How quickly will the change take place?
A: The FOCUS Act takes effect July 1, 2016. However, until the universities' governing boards convene (expected in May/June 2017), the universities will continue to be governed by the TBR and operate under TBR policies.
What does this do to our collaborative student success initiatives like the Transfer Pathways, where institutions have to align? Won’t it create greater competition among institutions and institution types?
A: The Tennessee Transfer Pathways were created by a separate statute as part of the Complete College Tennessee Act of 2010, so they should not be affected by the changes created with the FOCUS Act. TBR and THEC will work to continue close collaboration among institutions. The FOCUS Act includes a statement requiring the TBR to work with the university boards to ensure alignment between community colleges and state universities, especially related to innovation and student success initiatives. The Tennessee Promise scholarship creates an incentive for the universities to continue to develop smooth transitions for students to transfer.
How will this change affect the benefits for those employed at the universities?
A: The university employees remain state higher education employees and will be provided benefits as outlined by the respective campuses.
Does this affect how the universities get funded by the state?
A. No. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission will continue to determine the state's funding formula.
Will this affect the universities' tenure process?
A: The bill requires that, once convened, the university's state university board "promulgate a tenure policy or policies for faculty." The bill requires that the "policy or policies shall ensure academic freedom and provide sufficient professional security to attract the best qualified faculty available for the institutions."
What information are the universities sharing about the FOCUS Act? [Added 6-16-16]
A: Several universities have created websites to provide information and answer questions as well.
Tennessee Tech University: https://www.tntech.edu/focus
Middle Tennessee State University: http://mtpress.mtsu.edu/president/focus-act-information/
Tennessee State University: http://www.tnstate.edu/president/focus/
University of Memphis: http://www.memphis.edu/focusact/