THEC Weekly Updates

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clockSaturday, May 20, 2017
Weekly Update 19 May, 2017 (Mike Krause)   

National News Coverage for THEC and Tennessee’s Higher Education Initiatives

On Monday, Tennessee’s higher education initiatives were featured in a cover story in the New York Times. The article, “Free Tuition? Tennessee Could Tutor New York”, compared Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect to New York’s Excelsior Scholarship. The piece included quotes from Governor Bill Haslam, East Tennessee State University President Brian Noland, and Mike Krause. Reporter David Chen traveled to Nashville two weeks ago to talk with staff and students from local schools and staff from THEC. He met with counselors, teachers, and students at Antioch High School before meeting with students at Motlow State Community College in Smyrna. Two of the students were highlighted in the article with quotes and pictures.

Additionally, Tennessee Promise was a feature story in this week’s issue of Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, in an article titled, “Tennessee Delivers on its Promise.” The article focused on the successes of Tennessee Promise in its first two years and features quotes from Mike Krause and tnAchieves Executive Director Krissy DeAlejandro. 

Both articles are available online (New York Times and Diverse: Issues in Higher Education) and THEC has a limited number of print copies of both articles available.

THEC/TSAC Audit Committee Meeting

The THEC/TSAC Audit Committee met on Thursday after the TSAC Board meeting. Chaired by Dr. Claude Pressnell, the meeting was attended by members Pam Koban, Sharon Hayes, and Greg Turner. Ann Collett provided an update on the TSAC financial and compliance audit by State Audit for FY16. The auditors are about to finish fieldwork and a draft of that report is expected this summer. The performance audits of THEC and TSAC are in the interview stage. After that, we will be notified of the areas the audits will focus on. TBR and UT are also going through this process. The committee discussed aspects of the Executive Internal Auditor legislation that went into effect this year for executive branch agencies. The committee discussed current year activities and approved the audit plan for 17-18. The 17-18 the committee will be chaired by Sharon Hayes. We would like to thank Dr. Pressnell for chairing since 2011.

For further information on a Sunset Performance Audit, the Comptroller’s office offers a concise explanation of the process: 

A performance audit is an independent examination for the purpose of reporting on the extent to which agencies and departments of state government are faithfully carrying out the programs for which they are responsible. The audit reports assist the General Assembly and state executive management

·         by assessing the extent to which state agencies have fulfilled their statutory mandate and the efficiency and effectiveness of management’s organization and use of resources;

·         by developing recommendations for management or legislative action that might improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the agency’s operations; and

·         by providing pertinent program and financial data about the agencies. 

Most of this section’s workload is performance auditing directed by the Tennessee Governmental Entity Review Law, commonly known as the Sunset Law (Section 4-29-101 et seq., Tennessee Code Annotated). This law requires that each agency, board, commission, and other entity be reviewed at least once every eight years by the legislative Joint Government Operations Committee to determine whether that entity should be abolished, restructured, or continued.

Release of Veteran Reconnect RFP

Earlier today, THEC released a request for proposals (RFP) for the third round of Veteran Reconnect Grants. Since the first round of awards in 2015, Veteran Reconnect Grants have funded campus services for student veterans and provided veteran-specific resources, such as the expansion of veteran centers and professional development for faculty and staff on the specific needs of students with military experience. This round will focus specifically on efforts to improve the assessment of prior learning for the benefit of student veterans. THEC will host an informational webinar on Friday, May 26, 2017 at 1:30pm CDT. Letters of Intent are due on Friday, June 2, 2017 at 4:30pm CDT. Full proposals are due on Friday, June 16, 2017 by 4:30 pm CDT. For more information on the RFP, visit https://www.tn.gov/thec/article/veteran-reconnect.

Tennessee Reconnect Community Advisor Training

On May 10 and 11, the Adult Learner Initiatives team hosted a training for Tennessee Reconnect Community Advisors at Columbia State Community College’s Williamson Campus. Tennessee Reconnect Community Advisors are single points of contact that can help adult learners navigate the path to and through college. They provide free advising, career exploration tools, assistance in understanding financial aid and college costs, and they can help adults select a college and a major that best fits their interests and career goals.

