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Governor and UT System President Update Board of Trustees on Higher Ed Initiatives

Category: Advocacy

KNOXVILLE – Gov. Bill Haslam says he has witnessed the impact of the University of Tennessee across the state and told the UT Board of Trustees today that he is continuing to work on his higher education initiative.

“I can’t think of a better word to describe higher education now than dynamic both in terms of the rate of change and the level of impact,” said Haslam, who is chair of the board. “One of the advantages you have as governor is that you get around the whole state. Last week I was in Giles County and Lawrenceburg, and you understand what a big deal University of Tennessee is and its impact.”

Haslam said he has visited UT campuses and hosted leaders as he continues his study into higher education and how the state can increase the number of graduates in Tennessee, offer college education at an affordable price, and produce graduates in fields with demand.

The governor said he wants to determine how “we make a tighter loop between higher ed and employers” and how the state can “be more strategic about budgeting, especially with capital dollars.”

“We’re learning a lot more about what the market is telling us, about what they need that we’re not giving them, whether it’s the quantity of engineering graduates or in terms of quality. It’s been a great process. Your leaders have been great to work with,” he said.

UT System President Joe DiPietro presented the Annual Report to the General Assembly, which is a report issued each year by the UT System that outlines annual achievements and contains enrollment and financial data. The report, approved by the board, will be submitted to the governor and the Tennessee legislature. To view the annual report and accompanying video, go to

DiPietro updated trustees on implementation of the UT System Strategic Plan. Committees assigned for each of the five goals of the plan and made up of “implementation champions” from each campus and institutes will provide a progress report for the first phase to the president in December.

The president unveiled the plan’s online dashboard, which features graphic dials to show progress of various metrics for each goal. The dashboard is available for public viewing at

“Our plan is directly correlated to the land-grant mission, which has been around 150 years,” DiPietro said. “We’re on a good trajectory. We have great connectivity with citizens, we are making discoveries that make a difference, and we educate in so many ways through our various campuses, Extension programs and IPS.”

UT Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek gave an update on the campus’ Top 25 initiative. He said the University has made significant progress but has more work to do. Cheek showed metrics used to track progress in undergraduate and graduate education, research, faculty and staff and infrastructure and resources. In the last three years, UT Knoxville has climbed six spots in the U.S. News and World Report rankings. The campus was ranked 46th among public institutions, according to rankings released this fall.

At the beginning of the meeting, trustee John Foy read resolutions honoring Roger Brown, who retired as chancellor at UT Chattanooga in September, and outgoing trustee Jim Hall.

The board heard a report on fall 2012 enrollment, which is down across the UT System and at most public institutions of higher education in the state. Total enrollment of undergraduates and graduates this fall is 49,244, compared to 49,525 last year. UTC had the only increase of UT schools this fall.

The number of baccalaureate degrees across the System surpassed the goal in the state’s master plan for higher education at 7,208 this year. The goal was 7,186. The goal increases to 7,967 in 2015. This year also saw a record high of doctoral degrees at 515.

In other action, the board approved:

  • FY 2012-13 merit increase to base salary of President DiPietro. A merit increase of 3.5 percent increases his base salary from $430,500 to $445,567.50, retroactive to July 1, 2012.
  • Honorary degree to Charles O. “Chad” Holliday by UT Knoxville. Holliday, a Knoxville alumnus, is former CEO of DuPont, currently chairman of the board of Bank of America, a leader in the field of business sustainability and national advocate for restoring America’s global competitiveness. He will receive the honorary degree in engineering at the Dec. 15 commencement ceremony. Holliday, who graduated in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering, will be the commencement speaker.
  • Program of study leading to Master of Medical Science-Physician Assistant at the UT Health Science Center in the College of Allied Health Sciences. This degree will be the first program of its kind to be offered by a public institution in Tennessee. Physician assistants are in high demand across the state and nation. The MMS-PA program will be submitted to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission for approval.
  • Amendment of the UT-UT Foundation Inc. affiliation and services agreement to change the reporting line for athletics department personnel at UT Knoxville. The amendment further aligns athletic development officers with campus oversight, making the officers report to the UT Knoxville vice chancellor for development instead of directly to the president of the UT Foundation, the fundraising arm of the UT System.
  • Revised rule on library fines at UTC in accordance with the Tennessee Uniform Administrative Act
  • Use of UHS proceeds to fund fee waivers for leased employees and their spouses and dependents
  • FY 2013-14 operation budget appropriations request
  • FY 2013-14 capital outlay and capital maintenance projects
  • FY 2013-14 revenue/institutionally funding projects
  • Grant of permanent utility easements to Tuckaleechee Utility District for the benefit of the University’s dairy farm
  • Quitclaim of Haywood County property to Tennessee Department of Transportation for further development at the West Tennessee Solar Farm
  • Dissolution of John C. Hodges trusts and transfer of funds to an endowment to be known as the Better English Fund
  • Modification of administrative provisions for the Caesar and Edith Stair Music Education Fund
  • FY 2012 annual flight operations report of the University’s airplane and airplanes hired for charter use.

To view materials from the meeting, go to

To view the archived webcast of the meeting, go to

Category: Advocacy