Student recruitment and communication units restructured

Cookeville – At the December 2022 meeting, the Tennessee Tech Board of Trustees approved the university’s nearly $200 million budget, as well as approval of the restructure of the university’s student recruitment and communication functions.

The board approved Tech’s October revised budget of $193.41 million for 2022-2023. According to the budget, the two largest categories are instruction at $87.78 million, and 18% increase over last year, and student services at $23.83 million, an 11% increase. Nearly 63% of the university budget is tied to staff, with $121.12 million set for salaries and benefits, a 6.56% increase.

Tech also presented its annual Composite Financial Index score for the completed 2021-2022 fiscal year, scoring 4.73 on this industry-wide metric, signifying the strong financial health of the university. According to the national standards, 3.0 is the expected score, with 1.0 being the caution threshold. Tech has the highest score of any public university in Tennessee.

According to Claire Stinson, vice president for planning and finance, the extraordinary amount of capital construction projects, such as the new Ashraf Islam Engineering Building, contribute to the high score. Even with the capital projects removed, Tech continues to perform above the national standards.

The board’s Executive Committee approved the restructuring of the university’s student recruitment and communication areas by merging them into a single division, creating the Division of Enrollment and Communication.

The committee also approved Karen Lykins to become the permanent vice president of the division. Lykins served as the interim vice president for enrollment management and career placement starting last spring, while continuing to serve as the university’s chief communication officer.

With the new division, the number of Tech’s cabinet-level administrators will be reduced by one with the elimination of the chief communication officer position.

During her time in the interim role, Lykins oversaw an overhaul of recruitment marketing and communications that contributed to a 24% increase in freshman enrollment for Fall 2022. She led successful promotion and leveraging of Presidential Scholars program to create a competitive advantage and directed creative marketing strategies to build enrollment in targeted areas.

She brings an established 25-year career in university communications, including 12 years leading crisis communication, strategic communication, branding and marketing at Tech. She has been with Tech since 1998.

As part of the restructure, the Office of the Registrar will move from enrollment management to the Division of Academic Affairs, reporting to the university provost.

The restructure and vice presidential appointment become effective on January 1, 2023.

In other business

  • Three student organization leaders shared highlights about their student organizations: Macia Rudolph, vice president of the Black Student Union; Addy Morgan, president of the Delta Gamma sorority; and Amber Varney, president of the Gymnastics Club. Each student has demonstrated solid leadership for their organizations, according to Tech’s Center for Student Engagement.
  • During his report, President Phil Oldham announced that a new academic building that would replace Matthews/Daniel and Crawford halls is the third highest priority capital project in the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s capital budget recommendation. The recommendation goes to the governor’s office for consideration for the 2023-2024 state budget.
  • Provost Lori Mann-Bruce, vice president for academic affairs, shared this year’s results of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s Quality Assurance Funding, which counts for 5.45% of the annual state appropriation. Tech scored 93 out of 100. While the results from other state universities are unknown, Tech routinely scores the highest.
  • The board heard presentations from the Division of Student Affairs highlighting student programming and service. Tech’s Counseling Center, part of Student Affairs, also presented about student mental health and how the center has been able to enhance its service to students by adding a clinical coordinator and a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.
  • It was announced that Trustee Teresa Vanhooser has resigned to spend more time with her family. There is no timetable for when a new trustee will be appointed by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee.

Materials from today’s meeting and the webcast of the meetings are available at

The board’s next meeting is March 9, 2023.

Photos provided.

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