Updated Oct. 14, 2016
There has been an important development in our transition to the new Board of Trustees that I wanted to make sure you knew about. Gov. Bill Haslam on Oct. 13, 2016, announced eight appointees to the MTSU Board. The appointments, subject to approval by the General Assembly, are anticipated to become effective early next year. They are:
- W. Andrew Adams, chairman, National Health Investors;
- J. B. Baker, owner and CEO of Sprint Logistics;
- Pete Delay, executive in Forterra Building Products’ Nashville office;
- Darrell Freeman, executive chairman of Zycron Inc.
- Joey Jacobs, chairman and CEO of Acadia Healthcare Co.;
- Chris Karbowiak, executive vice president, chief administrative officer and chief risk officer of Bridgestone Americas Inc.
- Stephen Smith, board chairman of Haury & Smith Contractors; and
- Pamela Wright, founder, owner and CEO of Wright Travel (retired)
The University Faculty Senate chose Dr. Tony Johnston, a professor in the Department of Agribusiness and Agriscience in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, to be the first faculty representative of the Board. The Board will determine a process for the selection of a student representative.
The appointees will undergo orientation and professional development delivered by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, then the board will assume responsibility upon the first called meeting by the governor.
I am thrilled and very excited by the appointees put forward by Governor Haslam for our Board. I am very familiar with them and know well the broad range of experience and expertise they would be able to offer our university. Also, I have personally made contact with each appointee and each one has told me they are excited to begin their service to our university and the communities we serve.
As always, please feel free to reach out to me by email at Sidney.McPhee@mtsu.edu if you have thoughts or concerns about the transition.
Sidney A. McPhee
Updated Sept. 21, 2016
I wanted to share with you this memo, dated Sept. 15, 2016, from Mike Krause, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, which provides additional insights and information about the implementation of the FOCUS Act.
You can view or download the document here: http://www.mtsu.edu/documentation/THEC091516.pdf
Mr. Krause said this document provides additional insights and information about “specific policies and procedures, with the primary aim of providing operational detail for each of the functional areas embedded” within the act, specifically:
— THEC interaction with University and Systems;
— University Board Operations;
— and University Operations in the areas of Academic Affairs, Fiscal Policy, Data Policy and Government Relations
Mr. Krause said, “THEC issues this guidance to facilitate a conversation that will be the foundation of a smooth transition.”
Please feel free to share with me your thoughts or concerns at Sidney.McPhee@mtsu.edu.
Sidney A. McPhee
UPDATED July 15, 2016
I hope you are having a productive summer. I wanted to take this opportunity to provide you with several updates regarding MTSU’s work in preparing for the implementation of the recently authorized FOCUS Act by the Tennessee General Assembly and signed by Gov. Bill Haslam.
On June 29, I attended an informative meeting of the FOCUS Act Transition Task Force, chaired by the governor, where he presented the timeline for implementation of the new governance structure. Here is a summary:
- Late September 2016: The governor plans to announce his appointments to the six boards of trustees for the former Tennessee Board of Regents universities (MTSU, Austin Peay, East Tennessee, Memphis, Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech);
- Fall 2016: Faculty Senates at MTSU and the five other former TBR universities will be asked to develop processes for selection of faculty members for the boards;
- October 2016: MTSU and the five other former TBR institutions transmit Substantive Change Review proposals to our accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College (SACSCOC). The body requires such notification when there is a significant modification or expansion in the nature and scope of an accredited institution;
- February-March 2017: The Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) presents and reviews appropriation, capital and tuition recommendations to legislative committees. Also, during this time period, THEC will work with the UT and TBR boards, as well as six boards that are forming, to understand campus revenue needs and prepare binding tuition recommendations.
- Late March 2017: The state will offer professional development sessions for the members of the six new boards of trustees.
- April 2017: The six new boards of trustees will meet for the first time.
Note the other issues discussed by the transition committee included:
- Future government relations
- and institutional collaboration.
With regards to our internal preparation for the new governance changes, our campus FOCUS Act Implementation Transition Team, divisional working groups and subcommittees have been busy reviewing MTSU policies and TBR policies and guidelines to determine which ones will be applicable subsequent to the transition to a local board of trustees.
As revisions are proposed by the MTSU Transition Team, they will be posted on a new FOCUS Policy webpage. As with our current policy review process, policies reviewed by the FOCUS Act Transition Team will be emailed to the campus for review. This will begin on Friday, July 15. The normal 30-day comment period will be expanded in order to provide faculty adequate time for review upon their return to the campus. Thus, any policies put out for review prior to August 20 will have a comment deadline of September 19. Thereafter, it will revert to the standard 30-day period.
Finally, in early June, several MTSU administrators joined me in a meeting with Dr. Russ Deaton, acting executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. I was pleased to review THEC’s priorities during this transition and its commitment to a smooth changeover.
