UT President Joe DiPietro Participates in College Access Event at the White House

Yesterday, University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro joined President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden along with hundreds of college presidents and other higher education leaders to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.

The White House College Opportunity Day of Action helps support the President’s commitment to partner with colleges and universities, business leaders, and nonprofits to support students across the country to help our nation reach its goal of leading the world in college attainment.

DiPietro was invited to participate in the event because of White House interest in the Transfer Project, a system-wide initiative to improve college access and completion for low-income and non-traditional students throughout Tennessee. Through a two-pronged approach, this initiative is being implemented and has the potential to benefit more than 11,000 students statewide over the next five years.

First, it enables community college transfer students to receive associate degrees retroactively after completing all requirements as undergraduates at four-year schools and, second, it guides incoming community college transfer students in to undergraduate majors that best align with already completed course work. The first of these retroactive associate degrees are expected to be awarded in May 2015.

About 2,300 students transfer each year from Tennessee’s community colleges to four-year universities with at least 45 of the 60 hours required for most associate degrees. With more Tennesseans entering community colleges through a new last-dollar scholarship program called “Tennessee Promise,” UT wants to encourage qualified students to continue their education to a bachelor’s degree or more.

“The Transfer Project is part of UT’s overall effort to improve educational attainment and meet the broader state goal of achieving 55 percent of Tennesseans earning an associate degree or higher by 2025,” UT President DiPietro said. “I’m also pleased to announce a specific focus on the production of ‘STEM’ degrees – in science, technology, engineering and math – through new accountability measures tied to the performance evaluation of each UT campus chancellor.”

DiPietro also is a member of the National Association of System Heads, or NASH, and in that role will represent the UT System which has signed on to the NASH initiative, “Taking Student Success to Scale.” This program seeks to produce at least 1 million new college graduates nationally by 2025 and will be discussed at the summit. The UT System’s involvement will be through interventions to further enhance student success, including “Guided Pathways Using Predictive Analysis” and “High Impact Practices for Students.”

Along with DiPietro, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and UT Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek attended the White House event.

“UT Knoxville has made great progress in improving retention, completion and graduation of its students, and I’m proud that Chancellor Cheek has been invited to share insight into the successful steps implemented on his campus,” DiPietro said. “And all of us in higher education are pleased that Tennessee, under the leadership of Governor Haslam, has clearly emerged as a national leader on the college completion agenda.”

Participants were asked to commit to new action in one of four areas: building networks of colleges around promoting completion, creating K-16 partnerships around college readiness, investing in high school counselors as part of the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative, and increasing the number of college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

President Barack Obama announced new steps on how his Administration is helping to support these actions, including announcing $10 million to help promote college completion and a $30 million AmeriCorps program that will improve low-income students’ access to college. Yesterday’s event is the second College Opportunity Day of Action, and included a progress report on the commitments made at the first day of action on January 14, 2014.

Expanding opportunity for more students to enroll and succeed in college, especially low-income and underrepresented students, is vital to building a strong economy and a strong middle class. Today, only 9 percent of those born in the lowest family income quartile attain a bachelor’s degree by age 25, compared to 54 percent in the top quartile. In an effort to expand college access, the Obama Administration has increased Pell scholarships by $1,000 a year, created the new American Opportunity Tax Credit worth up to $10,000 over four years of college, limited student loan payments to 10 percent of income, and laid out an ambitious agenda to reduce college costs and promote innovation and competition.

DiPietro has been UT President since Jan. 1, 2011. In that role, he is the chief executive officer of the University of Tennessee System, which includes the flagship campus in Knoxville, campuses in Chattanooga and Martin, the Health Science Center in Memphis, the Space Institute in Tullahoma, and the statewide institutes of agriculture and public service. The UT President also serves as chairman of the Board of Governors of UT-Battelle, which manages Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy, and as a member of the UT Board of Trustees.

UT President DiPietro Weighs in on Proposed Changes to Federal Financial Aid

The University of Tennessee favors any changes to federal policy and processes that could help more students earn college degrees and graduate on time, UT President Joe DiPietro told a panel about federal financial aid on Tuesday.

DiPietro was a participant in a discussion hosted by U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander at Pellissippi State Community College to answer questions about Alexander’s proposal to streamline the Free Application for Financial Student Aid, or FAFSA form.

