Overall enrollment in the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology increased 15 percent this fall term over fall 2020, to 18,213, while total enrollment in the state’s community colleges declined about 6 percent during the same period, according to the latest figures presented at the Tennessee Board of Regents quarterly meeting Thursday.
Both numbers are improvements over preliminary enrollment figures presented to the board in September, when reported enrollment in the technical colleges was up 9.4 percent, and community college enrollment was down nearly 8.8 percent, to nearly 74,000 students. Much of the rise at the TCATs is a result of more high school students in dual enrollment career and technical education programs at the colleges.
While the community college numbers reflect a national enrollment decline at two-year colleges during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tennessee community colleges’ enrollment rose from the September report because several increased their offerings of accelerated courses this fall – concentrated courses that students typically complete in seven weeks, with more students enrolling in the second term starting in October. In addition, registration at the TCATs is continuous and enrollments typically rise through the term.
The Tennessee Board of Regents governs the state’s public community and technical colleges comprising the College System of Tennessee. In other action during its December quarterly meeting Thursday, the board:
- Approved a resolution honoring Dyersburg State Community College President Dr. Karen Bowyer, who is retiring Jan. 4 after 37 years as the college’s president and nearly 50 years of service in higher education. She was the first woman to serve as president at a public college or university in the state and is the longest-serving president in the TBR system.
- Approved search criteria for the next president of Cleveland State Community College. President Bill Seymour announced last month his plans to retire next summer after 8½ years as the college’s CEO and more than 43 years in higher education administration. Later, a search advisory committee will be appointed, composed of board members, representatives of the college’s faculty, students, staff and alumni, and civic and business leaders in the college’s service area. It will review candidates and recommend finalists, who will discuss their qualifications in campus forums. TBR Chancellor Dr. Flora W. Tydings will review input from the forums and conduct further interviews before recommending a single candidate to the board for its consideration next spring.
- Approved Cleveland State’s new strategic plan.
- Approved new career and technical programs at the TCATs, including a new Pipefitting and Plumbing Technology program at TCAT Jackson, Advanced Manufacturing Education at TCAT Morristown, Computer-Aided Design Technology at TCAT Murfreesboro, Truck Driving at TCAT Nashville, and Injection Molding Technology by TCAT Livingston at the Cookeville Higher Education Center.
- Approved a new Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree program in Aviation Operations Technology at Southwest Tennessee Community College, the first of its kind at a Tennessee community college. The program has three concentrations: aviation administration, flight dispatcher, and professional pilot. The college will apply for the program’s accreditation, and has targeted the program’s start for fall 2022.
- Approved the administrative mergers of two sets of technical colleges in West Tennessee to serve students more efficiently. All existing campuses and teaching locations will remain in place and continue to fully serve students and industries in the region:
- TCATs Covington, Ripley and Newbern into a single institution to be called Tennessee College of Applied Technology Northwest, effective in fall 2023. The three TCATs have been led by a single president for several years.
- TCATs Paris and McKenzie into a single institution tentatively called TCAT Paris/McKenzie, with a targeted effective date of fall 2024. Both have also operated under the leadership of a single president and vice president for several years.
- Approved Faculty Emeritus status for retired chemistry professor Dr. Charles Osborne of Northeast State Community College.
- Approved institution compensation plans proposed by Dyersburg State, Motlow State, Northeast State, Pellissippi State and Walters State Community Colleges.
- Approved the system’s revised budget for fiscal year 2021-22.
- Approved three relatively minor policy revisions, regarding annual reports by the colleges, duties of institutional presidents, and early postsecondary opportunities (programs that enable high school students to earn college credit).
- Received informational reports on workforce development activities, the system’s relational advising initiative, advancement and fundraising activities, and financial overviews.
- In addition to their regular for-credit academic and career and technical programs, the system’s colleges provided 1,042,649 hours of customized industry workforce training in academic year 2020-21, serving 46,199 students and 366 businesses across the state, primarily in manufacturing.
- All 13 community colleges provide relational advising for students, which helps students with challenges beyond academic advising.
- The advancement report noted that in fiscal year 2021, the system’s 13 community college foundations raised $13,467,920, an increase of $1,078,083 over the previous year, while the Foundation of the College System of Tennessee raised a record high of $507,108, up from the previous year’s total of $284,536.
The meeting was live-streamed and is archived on the TBR website for viewing anytime at https://www.tbr.edu/board/december-2021-quarterly-meeting. The full agenda, executive summary and detailed board materials are posted at the same link.