university of tennessee

Politicians cheer appointment of Fulmer as UT athletic director

Tennessee politicians are generally praising the appointment of former head football coach Phil Fulmer as athletics director at the University of Tennessee, reports the News Sentinel, but some are also voicing concerns about the future of the state’s flagship campus in Knoxville.

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UT to accept ACT test scores despite administrative foul-up

Press release from Lt. Gov. Randy McNally

Lt. Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) today announced the University of Tennessee has agreed to accept scores from the October 17 mis-administered ACT tests at Bearden High School and Alvin C. York Institute in Jamestown. The University’s decision was delivered to Lt. Governor McNally by University of Tennessee Interim Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor John Zomchick.  Continue reading

UT trustees donate to Republicans; faculty and staff to Democrats

Members of the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees have made more than $90,000 in political donations so far this year in federal-level campaigns, reports the UT Daily Beacon after a search of FEC data. All but $2,500 went to Republicans while UT staff and students collectively gave $38,000 with only about $1,500 to Republicans.

Ten of the board’s 25 members made political contributions.

In total, (board) members gave $5,900 to Tennessee Republican John Rose, a candidate for the 6th Congressional District; $5,400 to 7th Congressional Republican Representative Marsha Blackburn, a senatorial candidate; and $1,500 to Knoxville County Mayor Tim Burchett, Republican candidate for the 2nd Congressional District.

(Raja) Jubran, who served on Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam’s 2010 campaign finance team prior to his appointment to the Board of Trustees in 2012, has donated $59,200 to candidates and political committees this year, making him the largest donor on the board. Haslam, an ex-officio board member, has made $52,700 in political contributions.

On the other hand, employees at UT, including faculty, staff and graduate students, have made 2,311 contributions this year, totaling over $38,000. In contrast to the Board of Trustees, only $1,578.75 of these donations were made to organizations affiliated with the Republican Party.

TN politicans join fans in shooting down Schiano as UT head football coach; Haslam concerned about ‘rush to judgment’

State legislators and Tennessee gubernatorial candidates joined fans in a revolt that apparently derailed a tentative deal for making Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano the University of Tennessee’s next head football coach, according to media reports.

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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.

UT trustees grumble about ‘slaps in the face’ to Haslam outsourcing plans

Members of the University of Tennessee board of trustees have slammed a decision by UT Knoxville Chancellor Beverly Davenport to not participate in facilities outsourcing even though Davenport argued the university wouldn’t save as much by privatization as promised, reports the News Sentinel.

In a presentation to the board (Friday), Davenport said UT Knoxville would only save $906,654 in the first year of outsourcing with private company Jones Lang LaSalle, compared to the $5.2 million the company estimated.

The university is already making its own improvements in efficiency; an outside company would not be able to handle the complexity of work associated with facilities management in research departments and the change could be harmful to the local economy, Davenport listed as additional reasons for her decision.

Trustees criticized the decision saying it lacked financial justification and would make it hard to go to the state to ask for money in the future.

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Reaction to UT outsourcing rejection: Haslam still supports concept as TSEA applauds

Press release statements following the University of Tennessee decision rejecting participation in outsourcing of facilities management services as proposed by Gov. Bill Haslam:

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UT system campuses reject Haslam’s outsourcing plan

University of Tennessee administrators announced Tuesday that they will not be participating in a proposed facilities outsourcing plan pushed by Gov. Bill Haslam, reports the News Sentinel.

The announcements by UT Chattanooga, UT Knoxville, UT Martin and the UT Health Science Center end more than two years of speculation as to whether campuses in the UT system would participate in the plan and raise questions about whether other public campuses across the state will follow suit.

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville Chancellor Beverly Davenport first announced today a decision not to participate in the proposed facilities outsourcing plan in a statement posted on a UT website.

Excerpt:

The goal of the proposed outsourcing plan was to improve efficiencies and determine what is in the best interest of our campus. We thank the state and the UT System administration for challenging us to engage in extensive cost analyses and an evaluation of our practices, which have led to cost-saving operational changes in keeping with the outsourcing goals.

My decision to opt out was based on the extensive analyses of the financial considerations, the complexity of the work done on our research-intensive campus, and our commitment to the East Tennessee economy and our workforce. It is for these reasons that I have decided outsourcing facilities management is not the best option for our campus.

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UT says only private donations will fund LGBT pride center

The University of Tennessee Knoxville is using private funds to operate its LGBT pride center following last year’s decision by state lawmakers to strip state dollars from the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, reports the News Sentinel.

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