The Financial Aid Simplification and Transparency (FAST) Act is expected to be introduced by Alexander and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado in November and acted upon next year.  The proposed legislation seeks to reduce the FAFSA form from more than 100 questions to a handful, to allow families to learn earlier in their college application process how much aid they qualify for, to simplify the number of federal grant and loan programs, to extend the use of Pell grants year-round, and simplify repayment options and discourage students from borrowing too much.

Most students applying to and enrolled at UT’s undergraduate campuses in Knoxville, Martin and Chattanooga fill out the FAFSA form to receive aid and to apply for Tennessee’s HOPE scholarship. Tuesday’s panelists all agreed a shorter form would be beneficial and could help eliminate a perceived barrier to applying for college.

“We think this is a great idea to make it easier and simpler moving forward,” DiPietro said.

UT officials believe more Pell-eligible students would take summer classes if the grants were extended beyond the fall and spring semesters.  About 35 percent of all UT undergraduates receive Pell grants, with the highest percentage at UT Martin, at 47 percent for FY14.

“If you look at the year-round aspect of the Pell, we would be all over that,” DiPietro said. “We think it’s a really good thing from the standpoint of four-year institutions and community colleges.”

Tuesday’s panel also discussed how the complexity of financial aid, in general, is a barrier for students and their families, and DiPietro said UT is making strides in advising and providing information to help in the process.

“We now have a mantra that says student success… is everybody’s job,” DiPietro said. “We’re doing our level best to make sure more and more that our students are completing on time.”

UT President Joe DiPietro joins US Senator Lamar Alexander to discuss his proposed FAST Act

UT President Joe DiPietro joins US Senator Lamar Alexander to discuss his proposed FAST Act

2014 Primary Election Results

With over a half million votes cast in the early voting period alone, this election marked a higher than average turnout for an August election in Tennessee.  It was also perhaps the longest ballot in the State’s history, containing a retention vote on judges across the state, state and federal primaries, and county general elections. As a result of the lengthy ballot, election results did not come in until late Thursday night.

With regard to Congressional races, Senator Lamar Alexander beat his challenger, State Representative Joe Carr.  All of Tennessee’s members of the House won their primary reelection bids.

With regard to State results, Governor Bill Haslam overwhelmingly won the Republican Primary for Governor. All three Tennessee Supreme Court Justices up for “Replace/Retain” elections were retained.

With regard to the Tennessee General Assembly, eight incumbents lost their seats as a result of the Primary.  In the Senate, this includes Senator Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) who was ousted by County Commissioner and surgeon Dr. Richard Briggs, Senator Jim Summerville (R-Dickson) who lost to former Senator Kerry Roberts in a three-way Republican Primary, and Senator Ophelia Ford (D-Memphis), who was beat by Lee Harris, an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Memphis.

In addition, Senator Jim Kyle (D-Memphis) was elected to Shelby County Chancery Court, paving the way for a special election in Tennessee’s 30th Senate District.

In the House, Representative Tony Shipley (R-Kingsport) lost his reelection bid to Bud Hulsey, a retired City of Kingsport policeman, along with longtime incumbent Representative Dennis “Coach” Roach (R-Rutledge) who lost to Jerry Sexton. Also losing bids for reelection were Representative Steve Hall (R-Knoxville), who was defeated by Martin Daniel.  Longtime Representative Gary Odom (D-Nashville) was unseated by attorney John Ray Clemmons, and Representative Vance Dennis (R-Savannah) was ousted by David “Coach” Byrd.

A breakdown of unofficial primary election results is provided below for Tennessee Senate and House races. For more on unofficial primary election results, please visit the Secretary of State’s website.

State Senate Races (Unofficial Results)

District

Results

1

Senator Steve Southerland was uncontested and has no General opponent.

3

Senator Rusty Crowe was uncontested and has no General opponent.

5

Senator Randy McNally was uncontested and has no General opponent.

7

Commissioner Richard Briggs beat incumbent Senator Stacey Campfield with 67 percent of the vote.  He will face democrat Cheri Siler in the General.

9

Senator Mike Bell was uncontested and has no General opponent.

11

Senator Bo Watson was uncontested and has no General opponent.

13

Senator Bill Ketron was uncontested and has no General opponent.

15

In the race for retiring Senator Charlotte Burks’ seat, Representative Paul Bailey defeated his Republican challengers and will face Betty Vaudt in the General Election.

17

Senator Mae Beavers defeated her Republican challenger and has no General opponent.

19

Senator Thelma Harper defeated her Democratic challenger and will face Sterlina Inez Brady in the General Election.

