Board of Regents receives update on student success initiatives, recommends capital outlay budget

The Tennessee Board of Regents today recommended today recommended $302.7 million in capital outlay funding for 12 major construction projects across the TBR system.

The board, which convened at Chattanooga State Community College for its regular quarterly meeting, also heard preliminary fall student enrollment numbers and updates on the system’s student success initiatives, which are helping move the system toward the state’s Drive to 55 goals – 55 percent of working age Tennesseans having some form of post-high-school certificate, diploma or degree by 2025.

Dr. Tristan Denley, TBR vice chancellor for academic affairs, presented the board with data indicating the TBR system is on path with its Drive to 55 goals. The system has established yearly goals that increase annually in order to reach the system’s Drive to 55 goal of awarding 43,202 students with bachelors and associates degrees, certificates and diplomas during the 2024-25 academic year.

The TBR system goal for the 2015-16 academic year was 34,929 graduates with bachelors and associates degrees, certificates and diplomas. The actual number of students who graduated during the year with those credentials totaled 35,502, Denley reported: 13,965 with bachelors degrees, 10,755 associates degrees, 3,537 community college certificates and 7,245 diplomas awarded at Tennessee colleges of applied technology.

Updating board members on several innovative student success initiatives that began to be implemented in 2012, Denley presented figures indicating a 42 percent increase in three-year graduation rates at the community colleges since the 2012-13 academic year, including a 74 percent increase for minority students, and a 24 percent increase in four-year graduation rates at TBR universities, including a 42 percent increase for minority students.

“This is really the public agenda established by the Complete College Tennessee Act, the Drive to 55 and THEC and one of the main anchors for the Board of Regents’ work. We’re on track and we’re pulling our end on the Drive to 55,” said TBR Chancellor David Gregory. “There’s much work to be done but it’s in the DNA of our faculty, staff and administrations that we’re about student success.”

Dr. Warren Nichols, TBR vice chancellor for community colleges, gave the board an update on job placement rates for community college graduates: 93 percent of community college graduates with associates degrees from the 2014-15 academic year have jobs in their fields.

In her presentation to the board on the host college’s activities, Chattanooga State President Dr. Flora Tydings said the placement rate for her campus is 96 percent.

Preliminary enrollment across the system for the fall semester is 185,537: including 86,633 at the six TBR universities, 84,833 at the 13 community colleges and 14,071 at the 27 colleges of applied technology. The preliminary numbers indicate enrollment is down slightly from the 187,804 students enrolled across the system in fall 2015. University enrollment is down 0.7 percent, community college enrollment is down 2.3 percent and TCAT enrollment is up 2.4 percent.

The capital outlay budget recommendations now go to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission for review. THEC will evaluate the construction recommendations from TBR and the University of Tennessee System and make recommendations to state Department of Finance. All recommendations are subject to the state’s budgeting process, which will not be final until the General Assembly approves a state budget for fiscal year 2017-18 next spring.

The recommended projects:


* East Tennessee State University:  planning and construction of Lamb Hall renovation project, $23 million.

* University of Memphis: construction of new Music Center, $44 million. (The Board today approved the U of M’s request to substitute the new Music Center for a previously approved request for a new Biochemistry and Biology Facility.)

* Middle Tennessee State University: construction of a new Academic Classroom Building, $30.5 million.

Community college and colleges of applied technology:

* Motlow State Community College: construction of new teaching addition at the Rutherford County campus, $27,190,000.

* Walters State Community College: construction of addition at Sevier County campus, $12.5 million.

* Volunteer State Community College: planning and construction of Warf Building renovation project, $4,640,000.

* Columbia State Community College: planning and construction of Finney Library renovation project, $6.1 million.

* TCAT Knoxville: planning and construction of satellite campus (location to be determined), $13.5 million.

* TCAT Memphis: planning and construction of satellite campus (location to be determined), $11.5 million.

* Pellissippi State Community College: planning and construction of a Multi-Purpose Building and renovations project, $27 million.

* Statewide TCATs Improvements Phase 2, planning and construction, $54 million.

* Cleveland State Community College: planning and construction of Campus Building Renovations and Replacement project, $48,750,000.

The board also recommended requesting $116.5 million for 80 capital maintenance priorities at campuses across the system.

The board heard a presentation by AT&T for a new $65,000 AT&T Aspire Scholarship to support non-traditional, underserved students in Tennessee’s Community Colleges preparing for high-skills jobs. Dennis Wagner, AT&T Tennessee’s director of external and legislative affairs presented the contribution. Each of the 13 community colleges will receive $5,000 to award in scholarships.

“We are delighted to support Tennessee students who are acquiring the skills they need to enter the workforce,” said Joelle Phillips, president of AT&T Tennessee. “Accelerated certificate and degree programs are a great way to ensure our students are fully prepared to enter the workforce and that they can find good jobs right here in Tennessee when they graduate.”

In other action, the Board of Regents:

* Received a report from the TBR Campus Safety & Security Task created in March by Chancellor Gregory to keep the system proactive in maintaining campus safety. The committee was tasked with examining best practices around the country, reviewing current campus practices and resources, identifying areas of greatest need for support and making recommendations for improvement.

* Approved a new degree program at Middle Tennessee State University: a bachelor of arts/bachelor of science in religious studies.

* Approved three new programs at Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Livington’s location at the Cookeville Higher Education Center -- industrial maintenance-mechatronics, practical nursing and welding – and a new welding technology program at TCAT-McKenzie’s location at the Adult Education Building in Dresden.

* Named or re-named three structures at Austin Peay State University: the Hemlock Semiconductor Building is re-named the Technology Building; the Jenkins & Wynne Building is renamed the Jenkins Building, and the walkway between the Marks Building and Blount Hall is named the John Morgan Walk of History. Hemlock has decided not to open its plant in Clarksville. The Jenkins Building honors Don and Sandy Jenkins, major supports of the university. And naming the walkway honors John Morgan, an APSU alumnus, for his 40 years of service to the state of Tennessee, including five years as chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents and 10 years as comptroller of the treasury.

Full board materials, reports and information are available on the TBR website at:

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.