Board of Regents meets, hears reports from Tennessee Promise students, approves other measures

Tennessee Board of Regents meets March 31, 2017

The Tennessee Board of Regents appointed a new director at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Morristown, heard a report from students on the Tennessee Promise scholarship program, approved changes in some student incidental fees requested by colleges and acted on other items on the agenda in its regular quarterly meeting Friday, March 31.

Prior to the meeting, Gov. Bill Haslam, Board members and TBR Chancellor Flora Tydings joined Nissan Senior Vice President for Manufacturing John Martin in formally opening the Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Murfreesboro’s new Smyrna Campus and Nissan Training Facility.

After a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tours of the facility, the Board convened its meeting in the college’s auditorium. Board Vice Chair Emily Reynolds of Nashville said the new campus will “make a fundamental difference in the lives of the people coming through these doors.” She also noted that the meeting made history because it was the first time the TBR System’s Colleges of Applied Technology hosted a board meeting. “It won’t be the last time,” she said. The Middle Tennessee TCATs jointly hosted the session on the Smyrna campus.

The 162,000-square-foot, $45.75 million state-owned facility welcomed its first group of students in January. The campus is a public-private partnership of the State of Tennessee, the Tennessee Board of Regents and Nissan. The College of Applied Technology offers technology certificate programs in several fields to any Tennessee student. The facility’s Nissan Training Center, operated by Nissan, offers advanced manufacturing and management training for employees and prospective employees of Nissan and its suppliers.

Governor Haslam proposed the joint-use facility in his 2013 State of the State address and the Tennessee General Assembly approved a $35.4 million appropriation in the 2013-14 state budget. Nissan is paying $1.9 million through a lease agreement. The balance of the funding for its state-of-the-art training equipment and machinery came through internal TBR funding, grants from state and federal agencies, and donations from Nissan and its vendors.

During its meeting, the Board approved Chancellor Tydings’ recommendation for the appointment of Jerry S. Young as director of the College of Applied Technology at Morristown, effective April 1. Young, who has been director of TCAT-Crossville since 2014, began his career with the TBR System in 1988 as an electronics technology instructor at the Crossville campus. He served as assistant director for nine years. He holds a bachelor of science degree from Excelsior College in Albany, N.Y., and a master of arts from the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky.

Regent Danni Varlan of Knoxville, who chaired a search advisory committee for the new director, said there were 32 applicants for the position.

The board heard a presentation on the impacts of the Tennessee Promise scholarship program by Student Regent Joshua Spurling, Columbia State Community College student Kendal Franks and Travis France, a student at the College of Applied Technology – Morristown. Regent Spurling is completing his associate degree in business administration at Roane State Community College and will pursue a degree in management and international business at the University of Tennessee.

All three are enrolled in the Tennessee Promise, which provides two years of community or technical college free of tuition and mandatory fees.  Regent Spurling said the program’s impacts have been widespread, leading to its first cohort of students graduating from their two-year programs this spring. “However, as we move forward and our third cohort prepares to begin their first semester, it’s now more important than ever to keep working to improve Promise and what it has to offer,” he said. He recommended continued work to ensure smooth transitions among colleges and universities, including making sure that credit earned by students through Transfer Pathways will transfer.

In other action, the Board:

  • Welcomed two new members, Regents Joey Hatch and Thomas A. H. White.
  • Approved resolutions honoring former Regents Howard Roddy and Robert P. Thomas, whose terms expired.
  • Approved a resolution honoring former TBR Chancellor David Gregory, who is retiring.
  • Approved changes in 31 student incidental fees: eliminating 18 existing fees, increasing five fees, decreasing three, establishing four new fees, and clarifying the application of one fee.  The changes involve students in a limited number of courses at the eight community colleges who requested changes. Incidental fees are fees charged to students for specific courses, programs and services – lab materials fees, for example -- that are not charged to all enrolled students. Incidental fees differ from "mandatory" fees, such as student activity fees and technology fees, that are charged to all full-time students. The complete list of fee changes is included in the minutes for the Board's Finance and Business Operations Committee, which are included in the March 31, 2017 Quarterly Board materials here:
  • Heard an overview of the governor’s budget recommendations and an update on state legislative issues. The review included a status report on a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants who graduate from Tennessee high schools, after attending at least two years, to attend Tennessee public colleges and universities at in-state tuition rates. The Board then approved a resolution expressing its support for the intent of the bill. 
  • Heard an update by Chancellor Tydings on the System’s actions since the last regular board meeting in December, including a notification to the Board that a internal audit review at Northeast State Community College is continuing.
  • Heard an update on TBR academic initiatives to improve student success, including a status report on “Momentum Year,” an effort led by Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Tristan Denley to improve outcomes for first-year students.
  • Gave notice of a proposed change in TBR bylaws to change the titles of College of Applied Technology directors to presidents, to be acted on at the June quarterly meeting.
  • Approved a new bachelor degree program in African Studies at Middle Tennessee State University and an associate degree program in anesthesia technology at Columbia State Community College.
  • Approved a new TBR policy on behavioral intervention teams on TBR campuses. The teams provide early intervention with students and employees whose behavior is disruptive or concerning, and the policy proposed by the TBR Safety and Security Task Force last year attempts to ensure that the teams operate consistently throughout the system and follow best practices.
  • Approved a policy outlining a process for the limited TBR review of university budgets mandated by the FOCUS Act.
  • Named a building at Motlow State Community College’s Smyrna campus in honor of former college president Arthur L. Walker Jr.

Archived video of the Board meeting is available for viewing, along with Board material containing complete details of agenda items, are here:


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.