TBR vice chancellor talks to summer grads about opportunity

Paula Myrick Short, vice chancellor of Academic Affairs for the Tennessee Board of Regents, spoke about career opportunity yesterday to 366 Tennessee Tech University graduates, their friends and families.

"You have created many more opportunities for yourselves just by completing your undergraduate degrees," she said at summer commencement ceremonies held in TTU's Hooper Eblen Center.

In her address, Short pointed out that the number of jobs requiring college degrees is projected to grow in the future. "Jobs requiring at least a bachelor's degree are expected to grow by 47 percent, but those requiring no college will grow by only 11 percent," she said.

Furthermore, the average salary for jobs requiring a high school diploma is only $29,000, she said. But that average salary nearly doubles — to $47,000 — for jobs requiring a bachelor's degree. In addition to focusing on the correlation between higher education and increased potential for career opportunities, Short's address presented examples of TTU success stories, including the Regents' Online Degree Program.

"Sixty-one TTU students are currently enrolled in degrees that are a part of the Regents' Online Degree

Program, thus allowing them as working adults to complete career enhancing degrees while engaging in life's responsibilities," she said. Four TTU students graduated yesterday with a bachelor of science in Interdisciplinary Studies, a new degree developed as part of the RODP. They were Alicia Dawn Jones, Cheryl R. Jordan, Billie Carolyn Smith and Kimberly Usrey Stafford.

Short described TTU as a "highest quality" university and cited the "superior quality of the faculty." To the graduates, she said, "Opportunity often knocks only once. Seize it and run with it. Don't be tentative or afraid of change. Life teaches you that opportunities not seized are often opportunities that are lost forever." Even mistakes, Short concluded, can be considered opportunities to learn.

A nationally recognized scholar and researcher in the field of educational administration, Short is an expert in the areas of educational leadership and organizational change. She served as associate vice president of Academic Affairs for the University of Missouri System before her appointment to the TBR.

Prior to commencement, the university ROTC Battalion held its summer commissioning ceremony. Earning commissions as second lieutenants were Angela M. Guffey and Philip K. Varner. During the summer commencement, degrees were awarded in 27 undergraduate fields of study and 13 graduate fields. One candidate earned his doctorate of philosophy. Students graduating from TTU this semester represent 55 Tennessee counties, nine other states and eight foreign countries.

More than 49,000 degrees have been awarded to TTU graduates throughout the university's history.