I wish to extend my deepest appreciation for the work that is being done to facilitate this exciting transformation in our governance and I will continue to keep you updated on this page as we prepare for the start of the new academic year.
Sidney A. McPhee
The FOCUS Act Transition Team is chaired by University Legal Counsel Heidi Zimmerman. Duties include:
- Reviewing policies and procedures of the university as it will exist under the new governing structure;
- Seeking clarification and interpretation when necessary from state officials and entities on the FOCUS Act;
- Making recommendations to the President, when deemed appropriate, for the addition, deletion or modification of existing policies or creation of new policies;
- Reviewing the recommendations of the divisional working groups and, when appropriate, making recommendations to the President to be forwarded to the Board of Trustees for consideration;
- And serving as a primary communications conduit on the university’s work on the transition.
Here are the team members:
Chair: Heidi Zimmerman, University Counsel
Lindsey Pierce 2015-2016 SGA President
Madison Tracy 2016-2017 SGA President
Stephen D. Morris
Divisional Working Groups, each chaired by the Provost, Vice Presidents or an appropriate member of the President’s Cabinet. Divisional Working Groups report to the FOCUS Act Transition Team. Duties for these working groups include:
- Reviewing every existing policy and procedure specific to each division or area;
- Establishing sub-groups as appropriate, and as determined by the chairs, to assist in the policy review;
- Determining which existing TBR and MTSU policies and procedures should be continued in the new structure;
- Determining whether the addition, deletion or modification of existing policies or creation of new policies are necessary;
- And reporting the results of the review, along with any recommendations for addition, deletion or modification of existing policies or the creation of new policies, to the FOCUS Act Transition Team for consideration.
Here are the groups and their membership:
Academic/Faculty Affairs Divisional Working Group
Chair: Mark Byrnes, University Provost
Chair: David Schmidt, Vice Provost
Jeng (Jane) Lim
Chair: Faye Johnson, Asst. to Academic Support Services
Chair: Becky Cole, Assoc. Vice President, University Provost
Chair: Tina Johnson, Vice Provost
Chair: Peter Cunningham, Associate Dean
Chair: Chris Brewer, Asst. Vice Provost, IEC
Chair: Rick Sluder, Vice Provost
Business and Finance Divisional Working Group
Chair: Alan Thomas, Interim VP, Business and Finance
Budget and Financial Subcommittee
Chair: Kathy Thurman, Asst. VP, Budget and Financial Planning
Administrative and Business Services Subcommittee
Chair: Kathy Crisp, Asst. VP, Administrative and Business Services
Mary Jane Staples
Campus Planning Subcommittee
Chair: Patti Miller, Asst. VP, Campus Planning
Events and Transportation Subcommittee
Chair: Ron Malone, Asst. VP, Events and Transportation Services
Facilities Services Subcommittee
Chair: Joe Whitefield, Asst. VP, Facilities Services
Human Resources Subcommittee
Chair: Kathy Musselman, Asst. VP, Human Resource Services
Carol A. Clark
University Police Subcommittee
Chair: Buddy Peaster, Asst. VP, University Police
Informational Technology Divisional Working Group
Chair: Bruce Petryshak, VP for Information Technology
Legal Working Group
Chair: Heidi Zimmerman, University Counsel
Marketing and Communications Divisional Working Group
Chair: Andrew Oppmann, VP for Marketing and Communications
Madison Tracy (student)
Student Affairs Divisional Working Group
Chair: Deb Sells, VP, Student Affairs
Mary Ellen Sloane
Student Records Subcommittee
Chair: Laurie Witherow, Associate Vice Provost
Heather Grebe, Graduate Student
Student Housing and Judicial Affairs Subcommittee
Chair: Sarah Sudak, Assoc. VP, Student Affairs
Lindsey Pierce, Graduate Student
Financial Aid Subcommittee
Chair: Laurie Witherow, Associate Vice Provost
Heather Grebe, Graduate Student
Dr. Scott McDaniel (Faculty Financial Aid Committee)
Student Organizations Subcommittee
Chair: Danny Kelley, Asst. VP, Student Affairs
Brandon Loso, Student Rep.
University Advancement Divisional Working Group
Chair: Joe Bales, VP for University Advancement
Please feel free to contact me directly with feedback. You can reach me by email at Sidney.McPhee@MTSU.edu
OFFICIAL DOCUMENTATION OF FOCUS ACT
INFORMATION FROM THE GOVERNOR
- 2016 State of the State Address and Accompanying Documents (February 01, 2016))
- Haslam Announces 2016 Legislative Agenda (January 21, 2016)
- Haslam Announces FOCUS Act Transition Task Force (December 07, 2015)
- Haslam Announces Next Step in Drive to 55 (December 01, 2015)
FOCUS ACT QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q: WHAT ARE THE EXPECTED BENEFITS OF THIS CHANGE?
A: Governor Haslam said he believes the TBR universities need individual boards that will focus solely on making their local institutions more responsive to the needs of students and the communities they serve. Local boards will have greater speed and agility to respond to the changing dynamics of higher education and the specific needs of the institutions.
