Interim UT President Randy Boyd was invited to address the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday, during the Committee’s first official meeting of the year. Boyd provided the Committee with an overview of the University of Tennessee System and the positive impact occurring throughout the state. Boyd also highlighted his six priorities and discussed the importance of the recently announced Transparent UT initiative.
A key topic Boyd discussed with the Committee was how the UT System can help the state improve postsecondary attainment and talent development. Last year, the UT System produced 11,806 new graduates, but Boyd indicated to Committee members that the UT System can do more. Central to accomplishing this goal is improving retention rates—keeping more UT students enrolled and on track to graduate.
Boyd pointed to the HOPE Scholarship as one policy lever that may need adjusting in order to better assist students towards completion, noting that the graduation rate drops by half for UT students who start college and subsequently lose the HOPE scholarship. As a way to better serve students in the state, Boyd noted the need to study supplemental grant or bridge funding for students who dip below the scholarship’s eligibility requirements.
Boyd also touched on his goal of improving enrollment, especially by attracting Tennessee Promise students from community colleges, citing the statistic that while 60 percent of Tennessee Promise students plan to transfer to a 4-year university, only 12 percent actually do.
The Senate Education Committee responded positively to Boyd’s presentation, with Senator Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City) commending him for stepping into the position. Chairman Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville) thanked President Boyd for the update and offered the committee’s assistance.