The training focused on providing the advisors with information on financial aid, and the benefits of prior learning assessment and transfer credit for adult students. The training was an important step in preparing these advisors to provide counseling to students returning to community colleges as part of the Tennessee Reconnect Grant. Mary Laphen, Jessica Gibson, and Kevin Bradley of the Adult Learner Initiatives team facilitated the training. Mike Krause presented at the training, and TSAC staff James Snider and Jane Pennington participated in panels on the newly passed Tennessee Reconnect Grant, and the effect of defaulted loans on adult students returning to postsecondary education.

Austin Peay State University Board Meeting 

Lauren Collier attended the first committee meetings and second board meeting of the Austin Peay State University Board of Trustees. The board approved tenure and promotion recommendations, operating budgets, and set tuition and mandatory fees for the upcoming academic year. Board materials and the live stream are available online. Many of the locally governed institutions will begin holding their second round of board meetings this summer and begin to address further institution policies and issues.

CAEL Discovery Session

This week, Curt Johnston of the Adult Learner Division partnered with the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) to convene four discovery sessions. The sessions gathered relevant data and anecdotal feedback on the creation of a new Academic Alignment and Guidance tool to drive students towards academic programs that develop middle skills and articulate to high-need industries. CAEL’s efforts in this initiative are funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the organization has partnered THEC, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, and Complete Tennessee to ensure that the tool will align with current Drive to 55 efforts. CAEL hosted four discovery sessions in Jackson, Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Franklin. Nearly 140 participants representing K-12, postsecondary institutions, local and regional workforce development efforts, and industry partners all attended one of the four events. CAEL will utilize the data collected from these discovery sessions to produce a proposal for the design of this tool by July.

Campaign for Free College Tuition Meeting

Last week, Emily House attended a convening sponsored by the Campaign for Free College Tuition in Denver, Colorado. This meeting gathered legislators, staff from governors’ offices, researchers, and practitioners to discuss free college initiatives across the country: how they are proposed, implemented, and will eventually be evaluated. Emily presented on both Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect, and received many inquiries from states hoping to introduce similar programs.

Tennessee News Reports and Releases

·         APSU to offer first engineering degree this fall | The Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle

·         Columbia State graduates first Tennessee Promise students with record numbers | The Columbia Daily Herald

·         Even before the official start of Tennessee Reconnect, community college will be free for adults | WPLN (Nashville Public Radio)

·         Haslam honors first Southwest students to graduate using Tennessee Promise | The Commercial Appeal

·         New data science program at University of Tennessee aims to fill growing need | Knoxville News Sentinel

·         New University of Tennessee vice chancellor for communications says transparency will be a priority | Knoxville News Sentinel

·         Promising future for Tennessee students (editorial) | Memphis Commercial Appeal

·         Southwest TN Community College initiative targets ‘crisis situation’ | Memphis Business Journal

·         Tennessee Board of Regents makes recommendation for Chattanooga State president | News Channel 9 (Chattanooga’s ABC affiliate)

·         Tennessee Reconnect offers ‘one-of-a-kind’ opportunity for residents | Elizabethton Star

·         Tuition-free community college to become the norm in Tennessee as bill heads to Haslam | The Tennessean

National News and Reports

·         Are community colleges finally ‘having a moment’? | Christian Science Monitor

·         Combating initiative fatigue: Unifying and integrating student success initiatives | EdSurge

·         Fast-tracking military attainment: Creating credential pathways for service members | The EvoLLLution

·         The Federal-State Higher Education Partnership: How States Manage Their Roles (Report) | Urban Institute

·         Public has positive opinion of community colleges | Community College Daily

·         Should students get ‘grades 13 and 14’ free of charge? | The New York Times Magazine (includes mention of Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect)

·         Tennessee set to be first to make community college free for adults | U.S. News (features quote from Mike Krause)

·         Tuition-free college is getting bigger. Here’s where it’s offered | CNN (includes mention of Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect)

·         What policies for improving graduation rates actually work? | Inside Higher Ed

clockMonday, May 08, 2017
Weekly Update 5 May, 2017 (Mike Krause)   

Welcome Mary Nelle Hall and Jason Lee

This week, the College Access and Success Division welcomed Mary Nelle Hall to their team as the Statewide Services Coordinator. Mary Nelle comes to THEC from Belmont University where she worked in admissions with transfer and international students. A seventh generation Middle Tennessean, she received her bachelor’s degree from Samford University in languages and world trade and her master’s degree in Higher Education Administration from Vanderbilt University. Prior to her work in admissions, Mary Nelle worked with the International Rescue Committee where she served refugee and asylum clients, assisting them with job placement, taught cultural orientation classes to new arrivals, and started the organization’s first refugee youth program.