Q: WHAT CHALLENGES DO WE ANTICIPATE WITH THE TRANSITION?
A: MTSU’s Quest for Student Success, which complements the Governor’s Drive to 55 initiative, will remain the University’s No. 1 priority. As a result of the FOCUS Act, MTSU will need to establish policies, procedures and processes that will support and center upon the direction of a local board, rather than a board that serves multiple institutions.
Q: HOW QUICKLY WILL THIS CHANGE TAKE PLACE?
A: The FOCUS Act calls for a transition period starting July 1, 2016. Board members will be appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the General Assembly. We anticipate the boards to be functional by mid-2017 .
Q: DOES THIS AFFECT HOW MTSU GETS FUNDED BY THE STATE?
A: No. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission will continue to determine the state’s funding formula.
Q: WILL THIS AFFECT MTSU’S TENURE PROCESS?
The Act requires MTSU’s board to “promulgate a tenure policy or policies for faculty.” The Act requires the “policy or policies shall ensure academic freedom and provide sufficient professional security to attract the best qualified faculty available for the institutions.”
Q: HOW IS MTSU ENGAGED IN THE FOCUS ACT DISCUSSIONS?
A: President McPhee was named by Governor Haslam to serve on a special steering committee he established shortly after the announcement of the FOCUS Act. Tricia Farwell, former president of MTSU’s Faculty Senate and faculty regent on the TBR Board, has been tasked with gathering input from faculty members from MTSU and other TBR institutions.
Q: WILL THIS CHANGE IMPACT THE CURRENT TUITION FEE WAIVERS FOR EMPLOYEES AND DISCOUNTS FOR CHILDREN AND SPOUSES?
A: The short answer is that fee waivers and tuition discounts for children are statutory so that FOCUS should not change that. Since state statute says this benefit can be taken at any state institution, it does not appear that any institution can limit where an employee can utilize this benefit aside from the conditions already stated in the law. Note, however, that both TBR and MTSU policy currently provides for up to 50% and includes a discount for spouses. We cannot find any statutory basis for the spousal discount or for the 50% amount; apparently that is based only on institutional policy.
UNIVERSITY BOARD QUESTIONS
Q: WILL THERE BE FACULTY REPRESENTATION ON THE UNIVERSITY BOARD?
A: Yes. The Act provides that each university board will have an active faculty member who will be a voting member of the board. The Act states that the faculty member will have a one-year term and will be selected by the Faculty Senate.
Q: WILL THERE BE STUDENT REPRESENTATION ON THE UNIVERSITY BOARD?
A: Yes. Each university board would have a student who would be a nonvoting member of the board. The bill proposes each student member will have a one-year term and will be appointed by the university board.
Q: WHO ELSE WILL BE ON THE UNIVERSITY BOARD?
A: The university board will have 10 members (nine voting and one nonvoting). The governor would appoint eight of the 10 board members. At least six of the voting members must be Tennessee residents, and at least three of the governor’s appointees must be alumni of the institution.
Q: HOW LONG ARE BOARD MEMBERS’ TERMS?
A: Initial appointments will be for staggered terms of three, four and six years. After the initial terms, all terms will be six years.
Q: IS THE UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT A MEMBER OF THE BOARD?
A: No. The President will be a nonvoting attendee, but not a member. The university board will select the president, as well as assess his or her performance.
Q: WHAT WILL BE POWERS OF THE UNIVERSITY BOARD?
A: The Act specifies that board will have extensive powers, including to:
- Select and employ chief executive officers;
- Confirm appointment of administrative personnel, teachers and other employees and set salaries and terms of office;
- Prescribe curricula and requirements for diplomas and degrees (but each board must maintain alignment across state higher education by advancing the Tennessee Higher Education Commission state master plan);
- Establish “reasonable and appropriate” rules defining residency used to determine whether or not out-of-state tuition is charged;
- Approve operating budgets and set fiscal policies. The board of regents shall have authority over, and must give final approval to, the operating budget of each state university. I think at this time the bond issue my just confuse people.
- Establish policies and regulations regarding campus life;
- Assume general responsibility for operation, delegating to the President’s powers and duties as necessary and appropriate.
TENNESSEE BOARD OF REGENTS QUESTIONS
Q: WHAT WILL THE TENNESSEE BOARD OF REGENTS GOVERN?
A: The Tennessee Board of Regents will maintain control over the community colleges and Tennessee College of Applied Technology locations.
Q: IS THERE ANYTHING THAT TBR WILL CONTINUE TO DO FOR THE UNIVERSITIES?
A: During the transition period, TBR will continue the following functions on behalf of the state university boards:
- data systems
- capital project planning and management
Our thanks to the Office of the Governor, MTSU Office of the University Counsel and our colleagues from Tennessee Tech University for assistance with information contained on this webpage.