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Gov. Haslam Elected Chairman, Addresses UT Board of Trustees

February 25, 2011

CHATTANOOGA -- Gov. Bill Haslam was elected chairman of the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees on Friday and complimented the University on the way it has handled challenging economic times.

"I'd like to tip my hat to the UT system and higher education overall," Haslam said in his remarks to the board meeting at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. "You have made an incredible adjustment to a difficult time."

The governor serves as an ex-officio voting member of the board. The voice vote was held to elect Haslam to fill the remainder of the term previously held by former Gov. Phil Bredesen.

Haslam said he plans to be an active participant on the board.

"If we're going to be a great state, the University of Tennessee has to be a system of excellence," Haslam said. "I'm excited to work with you all to make that happen."

The governor said his proposal to extend the HOPE scholarship to summer school would help more Tennesseans earn their degrees in a timely fashion, which is an outcome intended by the Complete College Tennessee Act, passed last year that changes the funding formula for public colleges to reward higher graduation rates instead of criteria such as enrollment. The University supports allowing students to use HOPE scholarships for summer school.

Dr. Joe DiPietro joined the board as an ex-officio member, by virtue of serving as UT president. DiPietro was elected at the trustee meeting in October, and today addressed the board for the first time in his new role.

"I believe we can take an excellent university and make it extraordinary over my timeframe," he said.

DiPietro summarized the activities of his first 56 days in office. He has met with various groups and individuals across the state and out of state to introduce himself and talk about the importance of the University. He has established monthly chancellor meetings and is working to fill four president's staff positions currently held by interim administrators.

He discussed the University's capital needs, a total of $840 million for new construction and maintenance forecast for the next five years. The president said he is undertaking the creation of a new strategic plan, which will take one year to complete.

The University is celebrating 50 years of African-American Achievement this year by commemorating the first enrollment of African-American undergraduate students in 1961. Each campus is holding events to mark the milestone. Theotis Robinson, UT vice president for equity and diversity, was one of the first three African-American undergraduate students to enroll at UT Knoxville and told trustees about his experience and the events planned for this year.

UTC Chancellor Roger Brown gave a presentation about the campus' goal to become a top five public master's university in the south, a ranking compiled annually by U.S. News and World Report. Currently, UTC is tied at 17 in the rankings with UT Martin.

UTC has set a goal of reaching the top 10 by 2016 and top five by 2021. The top five currently includes James Madison University, The Citadel, Appalachian State University, College of Charleston and the University of Mary Washington.

In other action, the board approved:

  • A revised resolution for the UT Knoxville Athletics Board;
  • The revised operating budget for FY 2010-11;
  • Naming of the Golf Practice Facility at UT Knoxville for Mack and Johnnie Day;
  • A revised policy statement on discretionary expenditure reporting for the president and chancellors;
  • A report of capital projects outside the budget process;
  • Real property transactions; and
  • A statement of commitment to the Graduate Medical Education Program at the College of Medicine in Chattanooga.

The full board and the Academic Affairs and Student Success Committee meetings were webcast live and are archived for later viewing. For a link to the webcasts, go to http://www.tennessee.edu/.

To view the meeting's full agenda and materials, go to http://bot.tennessee.edu/.

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Contacts:
Gina Stafford, (865) 974-0741, stafford@tennessee.edu
Elizabeth Davis, (865) 974-5179, elizabeth.davis@tennessee.edu