higher education

Randy Boyd nominated as interim president of University of Tennessee

Randy Boyd speaks to reporters in Nashville on July 25, 2018. The former Republican gubernatorial candidate was nominated to serve as interim president of the Univeristy of Tennessee on Sept. 19, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Randy Boyd, an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican gubernatorial nomination this year, has been nominated as the interim president of the University of Tennessee system.

Boyd was Gov. Bill Haslam’s chief higher education adviser before being named economic and community development commissioner. He played key roles in the development of the Tennessee Promise free community college program and the governor’s Drive to 55 initiative to boost the state’s graduation rates.

The Board of Trustees will consider Boyd’s nomination in a Sept. 25. He would succeed President Joe DiePietro, who announced this week that he plans to retire from active service on Nov. 21. Boyd has agreed to forgo a salary while serving up to two years while an external search for a permanent replacement takes place.

Boyd, the founder of a Knoxville pet products company, poured at least $19.5 million of his own money into his gubernatorial bid. He ended up coming in second to Franklin businessman Bill Lee in the GOP primary.

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UT President DiPietro sets retirement date

A release from the University of Tennessee:

KNOXVILLE — University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro announced today that he will retire Feb. 14, 2019. 

He will step down from active service Nov. 21 to use his remaining vacation time.

DiPietro, UT’s 25th president, has led the University of Tennessee system since January 2011. He serves as the chief executive officer of UT and its campuses in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Martin, the Health Science Center in Memphis and the statewide Institute of Agriculture and the Institute of Public Service.

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Alexander suggests extending affirmative action to cover political views on college campuses

Sen. Lamar Alexander, who once served as president of the University of Tennessee, is quoted briefly in a lengthy New York Times article on the movement to assure conservatives can voice their views on college and university campuses where some feel they are now intimidated. Excerpt:

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MTSU building will remain named after Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest

Middle Tennessee State University President Sidney A. McPhee said Wednesday there will be no appeal of a Tennessee Historical Commission decision rejecting MTSU’s request to change the name of a campus building named for Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, reports the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal.

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Haslam advice to college grads: ‘Remain calm and be faithful to the Lord… do not panic’

In a commencement speech at Baptist-affiliated Carson Newman University, Presbyterian Gov. Bill Haslam offered some Christian-oriented advice, reports the Morristown Citizen Tribune.

“Just like you, I will be leaving my place of residence (Governor’s Mansion) and my area of work for the past 8 years,” said Haslam. “You also will be leaving your dorm rooms and academics. However, do not be afraid, and stay faithful to your Lord.”

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Legislature approves alcohol sales at MTSU, TSU campus sports events

The legislature has given final approval to a bill that will allow Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro and Tennessee State University in Nashville to sell alcoholic beverages at campus sports events. The Nashville Post reports the move comes after the House earlier spurned a bill that would have applied only to MTSU — and the revised version, adding TSU, passed by the bare minimum 50 votes needed.

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Haslam’s ‘Complete College TN Act’ flops on House floor — a second setback for governor’s higher ed agenda

A bill cutting state-funded scholarships of college students who complete less than 30 hours of course work per year – part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s legislative package for the year – got more negative votes than positive votes on the House floor Monday.

The “Complete College Tennessee Act” (HB2114) has been promoted by the governor as a means of improving college graduation rates, now reported at 26 percent in two-year colleges and technical institutes and at 57 percent in four-year universities. But some legislators contend it would unfairly penalize students who are working while going to school, who are sidelined by illness for a semester or otherwise have valid reasons for completing 30 hours of credits in three semesters, as the bill requires.

(Update: On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, a sponsor, decided against putting the bill up for a Senate vote, remarking that “We should rename this the incomplete” college Tennessee  act.”

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Lawmaker cites satirical website to nix hazing bill

A lawmaker misquoted an article on the satirical website The Onion in supporting efforts to deep-six a bill targeting hazing among college sororities and fraternities.

“I’m reading right here on The Onion a report about Kentucky seniors who hazed freshman basketball players,” said Rep. Micah Van Huss (R-Jonesborough).

Van Huss appears to have been referring to a 2016 article on the satire website titled: “New Report Reveals Kentucky Seniors Forced To Endure Brutal Hazing From Freshman Players.”

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Campus booze bill fails on House floor

A bill authorizing sale of alcoholic beverages for the first time on a Tennessee university campus during sports events failed on the House floor after critics declared it would set a bad precedent in a state where there’s already ample alcohol available through efforts of the liquor lobby.

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In-state tuition bill dead; sponsor blames election year politics

Sen. Todd Gardenhire says the push to allow some undocumented students living in Tennessee to pay in-state tuition rates at public colleges is dead for the year because of election-year politics, reports the Times Free Press. The sponsor of SB2263 let the bill die without seeking a vote in the Senate Education Committee’s last meeting of the session on Wednesday, saying it was sure to fail.

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