THEC Weekly Updates

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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)

clockMonday, April 17, 2017
Weekly Update 13 April, 2017 (Mike Krause)   

Professional Development and Board Meetings at MTSU and TSU

THEC staff concluded the training of the final two FOCUS boards this week at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) on Monday and Tennessee State University (TSU) on Thursday. The training team of Mike Krause, Scott Sloan, Russ Deaton, Lauren Collier, and Carol Cartwright had some substitutions as Dr. Jill Derby represented the Association of Governing Boards at MTSU and Crystal Collins and Steven Gentile presented the fiscal overview at TSU. David Wright and Taylor Odle also attended the MTSU training and meeting, while Kate Derrick and Corsina Wiley attended the TSU meeting. Governor Haslam convened the first meetings of each board in the afternoon. Consistent with remarks at prior board meetings, the Governor offered his thanks to the board members and reminded them of their commitment not only to the university but to Tennessee’s public higher education system as a whole.

APSU and ETSU Capital Management Severance Process

On Wednesday, the fiscal policy team convened a conference call with members of the APSU and ETSU fiscal and facilities staff to discuss the capital management severance process. Both APSU and ETSU requested to sever from TBR on capital management on December 1, 2017, an action that must be approved by the Commission. APSU and ETSU are currently engaged with TBR on a shadow and training process; THEC will be hosting a meeting next Wednesday, April 19, at which the State Architect, the Office of State and Local Finance, and Finance and Administration capital budget staff will review State Building Commission policies and procedures. The fiscal policy team will hold biweekly meetings with both APSU and ETSU as the severance process continues.

2016-2017 Tennessee Higher Education Fact Book

THEC released its annual Tennessee Higher Education Fact Book this past Thursday. Per statute, this report covers a range of higher education topics, including: student preparation for and participation in higher education, student progression and completion, academic and fiscal trends, and higher education finance. In addition to these metrics, the report includes institutional profiles for the nine public universities and thirteen community colleges and details some major higher education initiatives in Tennessee, such as Tennessee Reconnect and LEAP. New this year, the report includes adult participation and completion rates and provides an in-depth look at Quality Assurance Funding. The report is now available on THEC’s website.

Jackson State Quality Assurance Funding Discussion

On Monday, Betty Dandridge Johnson, Victoria Harpool, and Herbert Brown met with senior leadership at Jackson State Community College, including new president Dr. Allana Hamilton. Herbert led the discussion centered around Jackson State’s Academic Program Inventory and program productivity. The group discussed programs that have seen a decline in graduation rates as well as new programs that Jackson State is working to develop in the coming year. Victoria led the discussion around Quality Assurance Funding and the historical performance of Jackson State. The group discussed ways in which Jackson State could improve outcomes and maximize student success. 

UofM Land Bridge Early Design Presentation, Volunteer and Roane State Master Plan Presentations

On Tuesday, the fiscal policy team visited TBR for a presentation by the University of Memphis and Haizlip Studios on the early design of a land bridge on UofM’s main campus. The land bridge will cross Walker Avenue, the Norfold Southern Railway, and Southern Avenue, connecting the southern portion of campus to the main quad. The project will include a revitalization of student and pedestrian areas, as well as the construction of a parking garage. Also on Tuesday, the fiscal policy team attended a presentation on Master Plan updates for Vol State and Roane State. Specific items of interest include an addition to and major renovation of Vol State’s Warf Building, as well as campus improvements to the library and quad. The Master Plan update also calls for facility and land updates to the eastern portion of Vol State’s main campus and the development of a new campus in the Wilson County area. At Roane State, the Master Plan calls for updates to the main campus’ parking lot, quad, and student spaces, as well as potential land acquisitions and building improvements. The Commission will consider these Master Plan updates for approval at the July quarterly meeting.

Dual Enrollment Sessions in Tipton County

On Monday and Tuesday, Diane LeJeune and Jonathan Donald traveled to Tipton County to promote the Dual Enrollment Grant to upcoming juniors and seniors. The TSAC Outreach team organized dual enrollment sessions for Covington, Munford, and Brighton High Schools in an effort to encourage more Tipton County students to take advantage of the grant. The sessions at Covington and Munford High Schools were well attended, allowing for students and parents to receive valuable information on utilizing the dual enrollment grant. In addition to Diane and Jonathan, representatives from Dyersburg State, UT Martin, and TCAT Covington presented information on applying the grant at their particular institutions.

