COOKEVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam Thursday announced eight appointees to the newly created Tennessee Tech University local governing board, giving the university increased autonomy as the state continues its Drive to 55 initiative. The list includes a pair of local business owners, a namesake donor and a NASA astronaut.
The Tech’s governing board is one of six to be appointed by the governor, a result of the governor’s FOCUS Act passed by the General Assembly earlier this year.
The appointees to the TTU board are:
- Dr. Barbara Fleming, senior health policy analyst and former physician at Walter Reed Army Medical Center;
- Trudy Harper, founder and former president of Tenaska Power Services Company;
- Tom Jones, co-owner and general manager of Research Electronics International (REI);
- Millard Oakley, former member of the Tennessee General Assembly and current board member of First National Bank of Tennessee;
- Purna Saggurti, global chair of investment banking for Bank of America Merrill Lynch;
- Johnny Stites, managing partner of XI Investments;
- Teresa Vanhooser, former deputy director of the Marshall Space Flight Center and current senior consultant with Seabrook Solutions, LLC; and
- Capt. Barry Wilmore, National Aeronautics and Space Administration astronaut.
The board appointments are effective Jan. 16, subject to confirmation by the General Assembly.
Tech President Phil Oldham called it “a historic moment” on his blog. He currently anticipates the new board to hold its first official meeting sometime i n April.
“There is incredible momentum around Tennessee’s college enrollment rate,” Haslam said in a release. “With Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect, we’ve been successful in increasing access to higher education, but as we change the conversation and culture of expectations in our state we have to ensure our colleges and universities are supported in their efforts to create student success.
“These six local governing boards will provide more focused support to the institutions as we continue the Drive to 55, our push to have 55 percent of Tennesseans with a degree or credential by 2025,” Haslam added.
Haslam also appoints members to local governing boards for Austin Peay State University, East Tennessee State University, Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee State University and the University of Memphis.
If confirmed, board members will undergo orientation and professional development delivered by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. The Tech board will assume responsibility upon the first called meeting by Haslam.
The six state universities will have increased autonomy with the authority to appoint the campus president, manage the university budget and set tuition, and oversee other operational tasks.