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UT Board of Trustees Approves Lowest Tuition Percentage Increase in Decades

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Trustee Jim Murphy and Counsel Catherine Mizell at the June 2015 Board of Trustees Meeting Photo by Adam Brimer

KNOXVILLE – One of the first signs of striking change in the University of Tennessee’s business model is the lowest tuition percentage increase in more than 30 years that was approved Thursday by the UT Board of Trustees.

Undergraduate tuition will increase by 3 percent at UT campuses in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Martin as part of the $2.13 billion budget for FY16. The last time all three campuses increased tuition for undergraduates by 3 percent was in 1983-84.
UT Knoxville and UT Martin increased tuition by 3 percent in 1997.

The minimal increase is due to an increase of $24.4 million in state support and the University’s commitment to securing a sustainable long-term business model. The University is seeking to address a projected $377 million annual funding gap over the next decade and shift the burden for closing that gap away from students and their families. The University made its budget plans under the assumption of 3 percent inflation, 3 percent tuition increases and flat state funding.

“This tuition increase follows our 3-3-0 model we have been discussing for nearly a year now. This year, we are pleased that state appropriations were strong,” UT President Joe DiPietro said. “We did very well this year in state funding and thank the governor and legislators for their support. We must continue to press for increased support but also plan for difficult budget circumstances in the future.”

The University received $8.3 million from state appropriations to partially fund a 1.5 percent pay increase for employees. UT is supplementing that with $16.3 million from fees, grants and contracts, endowments and budget reallocations. Each campus and institute has varying plans for additional pay increases.

The UT System Strategic Plan launched three years ago has been updated to reflect priorities of the changing business model, DiPietro told trustees. New initiatives revolve around information and data management, communications and marketing, research and industry partnerships, raising awareness of UT’s statewide presence and impact, and following the Employer of Choice model practices. For more information about the strategic plan, visit

“Over the last year, we have raised awareness about the University’s business model and anticipated funding gaps. We have taken ownership of this issue and have taken action. Our campuses and institutes are working hard on changing their budgets to reflect this need,” DiPietro said. “This is a process. It’s a long journey, and we are only at the beginning. But I feel very good about where we are currently and where we are headed.”

The board paid tribute to Dr. Ed Boling, who served as president from 1970-88 and died June 18 at the age of 93. He was the longest-serving president in modern times and is noted for the increased enrollment and physical footprint of the University and for his dedication to building strong donor and alumni relationships.

“There is no better way to honor Dr. Boling’s legacy than by working hard to achieve our goals,” DiPietro said. “He made the University better for us just like we are making the University better for generations to come.”

The board elected a new vice chair to replace Brian Ferguson, who stepped down in April, when he moved out of state and was no longer eligible to serve on the Tennessee-based board. Vice Chair Raja Jubran, a graduate of UT Knoxville, is the founder and chief executive officer of Denark Corporation, Inc., a Knoxville-based general contracting and engineering company. He was appointed to the board by Gov. Haslam in 2012.

As part of the business model initiative, the board approved the Institute of Agriculture’s proposal for a voluntary retirement incentive plan for AgResearch staff. The program will offer a lump sum incentive payment of four months’ base salary to eligible employees. AgResearch anticipates the cost savings of an estimated $990,656 would help create new faculty positions, modify staff positions or address deferred maintenance needs at facilities across the state. Those who elect to participate may begin the process on July 1, 2015, and will have until Dec. 31, 2015, to retire.

UT Chattanooga Chancellor Steve Angle presented the campus’ strategic plan, 2015-2020. According to the plan, it “focuses on four fundamental goals to transform lives through meaningful learning experiences; to inspire, nurture, and empower scholarship, creativity, discovery, innovation and entrepreneurial initiatives; to ensure stewardship of resources through strategic alignment and investments, and to embrace diversity and inclusion as a path to excellence and societal change.”

The president submitted for the first time an annual report on the use of student programs and services fee funding at each campus to comply with a measure taken by the board in June 2014 that established certain restrictions on the use of the funding, required chancellors to establish an opt-in procedure and a committee to allocate the funding, and established a criteria for allowing the funding to be used for student-organized programming.

The trustees also approved the UTHSC long-range master plan presented by the architectural firm Perkins and Will. The master plan was last updated in 1996 and requires revisions to address enrollment growth and other changes. The plan makes way for new, state-of-the-art research and educational facilities that will reposition UTHSC as the competition intensifies to recruit top-tier students, researchers and faculty.

The board also approved the awarding of an honorary bachelor’s degree at UT Chattanooga for Charles D. Cofield, who studied chemistry at the University of Chattanooga but left to enter the workforce before completing his degree. Cofield started and managed 15 chemical companies during his career, and he holds numerous patents in the textile chemical field. The degree is to be awarded later this year or in 2016.

