Degrees and technical certificates awarded at TN's community colleges increase 79% over 10 years

Walters State Community College's Niswonger Campus in Greeneville

Students at Tennessee’s community colleges earned 14,963 Associate degrees and technical certificates during the 2018-19 academic year – a 79 percent increase over the past 10 years despite a slight decrease in student enrollment over the same period.

Preliminary enrollment at the 13 community colleges this fall totaled 87,687 students, down 0.5%  from the same 14th-day of class enrollment figures from fall 2018, according to enrollment data reviewed by the Tennessee Board of Regents during its quarterly meeting today at Walters State Community College’s new Niswonger Campus in Greeneville. The board governs the state’s public community colleges and colleges of applied technology. Individual college enrollment numbers are listed below.

Enrollment numbers at the 27 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs) are not yet available because they open their fall trimesters later than the community colleges.

In other action, the Board of Regents:

  • Approved a new Associate degree program in entrepreneurship at Motlow State Community College, expected to launch in the next semester. Although available to any student, it is designed to encourage TCAT graduates who want to establish their own businesses to pursue the skills they need to do so. The course will be delivered online and in traditional classrooms at Motlow’s Fayetteville, McMinnville, Moore County and Smyrna campuses.
  • Approved a policy revision that encourages the use of digital materials, including e-textbooks, to reduce costs for students. The policy is based on a state statute requiring governing boards minimize the cost of textbooks and course materials at public colleges and universities while maintaining quality of education and academic freedom. It is informed by research from the TBR system’s Digital Engagement Initiative pilot during the last school year, that saved participating students money. The policy provides that students be allowed to opt-out of any model that includes direct billing for digital course materials to their student accounts and declares that campus policies should not restrict the options for students to rent or buy textbooks from the vendor of their choice.
  • Approved potential requests for state funding for projects not covered by the state’s higher education funding formula, although the final decision on what requests will be submitted to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) will be made after continued discussions with stakeholders. The potential requests for the 2020-21 fiscal year total $16.2 million in one-time funding and $11.1 million in recurring annual funding for ongoing initiatives. They include additional funding for student advising personnel, increasing competency-based education opportunities, enhancing campus safety and security, start-up costs for new TCAT training programs in response to business and industry needs, and equipment for a new TCAT Morristown Advanced Manufacturing Center. All funding is eventually determined by the state legislature when it approves the overall state budget, which won’t occur until next spring.
  • Appointed Dr. Allana R. Hamilton as the board’s next vice chancellor for academic affairs, succeeding Dr. Randy Schulte, who retired last month. Hamilton is president of Jackson State Community College. (See separate release)
  • Approved a resolution honoring TBR General Counsel Mary Moody who is retiring this month after seven years as the board’s chief legal counsel and more than 29 years of service to the State of Tennessee. Before arriving at TBR in 2012, she represented the State of Tennessee and its officers and employees as an assistant attorney general and senior counsel in the state Attorney General’s Office, general counsel for the Tennessee Department of Transportation and deputy commissioner and general counsel for the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance. She began her career as a kindergarten teacher in Memphis.
  • Approved a resolution honoring Dr. Randy Schulte, who retired last month as the TBR system’s vice chancellor for academic affairs after nearly 25 years of service on the board staff and at Chattanooga State Community College. He joined the academic affairs staff at TBR in 2007, after 12 years at Chattanooga State as a member of the faculty and as assistant dean for arts and sciences, dean for business and information systems, and director of hospitality management. At TBR, he has served as assistant vice chancellor, associate vice chancellor and vice chancellor for academic affairs.
  • Approved the naming of the Skills Building on the main campus of TCAT Elizabethton the Herman Robinson Skills Building in honor of the late state Senator Herman Robinson, who in 1963 sponsored the legislation that established the state system of State Area Vocational Technical Schools, which are now the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology. TCAT Elizabethton President Dean Blevins said that Robinson was a visionary, recognizing the need for career and technical skills training. Sen. Robinson died in 1971.

Preliminary 14th-day of class fall semester enrollment numbers at Tennessee’s community colleges, compared to the same numbers in fall 2018:

  • Chattanooga State, 8,050, -2.3%
  • Cleveland State, 3,371, +3.3%
  • Columbia State, 6,314, +1.0%
  • Dyersburg State, 2,846, -4.6%
  • Jackson State, 4,893, +0.8%
  • Motlow State, 6,991, +1.5%
  • Nashville State, 7,889, -4.8%
  • Northeast State 6,082, -0.9%
  • Pellissippi State, 10,694, -1.8%
  • Roane State, 5,867, +2.0%
  • Southwest Tennessee, 9,263, -0.6%
  • Volunteer State, 9,146, -0.1%
  • Walters State, 6,281, +2.2%

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.