TTU News

Tennessee Tech scores high marks in state’s funding formula

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Tennessee Tech Board of Trustees Chairman Tom Jones (left) presents outgoing Trustee Nick Russell (center) with a framed resolution honoring his work representing students while President Phil Oldham looks on (right). Russell, who was the first student trustee of the board, is completing his studies at Tech this semester. The board’s resolution honoring Russell passed unanimously. A new student trustee will be announced at the next board meeting.

Tennessee Tech’s Board of Trustees heard Tennessee Higher Education Commission director Mike Krause explain how the university’s score in the state’s funding formula could lead to an additional $3 million appropriation.

The board learned that the results of 2018-2019 higher education budget formula, which have been sent to the governor for his consideration in preparing next year’s state budget, showed Tech’s score atop all state locally governed universities. 

“The significant increase in bachelor’s degrees awarded is one of the top reasons why Tennessee Tech received a high score in the formula,” Krause said.

Board members also learned that Tech is looking to fill an area of need for the state by bolstering its IT-related academic programs with new faculty positions across three of its colleges.

“We can solidify our role as a leader in this area, but we need some more horsepower,” said Phil Oldham, president of Tennessee Tech.

The overall plan calls for an additional 10 faculty members over the course of three years, with the initial four positions starting in fall 2018. The plan was developed amongst the university’s central administration and the colleges of Engineering, Business and Education.

In his president’s report, Oldham informed the board that The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has approved the university’s governance change, from the Tennessee Board of Regents to the university’s independent board. This was the final step of the process that began with last year’s FOCUS Act.

Oldham also provided updates on campus construction and enrollment. For a section of his report, he was joined by Tom Payne, dean of the College of Business, and Lisa Zagumny, dean of the College of Education. Zagumny and Payne are co-chairs of the strategic planning steering committee, and provided an overview of Tech’s efforts in this area.

The university embarked on a strategic planning process this semester, led by the steering committee. So far, the group has engaged more than 400 members of the Tech community. The board heard of the emerging focus areas that the committee has been discussing. 

The university plans to present the final strategic plan to the board next March.

In response to the board’s earlier questions about faculty compensation and evaluation, President Oldham announced that he has recently formed a committee to look at faculty compensation, workload and evaluation. The committee of 14 individuals is chaired by Mark Stephens, interim provost and vice president of academic affairs, and co-chaired by Daryl Hoy, interim dean of the College of Engineering.

The board approved a revised 2017-2018 budget of $157 million. The initial approved budget was $156 million. The increase is due to a slight increase in enrollment, whereas the initial budget was based on a decrease in enrollment. Each October, state higher education institutions submit a revised budget based on actual fall enrollment numbers, instead of estimated numbers, which are used during preparation of the budget needed for the legislative session. The revised budget includes advertising the new faculty positions, along with new university marketing funds.

In other business, the board approved:

  • Various policies revised under the FOCUS Act transition from TBR to Tech’s board;
  • Tech assuming control of procurement, and capital planning and management from TBR; and
  • Notification to THEC of the university’s desire to develop a Ph.D. program in counseling and supervision.

The board recognized by unanimous resolution the efforts of Nick Russell, the student trustee. Russell has tendered his resignation from the board as he has completed his studies at Tech. A new student trustee will be named at the March meeting.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank you all,” Russell said after receiving the framed resolution. “This university has meant so much to me. I got my dream job thanks to Tennessee Tech.”

Russell ended his comments with a charge to the board, that they cherish how much this place means to its students.

Materials from today’s meeting and the webcast of the full board meeting are available at the board’s website, www.tntech.edu/board.

The board’s next meeting is March 22, 2018.