New student and faculty representatives joined the board as non-voting trustees. Miranda Rutan is a senior at UT Martin studying marketing and fine and performing arts, and Brian Donavant is past Faculty Senate president and associate professor of criminal justice at UT Martin.

In-state undergraduate annual tuition increases from FY15 to FY16 are as follows:

UT Chattanooga

  • $6,430 to $6,624, increase of $194
  • UT Knoxville

  • Admitted before Fall 2013: $8,766 to $9,028, increase of $262
  • <li>Admitted in Fall 2013, Spring 2014 or Summer 2014: $10,074 to $10,376, increase of $302</li>
    <li>Admitted in Fall 2014 or later: $10,366 to $10,678, increase of $312</li>

    UT Martin

  • $6,716 to $6,918, increase of $202
  • In other action, the board approved:

    • Naming the science building at UT Knoxville at Cumberland Avenure and 13th Street the Ken and Blaire Mossman Building. Construction begins in Fall 2015. Ken Mossman earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in health physics and radiation biology through the Institute of Radiation Biology, a joint program of UT and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. At the time of his death in 2014, he was serving on the US Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. Blaire Mossman received a Bachelor of Arts in French from UT in 1971. She spent 30 years as a science and technology publications editor. She worked for the National Biomedical Research Foundation before her death in 2011.
    • Renaming the Black Cultural Center at UT Knoxville the Frieson Cultural Center for twin brothers and alumni Ron and Don Frieson. Ron Frieson, president for foundation and external affairs at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, earned his bachelor’s degree in finance in 1981. Don Frieson, executive vice president for operations for Sam’s Club, earned his bachelor’s degree in business operations management from UT in 1990.
    • Converting course fees to differential tuition for UT Knoxville College of Architecture and Design to eliminate all individual course fees and implement a $105 differential tuition beginning fall semester. Students of the college will not see an impact in their overall costs because they are already paying course fees equivalent to the differential tuition rate. The change will provide a more reliable revenue stream to support enrollment growth and expand experiential learning opportunities.
    • Revised differential tuition for UT Knoxville Haslam College of Business to be increased to $95 a credit hour beginning fall semester. The increase helps fund the college’s strategic goals for entering the ranks of the Top 25 public business schools. The college will improve student access to its 100-level courses and enhance its career management services and co-curricular activities, which will include more study abroad opportunities and additional course technology.
    • Revised differential tuition for UTC College of Business to include all courses offered by the college regardless of departmental prefix.
    • Standard business practice for calculating increases to differential tuition rates using whole dollar amounts such that annual percentage increases are as close as possible to percentage increases approved for the maintenance fee (tuition) when rounded to the nearest whole dollar.
    • UTC regional tuition rate programs for undergraduates and graduate students be on an ongoing basis without the necessity for an annual review and extension.
    • Program of study leading to the degree of Master of Social Work at UT Chattanooga. The program will be delivered as a hybrid evening program and can be completed in one to two years.
    • Program of study leading to the degrees of Master of Interior Design and Master of Science in Interior Design at UT Chattanooga. These degree options allow a baccalaureate trained interior design professional achieve advanced training in evidence-based interior design.
    • Program of study leading to the degree of Doctor of Entomology, Plant Pathology, and Nematology at UT Knoxville. This degree designation and degree program better reflects the contemporary work of the department and the needs of potential graduate students.
    • Program of study leading to the degree of Doctor of Public Health at UT Knoxville. This new degree will replace an existing Ph.D. in Education with a concentration in Health Behavior/Health Education, which is the current degree available to students seeking an advanced degree related to public health.
    • UT Knoxville Faculty Handbook revisions regarding outreach, community engagement and Extension. The revision adds scholarship and service embedded in community engagement activities to the criteria for professorial rank and formalizes appropriate position and rank titles for faculty involved almost exclusively in the outreach and engagement arm of the Institute of Agriculture, UT Extension.
    • UT Knoxville Faculty Handbook revisions regarding faculty-student relationships. The policy clearly describes prohibited faculty-student relationships and poses guidance for avoiding, correcting, reporting and penalizing prohibited conduct if necessary.
    • Amendment of the Student Housing Rule for UT Knoxville to authorize the campus to require students to sign a housing contract and to transfer the campus’ inspection and search policy from the student conduct rules to the student housing rules. The revisions will be submitted to the state attorney general for approval.
    • Amendment of the Traffic and Parking Rule for UT Chattanooga to increase fines from $20 to $25 for parking without a permit, other parking violations and committing a moving violation.
    • Amendment of Student Conduct Rules for all campuses to make the rules consistent with the standards of conduct, definitions, rights and procedures outlined in their policies on sexual misconduct, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.
    • Amendment of the Honor Code Rule for UT Health Science Center. The revision changes the name from Honor Code to the Honor System, which encompasses the Honor Code, the Honor Code Pledge and the procedures for investigating and resolving allegations of violations of the Honor Code.

    For an archived webcast of the full board meeting, go to
    For meeting materials, go to

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