Governor Bill Haslam told the Tennessee Board of Regents today about his proposal to focus the TBR’s efforts on the state’s 13 community and 27 technical colleges with the creation of local governing boards for the six universities currently under the TBR purview.
Haslam, who is elected each year to chair the TBR, addressed the group at the beginning of its quarterly meeting in Nashville. He stressed his proposed legislation was coming from the success in Tennessee and unprecedented demand around the community colleges and Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology.
“With a Board that’s more focused on them, I think we can help take advantage of the distinctiveness of programs at those institutions,” he said. “[This change] is focused on the growing strategic importance of community colleges and TCATs in Tennessee.”
He also stressed the opportunities provided by universities having boards with members who have the “luxury of focusing on individual schools.”
Haslam and the board members also heard an update about progress toward the system-wide completion goals in a presentation by Tristan Denley, vice chancellor for Academic Affairs. Denley described the programs initiated at the system level and scaled across all institutions to help move students through the pipeline from enrollment to completing a credential to reach the Drive to 55 target.
The student success programs include urging students undecided in a major to choose an academic area of focus, advising students about programs and careers from the beginning of their college experience, aligning academic pathways across all institutions in the system, applying co-requisite remediation to help underprepared students, redesigning the gateway courses all students take, and re-thinking the system’s approach to online course and program offerings.
Board members also heard a discussion from campus leaders and security officials about security measures across the variety of TBR campuses. Panelists made it clear that police officials representing the colleges and universities strongly oppose civilians carrying guns on TBR campuses. Board members supported the expertise of campus police and advocated for additional state funding for campus security.
In action items, the Board approved of the 2015-16 fiscal year revised budget and new academic programs at several institutions, including a master of science degree program in sport science and coach education at East Tennessee State University and a joint bachelor of science in engineering between ETSU and Tennessee Technological University.
The full materials, presentation slides and video of the board meeting are available online at https://www.tbr.edu/board/december-2015-quarterly-board-meeting.
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.