THEC Weekly Updates

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clockMonday, July 17, 2017
Weekly Update 14 July, 2017 (Mike Krause)   

Veteran Reconnect Grantees Announced

On Monday, THEC announced the thirteen institutions to receive a combined total of $760,781 as part of the 2017 Veteran Reconnect grant program. This round of grants will focus specifically on improving prior learning assessment (PLA) practices for student veterans. Grantees will participate in a coordinated effort, led by THEC, to enhance the way they evaluate and communicate the availability of academic credit for military experience. THEC will provide technical assistance to grantees in the form of centralized training, individualized consultation, and efforts to share best practices among institutions.  The result will be improved practices and programs available statewide that ease the transition from military service to postsecondary education.

For more information, including a list of grantees, visit      

Complete College America Summer Action Summit

On Thursday and Friday, Kate Derrick and Emily House attended the Complete College America (CCA) Summer Action Summit in Indianapolis. Also in attendance from Tennessee were: Keith Carver, Chancellor of the University of Tennessee at Martin; Sam Gutter, Education Policy Analyst in the Office of Governor Haslam, and Randy Schulte, Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the Tennessee Board of Regents. The meeting brought together representatives from each of the CCA Alliance states to discuss strategies for completion and student success. Among the initiatives being pursued by Alliance States are strategies for guided pathways, structured scheduling for academic programs, and the “15 to Finish” on-time completion initiative. The team of attendees from the event, along with THEC/TSAC’s David Wright, will work to develop an action plan based on the strategies suggested by CCA and the Alliance states.

Seamless Alignment and Intergraded Learning Support (SAILS) Site Visit

On Wednesday, Victoria Harpool visited Chattanooga State Community College for the annual training of the SAILS field coordinators.  Currently, 34 field coordinators serve as liaisons between community colleges and the over 19,000 K-12 students participating in SAILS across the state.  They ensure fidelity to the course, academic integrity, monitor student progress and provide technical support to teachers.  Through their hard work, thousands of students each year are able to begin postsecondary work without the need for learning support.

School and Student Services Staff Present at Tennessee Promise Summer Bridge Program

Lori Mitchum of the School and Student Services team attended the tnAchieves Lunch and Learn sessions as part of the Tennessee Promise Summer Bridge programs at Southwest Community College and Dyersburg Community College. During her sessions, she discussed financial aid, time management, and how to be a successful student with 164 students.  Lori will also present during the Lunch and Learn at Jackson State Community College at the end of July.  Students were receptive and contacted Lori for assistance with the FAFSA verification process.

We’d also like to congratulate Lori, who was recognized as the Tennessee Promise mentor who earned the most points in Obion County for engagement with tnAchieves and her students! She was also recognized for her time commitment as being the highest for that region. This is Lori’s second year as a mentor.

Tennessee News Reports and Releases

·         Chancellor Carver selected to represent Tennessee’s four-year institutions | UT Martin Campus News

·         Chinese students are visiting MTSU, where international enrollment has surged | The Tennessean

·         CSCC to see 2.4 percent tuition hike | Cleveland Daily Banner

·         How Tennessee colleges are using $760,000 in grants to help teach military veterans | The Tennessean (Focuses on Veteran Reconnect and includes quotes from Mike Krause)

·         Reflections on regional barriers to college completion | Knoxville News Sentinel

·         UT, Vanderbilt to help study Haslam’s higher education push | U.S. News Best States (Tennessee) 

National News and Reports

·         Career Pathways: Five Ways to Connect College and Career (Report) | Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

·         Competency-based education, put to the test | EducationNext

·         Focused on collaboration | Community College Daily

·         How colleges give students a flawed sense of living costs | The Chronicle of Higher Education

·         Is School Out for the Summer?: The Impact of Year-Round Pell Grants on Academic and Employment Outcomes of Community College Students  (Report)| Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College

·         I owe how much? Having student-loan data leads to drop in borrowing | Wall Street Journal