The Policy, Planning and Research team welcomed Jason Lee to the THEC staff on Monday. Jason will serve as the Lottery Scholarship and Financial Aid Research Director, working very closely with other staff members to investigate and evaluate financial aid initiatives across the state. Jason is a graduate of Slippery Rock University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and is a doctoral candidate at the University of Georgia.

Welcome, Mary Nelle and Jason!

Tennessee Promise Student Graduations

This week marks the first round of graduations at Tennessee’s community colleges as the inaugural cohort of Tennessee Promise students begins to reach graduation. Governor Bill Haslam will be speaking at the commencement ceremonies at Cleveland State Community College on Saturday, May 6 and Southwest Tennessee Community College on Saturday, May 13. Mike Krause is speaking this evening at the Pellissippi State Community College commencement ceremonies. Data will be available in the early fall on the number of Tennessee Promise students who have graduated as well as those who transfer into four-year institutions this fall. Congratulations to the many students who are graduating this spring!

Complete College America Meeting

On Thursday, David Wright was in Washington, DC to represent Tennessee at the annual meeting of the Complete College America (CCA) Data Advisory Group. State representatives in attendance were able to advise CCA President Tom Sugar and other members of the CCA staff about developing mechanisms for better reporting and sharing of information between states and creating an ongoing culture of data use across the CCA Alliance, which now includes 43 states. Of particular interest was a session with representatives of Lumina Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, who led a discussion about the feasibility of creating a nationwide student unit record data system from the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) and other existing resources. As these discussions progress, these foundations will be looking for a small group of leading states to advise them and to pilot-test the feasibility of the NSC model.

Diversity in Teaching Project Directors Meeting

On Tuesday, Herbert Brown convened a meeting of the new project directors that were awarded the 2017-19 Diversity in Teaching (DIT) grant. The DIT grant awards funds through a competitive RFP process to Tennessee colleges and universities for the development of projects which increase the number of K-12 teachers in Tennessee from underrepresented groups. THEC awarded $200,000 to Cumberland University, Lipscomb University, UT Chattanooga, and University of Memphis. Each institution will provide scholarships to students that often lack access to financial support. Projects were allowed a maximum funding level of $50,000 annually and the grant period will run from July 2017 through June 2019.

This week in the General Assembly:

The General Assembly is approaching adjournment for the year with the passage of House Bill 511 on Friday, the state’s budget legislation. The bill will next be heard on the Senate floor.

·         The STRONG Act, a component of Governor Haslam’s “Next Tennessee” legislative package carried by Representative David Hawk (R-Greeneville) and Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), became Public Chapter 229 on Wednesday. SB 1216/HB 530 replaces the Tennessee National Guard Tuition Assistance Act and establishes a pilot program to provide eligible members of the Tennessee National Guard with funding toward a bachelor’s degree through tuition reimbursement. The STRONG Act provides educational opportunities for those who protect and serve our state and country and further supports the Drive to 55.

·         House Bill 64/Senate Bill 587, sponsored by House Education Administration and Planning Committee Chairman Harry Brooks (R-Knoxville) and Senate Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), was signed into law by the Governor on Thursday. This legislation establishes an exception to the Tennessee Public Records Act for certain investment records of private endowment funds donated to public higher education institutions in the state. Records relating to proprietary investment analysis and practices in regard to these funds would not be open for public inspection. The purpose of the legislation is to preserve the competitive advantage and continued viability of private firms with which the state contracts for investment services and advice.  The protections provided by the bill have been compared to similar exceptions in the law for the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement Service and other state programs. Records relating to the name of an investment, the name of an investment manager, the amount invested, or the most recent fiscal year-end value of an investment would remain open to public inspection pursuant to T.C.A. § 10-7-5.

