UT Trustees Confirmed By Senate Education Committee

In recent years the Senate Education Committee has chosen to exercise its option to conduct confirmation hearings for new appointees to the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees and to the Tennessee Board of Regents. This past week, the University of Tennessee was represented by five newly appointed or returning Trustees. The Senate Education Committee opted to confirm unanimously each of the UT Trustee Appointments:

Raja J. Jubran:  Second Congressional District

Vicky Brown Gregg: Third Congressional District

Charles E. Wharton: Anderson, Bedford, Coffee, Franklin, Lincoln, Moore and Warren Counties

Shalin N. Shah: Student Trustee – UTC (Voting)

Victoria S. Steinberg: Faculty Trustee – UTC (Voting)

Anti-Preference in Hiring Bill Moves From Senate State and Local to Senate Judiciary

A bill that prohibits the state from granting preference based on race, gender or ethnicity in hiring processes passed out of the Senate State and Local Government Committee today on a unanimous vote.  Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) requested that the bill be sent to Senate Judiciary for an additional hearing, instead of going straight to the Calendar and Rules Committee.

Concerns were brought forward by Leader Norris in the hearing regarding the lack of definition of the term “preference.”  He pointed out that protections against discrimination already exist in current law.

The bill applies to all state entities including public higher education institutions. It is sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Jim Summerville (R-Dickson) and in the House by Rep. John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge).

Higher Education opposes the legislation largely because it would create a litigious environment where universities would incur the burden of proof on any hiring decision.

To view the bill status, click here.

Higher Education Governance: Not the Focus of the Haslam Administration This Year

After a series of discussions on higher education and workforce development with business and community leaders, elected officials, educators and administrators, the Haslam Administration announced yesterday evening that they will not be seeking legislation to alter the structure of higher education governance this year.

The Governor stated that his administration had nothing major in terms of legislation planned for public higher education institutions.  However, the Governor did state that he remains concerned about the rising student cost to attend college, and announced that his administration will continue to look for ways to help relieve the burden of that cost.  Expanding scholarship opportunities is one potential avenue the administration is considering.

Quoted by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the Governor revealed some of the items up for discussion.  “We’re looking at everything from broadening the scholarship program we have now, tnAchieves, and helping people go to community colleges free or whether we can make better use of an online education program that might work for some people to continuing what Tennessee started with the Complete College Act.”

The Tennessee General Assembly convenes on January 8, 2013.  Check back for updates on the Governor’s higher education agenda as well other legislation that would impact the University of Tennessee System.

Haslam Appoints Seven New Members to Higher Education Boards

Members represent fields of business and law, includes students and professors

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the appointments of seven new members to Tennessee’s higher education boards.

Evan Cope and Adam Jarvis will serve as new members of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC). Vicky Gregg, Shalin Shah and Victoria Steinberg will serve as new members of the University of Tennessee (UT) Board of Trustees. Ashley Humphrey and Dr. Bob Raines will serve as members of the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR).

The governor serves as chairman of the board of directors for the TBR and UT systems, and in July, Haslam announced his focus on post-secondary education in Tennessee, particularly in the areas of affordability, access, quality and workforce development.

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