21

In the race for retiring Senator Doug Henry’s seat, Jeff Yarbro defeated his Democratic challenger Mary Mancini.  Yarbro will face Republican Diana Cuellar in the General Election.

23

Senator Jack Johnson was uncontested and has no General opponent.

25

Former State Senator Kerry Roberts beat incumbent Senator Jim Summerville.  Roberts will face Democrat Tony Gross in the General.

27

In the race for retiring Senator Lowe Finney’s seat, Ed Jackson won the Republican Primary and will face Democrat Randy Lamb in the General.

29

Senator Ophelia Ford lost to democratic challenger Lee Harris.  Harris will face Republican Jim Finney in the General.

31

Senator Brian Kelsey was unopposed and has no General opponent.

33

Senator Reginald Tate was unopposed and has no General opponent.

State House Races (Unofficial Results)

District

Results

1

Representative Jon Lundberg was uncontested and has no General opponent.

2

Representative Tony Shipley lost to retired City of Kingsport Policeman Bud Hulsey, who won by 1,655 votes.  Hulsey has no General opponent.

3

Representative Timothy Hill won his race and has no General opponent.

4

Formerly the seat held by Representative Kent Williams, John B. Holsclaw, Jr. won the Republican Primary and will face Rob Martin in the General.

5

Representative David Hawk defeated Republican challenger Ted Hensley and faces an Independent challenger, Kermit Steck, in the General.

6

Representative Micah Van Huss defeated his Republican challenger Clayton Stout.  He has no Democratic challenger in the General.

7

Representative Matthew Hill won a three-way Republican Primary by roughly 700 votes.  He has no General opponent.

8

Representative Art Swann was uncontested and has no General opponent.

9

Representative Mike Harrison was uncontested and has no General opponent.

10

Representative Tilman Goins was uncontested and has no General opponent.

11

Representative Jeremy Faison had no Republican challenger but will face Democrat Marjorie Ramsey and one Independent candidate, Roland Dykes, in the General.

12

Representative Dale Carr was uncontested and has no General opponent.

13

Representative Gloria Johnson was uncontested in the Democratic Primary but will face Republican Eddie Smith in the General, who defeated challenger Jason Emert in the Republican Primary by 34 votes.

14

Representative Ryan Haynes was uncontested and has no General opponent.

15

Representative Joe Armstrong was unopposed and will face Independent candidate Pete Drew in the General.

16

Representative Bill Dunn was uncontested and has no General opponent.

17

Representative Andrew Farmer was uncontested and has no General opponent.

18

Representative Steve Hall was defeated by Martin Daniel and has no General opponent. Hall lost by 165 votes, per unofficial returns.

19

Representative Harry Brooks was uncontested and has no General opponent.

20

Representative Bob Ramsey was uncontested and faces Democrat John Ross Conley in the General.

21

Representative Jimmy Matlock was unopposed and will face Democrat Pamela Weston in the General.

22

Formerly represented by Representative Eric Watson, Dan Howell will now represent District 22.  He defeated Republican challenger J. Adam Lowe and has no General opponent.

23

Representative John Forgety was uncontested and has no General opponent.

24

Representative Kevin Brooks was uncontested and has no General opponent.

25

Representative Cameron Sexton was unopposed in the Republican Primary.  He faces Democrat Judy Barnett in the General.

26

Representative Gerald McCormick was uncontested and has no General opponent.

27

In the race to replace retiring Representative Richard Floyd, Patsy Hazelwood defeated two Republican challengers and will face Democrat Eric McRoy in the General.

28

Representative JoAnne Favors was uncontested and has no General opponent.

29

Representative Mike Carter was uncontested and has no General opponent.

30

Marc Gravitt was uncontested and has no General opponent.  Gravitt will replace retiring Representative Vince Dean.

31

Incumbent Representative Ron Travis beat former Republican Jim Cobb and has no General opponent.

32

Representative Kent Calfee was uncontested in the Republican Primary and will face Democrat Joe Kneiser in the General.

33

Representative John Ragan beat Caitlin Nolan and will face Democrat Misty Neergaard in the General.

34

Representative Rick Womick was uncontested and has no General opponent.

35

Incumbent Representative Dennis “Coach” Roach lost to Republican Jerry Sexton.

36

Representative Dennis Powers was unopposed in the Republican Primary.  He faces Democrat James Virgil Kidwell in the General Election.

37

Representative Dawn White defeated her challenger and faces no opponent in the General.

38

Representative Kelly Keisling was unopposed and has no General opponent.

