higher education

Black says legislature should reject in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants (Update: Lee ditto)

Press release from Diane Black campaign

Nashville, Tenn. – Today, Diane Black released the following statement on the in-state tuition bill currently being debated by the state legislature, which would allow in-state tuition for illegal immigrants:

“I have said many times that if the state legislature were to pass a bill providing in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, I would veto it. In-state tuition is a benefit provided to legal residents of our state, and it should stay that way.

“Too many times, so-called conservatives get elected promising to fight against liberal policies, only to embrace them once in office. It’s a shame to see our state legislature do just that, particularly without real debate or even a recorded vote in committee. It’s time for the true conservatives in the legislature to stand up and say no.”

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In-state tuition bill advances from House subcommitee

Gov. Bill Haslam, Rep. Mark White, and Sen. Todd Gardenhire pose for a photo with supporters of offering in-state tuition for students whose parents brought them to country illegally as children. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A House subcommittee on Tuesday advanced a bill to offer instate tuition to students regardless of their immigration status as long as they have spent at least three years in a Tennessee high school.

The bill has the support of Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, who met with more than 100 students on the steps of the Capitol on Tuesday. Rep. Mark White (R-Memphis) said the challenge will be to get his bill through the full Education Administration and Planning Committee, where a similar bill was narrowly defeated last year.

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Slatery among critics of federal move to block state oversight of student loan collectors

The Trump administration is taking steps to shield student loan collection companies from state regulators, over the objections of consumer advocates and even some Republican attorneys general, reports Politico. Tennessee AG Herbert Slatery is one of them.

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Tennessee Tech disavows study used in lobbying, financed by trucking company

The president of Tennessee Tech University has disavowed a study used to help justify the repeal of tighter federal emissions standards for a type of freight trucks, reports the Washington Post. He says that experts now question “the methodology and accuracy” of the industry-funded test.

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TN Tech research used in lobbying ‘eviscerated’ by some professors

“Growing faculty outrage” prompted a Tennessee Technological University internal investigation into the validity of the school research that was financed by a Tennessee company, then used by U.S. Rep. Diane Black in supporting the company’s viewpoint on federal air pollution regulations, reports The Tennessean. Tech’s president suggests the internal review may “exonerate the innocent.”

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AG finds fault with bill on in-state tuition for illegal immigrant children

Attorney General Herbert Slatery says state lawmakers, not officials at Tennessee’s public colleges and universities, must decide whether to offer in-state tuition breaks for students whose parents brought or kept them in the country illegally.

The opinion was requested by Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, and deals with HB660, a bill that would give schools the authority to make decisions.

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Former ETSU tennis coach indicted on fraud and theft charges

Press release from state comptroller’s office

The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office has released an investigation that has resulted in the indictment of Yaser Zaatini, the former Director of Tennis and coach at East Tennessee State University (ETSU). The investigation was initiated after the ETSU Department of Internal Audit reported financial discrepancies in the tennis program.

Investigators determined that from September 2011 through February 2017, Zaatini misappropriated at least $45,540 from ETSU and often provided fabricated or altered documents to the ETSU Athletics Department. Zaatini used a variety of methods to misappropriate the money. Zaatini fabricated and submitted at least 65 fraudulent student athlete per diem documents, which often appeared to contain copies of student athletes’ signatures. The student athletes told investigators that they had neither signed the documents nor received the per diem payments. Zaatini received money to which he was not entitled.

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UT fires football coach Butch Jones, now owed about $8M

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville, winless this season in Southeastern Conference football play, has fired fifth-year coach Butch Jones with two games left in the regular season.

From ESPN:

“Late [Saturday] night, it was evident this was probably the direction we needed to go for the best of all concerned,” Tennessee athletic director John Currie said Sunday at a news conference. “We wanted our student-athletes to have the best possible chance for success. We want Coach Jones and his family to be treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve.

“We want to be able to focus, from my perspective, on the search going forward.”

Defensive line coach Brady Hoke will serve as the Volunteers’ interim head coach.

On Saturday, Tennessee was blown out 50-17 at Missouri for the Vols’ fifth loss in their past six games. Two weeks ago, they lost at Kentucky, marking only their second loss to the Wildcats in the past 33 years.

…Jones’ contract runs through March 2021. His buyout is around $8 million because he is owed $2.5 million per year remaining on his deal. That buyout will be mitigated by whatever salary he might earn in a new coaching job. Jones was making $4.11 million per year at Tennessee.

Haslam: No budget retaliation against UT for outsourcing rejection; higher ed seeks $102M new funding

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday that his administration won’t retaliate against several University of Tennessee campuses that opted against his effort to privatize facilities management services at higher education institutions, reports the Associated Press.

During budget hearings, Haslam said he’s disappointed with how the process played out, but his administration won’t give less money to higher education because of choices that were left up to each campus.

… “There’s no recrimination from us, in my role as governor, anybody else’s role,” Haslam said. “We meant what we said. This was a tool to use if you found it to be to your benefit.”

The Health Science Center in Memphis is the only UT campus to opt in, but officials there only intend to have the company take over mechanical services that are already outsourced through a consortium with the University of Memphis and Southwest Tennessee Community College.

And The Tennessean has this quote from the governor on the reasons behind outsourcing rejection: “I understand they are subject to the politics of the governor’s office, legislature and campus workers’ union and all sorts of people, but great universities live in the midst of that and work past it.” 

More on the higher education budget hearing from the Times Free Press:

Beginning next fall, new graduates of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology or similar technical programs offering certificates and degrees from state community colleges will come with an eye-catching “warranty” for prospective employers.

If companies can demonstrate the graduates they hire aren’t up to snuff, “we’ll take them back and train them for free,” Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Flora Tydings told Gov. Bill Haslam on Tuesday.

Replied Haslam: “I love the idea. … That’s accountability at its finest.”

… Meanwhile, Tennessee Higher Education Commission Executive Director Mike Krause told the governor he is asking the THEC board to approve holding tuition and fee increases between 0 and 3 percent during the 2018-2019 academic year for the University of Tennessee System, the Board of Regents and six independently governed public universities.

Haslam has made it a priority in the last three years to boost state spending for higher education, reversing a decades-long trend in Tennessee and most states where public higher education has been forced to rely on large tuition and fee increases to make up higher operational costs.

This year, the UT system is seeking a total of $25.94 million in general government dollars for its campuses, which include the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The Board of Regents is asking for $23.84 million, while the locally governed six universities, including Tennessee Tech, are seeking $24.49 million.

The total higher ed request is $102.51 million, which includes various state-administered programs.

Three TN colleges would face new federal endowment tax under U.S. House GOP proposal

Three institutions in Tennessee – Vanderbilt University in Nashville, the University of the South at Sewanee and Rhodes College of Memphis – would see their endowments subject to a new federal tax under the tax code rewrite proposed by U.S. House Republicans last week, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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