TN Legislators Visit Oak Ridge National Laboratory

TN Reps with TN-SCORE students

State Representatives Coley, DeBerry, and Sanderson with TN-SCORE student researchers from UTK

Tennessee State Representatives Jim Coley (R-Bartlett), John DeBerry, Jr. (D-Memphis), and Bill Sanderson (R-Kenton) visited Oak Ridge National Laboratory yesterday to learn more about the unique partnership between the University, the Lab, and state and federal governments.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is managed and operated by UT through UT-Battelle with substantial support from the State of Tennessee. The University’s venture with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) yields world-leading expertise in the areas of high-performance computing, materials research, and nanotechnology. Together, the University and Lab are making major strides in science and economic development.

ORNL is the U.S. Department of Energy’s largest multiprogram science and energy laboratory, with scientific and technical capabilities spanning from basic to applied research.

We thank Representatives Coley, DeBerry, and Sanderson for spending the day at the Lab and on the UTK campus, learning more about UT’s statewide research enterprise and its impact on Tennesseans and their future.

House Speaker Beth Harwell To Tour UT Martin Parsons Center

Harwell_MediaTennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) will make her first visit to the UT Martin Parsons Center at 4:30 p.m., Monday, June 2. A tour of the new West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation Nursing Wing that will open in August is the focus of her visit to the center. The expansion will house the university’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.
Joining Harwell will be Rep. Steve McDaniel (R-Parkers Crossroads), who represents Decatur County and also serves as deputy speaker.

Initial funding for the expansion was included in the 2013-14 budget proposed by Gov. Bill Haslam and approved by the Tennessee General Assembly.  A $1 million appropriation was made to build a 10,000-square-foot addition to the current facility. The addition includes classrooms, a skills laboratory and a high-fidelity computerized simulation laboratory.

The expansion plans received an added boost when the West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation also made a $1 million commitment to the project.

“I am looking forward to seeing this new addition to the University of Tennessee at Martin in Parsons,” Harwell said about her upcoming visit. “This nursing program works with health-care facilities across the state to provide experience for its students. Their commitment to excellence means enrollment is expected to hit its highest mark next year, and I am excited to tour the facility and meet the people who make the program a success day in and day out.”

The Parsons Center will have openings for up to 30 students annually for the program. BSN program graduates will be eligible to take the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses and obtain licensure as registered nurses.

Nursing students at Parsons will receive the same experience as those students enrolled at the Martin campus. The program works with health-care facilities across the region to provide three years of clinical experience for its students. Similar programs at other institutions offer only two years of clinical experience.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the expansion is planned for August.

Building a Stronger Tennessee—UT Day on the Hill Shares Impact with Lawmakers

On February 18, advocates from across the state traveled to Nashville to share their UT story with state lawmakers.  Special guests included former Volunteer football player Inky Johnson, UT President Joe DiPietro, and each of UT’s Chancellors and Institute Heads.

The message articulated at UT Day was clear:  UT helps build a stronger future for Tennessee through programs that educate, discover, and connect.

Check out some of UT Day’s social media:

Annual Meeting Features Cooper, Brooks; Highlights Importance of Grassroots Advocacy and Supporting UT

The UT Advocacy Council met for their annual winter meeting this past Saturday, February 8. Over 100 University of Tennessee advocates from across the state met to discuss a number of legislative issues facing the University and they could help.

The event featured two insightful keynote speakers who discussed the necessity of quality higher education for a prosperous Tennessee.  “The reality of higher education in Tennessee is very simple, it’s about economic development,” House Education Chairman Harry Brooks (R-Knoxville) commented in a speech to advocates.

Representative Brooks also stressed to the crowd the importance of effective legislative advocacy. He told the gathered advocates that if they want “the University of Tennessee to have a strong place at the table, [than they must] advocate for that.” Brooks emphasized that “if [UT advocates] don’t fill the void, [then] someone else will.”

United States Congressman Jim Cooper (TN-5) also addressed the Council, underscoring the importance of the UT System.  Calling higher education institutions like the University of Tennessee “dream factories,” Cooper encouraged advocates to continuously dream bigger for higher education.   He expressed his belief that “education is a public good,” and his hopes “that all the people [can] band together [to] fund [it].”

The meeting also included a panel discussion on current UT legislative issues by the UT Office of Government Relations and Advocacy staff, and a panel on using grassroots networks to impact legislative outcomes.

We would like to thank the Advocacy Council members for their service, support, and commitment to higher education in Tennessee.

Did you attend the meeting?  Consider sending our keynote speakers a thank you note:

Congressman Jim Cooper
605 Church St
Nashville, TN 37219

Representative Harry Brooks
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 117 War Memorial Building
Nashville, TN 37243


Government Relations & Advocacy Team (GR&A) Coordinates Washington, D.C. Visibility Day

UT President Joe DiPietro and UTK Chancellor Jimmy Cheek with Senator Lamar Alexander

UT President Joe DiPietro and UTK Chancellor Jimmy Cheek with Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN)

The UT Government Relations and Advocacy team recently coordinated a meaningful federal relations trip to raise the University of Tennessee System’s visibility in Washington, D.C.  Many organizations host D.C. receptions and meet with their Congressional delegations, but this trip was distinguished from typical visibility events due to its parallel focus on Congressional, White House, and Agency relationships.   To that end, this trip represented a broader federal government relations strategy wherein all three of these relationships play critical roles.  There were numerous opportunities to continue building relationships that will lead to productive partnerships for the University of Tennessee with key departments and offices such as the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and The White House Rural Council.  An equally important objective was the opportunity to engage in high-level conversations regarding national policymaking—providing feedback and input to agencies such as the Department of Education.    The day concluded with a reception honoring members of the Tennessee Congressional Delegation, which over 135 congressional staff, agency staff, and government relations professionals attended.

UT President Joe DiPietro and UTM Chancellor Tom Rakes with Congressman Stephen Fincher, who represents Tennessee's Eighth Congressional District

UT President Joe DiPietro and UTM Chancellor Tom Rakes with Congressman Stephen Fincher, who represents Tennessee’s Eighth Congressional District