39

Representative David Alexander defeated his opponent and will face Democrat Matthew Huffer in the General.

40

Representative Terri Lynn Weaver was unopposed and will face Democrat Sarah Marie Smith in the General.

41

Representative John Mark Windle was uncontested and has no General opponent.

42

Representative Ryan Williams was unopposed in the Primary.  He will face Democrat Michael Walsh in the General.

43

Robert Dunham was uncontested in the Republican Primary and will face Kevin Dunlap, the winner of a three-way Democratic Primary, in the General for the seat formerly held by Representative Charles Curtiss.

44

Representative William Lamberth was uncontested and has no General opponent.

45

Representative Courtney Rogers beat opponent Len Silverman and will face Democrat Steven Puckett, Jr. in the General.

46

Representative Mark Pody was uncontested and will face Democrat Candace Reed in the General.

47

Representative Judd Matheny was uncontested and has no General opponent.

48

In a three-way primary race, Republican Bryan Terry emerged as the winner and will face Democrat William Campbell in the General.  Representative Joe Carr currently represents District 48.

49

Representative Mike Sparks won his race and will face Democrat Mike Williams in the General.

50

Representative Bo Mitchell was unopposed in the Democratic Primary and will face Republican Troy Brewer in the General.

51

In a crowded field to replace retiring House Democratic Caucus Chair Representative Mike Turner, Bill Beck won the three-way Democratic Primary and will face Republican Brian Mason in the General.

52

Representative Mike Stewart was uncontested and has no General opponent.

53

Representative Jason Powell will face Republican John Wang in the General.

54

Representative Brenda Gilmore was uncontested and has no General opponent.

55

Nashville attorney John Ray Clemmons unseated democratic Representative Gary Odom.  Clemmons is a former Political Director for the Tennessee Democratic Party and has no General opponent.

56

Speaker Beth Harwell was uncontested and has no General opponent.

57

Representative Susan Lynn was uncontested and will face Democrat Jesse McLevain in the General.

58

Representative Harold Love was uncontested and has no General opponent.

59

Representative Sherry Jones was uncontested and has no General opponent.

60

Democratic Representative Darren Jernigan was uncontested and will face former Republican Representative Jim Gotto in the General.

61

Representative Charles Sargent, who chairs the House Finance, Ways, and Means Committee, defeated challenger Steve Gawrys.  Sargent does not have an opponent in the General.

62

Representative Pat Marsh was uncontested and has no General opponent.

63

Republican Representative Glen Casada defeated challenger Cherie Hammond and faces no General opponent.

64

Representative Sheila Butt was unopposed.  She faces an Independent candidate, James Gray, in the General.

65

Representative Jeremy Durham was uncontested and will face Democrat Bill Peach in the General.

66

For the seat being vacated by Representative Joshua Evans, Sabi (Doc) Kumar won a four-way Republican Primary and will face Democrat Kyle Roberts in the General.

67

Democratic Representative Joe Pitts was unopposed and faces challenger Mike Warner of the Constitution Party in the General.

68

Representative Curtis Johnson was uncontested and has no General opponent.

69

Democratic Representative David Shepard was unopposed and will face Republican Michael Curcio in the General.

70

Republican Representative Barry Doss was uncontested and has no General opponent.

71

Republican Representative Vance Dennis lost his seat to challenger David “Coach” Byrd.

72

Representative Steve McDaniel was uncontested and has no General opponent.

73

Representative Jimmy Eldridge will face Democrat Sheila Godwin in the General.

74

Democratic Representative John Tidwell will face Republican Jay Reedy in the General.

75

Representative Tim Wirgau was unopposed and will face Democrat Randy Patton in the General, as well as Independent candidate James Hart.

76

Representative Andy Holt was unopposed and will face Democrat Joyce Washington in the General.

77

Representative Bill Sanderson was unopposed and has no General opponent.

78

Representative Mary Littleton was unopposed and will face Democrat Jane Crisp in the General.

79

Representative Curtis Halford was unopposed.  He will face Democrat Bobby Barnett in the General.

80

Representative Johnny Shaw was unopposed and has no General opponent.

81

Representative Debra Moody defeated her Republican challenger and has no General opponent.

82

House Minority Leader Representative Craig Fitzhugh was unopposed and has no General opponent.

83

Representative Mark White was unopposed and has no General opponent.

84

Representative Joe Towns easily defeated his challenger and does not have an opponent for the General.

85

Representative Johnnie Turner was unopposed and does not have a General opponent.