·         Job renewal in Appalachia | Wall Street Journal

·         New rankings tackle old problem: Measuring the outcome of college | The Washington Post

·         New York is offering free college – California may be next | CNBC (includes mention of Tennessee Reconnect)

·         Tennessee lands a first among states in reconnecting adults to education | CNBC (focuses on Tennessee Reconnect)

·         When states pay for the SAT or ACT, more students go to college | Chalkbeat

·         Why we should see more kids in college classes | MarketWatch

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

Formula Review Committee Meeting

On Friday, THEC convened the 2017-18 Statutory Formula Review Committee (FRC) to discuss the outcomes-based funding formula. Mike Krause and the fiscal policy staff reviewed the first seven years of funding formula performance and the 2017-18 appropriation request. Committee members heard recommendations from the Advisory FRC, a working group that meets annually to discuss potential improvements to the formula. The Statutory FRC provided feedback on two important issues: the first-year implementation of including reverse transfer degrees in the model and the status of the current research, service, and sponsored programs definition at universities. After discussion with THEC, Committee members recommended the creation of two task forces to investigate the accuracy and inclusiveness of these two data elements. Work with these task forces will commence in the coming months, with any recommendations to be presented to the Statutory FRC in the summer of 2018. The committee also discussed the role dual credit, dual enrollment, and on-time graduation, among other policy aims, play in the formula. THEC staff plan to review these insights and more in the coming year. The Statutory FRC recommended no changes be made to the 2018-19 funding formula.

Roane State Master Plan Site Visit and Presentation

On Thursday of this week, staff from THEC/TSAC’s leadership, fiscal policy, and research teams visited Roane State Community College with Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston). Staff were greeted by President Chris Whaley and his senior leadership team. Roane State’s proposed 2017 Master Plan was presented, followed by a tour of the campus and lunch. THEC/TSAC staff had the opportunity to discuss the direction of higher education in Tennessee, Roane State’s role in increasing the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary credential, and challenges faced with recruiting, retaining, and completing community college students. The Commission will review and consider approval of Roane State’s Master Plan at the July quarterly meeting.

Austin Peay State University Teacher Preparation Meeting

Today, THEC hosted a meeting of Austin Peay State University, Department of Education, and State Board of Education to discuss how K-12 and higher education can work together to ensure that all Tennesseans are prepared for success in postsecondary education. Executive Director Mike Krause, Commissioner of Education Candice McQueen, and State Board Executive Director Sara Morrison met with Austin Peay President Alisa White, new Dean of the College of Education Prentice Chandler, and members of their respective staffs to discuss how K-12 and higher education can collaborate in preparing the best teachers. The State Board and Department of Education provided an overview of the data resources available to educator preparation programs to assist in making data-driven decisions and promote continuous improvement.

Early Postsecondary Research Meeting with TDOE

This week, the THEC Research team met with Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) researchers to discuss and develop a research agenda related to Early Postsecondary Opportunity (EPSO) courses. These courses, which include dual enrollment, dual credit, Advanced Placement, and International Baccalaureate courses, provide students with opportunities for rigorous coursework during high school, such to better prepare them for postsecondary coursework. THEC and DOE will collaborate to research the effects of EPSOs on high school completion, postsecondary enrollment, and postsecondary persistence and completion. The topic will be part of a larger discussion and a panel at the July joint meeting with the State Board of Education.

