The Tennessee Board of Regents approved four priority requests for education, job-training and security initiatives across the state’s community and technical college system for the next fiscal year on Friday, including 100 new success coaches to bolster student advising.
The success coaches, or relational advisors, would work directly with students to help them navigate financial aid, career exploration and problems that arise, complementing the work of faculty and academic advisors. The goal of the relational advising model is to increase first-year student retention rates and graduation rates.
The board also received an update on the system’s planning for Tennessee Reconnect, which provides up to two years of tuition-free community or technical college for adults without college degrees or certificates starting with the fall semester of 2018. Reconnect planning teams have been established on every campus to smooth the way for the arrival of adult learners.
The Board of Regents governs the College System of Tennessee – the state’s 13 community colleges and 27 colleges of applied technology – and held its fall quarterly meeting Thursday and Friday in the Bert Bornblum Library at Southwest Tennessee Community College in Memphis, amid students studying in carrels surrounding the library’s large atrium.
The board also approved the system’s capital outlay and capital maintenance funding requests – which are for new construction and major renovation projects. The top construction priority is a new $17.7 million technology building at Columbia State Community College’s rapidly growing Williamson County Campus, followed by $25.5 million campus revitalization project at Cleveland State Community College, $44.8 million in improvements at colleges of applied technology statewide and other projects. (A complete list is below.)
The requests approved by the board will be submitted to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission for its consideration alongside priorities from the state’s universities. THEC will develop priorities for public higher education as a whole for submission to the Governor for consideration in developing his fiscal year 2018-19 state budget proposal to the General Assembly.
The College System’s top priority is THEC’s higher education funding formula for operating the campuses. The requests approved Friday are for educational initiatives not covered by the operating funding formula.
In addition to the $7.6 million request ($7.1 million recurring, $500,000 non-recurring) for relational advising, the three other education and safety initiatives are:
- Regional Innovation Centers -- $1.5 million non-recurring is sought to establish three innovation and technology education networks – one each in East, Middle and West Tennessee. Community and technical colleges would form the networks’ core and each regional network would serve as an association of area economic development agencies dedicated to keeping the regional economically strong. They would also Tennessee Reconnect, the state’s program for tuition-free college for adults without degrees, by setting up workforce training for adult learners through apprenticeship/internship experiences.
- Mobile Adaptive Training Units -- $3 million non-recurring to buy and equip three mobile adaptive training units to provide quick response to job-training needs for new and existing industries. The units would be more cost-effective than new buildings for response critical training facilities.
- Safety and security enhancements -- $2 million non-recurring is sought for the second year of safety enhancements across the college system.
In other action, the board:
- Appointed Cliff Wightman as the new president of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology -- Crossville. Wightman has been interim president of the college since May 1 and assistant president since January 2015. He joined the college as a machine tool technology instructor in 2007.
- Approved criteria for the next presidents of Motlow State Community College and Nashville State Community College, the first step in national searches for new presidents at both institutions to succeed former Motlow president Anthony Kinkel, who resigned in June, and Nashville State President George Van Allen, who is retiring at the end of the year. Two separate search advisory committees will be appointed soon, composed of members of the Board of Regents and representatives of faculty, staff, students, alumni and the communities
- Approved new rules pertaining to student immunization requirements set out by changes in state law and Tennessee Department of Health regulations. The new rules encourage students to be immunized against various diseases but say that failure to provide proof of immunization will not be a bar to enrollment for most students. Students enrolling in programs that are health-related or involve interaction with children will still be required to prove they have the appropriate immunizations.
- Approved a resolution of appreciation for TCAT-Shelbyville President Ivan Jones, who is retiring after 30 years of service in the college system.
The capital outlay project requests approved by the board for submission to THEC:
- Columbia State Community College: New technology building at Williamson County Campus, $17.7 million, state request $17.3 million.
- Cleveland State Community College: Campus revitalization, $25 million, state request $22.75 million.
- Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology: Statewide TCAT improvements phase 3, $44.8 million, state request $42.5 million.
- South Central Regional Center: Center for Health Sciences and Industrial Technologies, $41.1 million, state request $39.8.
- Roane State Community College: Knox County Campus replacement, $22.3 million, state request, $20.8 million.
- Nashville State Community College: Clarksville Campus addition, $15 million, state request $13.5 million.
- Jackson State Community College: Library renovations, $4.5 million, state request $4 million.
- Pellissippi State Community College: Blount County Workforce Development Center, $10.8 million, state request $5.3 million.
- Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Athens: McMinn County Higher Education and Training Facility, $13.8 million, state request $10 million.
- Capitol maintenance funding request statewide: $41 million for 50 major maintenance projects across the college system.
Full, detailed agendas and meeting materials for the board and committee meetings are available to download on the TBR website at https://www.tbr.edu/board/september-quarterly-board-meeting. The meetings were live-streamed and archived at the same link.