DiPietro Takes Stand for Education, Tells Trustees a Plan Is Under Development

Education is critical to the future prosperity of Tennessee and should be a higher priority for the state. University of Tennessee System President Joe DiPietro told the Board of Trustees yesterday he is committed to reversing the current trend of dwindling state appropriations for higher education.

The board also honored UT President Emeritus Joseph E. Johnson with the Trustees’ Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honor bestowed by the board. Johnson has worked continuously for the University since 1963, serving in several executive positions including UT president from 1990 to 1999. He is credited with devising the structure of the UT System and raising fundraising levels and support.

Trustees approved a $2.05 billion budget for fiscal year 2015, reflecting relatively flat state funding for higher education. The budget includes a 6 percent tuition increase for most undergraduate and graduate students and contains no salary increases for faculty and staff for the first time since FY11.

In 2001, tuition and fees made up 25 percent of unrestricted educational and general revenues for the University while state appropriations were 53 percent. In 2011, the lines crossed, with tuition and fees making up 47 percent and state appropriations 38 percent. That trend continues today with tuition and fees at 49 percent and appropriations at 39 percent.

E&G Funding Graph

In 2001, state funding made up 53% of UT’s unrestricted educational and general revenues. Today, state funding makes up only 39%, while tuition and fees make up 49%.

“We have to develop a plan and build a coalition,” DiPietro said. “We need for Tennessee to make investments in education. It’s not just what is right for us. It’s right for all Tennessee. It’s right for our children’s children as we go forward.”

UT’s undergraduate campuses in Chattanooga, Knoxville and Martin received modest increases based on the outcomes-based funding formula set forth in the Complete College Tennessee Act (CCTA). The CCTA funding formula is based on several metrics related to graduate and undergraduate graduation rates, undergraduate student progression and research expenditures. The performance outcomes by UT campuses resulted in a recommendation of $14 million in new funding, but the state appropriated only $5.7 million to the University. The state budget also provided no capital outlay, funding for non-formula units or funding for increased advising services.

DiPietro noted the governor’s Drive to 55 to increase the percentage of Tennesseans with some type of degree to 55 by 2025 and the Tennessee Promise, which will provide free tuition for students to state community colleges, are good steps.

“It’s now time to put the last piece in place,” DiPietro said. “I’m committed to trying to resolve this problem. I think it’s time for us, with your help, to make a stand, a stand about higher education, a stand about education in the state and a stand about reversing the trend.”

The University had hoped to keep tuition increases to 3 percent if the state could fully fund CCTA performance and provide other requested funding.

“After learning the amount of state support, we asked the chancellors to determine the revenue needs on each campus. Tuition helps fund operating costs, utilities, inflationary costs, scholarships and fellowships, additional faculty positions, academic program and research projects,” DiPietro said.

Tuition increases approved for all campuses effective this fall:

  • UT Chattanooga – 6 percent increase, or $365 a year more, for in-state undergraduates ($6,430 a year total) and $436 a year more for in-state graduate students ($7,708 a  year total)
  • UT Knoxville students admitted before fall 2013 – 6 percent increase, or $496 a year more, for in-state undergraduates ($8,766 a year total) and $572 a year more for in-state graduate students ($10,112 a year total).
  • UT Knoxville students admitted in fall 2013 under the 15-4 tuition model – 3 percent increase, or $294 a year more, for in-state undergraduates ($10,074 a year total) and $390 a year more for in-state graduate students ($11,584 a year total). The new 15-4 model charges new full-time undergraduates for 15 credit hours instead of 12 credit hours to encourage four-year graduation.
  • UT Knoxville students admitted in fall 2014 under the 15-4 tuition model – $10,366 a year for in-state undergraduates and $11,876 a year for in-state graduate students.
  • UT Martin – 6 percent increase, or $380 a year more, for in-state undergraduates ($6,716 a year total) and $454 a year more for in-state graduate students ($8,014 a year total)
  • UT Health Science Center – no tuition increases
  • UT Veterinary Medicine – 5 percent increase or $1,132 a year more for in-state students and out-of-state students

In response to Senate Resolution 626 considered this spring by the General Assembly following debate over the student-organized Sex Week event at UT Knoxville, DiPietro enlisted the help of campus leaders to develop recommendations for a System-wide policy on student activities fees.

The board approved the Policy on a Student Programs and Services Fee, which directs campuses to develop an opt-in procedure before the fall semester that allows students to expressly authorize payment toward student programs funded by the Student Programs and Services Fee (SPSF). The opt-in procedure applies only to UT Chattanooga and UT Knoxville. UT Health Science Center and UT Martin do not allocate any part of the fee to student-organized programming.

