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 theChattanooga 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.
Today, Governor Haslam met with UT Martin Chancellor Tom Rakes and members of his staff to discuss the unique role UT Martin serves within the West Tennessee region and state. Haslam’s visit is part of an ongoing dialogue held across the state concerning higher education and workforce development.
Chancellor Rakes noted that UT Martin has the second highest graduation rates in the state among all public colleges and universities. He further noted that 52% of all UT Martin’s entering freshmen are Pell Grant recipients. The Governor was noticeably impressed with the campus’ achievements in this area and asked staff to expand on various measures undertaken to achieve this outcome. A lengthy discussion ensued on how to increase the participation and success rates in STEM majors.
Although no specific policy proposals were discussed, the Governor noted that he is continuing to gather information on the successes and needs of public higher education institutions and their ability to foster a more competitive workforce for the state.
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam with UT Martin Chancellor Tom Rakes
Governor Bill Haslam’s third higher education discussion was held today in Knoxville. The first two discussions, held at Northeast State Technical Community College and the University of Memphis Lambuth Campus, respectively, have focused primarily on workforce development. Today’s discussion continued to mirror that theme.