The last session at Brighton High School will be held on Monday, April 17th. TSAC Outreach team members Jason Seay and Abby Nichols will be attending to continue the efforts of promoting the Dual Enrollment Grant in Tipton County.

Presentation to Association of Government Accountants

On Monday, Kate Derrick presented at the monthly meeting of the Nashville Chapter of the Association of Government Accountants. Ann Collett, THEC’s internal auditor and past president of the local chapter, invited Kate to update the group on the state’s progress toward the Drive to 55. The group, which consisted of about 75 auditors and accountants from state and local government, was particularly interested in workforce development questions and how the state is localizing initiatives of the Drive to 55.

This week in the General Assembly:

·         The Tennessee Reconnect Act, via House Bill 531, passed in the House on Thursday. Its counterpart, Senate Bill 1218, was referred to the Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee on March 8. Sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) and Representative David Hawk (R-Greeneville), the legislation is part of Governor Haslam’s “Next Tennessee” legislative package and establishes a last-dollar scholarship for adults to attend community college tuition-free. With the addition of this program to the Drive to 55, which comes at no additional cost to taxpayers, every Tennessean will have the opportunity to earn a credential without the burden of paying tuition.

·         The STRONG Act, another component of Next Tennessee carried by Representative David Hawk (R-Greeneville) and Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), passed unanimously in the House on Monday by a vote of 97-0. 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. SB 1216 passed in the Senate last week.

·         House Bill 1013, sponsored by Representative David Hawk (R-Greeneville), proposes a modification to a provision of the FOCUS Act which 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 be able to also serve on the governing board of a private institution of higher education. The bill was approved by the House Education Administration and Planning Committee on Tuesday and is scheduled for the House floor on April 17. 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, sponsored by Senate Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), was recommended for passage by her committee on April 5. SB 570 does not currently include the House amendment.

·         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 System 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 Thursday. Its counterpart, Senate Bill 587 by Senate Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville) was approved by the Senate Education Committee on April 5.

Tennessee News Reports and Releases

·         Finances, life events hinder college completion in Memphis | Commercial Appeal

·         House passes Governor’s TN STRONG Act | News Channel 5 (Nashville CBS affiliate)

·         MTSU becomes independent at first board meeting | The Tennessean

·         Smyrna TCAT program sets pace for public-private partnerships | Murfreesboro Post

·         UT search for vice chancellor for development and alumni affairs underway | Knoxville News Sentinel

National News and Reports

·         Closing the skills gap with plant tours, pep talks and child care | IndustryWeek

·         Free tuition plans could spread among states as Sanders pushes Congress for ‘college for all’ | Newsweek (features quote by Mike Krause)

·         IRS debacle sows confusion, hassles | Inside Higher Ed

·         Is college worth the cost? | PBS NewsHour

·         Making ends meet: The role of community colleges in student financial health (report) | Center for Community College Student Engagement

·         New York adopts free tuition | Inside Higher Ed

·         Pre-college factors biggest determinants of college success | Education Dive

·         Return of the near-completers: State progress with adult students | Education Commission of the States

clockMonday, April 10, 2017
Weekly Update 7 April, 2017 (Mike Krause)   

2017 Tennessee Promise Annual Report

On Monday, THEC released its inaugural Tennessee Promise Annual Report. Statute instructs THEC and TSAC to report annually about the impact of the Tennessee Promise program on scholarship retention and student success. This report provides information about the Tennessee Promise program, the application process, and the characteristics of Tennessee Promise students, such as race, gender, average ACT score, and financial aid eligibility. It also highlights preliminary outcomes of the program, including changes in the FAFSA filing rate, college-going rate, overall postsecondary enrollment, and retention of first-time freshmen. Finally, the report discusses current program finances and provides recommendations for future analyses. The report is now available on the THEC website.

