Board of Regents approves system budget requests, criteria for next president of TCAT Livingston; receives reports on enrollment, graduation.
The Tennessee Board of Regents approved its college system budget proposals for next year, reviewed reports on enrollment and graduation figures, and more during its Fall quarterly meeting Friday.
Meeting at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, the board also received a staff update on the system’s “Reimagining the Community College Experience” pilot project, which includes more extensive pre-college career exploration for students, career advising and a workforce-focused certificate in a student’s first semester. Colleges were invited to submit proposals on how they would conduct the initiative on their campuses, on a pilot basis starting in Fall 2023.
TBR Chancellor Flora W. Tydings announced the four colleges selected for the pilots, which include $2.2 million in grant funding over three years to help implement their proposals: Jackson State, Pellissippi State, Southwest Tennessee and Walters State community colleges. If the pilots prove successful at improving student success, the board would later consider broader implementation.
The Tennessee Board of Regents governs the state’s public community colleges and colleges of applied technology.
TBR staff presented the board with preliminary enrollment figures for the current fall semester, with 70,313 students enrolled in for-credit courses at the 13 community colleges – 4,230 fewer than in Fall 2021, a 5.7 percent decline, and 18,633 fewer students than in Fall 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fall 2022 report reflects enrollment as of the 14th day of classes, while prior-year numbers are official end-of-term data, which are sometimes higher because they reflect enrollment in courses that begin after the 14th day.
Staff also reported to the board community college graduation figures for Academic Year 2021-22. Community college students earned 14,681 degrees and certificates, a 7% decline largely reflecting the drop in enrollment. The community college graduation rate remained stable. Among students who began as first-time, full-time freshmen in Fall 2019, 25.6% earned a degree or certificate at a community college within three years. The rate does not include students who transfer to four-year institutions to pursue bachelor’s level degrees without earning community college credentials.
Graduation and enrollment data for the colleges of applied technology, which are reported on a calendar year basis, will be reported at the December board meeting. But preliminary registration data indicates that 12,804 students are registered as of this week at the colleges of applied technology, an increase of 1,388 students, or 12 percent, over Fall 2021. The preliminary numbers do not include special-industry students or TCAT Chattanooga, which is a division of Chattanooga State Community College.
The board’s budget requests for fiscal year 2023-24 are the first step in the state budget process. The requests will next be submitted to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) for its consideration, along with proposals from the state’s public universities. Proposals endorsed by THEC are then forwarded to the Governor for consideration in developing his FY 2023-2024 budget recommendations to the General Assembly, which ultimately determines which items are funded in the state budget next spring.
The board approved eight specific budget proposals totaling $38 million in recurring funding and $16.7 million in one-time, non-recurring funding. They are detailed in the materials posted online, and include: financial aid for lower-income students to help pay expenses not covered by current aid, including textbooks, materials and supplies; targeted financial aid for students in short-term workforce training; expanding nursing programs; creating a comprehensive student-support network; modernizing the learning experience; expanding dual enrollment opportunities for high school students to earn college credit; improving communications, marketing and student outreach, and more safety and security measures.
The board also approved criteria for the next president of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology Livingston, where Dr. Myra West plans to retire Jan. 3 after 34 years of service, including as president since July 2013. Approving the criteria is the first step in the search for the next president, to be followed by appointment of a search committee.
The board approved two policy revisions. The first classifies a veteran or military-affiliated individual as a Tennessee resident for tuition purposes if enrolled in a TBR college and residing out of state, in compliance with a new state law. The second revises the Firearms and Other Weapons policy to make clear that an inadvertent violation of policy does not necessarily result in an arrest. Whether to arrest an individual should be based on the totality of the circumstance. The revision also clarifies who legally may transport and store a firearm in a personal vehicle on campus, also in compliance with state law.
In other action, the board approved updated strategic plans for Columbia State, Pellissippi State and Southwest Tennessee community colleges; faculty promotion, tenure and faculty-emeritus recommendations, and changes to the service areas of Dyersburg State and Jackson State community colleges.
Service areas are considered primary spheres of responsibility for colleges to serve students, communities, business and industry needs and do not affect where students may choose to enroll. Effective July 1, 2023, Crockett, Haywood, Henry and Weakley counties will move from Jackson State’s service area to Dyersburg State’s.
The board also approved resolutions of appreciation for the service of former Regent Gregory M. Duckett of Memphis, who served on the Board of Regents for 16 years until his resignation in July following his appointment to another state board, and TCAT Murfreesboro President Carol Puryear, who is retiring this month after more than 28 years of service to the system, including as a vice chancellor at the system office.
The complete committee and board agendas and supporting materials are posted on the TBR website at https://www.tbr.edu/board/september-2022-quarterly-board-meeting. Recordings of the Friday board meeting and the meetings of the board’s committees Thursday are archived at the same link, where they were livestreamed.
The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.