86

Representative Barbara Cooper was unopposed and will face Republican George Edwards in the General.

87

Representative Karen Camper was uncontested and has no General opponent.

88

Representative Larry Miller was unopposed and will face Republican Harry Barber in the General.

89

Representative Roger Kane was unopposed and has no General opponent.

90

Representative John DeBerry, Jr. was unopposed and has no General opponent.

91

Representative Raumesh Akbari defeated her challenger and will face Republican Sam Watkins in the General.

92

Representative Billy Spivey was unopposed and will face Democrat Vicki Cain in the General.

93

Representative G.A. Hardaway was unopposed and will face Republican Colonel Gene Billingsley in the General.

94

Leigh Rosser Wilburn won a three-way Republican race to replace retiring Representative Barrett Rich.  She has no opponent in the General.

95

Representative Curry Todd was unopposed and has no General opponent.

96

Representative Steve McManus was unopposed and will face Democrat Dwayne Thompson in the General.

97

Representative Jim Coley was unopposed and has no General opponent.

98

Representative Antonio Parkinson was unopposed and has no General opponent.

99

Representative Ron Lollar was unopposed and has no General opponent.

 

Federal Higher Education Act Reauthorization Proposals Released

US House and Senate Education Committee leaders recently released outlines of their plans to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, revealing an expected policy divide in approaches to reauthorization. House Republicans announced a focus on streamlining and consolidating federal student aid programs into “one grant, one loan, and one work-study program,” creating the “Flex Pell” to allow students to draw down grant funding outside the traditional academic schedule, addressing cost drivers of the Pell Grant Program, encouraging competency-based and online education, eliminating certain regulations affecting colleges, and preventing a government rating system for higher education.  House priorities can be viewed here.

Two Senate proposals also have been outlined—the Higher Education Affordability Act proposed by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and the Financial Aid Simplification and Transparency Act (FAST Act) by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Michael Bennet (D-CO).  Senator Harkin’s proposal calls for year-round Pell Grants, new federal accountability measures for colleges, increased consumer protection for student loan borrowers, and a State-Federal College Affordability Partnership to increase state investment in public higher education and lower tuition costs.  More information on Harkin’s proposal is available here.

Senators Alexander and Bennet’s proposal includes provisions aimed at simplifying federal financial aid processes, streamlining federal grant and loan programs, discouraging over-borrowing by tying the amount a student is authorized to borrow to enrollment status (e.g. full-time, part-time), simplifying repayments, and allowing the use of Pell Grants year-round.  The proposal would eliminate the FAFSA and instead create the “Student Aid Short Form,” requiring answers to the following two questions:  What is your family size? What was your household income two years ago?  Click here for more information.

We’ll keep you updated as these proposals make their way through the federal legislative process.  Check back soon for more information.

Who is Running? A Preview of Candidates for Tennessee’s 2014 Election

Yesterday marked the qualifying deadline for candidates running in the 2014 election for Governor, state legislature, and the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. The candidates in the document below have until April 10 to withdraw.

Several members of the current state legislature are not seeking re-election.  In the Senate, these members include Sen. Charlotte Burks (D-Monterey), Sen. Lowe Finney (D-Jackson), and Sen. Douglas Henry (D-Nashville).  Sen. Henry, now 87 years of age, is the longest serving legislator in Tennessee history.

The lineup of House members not seeking re-election is longer.  Rep. Joshua Evans (R-Greenbrier) is not running again for his House seat, instead opting to challenge incumbent Sen. Jim Summerville in Senate District 25.  Rep. Paul Bailey (R-Sparta) also is opting to run for the State Senate and has officially entered the race for Senate District 15, currently represented by retiring Sen. Charlotte Burks.

Rep. Joe Carr (R-Lascassas) is not seeking re-election to his House seat in order to challenge incumbent U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R).

Others opting not to run include Rep. Vince Dean (R-East Ridge), Rep. Richard Floyd (R-Chattanooga), Rep. Barrett Rich (R-Somerville), Rep. Mike Turner (D-Old Hickory), Rep. Eric Watson (R-Cleveland), and Rep. Kent Williams (I-Elizabethton).

We’ve covered who isn’t running, which leaves the question:  Who is running?

The spreadsheet below lists all qualifying candidates.  Click on the image to enlarge it and see who is running in your area.

(Note: This is an unofficial list as election officials are still processing petitions to determine whether the petition has the required number of valid signatures and whether other qualifying criteria have been met).