Set Up for Success: Strengthening Our New Teacher Pipeline

On Wednesday, Executive Director Mike Krause and Victoria Harpool of the Academic Affairs Division attended Set Up for Success: Strengthening Our New Teacher Pipeline event in Nashville, at which the TDOE released a new report on teacher preparation in Tennessee. Based on a supply and demand analysis, the report highlights that Tennessee does not have an overall teacher shortage; rather there is a shortage of teachers licensed in particular endorsement areas in certain geographic regions of the state.

The report also featured the work that has been done in Tennessee to share data and facilitate partnerships between K-12 school districts and educator preparation programs. Mike spoke about the importance of having authentic communication between districts, preparation programs, and future teacher candidates in order to best serve all students in Tennessee. 

Tennessee Educational Association of Veterans Programs Administrators Conference

The Veterans and Policy, Planning and Research Divisions participated in the Tennessee Educational Association of Veterans Programs Administrators conference this week. This meeting of school certifying officials statewide emphasized PLA, initiatives of the VETS Act, and many other issues affecting our veteran students. THEC staff presented to the group on the agency’s work around veteran education. Kevin Bradley of the Adult Learner Initiatives Division presented on the state’s efforts around prior learning assessment (PLA) for veterans and THEC’s upcoming work to provide resources for veteran PLA.

Presentation to Leadership Northern Kentucky

On Friday morning, Kate Derrick presented to a group of approximately fifty members of Leadership Northern Kentucky. The group visited Nashville this week to learn about a number of local and state-based initiatives focused on education, economic development, and other community-based services. Kate spoke to the group about the Drive to 55, including Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect, the FOCUS Act, and Tennessee’s outcomes-based funding formula. The group was particularly interested in how Tennessee’s scholarship programs compare to those in Kentucky, as well as the differences in funding structures for higher education in the two states.

School and Student Services Outreach Presentations

On Tuesday, Bill Heath from Student and School Services presented a session on Financial Aid Options and Repaying Your Student Loans to 40 members of Christian Community Services Inc. at Woodmont Hills Church in Nashville. This is the second year that Bill has been invited to speak to the group. Topics typically focus on how students and families can begin planning and saving for college and information on the various types of financial aid offered to finance higher education.

This week in the General Assembly:

·         The Tennessee Reconnect Act was recommended for passage by the House Finance, Ways, and Means Committee on Tuesday. HB 531 is scheduled to be heard on the House floor on April 13. Its counterpart, Senate Bill 1218, was referred to the Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee on March 8. Sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) and Representative David Hawk (R-Greeneville), the legislation is part of Governor Haslam’s “Next Tennessee” legislative package and establishes a last-dollar scholarship for adults to attend community college tuition-free. With the addition of this program to the Drive to 55, which comes at no additional cost to taxpayers, every Tennessean will have the opportunity to earn a credential without the burden of paying tuition.

·         The STRONG Act, another component of Next Tennessee carried by Representative David Hawk (R-Greeneville) and Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), passed unanimously in the Senate on Monday by a vote of 31-0. 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. HB 530 will be considered on the House floor on April 10.

·         An important update to the Veterans Education Transition Support (“VETS”) Act became Public Chapter 31 this week. Sponsored by Representative Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville) and Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), HB 433/SB 1232 is another key initiative aimed at supporting adults in higher education by empowering THEC to develop a publicly-available online database of course equivalencies for military training. This web-based tool will allow veterans and service members to determine the amount of college credit they will receive for their military experience, as well as the degree or credential programs to which that credit will apply, prior to enrolling at a particular institution. Tennessee Tech will provide free technical assistance in creating the database.

This legislation also grants in-state tuition to anyone using veteran educational benefits as long as they are currently living in the state, regardless of their official “home of record” or formal state of residence. This is a significant change in policy, and not only brings Tennessee into compliance with recent changes to federal law but goes a step further in reducing barriers to educational attainment for veterans and their families.

·         House Bill 445, sponsored by Representative Ron Gant (R-Rossville), was recommended for passage by the Education Instruction and Programs Committee on Tuesday. 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 this bill proposes will clarify 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 in the committee. The companion bill, Senate Bill 1231 by Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), passed in the Senate in its original form on March 6 by a vote of 32-0.

