Governor Bill Haslam Launches Drive to 55 Initiative

Driveto55HorizontalLogoGovernor Bill Haslam today officially launched his ‘Drive to 55′ Initiative, the goal of which is to increase the percentage of Tennesseans with a post-secondary credential in order to meet Tennessee’s current and future workforce and economic needs. A broad assemblage of higher education and business stakeholders as well as members of the Tennessee General Assembly attended the launch.

“We want Tennesseans working in Tennessee jobs. We want Tennesseans to have an opportunity to get a good job and for those in the workplace to be able to advance and get an even better job,” Haslam said. “Currently in Tennessee, only 32 percent of us have a certificate or degree beyond high school, and studies show that by the year 2025 that number needs to be at least 55 percent for us to keep up with job demand. We have a lot of work ahead of us.”

The governor outlined Tennessee’s current situation including:

· Nearly 70 percent of Tennessee students entering community college need remedial classes before they can take college level courses;

· More than 20,000 Tennessee high school graduates choose not to continue their education each year.

· There are approximately 940,000 adult Tennesseans that have some college credit but haven’t earned an associate or four-year degree.

· On the state’s current path, Tennessee is projected to reach 39 percent of citizens with a certificate or degree beyond high school by the year 2025. To reach 55 percent would be 494,000 more people.

· Tennessee is 20 percent below the national average in terms of degree attainment.

Among other speakers, the governor’s special advisor for Higher Education, Randy Boyd,  gave an update on the progress made to date on the ‘Drive to 55′ initiative including:

· $16.5 million in this year’s budget for equipment and technology related to workforce development programs at Tennessee colleges of applied technology and community colleges, which institutions will begin receiving in the coming weeks.

· Launch of WGU Tennessee – an online, competency-based university aimed at the 940,000 adult Tennesseans that have some college credit but didn’t graduate with an associate or four-year degree.

· Newly created endowment of $47 million using operational reserve funds from the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation (TSAC) to provide nearly $2 million each year to support scholarships for “last dollar” scholarship programs such as tnAchieves. These scholarships fill the gaps between students’ financial aid and the real costs of college including books, supplies, room and board.

· Launching the SAILS program, Seamless Alignment and Integrated Learning Support, to give students who need extra support in math attention during their senior year in high school so they can avoid remediation when they enter college.

· Legislation sponsored by Majority Leaders Mark Norris and Gerald McCormick to create the Labor Education Alignment Program – or LEAP – to better coordinate key stakeholders on the state and local level to address workforce readiness.

· And new online learning innovations in Tennessee through partnerships with edX and Coursera.

Haslam appointed Boyd to the position in January, and he has consulted with a formal working group made up of the governor, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC), chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR), and president of the University of Tennessee.

In his presentation, Boyd also placed emphasis on the importance of dual enrollment and other high school pre-college programs, a topic many legislators have been avid to address next session. Boyd stressed that a successful effort to reach 55 percent degree attainment will require the state to focus on more than two and four-year degrees.  An increasing emphasis will be placed on certificates at technology centers and community colleges.

The governor will be traveling the state in the coming weeks to further discuss Tennessee’s workforce development needs and the ‘Drive to 55′ Initiative.

Click here for more information.

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.

Gov. Haslam Meets with UT Martin Leadership, Discusses Unique Role of Campus in Region, State

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.

20121016-153214.jpg

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam with UT Martin Chancellor Tom Rakes

Governor Haslam Holds Higher Ed Discussion in Knoxville

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.

Continue reading