·         House Bill 445/ Senate Bill 1231, sponsored by Representative Ron Gant (R-Rossville) and Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), was also signed by the Governor on Thursday. This legislation amends the Labor Education Alignment Program (LEAP) Act by defining the term “work-based learning” (WBL) as it is used in LEAP programs. The definition of WBL in this bill clarifies expectations for educators, employers, and students involved in LEAP internships and other forms of experiential learning placements. A provision in the original bill that sought to limit the civil liability of employers participating in LEAP WBL was removed by amendment earlier this month in a House committee.

Tennessee News Reports and Releases

·         Chattanooga State program boosts retention, success rates for minority students | Chattanooga Times Free Press

·         Governor to address first class of Tennessee Promise graduates at Cleveland State on Saturday | Office of Governor Bill Haslam

·         Graduation no longer enough for Tennessee students (Opinion) | The Tennessean

·         Gramma to graduate from TSU – 55 years after she enrolled | The Tennessean

·         MTSU’s finance committee to recommend tuition rate | The Tennessean

·         Ryan Robinson named University of Tennessee vice chancellor for communications | Knoxville News Sentinel

·         Tennessee’s latest community college effort may be a game-changer, if adults hear about it | Nashville Public Radio/WPLN

·         University of Tennessee board moves forward with plan to revamp bonus pay | Knoxville News Sentinel

National News and Reports

·         As FAFSA tool outage continues, lawmakers investigate why it happened | The Chronicle of Higher Education

·         Building a new structure | Community College Journal

·         College Costs in Context: A State-By-State Look at College (Un)Affordability (Report) | The Institute for College Access & Success

·         From For-Profits to Community Colleges | Inside Higher Ed

·         Strengthening Transfer Paths to a Bachelor’s Degree: Identifying Effective Two-Year to Four-Year College Partnerships (Report) | Community College Research Center at Teacher’s College, Columbia University

·         The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2016 (Report) |Cooperative Institutional Research Program at the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA

·         The return of year-round Pell | Community College Daily

clockSunday, April 30, 2017
Weekly Update 28 April, 2017 (Mike Krause)   

Harold Love Awards

Last Friday, Representative Harold Love, Jr. and THEC hosted the annual Harold Love Outstanding Community Service Awards. The awards ceremony honors students, faculty, and staff who have demonstrated exemplary service in their communities. The award honors individuals who have served as ambassadors for community service among the diverse higher education communities in Tennessee. This year, five students and five faculty/staff members from eight institutions were honored. Pictures from the event are available here, and full information on this year’s recipients is available here.

Release of Tennessee Reconnect Communities RFP

Earlier today, the Division of Adult Learner Initiatives released a request for proposals (RFP) for the third cohort of Tennessee Reconnect Communities (TRCs). TRCs are mobile and/or place-based community centers that provide institution-neutral advising and serve the needs of Tennessee adults interested in completing a postsecondary credential. The RFP is intended to identify two Tennessee Reconnect Communities that will launch in summer 2017 and serve Chattanooga and Knoxville as well as their surrounding counties. Tennessee already has 8 TRCs that are serving over 8,000 Reconnectors with 11% enrolled in postsecondary education. The addition of the two new communities will ensure that every county in the state of Tennessee is served by a TRC by the end of the year.

College Access and Success Division Submits GEAR UP Annual Performance Report

Last week, the Division of College Access and Success submitted the GEAR UP TN Annual Performance Report to the U.S. Department of Education. GEAR UP TN is a federally-funded college access program that aims to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. During the 2015-2016 academic year, GEAR UP TN served 14,410 students, 886 educators, and 5,309 parents. Academically, GEAR UP TN students are outperforming the comparison group. For example, 61% of GEAR UP TN cohort students passed Algebra 1 and scored proficient on their EOC exam compared to 56% of students in the comparison group. Prior to grant implementation, only 51% of graduating seniors attending GEAR UP TN high schools enrolled in college by the following fall. For the class of 2015, the college enrollment rate was 60.7%, nearly 10 percentage points above the baseline. For more information, please see the attached GEAR UP TN Outcomes document.

Tennessee Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (TASFAA) Conference

TSAC and THEC staff participated in the Tennessee Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators conference this week. This statewide meeting of school financial aid administrators provided important updates on federal and state financial aid programs, along with a full day of training for new financial aid administrators. Robert Biggers, Steven Gentile, Mike Krause, Diane LeJeune, Leah Louallen, Tim Phelps, Josh Moran, Terri Parchment, Jane Pennington, Darolyn Porter, and James Snider served as presenters on a variety of topics such as TN Promise, TN Reconnect, Drive to 55, E*GRandS, Satisfactory Academic Progress, Lottery Scholarships, Tennessee Student Assistance Award, and many others. In addition, many of our staff members served as moderators for sessions throughout the conference. The Student and School Services division presented a session detailing the many services that they are able to offer to support the financial aid community.

Roundtable at Bipartisan Policy Center

David Wright was in Washington, DC, today at the invitation of the Bipartisan Policy Center, for a private roundtable discussion of higher education costs and prices. The Center's interest is in determining the role the federal government might play in providing incentives for colleges to control costs and prices while improving student outcomes and maintaining instructional quality. There was much interest at the meeting in Tennessee's outcomes-based funding mechanism and last dollar tuition scholarship programs for community colleges and colleges of applied technology.

Tennessee Reconnect Meeting at Dyersburg State

On Monday, Jessica Gibson and Mary Laphen attended a Tennessee Reconnect Meeting hosted by Dyersburg State Community College. The session was attended by Dyersburg State Community College Student Services and Financial Aid staff as well as the Northwest Tennessee Reconnect Community. The conversation centered around coordinating community college and TRC services and establishing partnerships to best support adult learners to and through postsecondary education. Jessica presented on Tennessee Reconnect and the role of Tennessee Reconnect Communities.

This week in the General Assembly:

·         The STRONG Act, a component of Governor Haslam’s “Next Tennessee” legislative package carried by Representative David Hawk (R-Greeneville) and Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), was signed by the Governor on Monday. SB 1216/HB 530 replaces the Tennessee National Guard Tuition Assistance Act and establishes a pilot program to provide eligible members of the Tennessee National Guard with funding toward a bachelor’s degree through tuition reimbursement. The STRONG Act provides educational opportunities for those who protect and serve our state and country and further supports the Drive to 55.

·         House Bill 64, sponsored by House Education Administration and Planning Committee Chairman Harry Brooks (R-Knoxville), establishes an exception to the Tennessee Public Records Act for certain investment records of private endowment funds donated to public higher education institutions in the state. Records relating to proprietary investment analysis and practices in regard to these funds would not be open for public inspection. The purpose of the legislation is to preserve the competitive advantage and continued viability of private firms with which the state contracts for investment services and advice.  The protections provided by the bill have been compared to similar exceptions in the law for the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement Service and other state programs. Records relating to the name of an investment, the name of an investment manager, the amount invested, or the most recent fiscal year-end value of an investment would remain open to public inspection pursuant to T.C.A. § 10-7-5. HB 64 passed in the House on April 13. Its counterpart, Senate Bill 587 by Senate Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), passed in the Senate on Monday by a vote of 31-0.

·         House Bill 445, sponsored by Representative Ron Gant (R-Rossville), passed unanimously in the House on Monday by a vote of 94-0. This legislation amends the Labor Education Alignment Program (LEAP) Act by defining the term “work-based learning” (WBL) as it is used in LEAP programs. The definition of WBL in this bill clarifies expectations for educators, employers, and students involved in LEAP internships and other forms of experiential learning placements. A provision in the original bill that sought to limit the civil liability of employers participating in LEAP WBL was removed by amendment earlier this month in a House committee. The Senate passed the companion bill, Senate Bill 1231 by Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), in its original form on March 6 by a vote of 32-0, and concurred with the House amendment on Thursday by a vote of 29-0.  

Tennessee News Reports and Releases

·         More than 6,300 Hawkins adults have some college, but no degree | The Rogersville Review

·         State Building Commission approves new Anderson County TCAT campus | Oak Ridge Today

·         Tennessee Board of Regents appoints 4 executives to help lead unified community and technical college system | The Chattanoogan

·         University of Tennessee professor gets $200,000 to study economic inequality | Knoxville News Sentinel 

National News and Reports

·         Can ‘guided pathways’ keep students from being overwhelmed by choice? | Chronicle of Higher Education

·         Completing College: A National View of Student Attainment Rates by Race and Ethnicity – Fall 2010 Cohort (Report) | National Student Clearinghouse Research Center

·         Federal data change shows additional FAFSA completions | National College Access Network

·         How a Harvard economist would make free tuition even better | Money

·         One possible solution for the future of career and technical education | The Hechinger Report (features Chattanooga State Community College)

