MEMPHIS – The University of Tennessee’s commitment to self-limiting tuition increases means 2018 will mark a fourth straight year and a new record for holding increases at or below 3 percent, President Joe DiPietro said today at the spring meeting of the UT Board of Trustees.
The board met on the UT Health Science Center campus, where the administration has already determined tuition will not increase in 2018 for in-state or out-of-state undergraduate, online or College of Graduate Health Sciences students. The Colleges of Nursing and Pharmacy will see a 1 percent in-state tuition increase, while the Colleges of Dentistry and Health Professions will see an in-state tuition increase of 2 percent.
“I’m proud UT is a national leader in proactive efforts to hold down tuition increases,” DiPietro said.
Trustees approved the UT Health Science Center tuition proposal during the spring meeting as the campus’ academic year begins July 1. Leadership of other UT campuses, where the academic year begins in August, will submit tuition proposals for 2018 at the UT trustees meeting in June.
Trustees also approved changes to the Board Policy on Academic Freedom, Responsibility and Tenure, including periodic post-tenure review. Approved changes will require tenured faculty to have a comprehensive performance review at least every six years. DiPietro is responsible for working with each campus to develop procedures for the review, which will be brought back to the trustees for approval.
While DiPietro acknowledged the importance of tenure in protecting academic freedom, he said the University has a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that tenure doesn’t mean unconditional job security regardless of performance. He said post-tenure review of all tenured faculty is not uncommon in higher education, and he is convinced that requiring it will enhance academic excellence, accountability and transparency system-wide. Further, DiPietro said, the approved changes will recognize faculty accomplishments and achievements, rejuvenate underperforming faculty, identify inadequate annual faculty evaluation procedures and support removal of faculty who are performing unsatisfactorily.
“I only make recommendations to this board that will make us better,” he said. “From the bottom of my heart, I believe putting post-tenure review in place will help us do that.”
UT Board Vice Chair Raja Jubran said the policy will help strengthen the University.
“The primary goal of the board is to increase excellence at the University of Tennessee,” Jubran said.
In his report to the board, DiPietro highlighted recently released results of the system-wide student experience survey administered on all campuses in January 2017. System-wide, student participation averaged 24 percent, which DiPietro said is above average for comparable universities across the country. Overall, 82 percent of respondents indicated being satisfied with the climate on UT campuses, and 84 percent said they’re comfortable with the climate in their classrooms.
“This degree of satisfaction is among the best for any university in the country,” DiPietro said, adding that, nationally, universities average between 70 to 80 percent. “UT Martin’s rate of satisfaction was one of the highest the survey administrators had ever seen. Responses at the other UT campuses all exceeded national averages, too.”
Trustees approved a UT Institute of Agriculture 10-year strategic plan titled “A Decade of Excellence” along with revised mission and vision statements. The institute celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2018.
“This plan will provide a framework for faculty and staff as we work to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world,” UTIA Chancellor Tim Cross said.
Some of the outcomes the institute will strive for include launching collaborative ventures through partnerships, increasing extramural funding and self-generated revenue, increasing the number of academic degrees and certificates awarded, and supporting growth in the number of start-ups or early-stage businesses by students, faculty and those in communities served.
To emphasize undergraduate completion in four years by taking at least 15-hour course loads per semester, trustees approved a “Take 15, Graduate in 4” tuition model for UT Chattanooga. The plan increases the in-state maintenance fee for all new full-time undergraduates by 11 percent of the current in-state maintenance fee in fall 2019.
On Thursday, members of the Audit and Compliance Committee approved a separation agreement with former UT Knoxville athletic director John Currie. Under the agreement, Currie will be paid $2.5 million, which includes the salary paid to him from December 2017 through March 22, 2018. No taxpayer dollars, student tuition or fees or donor funds will be used to fund the separation payment. Currie’s UT employment officially ended with the committee’s vote, which was required because the payment is in excess of $250,000.
In other business, trustees approved:
- Designating the UT-Memphis Pathology Group as a UT College of Medicine primary faculty practice plan and authorized execution of an affiliation agreement.
- Designated a newly formed professional corporation as the College of Medicine faculty practice plan for adult oncology services and authorized execution of related agreements.
- Transfer of $3 million over a two-year period, from April 1, 2018 to April 1, 2020, from University Health System proceeds to the UT Research Foundation to create a not-for-profit Clinical Trials Network of Tennessee (CTN2) to operate as a subsidiary of the foundation. Creating CTN2 means robust statewide clinical trials involving UTHSC faculty will be recognized as UTHSC grants and contracts.
- Naming the McIlwaine Friendship Pavilion and Outdoor in the UT Gardens at Knoxville for Henry McIlwaine Jr. for his philanthropy and service toward the gardens.
- Designating West Tennessee Medical Group as a College of Medicine faculty practice plan for Family Medicine in the Jackson, Tennessee service area and authorizing the execution of an affiliation agreement.Decreasing out-of-state tuition by 61 percent for UT Knoxville online programs for undergraduates and 57 percent for graduates and increasing the online support fee from $46 to $56 per credit hour.
- Establishing a per-credit-hour tuition model for a flexible schedule law degree program at UT Knoxville. This would allow students enrolled under the flexible schedule to take up to 11 credit hours per semester and give non-traditional students an alternative to a full-time schedule. Under the flexible schedule, a law degree can be completed in five years versus three years for full-time students.
- The revised fiscal year 2018 operating budget.
- Revision of the board policy on housing for senior-level administrators.