Tennessee News Reports and Releases

·         Look inside the University of Tennessee’s new $114M science building | Knoxville News Sentinel

·         Motlow State gets temporary replacement for president who made a controversial exit | The Tennessean

·         Online university WGU sees state’s Reconnect scholarship as an opening for future growth | The Tennessean

·         Roane State graduate overcame challenges to finish degree at age 51 | Oak Ridge Today

·         TCAT Hohenwald to offer Industrial Maintenance in Linden | Buffalo River Review

·         Tennessee to offer free ACT retake to all high school seniors this fall | The Commercial Appeal 

National News and Reports

·         6 inspiring must-see higher ed TED Talks | eCampus News

·         All the places in the U.S. where you can go to college for free | TIME Money

·         College savings accounts, even small ones, critical to low-income kids making it to (and through) graduation | The 74

·         Experts: Data science and analytics skills essential for minority students | Diverse: Issues in Higher Education

·         The industries planning to hire more new college grads in 2017 | Forbes

·         State of Tennessee passes legislation to help its seven HBCUs | The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education Includes mention of HBCU initiative passed in the General Assembly this spring

·         More apprenticeships could narrow the skills gap | Forbes

·         Report: Homelessness on the rise for community college students | Diverse: Issues in Higher Education

·         Top 3 trends to impact community colleges by 2021 | Campus Technology

·         The value of a college degree in one simple chart | The Fiscal Times

clockMonday, July 03, 2017
Weekly Update 30 June, 2017 (Mike Krause)   

Boards Set AY 2017-18 Tuition and Mandatory Fees

Last week concluded the summer meetings of UT, TBR, and the Boards of Trustees for the Locally Governed Institutions. Each board set the maintenance (tuition) and mandatory fee levels for the upcoming academic year. As a reminder, the Commission adopted a binding 0-4% fee increase range for in-state, undergraduate students. The following table presents the adopted fee increases for each institution/sector.


Tuition & Fees

Tuition & Fees


Austin Peay State University




East Tennessee State University




Middle Tennessee State University




Tennessee State University




Tennessee Technological University




The University of Memphis








University of Tennessee at Chattanooga




University of Tennessee, Knoxville




University of Tennessee at Martin








Community Colleges




Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology




Note: Fees reflect charges for an in-state, undergraduate student enrolled in 30 credit hours per year; TCAT fees reflect total of three trimesters; Fees for community colleges and TCATs reflect sector averages; UTK (for AY16-17) and UTM charge differential fees by year of admission and credit hour accumulation, respectively—figures reflect a weighted average.

Tennessee Government Management Institute Graduation

The Tennessee Government Management Institute (TGMI) held the 2017 graduation ceremonies on Wednesday, June 28, 2017 at the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs. THEC staff member Mitch Currey and TSAC staff member Felicia Orr participated in this year’s institute and graduated from this TN Department of Human Resources’ sponsored event. TGMI is a two-week residential management institute that provides mid-level managers in Tennessee state government with the opportunity for academic study, learning in practical management skills, and cross-agency networking to enhance the individual skills of middle managers.

Site Visits to Southwest Tennessee Community College, TCAT Memphis

On Monday, Commission members Vernon Stafford, Frank Watson, and AC Wharton joined Mike Krause, Scott Sloan, Lauren Collier, Kate Derrick, and Carole Anne Orsborn for a site visit to Southwest Tennessee Community College and TCAT Memphis. Each visit was a chance for students and administrators at the institution to discuss the most pressing issues facing each campus and celebrate the successes seen at the schools. TCAT Memphis President Roland Rayner shared the institution’s strategies for student retention and how they are managing increased demand for programs within the college, such as their aviation program. Southwest President Tracy Hall, along with several members of her leadership team, presented on the school’s progress in implementing the “Achieving the Dream” institutional capacity framework. At each campus, the Commission members and THEC staff were led on a tour and were also able to meet with students. The next campus visit will be in July to Pellissippi State Community College and TCAT Knoxville.

Attainment Challenge Grantee Convening

On Monday and Tuesday, David Wright was in Phoenix representing THEC at a Lumina Foundation convening of Attainment Challenge Grantee (ACG) states. Under Lumina’s ACG initiative, states received grants of up to $100,000 each to set and implement a specific, aspirational, yet attainable college completion goal – like Tennessee’s Drive to 55 – and states like Tennessee, which have a more established college completion agenda, were there to provide technical assistance. David served as a panelist on lessons learned from Tennessee’s adult learner outreach and engagement efforts and was assigned as a consultant throughout the meeting to members of the state team from Alabama.