·         Senate Bill 732, sponsored by Senate Education Chairman Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), was approved unanimously in her committee on Wednesday afternoon. 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 companion bill, House Bill 396, sponsored by House Education Administration and Planning Committee Chairman Harry Brooks (R-Knoxville), passed in the House on March 16.

·         Senate Bill 562, sponsored by Senator Reginald Tate (D-Memphis), was recommended for passage by the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday and referred to the Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee. This legislation creates the Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (“HBCUs”) as an organizational unit of THEC to focus on ways to strengthen the capacity of HBCUs to provide the highest quality education, increase opportunities for HBCUs to participate in and benefit from state programs, and ensure that Tennessee has the highest proportion of college graduates from HBCUs in the country. The Initiative would be authorized to establish a Board of Advisors, consisting of 25 members appointed by the Higher Education Commission, to guide THEC and the Initiative in its work toward these goals. The measure also requires the Initiative to consult with the Consortium of Historically Black Colleges and Universities to ensure that it meets its goals.

The House counterpart, HB 553 by Representative Harold M. Love, Jr. (D-Nashville), was placed behind the budget by the House Finance, Ways, and Means Subcommittee on March 22.

Tennessee News Reports and Releases

·         Campus gun measure killed in Senate | The Tennessean

·         Expecting to lose half of its teachers in the next decade, Tennessee seeks to strengthen its pipeline | Chalkbeat Tennessee

·         First group of Tennessee Promise students graduates soon | WATE/ABC affiliate for Knoxville (features interview with Kate Derrick)

·         New facility to train workforce in auto, manufacturing, technology | Lebanon Democrat

·         UT begins search for VP of academic affairs and student success | Knoxville News Sentinel

National News and Reports

·         Census: More Americans have college degrees than ever before | The Hill

·         FAFSA’s Midterm Grade | The Atlantic

·         Number of people who owe over $100,000 in student debt has quadrupled in 10 years | MarketWatch

·         The Power of Career- and Employer-Focused Training and Education (report) | mdrc

·         Simplification may not be so simple: Gauging state alignment with the FAFSA | Education Commission of the States

·         States want more career and technical training, but struggle to find teachers | Stateline

·         Tennessee doubles down on free college | New America

·         Without FAFSA simplification tool, students find extra hurdles to funding college | Christian Science Monitor

clockSunday, April 02, 2017
Weekly Update 31 March, 2017 (Mike Krause)   

Professional Development and Board Meeting at APSU

On Thursday, THEC staff provided the fourth of six trainings to the newly established board of Austin Peay State University (APSU).  Mike Krause, Lauren Collier, Russ Deaton, and Scott Sloan, along with Emily House and David Wright, provided training in the morning and observed as Governor Haslam convened the first board meeting that afternoon.  In alignment with the FOCUS Act and governance principles stipulated by SACS COC, the training provides an overview of TN policies and structures, the responsibilities and decision points for governing boards, and legal and ethical responsibilities.  Dr. Carol Cartwright, a former university president and consultant with the Association of Governing Boards, addresses behaviors and principles of effective trusteeship

 

Apprenticeship and OJT Overview

Tom Morrison from the Veterans Education division participated in the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Veterans Employment and Training Service conference on Friday.  Tom gave a presentation to Local Veterans Employment Representatives (LVERs) and Disabled Veterans Outreach Program Specialists (DVOPs) about apprenticeship and on-the-job (OTJ) training programs.  These programs allow veterans to receive GI Bill benefits while they pursue skill training in vocational occupations.  Data indicates that a majority of soldiers leaving military service each year are seeking technical entry level jobs.  Apprenticeship and OJT programs can offer valuable solutions to these soldiers.

 

Lipscomb VETS Campus Designation

Last Friday, THEC presented Lipscomb University with its VETS Campus designation, representing the institution’s commitment to student veterans. Tom Morrison, Kevin Bradley, Mitch Currey, and Kate Derrick attended the event, and Tom provided remarks before presenting Lipscomb University President Randy Lowry with the VETS Campus designation certificate. The event also included remarks from Chief of Staff for the 101st Airborne Division Colonel Buck Dellinger, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, and Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville). Lipscomb University currently enrolls 264 veterans; it is one of nineteen VETS Campuses and the first private university in Middle Tennessee to receive the distinction.

