Tennessee Tech Board of Trustees hears plans for two new master’s degrees

Tennessee Tech SAE BAJA faculty advisor Dale Wilson (middle), along with Tech BAJA co-captains Max Lamantia (left) and Craig Bowen (right), speak to the Tennessee Tech Board of Trustees on Thursday. Tech will be hosting an international BAJA race April 11-14.

COOKEVILLE – Tennessee Tech’s Board of Trustees approved letters of notification to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission that the university plans to develop two Master of Science degrees: sustainable agriculture and community health and nutrition.

“There is an increased interest in safeguarding our natural resources, while still meeting the demands of an ever-growing population. This has increased the demand for highly trained agronomists, soil scientists, plant breeders and weed scientists necessary to make the technical advances essential to meet future production and sustainability challenges,” said Provost Lori Mann Bruce. “The Master of Science in Sustainable Agriculture will address this need and focus on developing graduates who are flexible, innovative and able to solve real-world problems.”

The Master of Science in Community Health and Nutrition is designed to provide early-career nutrition and dietetics professionals with advanced content knowledge, along with the skills and tools to deliver high-quality nutrition services to a variety of populations. 

According to Bruce, the letter of notification stage is where an academic unit conducts a high-level design of a program, a feasibility study to project potential enrollments, and a preliminary projection of the costs and revenues. This stage is exploratory in nature, and, with THEC approval, the university will develop and submit a full proposal for the new program.

While under development over the last year, both of these programs will be considered part of Tennessee Tech’s Rural Reimagined efforts as they will have impact on rural communities.

“This week we announced Tech’s Grand Challenge, and these new programs are excellent examples of why Tech is uniquely positioned to partner with rural communities in helping to transform rural living,” said Tech President Phil Oldham.

In other board actions, the board approved:

• The creation of a quasi-endowment made possible by an estate gift from the Dennis Trust, which was established by B.J. and Cleo N. Dennis. The approximately $1 million gift will create the B.J. and Cleo Nash Dennis Scholarship Fund, the interest of which will be used to provide scholarships for graduates of Upperman High School

• A 2-percent increase in on-campus housing rates for 2019-2020

• A new fee that applies to students in Tech’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program

• Various university policies, including ones dealing with the use and rental of Tech property by both on-campus and off-campus groups and individuals, and granting academic credit from other institutions.

While the board will not vote on tuition and fees until its June meeting, after THEC sets their binding percent increase range in May, the university presented a scenario that would recommend a 2.3-percent tuition increase – the lowest increase in seven years – which translates to $7 per credit hour. 

The university is also looking at a $17.50 per semester increase to the technology access fee, the first change to this fee since 2001-2002. The fee provides funding for various student-oriented technology projects on campus, such as multimedia classrooms, and student computer labs and software.

The board also heard updates on the university’s three active dean searches:

The College of Agriculture & Human Ecology has already brought candidates to campus, and is in the process of providing the provost with their recommendations.

The College of Engineering on-campus interviews are currently underway and will continue to have candidates on campus throughout the next few weeks.

The Whitson-Hester School of Nursing on-campus interviews are scheduled to occur in the month of April.

Materials from today’s meeting and the webcast of the full board meeting are available at the board’s website, www.tntech.edu/board

The board’s next meeting is June 20, 2019.

Tennessee Tech president Phil Oldham gives a report to the Board of Trustees on Thursday.

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