam said, “Ladies, the economy is not real good in Nashville right now. There are 9,000 people in orange out there. Please play well.”

First Lady Crissy Haslam also attended the luncheon at the Airport Marriott in Nashville.

“The Haslam family has been so wonderful to all of us,” Summitt said before the event. “And to have the governor here today, and for him to take time out of his busy schedule and come to this event … but that’s the Haslam family.”

Summitt made special note of the governor’s father, James Haslam II, founder of Pilot Corp. and long-time benefactor of the University of Tennessee.

“Big Jim, he and Natalie, they have done such a great job with that family,” she said. “They’re all grounded. They all have focus. They all have purpose, and they all love the University of Tennessee.”

Summitt, who played at Cheatham County Central High School and UT-Martin, seemed overwhelmed at the prestige of the honor.

“I had no idea how big this event was going to be. It just touches your heart, when all those people from Ashland City, Cheatham County, show up and I’m looking around thinking, ‘I’m not believing this,'” Summitt said. is an independent, not-for-profit news organization supported by generous donors like you!

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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

Defense Lawyer for ‘American Taliban’ Speaking at UT Law School Oct. 6

From the University of Tennessee School of Law:

James J. Brosnahan, the attorney who represented the “American Taliban” in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks will deliver the Wyc and Lyn Orr Distinguished Lecture at the University of Tennessee College of Law on Oct. 6.

The March 2009 issue of the ABA Journal featured Brosnahan as one of the “Lions of the Trial Bar,” seven attorneys past 70 years of age who have “tried some of the most important cases of the last 50 years, dazzling juries and swaying judges.” The previous three “Lions” to lecture at Tennessee were James Neal of Nashville, Bobby Lee Cook of Summerville, Georgia, and Fred Bartlit Jr. of Chicago and Denver.

Brosnahan, a senior partner with the global law firm of Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco, accepted John Walker Lindh’s case in December 2001 after receiving a call from the young man’s father. “I told John’s parents that I am not a movement lawyer and that I represent individual clients, not movements,” he said in the ABA Journal feature profiling the seven “Lions.” “I told them if I ever got the feeling that I was being used for the purpose of a movement, that I was off the case.”

Immediately after accepting the case, Brosnahan began receiving death threats via telephone calls, e-mails, and letters. He was forced to hire security guards at his home, office, and for traveling to and from court. The National Review labeled him the “American Tali-Lawyer.”

Brosnahan argued that Lindh was not a terrorist, but rather a teenager who went to study in Yemen and then agreed to join Afghan forces fighting against the Northern Alliance in that country’s civil war. In the end, Brosnahan negotiated an agreement where Lindh pled to lesser charges and received a 20-year sentence.

The lecture begins at noon in Room 132 of the law school. The event is free and open to the public. Brosnahan will lecture from the perspective of a senior lawyer, focusing on future challenges in the law based in part on examples from the past. The lecture will be parts anecdotal, philosophical, and professional.

The Orr lecture series is made possible through the support of the Orrs of Gainesville, Georgia. Wyc Orr, a 1970 UT law alumnus, is a founding partner of the Gainesville firm of Orr Brown Johnson LLP and has been a trial lawyer for almost four decades. He has tried a wide variety of cases, representing both plaintiffs and defendants before juries in 28 counties across Georgia as well as in federal court and courts-martial in West Germany during his days as a U.S. Army JAGC lawyer. Over the past 50 years, Brosnahan has tried more than 140 cases to verdict. He has prosecuted murderers and the secretary of defense, as well as defended the “American Taliban” and the chair of Hewlett-Packard.

Brosnahan’s many notable cases include dismissal of all charges against Patricia Dunn (former chairperson of the board of Hewlett Packard Corporation), lead prosecutor in United States v. Caspar Weinberger, successfully defending the City of Oakland and County of Alameda in the Oakland Raiders litigation and representing El Paso Corporation in all its California litigation during the energy crisis.

“Nothing compares to the electricity of an actual trial, and it is magnified when it is a jury trial,” Brosnahan told the ABA Journal.

Brosnahan turned 75 in January but says he has no plans to slow his work schedule. Four jury trials and two nonjury trials are on his calendar this year. Brosnahan argues both civil and criminal cases and says his standard for taking a case is very low.

“The emphasis on specialization of practices is not good at all,” he says. “I strongly encourage today’s young litigators to take on one or two criminal cases every year. It will make your civil trial practice so much better.”

A native of Boston, Brosnahan graduated from Boston College and later received the Bachelor of Laws from Harvard University in 1959. His courtroom experience includes high-profile cases involving antitrust and competition law, complex commercial litigation, intellectual property and patent litigation, employment law, product liability, and white-collar criminal defense.

His many awards include induction in the State Bar of California’s “Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame,” selection by the National Law Journal as one of America’s most influential trial attorneys, and the 2007 American Inns of Court Lewis F. Powell Award for Professionalism and Ethics. He serves as Master Advocate of the Board of Trustees of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy. He is the author of the “Trial Handbook for California Lawyers.”