Tennessee Tech board visited by Haslam, receives news that university is top performer

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, who created the individual university governance boards with 2016’s FOCUS Act, came to the meeting of Tennessee Tech’s Board of Trustees on Thursday, addressing the board and audience.

COOKEVILLETennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, who created the individual university governance boards with 2016’s FOCUS Act, came to the meeting of Tennessee Tech’s Board of Trustees, addressing the board and audience.

“I strongly believe that Tech is a stronger school than it was two years ago,” said Gov. Haslam. “And it will be stronger still in two years because of the work of this board.”

The board passed a resolution honoring Haslam for his “bold, fearless and confident vision for higher education.”

The board also heard Tennessee Higher Education Commission director Mike Krause explain how the university was the top performer in the state’s funding formula, which could lead to an additional $3.9 million state appropriation for 2019-2020. Krause also shared an overview of future challenges facing Tennessee in higher education.

The board learned that the results of 2019-2020 higher education budget formula, which have been sent to the governor for his consideration in preparing next year’s state budget, showed Tech’s atop all state universities.

“I want to give an enormous amount of credit to the faculty and staff who made this [success] possible,” said Tennessee Tech President Phil Oldham to the board.

Oldham shared the fact that the university has seen a 20 percent increase in bachelor’s degrees and a 6 percent increase in first-year student retention over the last five years.

In other business, the board approved a revised 2018-2019 budget of $160 million. Each October, state higher education institutions submit a revised budget based on actual fall enrollment numbers, instead of estimated numbers, which are used during preparation of the budget needed for the legislative session.

The board also approved a list of factors the board will consider in setting tuition, in compliance with the new state Tuition Transparency Act, which will first be in effect when the university sets tuition for 2019-2020.

Provost Lori Mann Bruce presented updates to the board on the university’s three dean searches. Search committees have been at work and on-campus interviews are expected to happen in the spring semester for the three positions: nursing to begin in February, agriculture and human ecology beginning in March, and engineering starting in April.

Bruce also gave an update on the work of two tenure-related policy committees. Each committee, made up of 12 faculty members, is working toward a policy dealing with faculty tenure: one detailing with the process to obtain tenure and the other regarding what happens after a faculty member receives tenure. The draft of each policy is due in February in order to allow for the university’s policy review and approval procedure during the spring semester. It is expected that the board will review and act on these policies at its June 2019 meeting.

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 March 21, 2019.

Board of Trustees chair Tom Jones presents a framed copy of a resolution to Governor Bill Haslam. The duo was joined by State Representative Ryan Williams and President Oldham.

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