 

UT Board of Trustees Meeting in Chattanooga

On Wednesday, Mike Krause, Emily House, and Madison Dell traveled to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to attend the spring meeting of the UT Board of Trustees. On the agenda was a brief report from UT President Joe DiPietro, discussion of performance-based variable compensation for campus and system executives, revisions to the annual performance review process, and proposed changes to the UT Knoxville student code of conduct. Additionally, each of the Board of Trustee’s committee chairs provided a brief report to the full Board.

 

2017 Profiles and Trends in Higher Education Report

Last week, THEC released the 2017 Profiles and Trends in Higher Education Report. This report provides a broad overview of the current trends in higher education across the state within a regional and national context. The report includes discussion of four primary areas: (1) State Context of Higher Education, which provides data related to educational attainment, income, and racial/ethnic composition; (2) Student Preparation for Higher Education, which provides data related to ACT scores, high school graduation rates, and college-going rates; (3) Student Participation and Success, which provides data related to retention and graduation of postsecondary students; and (4) State Higher Education Finance, which provides data related to tuition, state grant aid, and student loan debt. This year, the report will be published exclusively online and is now available on the THEC website.

 

Electronic Transcript Exchange Meetings across Tennessee

This week, Troy Grant, Melinda Dunn, Kevin Edwards, Duane Gregg, Shayla Guy, and Courtney Rogers of the College Access and Success division attended meetings in Knoxville, Nashville, and Memphis to spread the word about the Tennessee Electronic Transcript Exchange. The meetings, hosted by transcript vendor National Student Clearinghouse, brought together high school counselors and higher education professionals to share on how electronic transcripts can provide an efficient and secure means of transferring student data from K-12 to postsecondary institutions. Each meeting opened by reiterating the goals of the Drive to 55 and throughout the day, all attendees were encouraged to collaborate and brainstorm ways that high schools and postsecondary institutions can work together to best serve Tennessee students.

 

Career Quest TN Exposition

Curt Johnston traveled to Johnson City on last week to attend the first annual Career Quest TN, an exposition fair showcasing career and educational pathways to students throughout Northeast Tennessee. Over 5,000 students from high schools throughout the region traveled to ETSU to meet with 40 employers representing Tennessee’s four fastest-growing economic sectors: advanced manufacturing, healthcare, construction, and information technology. Employers set up equipment and product displays, discussed career pathways and technical requirements related to their respective industries, and directed students to booths where postsecondary partners could discuss the academic and training offerings pertinent to each occupation. LEAP partner TCAT Morristown was present, along with several LEAP industry partners including Haas, FutureTek, INC, and SnapOn. Employers and postsecondary partners alike were impressed with the high level of interest and engagement offered by the students in attendance. The LEAP program will explore new opportunities to enhance the exposition model and expand it to additional regions across the state.

 

Master of Accountancy (MAcc) Approved by Tennessee Tech Board of Trustees and THEC

The Board of Trustees at Tennessee Technological University approved the Master of Accountancy program at the inaugural meeting of its new local governing board.  Accounting was a long-standing concentration within the existing Masters of Business Administration program.  Per the THEC policy, the Executive Director has approval authority to elevate concentrations to free-standing degree programs.  On March 28, approval was granted and the new on-line MAcc program will enroll its first students in August 2017.

 

The program will offer both one-year and two-year options to serve full-time and part-time students. Tennessee Tech’s College of Business already offers one of the top undergraduate accounting programs in the state, and both the accounting department and the college are accredited by AACSB International, the leading accrediting body for business schools.

 

SACS COC Substantive Change Workshop

On Friday, Betty Dandridge Johnson and Pam Knox attended the SACS COC Substantive Change Workshop held at Lipscomb University.  Substantive change is a significant modification or expansion in the nature and scope of an accredited institution including related to program offerings, level changes, adding branch campuses, mergers/consolidations, and changes in governance. Information gleaned from the workshop will assist THEC staff in providing support to campuses on these substantive changes related to accreditation.