APSU Aviation (Professional Rotor Wing Pilot) AAS Site Visit

On Thursday, Betty Dandridge Johnson and Pam Knox participated in a site visit at Austin Peay State University for the proposed Aviation AAS program. Graduates of the program will be FAA certified helicopter pilots. The proposed program has received tremendous support from the Clarksville Regional Airport and Fort Campbell.

The proposed program was evaluated by Dr. Ed Steigerwald, Executive Director of Aviation Operations at Middle Georgia State University. Dr. Steigerwald will provide a report based on the proposal and site visit and make a determination of program approval. Contingent upon Dr. Steigerwald’s recommendation, the program may be considered for approval by APSU Board of Trustees and THEC.

Lunch and Learn with Vanderbilt Professors

On Tuesday, two faculty members from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, Brent Evans and Adela Soliz, both Assistant Professors of Public Policy and Higher Education, participated in a Lunch and Learn with our summer interns. Drs. Evans and Soliz discussed their research on student access and affordability and answered questions on higher education, research, and public policy. Our interns engaged in productive discussions with the faculty, connecting their summer work at THEC/TSAC to the larger postsecondary education environment. Dr. Emily House and Taylor Odle of the research team also attended to facilitate the professional development opportunity and draw connections between the work of academic researchers and policymakers.

Tennessee News Reports and Releases

·         4 reasons Tennessee students struggle to finish college (op-ed) | The Tennessean

·         American Job Center and TN Reconnect partner to help local adults through college | Citizen Tribute (Morristown/Lakeway Region)

·         ETSU offers in-state tuition rates to community college faculty, staff for graduate education administration programs | Johnson City Press

·         Fitzgerald Collision & Repair $9M expansion to create 220 jobs | WBIR (Knoxville NBC affiliate) Includes mention of Tennessee Promise & Tennessee Reconnect

·         Motlow sees growth from Tennessee Reconnect | The Murfreesboro Post

·         State investigating Southwest college’s student activities department | The Commercial Appeal

·         TCAT satellite campus groundbreaking brings optimism going forward | The Winchester Herald Chronicle

·         TBR appoints new senior leadership | Nashville Post

·         Tennessee leads in higher education access (op-ed)| The Tennessean Op-ed by Mike Krause

·         Tennessee Promise student now working in chosen field | Johnson City Press

·         TSU participates in signing of historic HBCU legislation | The Tennessee Tribune

National News and Reports

·         Arkansas colleges look for returns; ex-students who didn’t earn degrees get nudge to finish | Arkansas Online Features quotes from THEC’s Emily House

·         College vs. the Great Recession | Inside Higher Ed

·         How student loans make successful people feel like frauds | MarketWatch

·         Mentoring requirements set out to improve free college outcomes | New America

·         Online College Student: Comprehensive Data on Demands and Preferences (Report) | LearningHouse

·         Will free community college really help low-income students | Education Week

·         Year-round Pell could help community colleges | Inside Higher Ed

clockMonday, June 26, 2017
Weekly Update 23 June, 2017 (Mike Krause)   

System Board Meetings

The University of Tennessee (UT) and the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) both held board meetings this week. The UT meeting included discussions of administrator pay and also focused on 2017-18 tuition rates. The board voted for 2.2% tuition increase for the 2017-18 academic year, a record low for the institution and a third consecutive year of tuition rate increases at 3% or below. The TBR meeting, which is concluding its full meeting this afternoon, included votes on proposed new organizational structures and positions. The votes included approval of current THEC Deputy Executive Director Russ Deaton’s appointment as TBR’s executive vice chancellor for policy and strategy. While he will be missed at THEC, we congratulate Russ on his appointment and look forward to working with him in this new capacity.