·         Tennessee Reconnect to clear path to degrees for adult learners | Diverse Issues in Higher Education (features quotes from TBR Chancellor Flora Tydings and THEC’s Kate Derrick)

·         Too few college students graduate; too few graduate on time | GoodCall

·         Want to finish college? Go full time, at least part of the time | NPR

·         Where students need financial aid the most, fewer apply, study finds | Education Week

clockMonday, April 24, 2017
Weekly Update 21 April, 2017 (Mike Krause)   

Capital Project Management Training with APSU and ETSU

On Wednesday, the fiscal policy team hosted a training session for members of the facilities, finance, and audit teams of Austin Peay State University (APSU) and East Tennessee State University (ETSU) as these institutions prepare to separate capital project management activities from the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR). The training included information and Q&A sessions with Ann McGauran (State Architect), Sandi Thompson (Director of the Tennessee State School Bond Authority), Ron Maupin (Finance & Administration), and other system and government staff members. The presidents of APSU and ETSU notified the Commission of their intent to separate these activities from TBR in the fall of 2016, initiating a training process to build and ensure the capacity of these institutions to manage capital projects independently, including all reporting, audit, and management processes. Per the FOCUS Act, the Commission may either approve or deny institutions’ requests to separate capital project management from TBR. It is anticipated that Commission staff will bring this matter and supporting materials to the Commission for consideration and action at the July 2017 quarterly meeting.

SCORE Steering Committee Meeting

On Tuesday, Mike Krause and Victoria Harpool attended the quarterly SCORE Steering Committee meeting. The meeting brings together representatives from K-12, higher education, education advocacy organizations, and the General Assembly to help craft a vision for education in Tennessee. The meeting focused on the importance of engagement with all gubernatorial candidates to ensure that education remains a high priority during the campaign. Of particular significance was the continuing of support for the programs that facilitated the outstanding gains that have been made in both K-12 and higher education. Governor Haslam and former Governor Phil Bredesen discussed their experiences with successful transition of administration that allowed for continuity of the focus on education in Tennessee.

Drive to 55 Presentation to Nashville Chamber of Commerce

Russ Deaton spoke at the Nashville Chamber of Commerce Board meeting Thursday, with emphasis on Tennessee Promise, Tennessee Reconnect, and the Drive to 55 policy context. Questions from Chamber members explored workforce/education links, student debt, barriers to access and completion, and other topics. Finally, the meeting concluded with a respectful request for members, and the employees within their companies, to consider becoming a Tennessee Promise mentor, and a thank you to the many of them that already are serving as mentors.

Staff Attend Complete Tennessee Roundtable

On Wednesday, Jessica Gibson and Emily House attended Complete Tennessee’s higher education roundtable meeting. This meeting convened K-12, higher education, and industry representatives from across Middle Tennessee to discuss issues related to higher education access and completion. In particular, the discussion targeted challenges facing adults hoping to return to higher education and strategies to support and retain them. Complete Tennessee has held a number of these roundtable meetings across the state; as these meetings wrap up, Complete Tennessee will produce a report highlighting findings and conclusions resulting from these conversations.

North Carolina Convening on Adult Learners

On Thursday, Kate Derrick presented to representatives from institutions within the University of North Carolina (UNC) system, as well as staff from UNC’s General Administration. The UNC system invited approximately 200 adult learner practitioners from its public four-year schools across North Carolina. Kate discussed outreach and messaging around Tennessee Reconnect and our state’s work with adult learners. She was also part of a plenary panel session on Tennessee’s adult learner initiatives that included Dr. Richard Irwin from the University of Memphis and Dr. David Gotcher from Middle Tennessee State University.

THEC Presents at SREB and GO Alliance Annual Meeting

This week, Kevin Edwards, Jessica Gibson, and Courtney Rogers attended the annual Southern Regional Education Board and GO Alliance meeting in Baltimore. The annual meeting connects professionals in Go Alliance member states and invited speakers from national organizations who are working in college access policy, communications outreach, and support programs.  On Wednesday, Courtney presented on FAFSA best practices panel and, on Friday, Jessica presented on Tennessee Reconnect as a part of an adult learner panel.