The policy also directs the campuses to include a statement with the opt-in procedure that student-organized programming may be controversial or objectionable to students and that a list will be provided of all student-organized programming funded by the SPSF during the previous academic year. The policy addresses the membership of the Student Programming Allocation Board, which allocates the SPSF for student-organized programming. It says the board must have a majority of non-student employees of the University with at least 40 percent of members being students.

The Diversity Advisory Council, comprised of representatives across the UT System, developed a diversity statement that was approved by the board. In part, the statement reads: “The Board affirms the educational value of a diverse and fully inclusive campus community, one that is enriched by persons of different backgrounds, points of view, cultures, socioeconomic status, and other diverse characteristics. The Board expects the University to engage in a variety of initiatives to advance diversity in all aspects of University life.”

The board approved performance goals and a retention amount for UTC Chancellor Steve Angle, who is eligible to participate in the Performance and Retention Plan for executive officers of UT after serving as chancellor for one year as of July 1, 2014. Angle’s plan covers July 1 through June 30, 2017. The maximum retention amount he can receive is $130,950, which is 15 percent of his 2014 base salary multiplied by three years in the plan. DiPietro recommended goals for Angle such as increasing the six-year freshman graduation rate from 37 percent to 47 percent and increase the number of alumni who donate to the University from 2,601 to 2,759.

UTHSC Chancellor Steve Schwab underwent a comprehensive performance review that is conducted for chancellors after four years in office and at subsequent four-year intervals. Schwab has been chancellor since 2010. DiPietro noted in Schwab’s review that UTHSC has stabilized the educational enterprise and grown the clinical functions, and he noted Schwab is committed to increasing total research expenditures, number of research proposals, research award dollars and number of research awards.

In February, the board approved two new policies on the use of University property that replace policies that had been in place for more than 40 years. Under the Tennessee Uniform Administrative Procedure Act, the rules were sent to the Tennessee Attorney General, who asked for some clarification of the rules. The board approved new language as part of the rules.

The “Use of University Property” rule states that students, employees, members of the Board of Trustees, government officials, contract workers, volunteers, prospective students, alumni and people invited by a student, student organization or employee are authorized users of University property.

The new “Use of University Property by Non-Affiliated Persons for Free Expression Activities” rule states that University property is not open for free expression activities for persons who are not students, employees or volunteers. There are exceptions to this rule, including a person invited by a student organization to join in the student organization’s speech, a person invited by a faculty member to join in the faculty member’s speech and a person invited by a University unit. The rule also states University and city streets and sidewalks parallel to those streets are open to speech by any person.

The board opened the meeting by presenting an honorary resolution for outgoing trustee Shalin Shah, the student representative from UT Chattanooga. Non-voting members R.J. Duncan, the student representative, and David Golden, the faculty representative, from UT Knoxville joined the board.

The board was informed of the University’s plans for the house and property in Knoxville bequeathed to UT by Eugenia Williams, who passed away in 1998. DiPietro accepted an advisory committee’s recommendation that the University issue an RFP to lease the property for a term of 99 or 50 years. The successful bidder would be required to restore the house and maintain other structures and property according to University specifications. The bidder also could occupy the house, make additions and improvements that meet historic restoration standards or construct a single family house on the property.

In other action, the board approved:

  • UTHSC’s regional tuition rate program for the College of Pharmacy in Memphis for a three-year trial period. Eligible students in Mississippi and Arkansas in a 50-mile radius of Memphis could receive a 75 percent discount on out-of-state tuition, beginning in fall 2014.
  • Extension of UTC’s regional tuition rate program for undergraduates and graduate students. The program is offered to students in seven counties of north Georgia and Alabama. Eligible students receive a 75 percent discount on out-of-state tuition. The undergraduate program has been in place since 2007, and the graduate program in place since 2010.
  • UT Knoxville Faculty Handbook revisions regarding faculty rights and responsibilities of shared governance.
  • Naming of the UT Knoxville volleyball practice facility the Joan Cronan Volleyball Practice facility in honor of Cronan, the director of women’s athletics retiring this summer.
  • Naming of the Chi Omega sorority house at UT Martin for Pat Summitt, Lady Vols coach emeritus and UT Martin aluma.
  • Revision of Academic Affairs and Student Success Committee charter
  • Tenure recommendations from all campuses.

The meeting’s full agenda and materials are posted at http://bot.tennessee.edu/.

An archive of the webcast meeting is available at http://www.tennessee.edu/.

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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