 

Student and School Services Outreach on Financial Literacy

Sheila Sanchez recently participated in Tennessee Wesleyan University’s Grad Finale.  She represented TSAC at this event where she assisted with loan exit interviews for graduating students. Sheila worked with a total of 31 students at the school. Staff from the Student and School Services Division also continued to present to students around the state on financial literacy. Sheila participated in the annual “March Literacy Event” at three of the five campuses of Pellissippi State Community College. She answered questions and disseminated information on student loan repayment options as well as financial literacy.  Approximately 265 students attended the event. Sheila will visit the two remaining Pellissippi State campuses next week. Additionally, Terri Parchment presented on financial literacy and default management to students from Nossi College of Art and an additional session to graduating students at John A. Gupton College.

 

This week in the General Assembly:

Committees in both houses are beginning to wrap up their calendars for the year.  The first legislative session of the 110th General Assembly will soon be winding down.

 

·       The Tennessee Reconnect Act was recommended for passage by the House Finance, Ways, and Means Subcommittee on Wednesday.  House Bill 531 is scheduled to be heard by the full committee on April 4.  Its counterpart, Senate Bill 1218, was referred to the Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee on March 8.  Sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) and Representative David Hawk (R-Greeneville), the legislation is part of Governor Haslam’s “Next Tennessee” legislative package and establishes a last-dollar scholarship for adults to attend community college tuition-free.  With the addition of this program to the Drive to 55, which comes at no additional cost to taxpayers, every Tennessean will have the opportunity to earn a credential without the burden of paying tuition.

 

·       The STRONG Act, another component of Next Tennessee carried by Representative David Hawk (R-Greeneville) and Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), was recommended for passage by the Finance, Ways, and Means Committees of the House and Senate on Tuesday.  House Bill 530 is scheduled to be heard on the House floor on March 10.  Senate Bill 1216 was referred to the Senate Calendar Committee for scheduling.  This legislation 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. 

 

·       The update to the Veterans Education Transition Support (“VETS”) Act was signed by the Governor this week.  Sponsored by Representative Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville) and Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), HB433/SB 1232 is another key initiative aimed at supporting adults in higher education by empowering THEC to develop a publicly-available online database of course equivalencies for military training.  This web-based tool will allow veterans and service members to determine the amount of college credit they will receive for their military experience, as well as the degree or credential programs to which that credit will apply, prior to enrolling at a particular institution.  Tennessee Tech will provide free technical assistance in creating the database.

 

This legislation also grants in-state tuition to anyone using veteran educational benefits as long as they are currently living in the state, regardless of their official “home of record” or formal state of residence.  This is a significant change in policy, and not only brings Tennessee into compliance with recent changes to federal law but goes a step further in reducing barriers to educational attainment for vets and their families.

 

Tennessee News Reports and Releases

·         Austin Peay State University holds ‘historic’ first board meeting | The Tennessean

·         Electronic transcripts to ease student, counselor burden | The Commercial Appeal (highlights electronic transcript exchange and features quote from Troy Grant)

·         Knoxville College board takes steps to revitalize school (column) | Knoxville News Sentinel

·         Pellissippi State to offer new scholarships for adults | Knoxville News Sentinel

·         Private university is first in Middle Tennessee to prioritize veteran outreach | Green Hills News (Nashville)

·         University of Tennessee tuition hikes at 3 percent or less | Knoxville News Sentinel

·         UT Board approves big data doctoral program | Tennessee Today/University of Tennessee

 

National News and Reports

·         At college, a guided path on which to find oneself | The New York Times

·         Degrees lead on wages | Inside Higher Ed

·         Educational Attainment in the United States: 2016 (Data Set) | United States Census Bureau

·         The financial value of a college degree | Community College Daily

·         Fix the college dropout boom (column) | The New York Times

·         Here’s a map of ‘free college’ programs nationwide | The Chronicle of Higher Education

·         No. 1 worry for college applicants is no longer rejection by their dream school | MarketWatch

·         Trends in Revenues at US Colleges and Universities, 1987-2013 | Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland