Support Greater Educational Opportunities for Rural Tennessee


The University of Tennessee is pursuing the opportunity to acquire Martin Methodist College to establish a new UT campus in southern Middle Tennessee. Tennessee’s economic growth is contingent on a strong and well-trained workforce. This is especially true for southern Middle Tennessee, which has struggled to keep students in the region. As an underserved area for postsecondary education, students often opt to continue their educations at Alabama public institutions, which are offering in-state tuition and are located just over the border. Many of these students never return – but we have a once in a generation opportunity to change that trend.

Part of the University of Tennessee’s mission as a land grant is to serve every person across the entire state. With no four-year Tennessee public institutions in the nearly 300-mile distance from Chattanooga to Memphis along the southern border of Tennessee, this is an opportunity to provide affordable access to higher education for students in the region. Students would pay public school tuition, utilize state scholarship programs, and have access to the UT Promise program, which guarantees free tuition and mandatory fees for eligible students. Retaining our best and brightest by providing affordable higher education opportunities supports Tennessee’s workforce pipeline and helps our economy grow.

The University will now seek the support of the Tennessee General Assembly, and your voice can help ensure this proposal becomes a reality.  Use the form below to express your support.  Advocates are encouraged to personalize their messages for even greater impact.


What They’re Saying: Community and Stakeholder Response

T.R. Williams: Lawrence County Executive – “Thousands of southern Middle Tennessee students cross the Alabama border to go to college every year because we don’t have the educational opportunities they are seeking here at home. This proposal reduces that ‘brain drain’ and gives our students the opportunity for an education from one of the top public universities in the country.”

Chaz Molder: Columbia Mayor – “We are thrilled to learn of the UT and Martin Methodist College merger as it will join together two well respected institutions which have long played a role in producing job ready, and life ready graduates. The result of this merger will lead to increased educational opportunities, and a more robust economy in the south-central TN region.”

Jim Edmondson: CEO, Southern Tennessee Regional Health System – Pulaski  “I believe the Martin Methodist College proposed merger with the University of Tennessee will be very good for our regional health care industry. The need for more healthcare professionals is nearly limitless. Expanding the number of disciplines being taught locally is of high importance but so is the expansion of existing programs like the nursing program. Expansion not only in numbers of students but also, disciplines that can be pursued within the nursing degree.”

Pat Ford: Pulaski City Mayor – “This merger is the spark that has been needed to create a dynamic and robust economic and educational footprint in southern Middle Tennessee. I can only begin to imagine the quality of life it will bring to our community. I wish I could bottle and distribute all the excitement and promise it offers.”

Blake Lay: Lawrenceburg Mayor – “Having Martin Methodist College become the fourth campus in the UT System will be transformational for the southern Middle Tennessee region from an educational and economic development perspective. The opportunities UT will provide on every front for this rural area are limitless.”

Read all quotes of support. 

Resolutions of support.

Additional Resources: View the Transparent Tennessee website for more information about the proposal to acquire Martin Methodist College.