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Data Trending Upward in UT System President’s Fourth Year

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MARTIN – Data is an important way to measure the University of Tennessee’s fulfillment of its mission, and many of the metrics of the UT System Strategic Plan are trending upward as President Joe DiPietro enters his fourth year.

DiPietro focused on data in his presentation Thursday to the UT Board of Trustees and noted having more consistency in institutional research has been a priority during his tenure.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” DiPietro said. “I’m proud of the team we have built to advance all components of the UT System.”

DiPietro covered several metrics and their goals for FY15. The six-year graduation rate, a part of the Strategic Plan goal one, currently stands at 56.2 percent for the UT System, and the goal is 57.6 percent by FY15. Total degrees awarded reached 11,182 in FY13, and UT is striving to hit 11,279 in two years.

Expanding research capacities (goal 2) is a challenging area, but DiPietro said UT needs to build on its relationship as co-manager of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and corporate partnerships the UT Health Science Center can develop through its College of Medicine. Research and sponsored projects expenditures as reported to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission has increased from $371.5 million in FY10 to $425.2 million in FY13. The goal is $444.4 million by FY15.

In the area of outreach (goal 3), the number of patient billings or clients served by UTHSC and the UT College of Veterinary Medicine has increased dramatically since FY10.

There are several areas of effectiveness and efficiency (goal 4), including fundraising, which the University hopes to grow to $154.9 million in annual giving by FY15. How much it costs to educate students can be measured by unrestricted E&G expense per student FTE, and UT would like to keep that metric steady at about $24,366.

In the area of advocacy (goal 5), DiPietro mentioned the impact of the UT Advocacy Council, which includes alumni and UT friends who help promote the University to government officials.

These metrics and others are available for viewing on the Strategic Plan dashboard:

The board approved two new policies on the use of University property that replace policies that had been in place for more than 40 years. The new policies resulted from a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in a lawsuit filed against the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, but the ruling affects all campuses and institutes. The court found that the policies in existence at that time were contradictory. The University worked with Rodney Smolla, a nationally recognized expert on issues relating to freedom of speech, to develop two new policies. The policies do not diminish the rights of student organizations and faculty members to invite guest speakers to campus; rather, the policies clarify and define the rights of non-affiliated persons to engage in free expression activities.

The new “Use of University Property” rule states that students, employees, members of the Board of Trustees, government officials, contract workers, volunteers, prospective students, alumni and people invited by a student, student organization or employee are authorized users of University property.

The new “Use of University Property by Non-Affiliated Persons for Free Expression Activities” rule states that University property is not open for free expression activities for persons who are not students, employees or volunteers. There are exceptions to this rule, including a person invited by a student organization to join in the student organization’s speech, a person invited by a faculty member to join in the faculty member’s speech and a person invited by a University unit. The rule also states University and city streets and sidewalks parallel to those streets are open to speech by any person. Speech allowed by the rule is subject to restrictions on the time, place and manner of speech. For instance, a person cannot block pedestrian traffic, block an entrance to a building, disrupt a University activity or damage the property.

Following adoption by the board, the rules will be promulgated in accordance with both the emergency rulemaking procedures and the ordinary rulemaking procedures of the Tennessee Uniform Administrative Procedures Act. Campuses will develop their own guidelines for campus areas where speech activities can take place.

The board also approved the UT Health Science Center Strategic Plan for 2014-2018. In May 2013, UTHSC embarked upon an institution-wide strategic planning process. Faculty, staff, students and administrators from across colleges and campuses identified a central strategic challenge and accompanying objectives designed to guide priority setting and resource allocation for the next five years. Priorities include educating outstanding graduates who meet the needs of the state and its communities, growing the research portfolio of the institution focusing on targeted areas, strengthening areas of clinical prominence while expanding outreach and expanding and strengthening key community and statewide partnerships, among others. Representatives from across the institution have committed to position the UTHSC as a national leader in targeted areas of excellence across the institution’s missions, colleges and campuses by the end of 2018.

Following board approval, the next phase will involve engaging faculty, staff, students and administrators in identifying and implementing a variety of initiatives designed to address the strategic priorities outlined in the plan.

Leaders of the three undergraduate campuses gave reports on student retention plans and student-athlete academic progress. UT Martin provided an update on its gap analysis and strategic initiatives progress. Those initiatives include undergraduate enrollment, retention, academic quality, graduate enrollment, economic development and financial model. Some of the goals for fall 2016 include to maintain fall 2013 enrollment of 7,025 to the same level, increase retention from 69.8 percent to 72 percent and increase graduate enrollment from 398 to 410.

In other action, the board approved:

  • Designation of UT-Regional One Physicians as a faculty practice plan for the College of Medicine in Memphis and authorization for execution of associated agreements
  • Repurposing of UT Martin student publication fee to use a surplus to repair and replace fitness equipment in the campus student recreation center
  • Honorary Doctor of Letters and Science in Communication and Information at UT Knoxville for John Noble Wilford, who graduated in 1955 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Wilford is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author and science journalist who served as national news editor and director of science news for the New York Times before retiring in 2009 as the paper’s senior science correspondent. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Wilford has written numerous books including “We Reach the Moon,” “The Mapmakers,” and “Mars Beckons.” The degree will be conferred at the spring 2014 commencement.
  • Revisions to UT Knoxville faculty handbook and manual for faculty evaluation
  • Renaming the UTHSC College of Allied Health as the College of Health Professions
  • Revised compensation for Executive Vice President/Vice President for Research and Economic Development, who also is now serving as president of the UT Research Foundation
  • Revisions to the policy on comprehensive presidential performance reviews
  • Plan and timeline for 2014 comprehensive presidential performance review. A review of DiPietro’s overall performance for the past three years is to be completed by the annual board meeting on June 19, 2014.
  • The naming of the Corporate Governance Center at the UT Knoxville College of Business Administration in honor of C. Warren Neel, its founder and former business dean. Neel served as dean of the College of Business Administration for 25 years. He formed the center in 2003, which conducts and disseminates research on aspects of corporate governance. Neel remains a center fellow.
  • UT Knoxville gas line easement for steam plant
  • UTHSC acquisition of 885 Madison Ave.
  • UTHSC acquisition of 239 Dr. M.L. King Ave.
  • UTHSC acquisition of 964 Union Ave.
  • FY14 revised operating budget

To view an archived webcast of the full board meeting and materials, visit

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Category: Headlines