From the President
I’ve had the privilege and honor to lead the statewide University of Tennessee system since 2011. Serving as UT president comes with a fast-paced series of challenges and opportunities, and the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2017 was no exception.
I’m extremely proud of how the University has risen to the challenge of achieving long-term financial sustainability. We began fiscal 2015 with a two-year set of self-imposed fiscal restraints intended to narrow projected funding gaps without passing the burden on to students and their families. One of these self-imposed limits applied to tuition increases which we determined would not exceed 3 percent, assuming 3 percent annual inflation and no increase in state appropriations.
Through our self-imposed budget boundaries, cost savings and unanticipated increases in state appropriations over the last three fiscal years, the University has exceeded all expectations for holding down tuition increases.
In fact, we made history.
In June, the 1.8 percent tuition increase our Board approved was the lowest since 1984 and marked three straight years of increases at or below 3 percent. The latter is a feat unprecedented in the history of the UT system since it was established in 1968.
When we realized the looming funding gap unless action was taken, I refused to allow excessive tuition increases to be the solution. I still do.
In June, the special commission I appointed in 2016 to review our Title IX programs, policies and resources statewide issued its findings. I wasn’t surprised the group acknowledged the University’s obvious commitment to education about and prevention of sexual misconduct, and in response to the panel’s recommendation to create and fill a position dedicated to systemwide Title IX coordination, we did so in a matter of weeks.
I remain committed to seeing the University of Tennessee establish the gold standard, nationally, in all of our efforts around Title IX issues and compliance.
Our Cherokee Farm Innovation Campus in Knoxville has achieved momentum in its development, with the first private tenant—Civil Engineering Consultants—taking up residence in the second building now in operation on the property. I anticipate opportunities to sustain that momentum in 2018, and I believe we will.
We’ll be challenged to grow enrollment and, at the same time, continue to hold down tuition increases.
I’m confident in our potential to meet those challenges and to seize our opportunities—including the as yet unforeseen ones.
And I’m proud that as we do, Tennessee and the world will be better for it.
All the best,