Tech Board of Trustees approves small tuition and fees increase

Tennessee Tech President Phil Oldham congratulates Trudy Harper, who was elected as chair of the board. She previously served as vice chair.

COOKEVILLE – In a full agenda, the Tennessee Tech Board of Trustees approved a 2.36 percent tuition and fees increase, two new tenure policies, a proposed budget for 2019-2020, and the announcement of the new student and faculty trustees.

Tuition and Fees

For 2019-2020, an undergraduate student taking 12 credit hours will see an increase in maintenance fees of $90 per semester, the smallest increase in five years.

For 2019-2020, the maintenance fee, which covers 12 credit hours and is also known as tuition, will be $4,020 per semester, a 2.29 percent increase over 2018-2019. Out-of-state students pay this maintenance fee, plus a per semester out-of-state tuition rate, which remained at $7,932. However, out-of-state students within 250 miles of Tech qualify for the Eagle’s Reach program, which offers a significant reduction to the out-of-state tuition rate.

The board also approved a $17.50 increase to the technology access student fee for 2019-2020, the first since 2001. This fee is used to provide technology for student use, such as computers and software in classrooms and labs across campus.

The board also approved a $120 increase in graduate maintenance fees for 2019-2020. The graduate maintenance fee covers up to 10 credit hours per semester and will be $5,140, a 2.4 percent increase.

A new Online and Alternative Delivery fee was approved which, for online and 2+2 students, will be charged instead of the university’s General Access Fee. It is $128 per credit hour.

2019-2020 Budget

The board approved a 2019-2020 budget of $165 million. Instruction is the largest part of the university’s budget at nearly $75 million. 

Revenue amounts used in preparing the upcoming year’s budget include a 10.6 percent increase in the state’s appropriation, along with a projected 1.9 percent decrease in revenue from tuition and fees.

Tenure Policies

Two new policies related to tenure for faculty members were approved: one dealing with the process a faculty member must go through to earn tenure, and another dealing with what happens after tenure is awarded. Tenure is a guarantee of academic freedom and due process built on a rigorous credentialing process and peer review.

“The awarding of tenure is recognition of the merit of a faculty member and of the assumption that he/she meets the long-term staffing needs of the academic department/unit and Tennessee Tech,” reads the policy’s introductory text. “Tenure is awarded to members of the faculty who have exhibited professional excellence and outstanding abilities sufficient to demonstrate that their future services and performances justify the degree of permanence afforded by academic tenure.”

Policy 207, Tenured Faculty, deals with faculty members who have earned tenure. It addresses tenured faculty evaluations, transfer and removal of tenure, in rare occasions. 

“While tenure protects faculty from arbitrary dismissal, this policy provides an appropriate means to address the occasional problem of tenured faculty who appear to be failing to contribute to the university in a meaningful fashion,” according to the policy.

Last June, the board tasked Provost Lori Mann Bruce with the development of tenure policies specific to Tennessee Tech. Prior to these new policies, Tech’s tenure policy was a holdover from when the university was under the Tennessee Board of Regents. Two faculty committees, each made up of 12 faculty members, worked on the development of these policies, and both were shared with the university’s Faculty Senate during their development for additional faculty feedback. Both policies were reviewed and approved by the university’s Administrative Council, its Academic Council, and the University Assembly prior to board approval.

New Trustees

Mason Hilliard was selected by the board as the new student trustee. Hilliard has served extensively in the Student Government Association, most recently as president. He has also served on various university committees, including the Provost’s Advisory Committee, the Student Affairs Committee and the university’s Administrative Council. He is a political science major and member of the Pi Sigma National Political Science Honor Society. 

Hilliard replaces Forrest Allard, the College of Business graduate whose term ends June 30. Allard will be starting in Tech’s MBA program this fall.

Chairman Tom Jones announced that Sally Pardue, an associate professor in Tennessee Tech’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, was elected by the Faculty Senate this spring to serve as the board’s faculty trustee. She will take office on July 1. She holds a Ph.D. in engineering from Tennessee Tech, also earning her bachelor’s and master’s in mechanical engineering from Tech. From 2009 to 2018, she served as the founding director of the Millard Oakley STEM Center. She is a member of American Society of Engineering Educators, Society of Women Engineers, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Acoustical Society of America, National Science Teachers Association, and American Educational Research Association. 

Pardue replaces Melissa Geist, a professor in the Whitson-Hester School of Nursing, whose term ends June 30.

In other board actions:

Trudy Harper was elected as chair of the board. She previously served as vice chair. 

During President Oldham’s report to the board, it was announced that Marc Burnett, vice president of Student Affairs, will also serve as the university’s Chief Diversity Officer. The university’s strategic plan, as well as the board, has identified diversity of students and faculty as a focus that should be shared by the entire campus.

Materials from the meeting and a webcast of the full board meeting are available at the board’s website,

The board’s next meeting is Sept. 24, 2019.

Board of Trustees Chairman Tom Jones gives student trustee Forrest Allard a plaque for his service with the board. Allard, the College of Business graduate whose term ends June 30, will be starting in Tech’s MBA program this fall.

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