GEAR UP TN Youth Summit at Austin Peay State University

Last week, the College Access and Success Division hosted 200 GEAR UP TN rising high school seniors at Austin Peay State University for the annual GEAR UP TN Youth Summit. The event is a four-day immersive leadership development and college knowledge building experience. The Youth Summit provides students with the opportunity to build relationships with GEAR UP TN students from across the state while participating in workshops about goal setting, college choice, and overcoming obstacles. This year’s training was facilitated by Seeds Training, who created two videos showcasing the students: and

Volunteer State Master Plan Site Visit and Presentation

This week, staff from THEC’s senior leadership and fiscal policy teams visited Volunteer State Community College with Rep. William Lamberth (R-Cottontown), Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster), Treasurer David Lillard, THEC Chairman Evan Cope, and Commission Member Pam Koban. Staff and guests were greeted by Volunteer State President Jerry Faulkner and his senior leadership team. Volunteer State’s proposed 2017 Master Plan was presented, followed by a tour of the campus and lunch. Members of the Commission and staff had the opportunity to discuss the direction of higher education in Tennessee, Volunteer State’s role in increasing the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary credential, and challenges faced with recruiting, retaining, and completing community college students. The Commission will review and consider approval of Volunteer State’s Master Plan at the July quarterly meeting.

Formula Review Committee Working Group Meeting

On Monday, the 2017-18 Advisory Formula Review Committee met to discuss the outcomes-based funding formula. The committee convenes every year to discuss how the funding formula is functioning and if any issues with the formula’s implementation have developed in the previous year. Membership includes representatives from state government, TBR, UT and the six locally governed institutions. The Advisory Formula Review Committee then makes recommendations to the Statutory Formula Review Committee, scheduled to meet next month.

THEC fiscal staff reviewed the first seven years of the outcomes-based funding formula, focusing on the 2017-18 appropriation request. The committee discussed potential changes to the funding formula, focusing specifically on clarifying data definitions for the reverse transfer associate degree and the research, service and sponsored program metric. The working group recommended that individual task forces be convened to address both metrics over the coming months, with a goal of reporting findings of each to the formula review committee next summer. Based on these conversations and the analysis of THEC staff, no changes to the formula for 2018-19 will be recommended to the Statutory Formula Review Committee.

Tennessee News Reports and Releases

·         Bill helping black colleges signed into law | News Channel 5 (Nashville’s CBS affiliate)

·         By shaving 2 years off a medical degree, MTSU and Meharry aim for students who ‘could go anywhere | Nashville Public Radio

·         Free tuition isn’t enough to get many Tennessee students to go to college, report finds | The Tennessean (includes quotes from THEC’s Emily House)

·         In Shelby County, colleges have to compete with the streets for students | The Commercial Appeal

·         Lawmaker calls MTSU, Meharry partnership a ‘wow-wow moment’ | The Tennessean

·         Lowest UT tuition hike in 30 years, $26K increase for DiPietro OK’d by trustees | Knoxville News Sentinel

·         OpenLine: Tennessee Reconnect | News Channel 5 (Nashville’s CBS affiliate) (features interview on Middle Tennessee Reconnect Community)

·         TBR approves lowest system-wide tuition increase in 26 years | Knoxville News Sentinel

·         TTU board approves new College of Fine Arts | Cookeville Herald-Citizen

·         Vo-tech project to be christened on Tuesday | Winchester Herald Chronicle

National News and Reports

·         College students staying in school at higher rates | The Wall Street Journal

·         Hitting re-start for stopped-out students | Inside Higher Ed

·         How the liberal arts help veterans thrive | The Atlantic

·         In improving outcomes, institutional researchers can be an untapped resource | The Chronicle of Higher Education

·         Pioneer in adult education looks back | Inside Higher Ed

·         Policy Snapshot: Competency-Based Education | Education Commission of the States

·         Students’ rising expectations pose challenge to online programs | The Chronicle of Higher Education

·         Tennessee is the first state to offer free community college | CNBC (includes mention of Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect)

·         The top 30 two-year trade schools: Colleges that fight the nation’s skills gap | Forbes