Challenges and pressures are not new to higher education, but today’s concerns about funding, access and alternate means of delivery present new levels of complexity to those of us seeking solutions. We do this against a backdrop of debate of higher education’s value by presidential candidates, state and national leaders, local elected officials and families sitting around the kitchen table. We will find solutions to overcome our challenges so that the University of Tennessee continues to fulfill its mission: providing high-quality education, conducting research to solve problems and improve lives, and engaging in public service.
While effects of the recession lingered, the University’s fiscal 2013 appropriations included partial funding for a 2.5 percent salary increase ($12.1 million) and a $10.6 million operating increase to reflect greater institutional productivity in student progression, degree production, research and service, efficiency metrics, and other
outcomes-based measures. Another $100 million in state support enables crucial construction projects to move forward. Combined, this funding made it possible for us to give employees across the state a modest pay increase for the second consecutive year, and to improve the quality of education and on-campus experience for our students.
One example of our success in outcomes-based measures: We awarded 7,208 bachelor’s degrees in fiscal year 2011-12, a 7 percent increase over the previous year and exceeding the number called for in the State’s higher education master plan. Increases in both enrollments and graduation rates contributed to this achievement.
The UT System Strategic Plan is a critical tool in our ongoing success. Approved by our Board of Trustees in June, the plan is a roadmap to navigate the next five years and help us make decisions that will
impact the University for years to come. The goals of the plan, which you will read about in the following pages, specify how UT continues to expand its role while providing degrees that will prepare students for careers and lives beyond college.
I believe the best way to monitor progress on our strategic plan and keep abreast of other needs and developments is by sitting down, in-person with faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends. That’s also one of the best parts of my job. I’m privileged to travel across the state and see that every day, in a multitude of ways, our University touches and transforms lives throughout Tennessee.
All the Best,