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Bredesen Charges UT Trustees with Hiring Solid Leader

June 24, 2010

KNOXVILLE -- Gov. Phil Bredesen, chairman of the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees, charged trustees and the university with hiring a president who will lead UT through a new era of great opportunities as it faces unprecedented budgetary challenges.

Bredesen attended the board's annual meeting in Knoxville today, as trustees continued the search process by appointing a search committee. http://president.tennessee.edu/search/committee.html.

"If there is any responsibility that any board of trustees has, picking the CEO has to be at the top of the list, always," Bredesen said, as he suggested that the next leader's attributes be measured against the ambitious vision for the future of the university.

Bredesen also spoke of his efforts to advance education in the state, noting his pride in Tennessee being one of the first two states to win the Race to the Top federal funding for K-12. He noted this year's special legislative session on education which made changes to improve student retention and the graduation rates of Tennessee's students.

During that January session, Bredesen challenged UT Knoxville to become a Top 25 institution in the next 10 years.

The governor told the board today that it will take a "laser-like" focus to accomplish the goal, noting that trustees must stay engaged so it will advance.

UT Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek provided an update about the challenge by sharing an initial task force report that compares the university to the nation's top-ranked public research universities. See the presentation at http://chancellor.utk.edu.

Cheek shared the good news about the quality of UT Knoxville's students, who are competitive with those at many Top 25 institutions. In most other key measures, however, the university faces challenges with improving student retention rates, graduation rates, awarding of doctorate degrees, faculty salaries and annual research expenditures.

"If we can make progress, we can improve the quality of our institution, our service to the state and our service to our students," Cheek said.

"It's an ambitious plan, but one we are committed to achieve, and one that we will pursue with abandon. But the journey that we take is more important than achieving the goal," he said.

UT Knoxville currently ranks 52nd among public research universities, as measured by U.S. News and World Report.

The next steps will involve creating action and financial plans, which Cheek intends to share with the board at its October meeting.

In other business, the board:

  • Approved a range for compensation for the next president between $420,000 and $450,000 in base salary, a housing allowance of $20,000 and an expense account range of $12,000 to $16,000. Trustees intend to elect a new president at the fall meeting on Oct. 21 – 22.
  • Re-elected Vice Chair Jim Murphy to serve a one-year term. Murphy has served in this role for the past two years and has agreed to extend his service through the president's search and anticipated transition of the presidency in this next academic year.
  • Elected Steve J. Schwab, M.D., as chancellor for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Schwab has served as UTHSC interim chancellor since Oct. 1, 2009. He simultaneously served as executive dean for the UTHSC College of Medicine, the largest of the Health Science Center's six colleges. A national search was conducted to fill the chancellor post. Schwab will make $525,000 a year and receive a $20,000 housing allowance.
  • Revised the bylaws to change the title of vice president for agriculture to chancellor of UT Institute of Agriculture. This new title clarifies the role of the Institute of Agriculture's chief officer in academic and tenure decisions. This position will continue to report directly to the president.
  • Revised the bylaws to change the reporting structure for UT Knoxville athletics to the chancellor of the Knoxville campus, rather than directly to the UT president. The president will continue to have overall responsibility for all campus athletic programs as these departments report to the president through their respective chancellors.
  • Approved a pilot regional tuition rate program at UT Martin for undergraduate students from contiguous counties of Alcorn, Tippah and Tishomingo in Mississippi to take courses at the Selmer Center. Beginning this fall, undergraduate students will pay the in-state rate, plus 25 percent of the out-of-state rate.
  • Extended a regional tuition rate program at UT Chattanooga for undergraduate students from contiguous out-of-state counties of Alabama and Georgia for a fourth year. Eligible students must have earned at least 60 credit hours for eligibility for the in-state rate, plus 25 percent of the out-of-state rate.
  • Approved the degree of Doctor of Nursing Practice at UTC and UTK to conform to changing accreditation standards for the advanced nursing practice. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission will consider the proposals at its July meeting.
  • Approved establishing the Department of Public Health within UT Knoxville's College of Education, Health and Human Sciences. Planning has been under way for several years to bring various programs into one department. The program will collaborate with the college's Center for Public Health to attract new research dollars to expand the program's reach.
  • Named the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at UT Knoxville for Charles and Moll Anderson of Knoxville. The couple provided a significant gift for the College of Business Administration's center and established an endowment to provide scholarships for single parents. The Andersons' gift put the university's Campaign for Tennessee over the $1 billion goal, trustees learned Wednesday. UT is now one of only 36 universities in the nation to reach a billion dollar goal. The campaign will continue through December 2011. See the release at http://www.tennessee.edu/media/releases/062310_billion.html.
  • Named the alumni center at Martin the Nick and Cathy Dunagan Alumni Center in honor of the Chancellor Emeritus and the former first lady of the Martin campus.
  • Established the Haslam Torch Fund, a student-managed investment fund to be invested separate from university endowments. Jim and Natalie Haslam of Knoxville have dedicated $1 million over three years to an endowment to provide the hands-on investment experience for UT Knoxville business students.

To view materials for the meeting, visit http://bot.tennessee.edu/resources/materials_06232010.html.
To watch an archived Webcast of the meeting, visit http://bot.tennessee.edu/webcasts.html.

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Contact:

Gina Stafford, (865) 974-0741, stafford@tennessee.edu
Karen Ann Simsen, (865) 216-6862, karen.simsen@tennessee.edu