Emily House Presents to Henderson State University on Higher Education Finance

On Wednesday evening, Emily House presented via Skype to a doctoral-level higher education finance class at Henderson State University in Arkansas. Emily discussed Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect and highlighted the ways in which Tennessee has been a leader in the free college movement. The class discussed the history and structures of these initiatives, and early student outcomes (academic achievement, persistence, etc.), and contrasted the development of the Tennessee Promise to proposed/passed legislation to implement free college programs in other states.

Academic Common Market (ACM) State Coordinator Meeting

Last week, Herbert Brown attended the Academic Common Market (ACM) State Coordinator Meeting sponsored by the Southern Regional Education Board. During the meeting, Herbert represented Tennessee in discussions with other states regarding the administration of the ACM. The ACM is a tuition-savings program for college students who live in the 16 SREB states. The ACM allows students to pay in-state tuition to study in a program not offered in their home state, provided they have been accepted into an approved degree program at a participating ACM institution. The annual meeting provided an opportunity for each of the states to review the ACM Guidelines and discuss new updates in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA) regarding the program.

Diversity in Teaching Site Visit

On Wednesday, Herbert Brown participated in the final site visit at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga for the Diversity in Teaching (DIT) program. The Each One Reach One (EORO) program at UTC provides scholarships to undergraduate students that often lack access to financial support and emphasizes diversity as an instructional tool. The visit provided an opportunity for students to discuss their overall experience in the program and their next steps after graduation. Dr. Renee Murley, director of UTC’s School of Education, spoke to the EORO students about their experience with EdTPA assessment and best practices during their first year of teaching. The program is on target in meeting performance measures with the grant scheduled to end this summer.

This week in the General Assembly:

·         House Bill 1013, sponsored by Representative David Hawk (R-Greeneville), proposes a modification to a provision of the FOCUS Act that prohibits a state university governing board member from serving on the governing board of any other institution of higher education. If this legislation becomes law, a member of one of the newly created boards of the six locally governed institutions would also be able to serve on the governing board of a private institution of higher education. The bill passed in the House Monday by a vote of 95-0. An amendment to HB 1013 would add the requirement that the two schools not be located within the same city limits. The companion bill, Senate Bill 570 by Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), was recommended for passage by her committee on April 5 and awaits scheduling in the full Senate. SB 570 does not currently include the House amendment.

·         The Senate passed HB 396/SB 732, sponsored by House Education Administration and Planning Committee Chairman Harry Brooks (R-Knoxville) and Senate Education Chairman Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), on Monday. This bill addresses a recently discovered compliance issue regarding Tennessee’s participation in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (“SARA”) related to the handling of complaints by out-of-state students against Tennessee institutions. Once enacted, THEC will be designated as the final arbiter of these complaints when they involve online or distance education and are related to requirements imposed on a school solely by SARA. This change also updates statutory language to properly include the six locally governed universities under the FOCUS Act. The bill passed in the House on March 16.

Tennessee News Reports and Releases

·         In Franklin, a shifting image for community college | The Tennessean

·         House approves Haslam’s tuition-free college plan | The Tennessean

·         Lawmakers work to bring free community college to Tennessee adults | Fox 17 Nashville

·         Middle Tennessee leads the way in adult education (opinion) | The Tennessean

·         Tennessee college work sets a national example, report says | The Tennessean

·         Tennessee Higher Education Commission reports show more students than ever going to college | Clarksville Online

·         TSU begins ‘new phase’ at first board meeting | The Tennessean

·         University of Tennessee students participating in undergrad research grows | Knoxville News Sentinel

National News and Reports

·         Editorial: Tennessee Reconnect points way forward for higher ed | The Pitt News (features Tennessee Reconnect)

·         Even One Semester: Full-Time Enrollment and Student Success (Report) | Center for Community College Engagement

·         Free college for Tennessee’s “older adults” may soon become law, and you can thank the lottery | Bustle (features Tennessee Reconnect)

·         Higher poverty means lower FAFSA completion, new data show | National College Access Network

·         Rural Education at a Glance, 2017 Edition (Report) | U.S. Department of Agriculture

·         State Higher Education Finance: FY 2016 (Report) | State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) Association

·         Tennessee could make college free for ‘older adults’ | CNN (features Tennessee Reconnect)

·         Why some cities and states are footing the bill for community college | The Atlantic (features Tennessee Promise and quotes from David Wright)