The Tennessee Board of Regents voted this morning to approve the next step in the process to allow the University of Memphis to establish a satellite campus at the former Lambuth University in Jackson, Tenn.
Classes could begin as early as Aug. 27 if approvals and requirements are met.
The Regents approval follows a vote by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission yesterday to accept a recommendation for the state to acquire the campus. The Regents adopted the THEC report and recommendation, and committed to fulfilling the conditions outlined within it – to submit biannual plans for addressing building accessibility and life/safety concerns, and to report on various metrics related to operations at the campus, including enrollment and accreditation.
The Regents also approved the proposed U of M projected operating budget for the campus. The forecasted budget amounts to $7.3 million, which would include funds specifically appropriated by the General Assembly and funds generated through tuition, fees and the higher education funding formula. The campus expects to enroll 250 students in its first year.
“There are still many moving pieces that must come together to put us in a position to offer this four-year University of Memphis program in Madison County,” TBR Chancellor John Morgan said. “But I believe we can make it happen.
“This is a special circumstance and an extraordinary opportunity that we can be proud to take advantage of,” said Morgan.
U of M plans to begin offering classes on the campus through a lease with Lambuth while the transfer of the property is being completed. In order for U of M to occupy the facilities, a no-cost lease must first be approved by the executive subcommittee of the State Building Commission. Approval will allow U of M to occupy the campus soon and begin offering classes by Aug. 27.
The future steps in the process include:
• The city of Jackson, the Madison County Commission, the Jackson Energy Authority and West Tennessee Healthcare have an agreement to purchase the campus from Lambuth for $7.9 million after the bankruptcy is finalized. • That group will transfer ownership of the property to the Tennessee Board of Regents. • Once the property is transferred and approved and TBR Chancellor John Morgan can verify that the property is free and clear of debt, special state appropriations will be made available for operating the U of M campus in Jackson.
A link to the full THEC report on the Lambuth campus is available at http://www.tn.gov/thec/Divisions/Commission/commissionmeetings/Archives/2011/summer/THEC%20Lambuth%20Feasibility%20Study%207-28-11.pdf
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.