Tennessean article: John Morgan testifies against Haslam’s college plan

Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan to overhaul Tennessee’s public college system easily cleared another legislative hurdle Tuesday, despite strong words from one of its harshest critics.
The bill won the support of the House Education Administration & Planning Committee on Tuesday after more than an hour of debate spurred on by the testimony of John Morgan, the former chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents college system.
Morgan has been outspoken in his critiques of Haslam’s plan, which would create independent governing boards for six universities overseen by the Board of Regents. Morgan resigned in January because he thought the plan was “unworkable,” and on Tuesday he elaborated on his problems with the bill.
Morgan called the move a “mistake” that would amp up competition between colleges that had been partners under the Board of Regents system. He said that competition would ultimately weaken colleges such as Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech universities.
“I don’t think this is a particularly good way of changing our higher education system in Tennessee,” Morgan told the lawmakers. He later added, “A generation from now, I think we’ll see a less effective higher education system than we have.”
The plan has broad support from Republican leadership in the General Assembly and several university presidents, but Rep. Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, asked that the committee hear from Morgan before signing off on the bill. It appeared that Fitzhugh and Rep. Kevin Dunlap, D-Rock Island, were the only members of the 13-member House panel to vote against it on a voice vote.
Morgan might not have changed any minds, but his testimony did generate conversation between lawmakers and state officials, mostly concerning the likelihood that Haslam’s plan would generate corrosive competition between universities.
He has said that if those six universities, which include Middle Tennessee State, Tennessee State and Austin Peay State, had their own boards, they’d be more likely to fight statewide initiatives that might threaten their individual enrollment or other goals.
But Tennessee Tech President Philip Oldham told lawmakers he disagreed with Morgan, his former boss. Oldham said that although “competition exists now, and it’s fierce,” the desire to collaborate between institutions is “somewhat in our DNA,” a fact he said would not change under the new structure Haslam has proposed.
Haslam’s plan, included as part of the Focus on College and University Success Act, known as FOCUS, easily cleared votes in other committees earlier in the session. It will go to the House Government Operations and Senate Education committees next.
 After the vote, Morgan said he had hoped to slow the bill’s progress so that lawmakers would have time to consider its scope. But he doubted his criticism would blunt the bill’s progress.
“I think the bill passes pretty much the way the governor wants it,” Morgan said.
Under the plan, the local university boards would be allowed to set tuition, hire presidents and decide their own priorities. The Board of Regents would continue to manage the state’s network of 13 community colleges and 27 technical colleges.
Reach Adam Tamburin at 615-726-5986 and on Twitter @tamburintweets.

Special AAUP Meeting on Fiduciary Responsibility

The AAUP chapter at TTU invites all faculty to attend a meeting to discuss the concept of fiduciary responsibility in higher education in general, and TTU in particular.
We want to hear from you, TTU faculty, whether you think that the three propositions of fiduciary responsibility – fidelity to mission, integrity of operations, and conservation of core values are currently adequately and satisfactorily fulfilled at TTU.
Fiduciary behavior includes, prominently, holding to the institution’s mission and ensuring that the institution is financially and operationally sound and stable. Mission-compliance addresses whether students receive a quality education.

Is reading this making you tense? We will give away a gift certificate for a one hour massage (at Fringe Salon) to release the tension of one faculty member. Light refreshments for all.

Join us in Henderson Hall 205 on Friday, February 27th at 3.30 pm.

Concerns Regarding HB2578 Raised by AAUP Faculty in TN

Note:  These concerns are being raised with Legislators, including Speaker of the House of Representatives Beth Harwell, who is very troubled regarding these proposed changes. Chancellor John Morgan was very outspoken regarding his skepticism over Governor Haslam’s proposal.  Please write and call your legislators regarding these proposed changes and express your opposition to HB2578 mentioning some of these talking points.  Rephrasing in your own words will make your statements more effective.  Also, be sure to give your street address and phone #.

Sen.Paul.Bailey@capitol.tn.gov 304 War Memorial Building/Nashville TN 37243(615) 741-3978
Senate District 15

Rep.Ryan.Williams@capitol.tn.gov 114 War Memorial Building/Nashville TN 37243 (615) 741-1875
House District 42

I Lack of Faculty Participation in Formulating Plan; Lack of Shared Governance in New Board Structure as Outlined; Marginalization of Faculty Role in Curricula Matters; Expediting of Termination Procedures for Faculty and Lack of Appeal Process Will Hurt Faculty

  • Absolutely no Input was sought from faculty in Gov. Haslam’s initiative to restructure Higher Ed and replace the Board of Regents. Thus, there are errors of terminology and the Bill betrays a gross misunderstanding of aspects of Curriculum and Academic Freedom.
  • The Bill refers to the power of the governing boards to “confirm the appointment of administrative personnel, teachers, and other employees of each state institution….” (p. 17). Teachers makes no sense here. The word is not used in higher education to designate any members of the faculty, and it captures only one aspect of a faculty member’s duties.
  • Also, many institutions have to hire both full-time and adjunct members literally the week before a semester begins based on increased enrollments, dual-enrollment classes, etc. How would an individual board do this kind of last minute hiring of faculty?  Shouldn’t the hiring of faculty remain a decision made by the institution itself, not its governing board?
  • House Bill 2578 does not include a representative faculty body like the TBR Faculty Sub-Council. The only representation for faculty members at the six four-year institutions will be the faculty representative on the governing board. This is not acceptable. It undermines the faculty’s ability to speak as a unified group at the state level. Given that the bill includes numerous references to the importance of the collaboration between two- and four-year schools, perhaps the TBR Faculty Sub-Council could be retained in its current form. At any rate, the equivalent of a system-wide representative faculty body is needed.
  • Page 13, which deals with the composition of the individual governing boards, indicates that one board member will be “an active faculty member [what is an “active” faculty member?] of the institution selected by the board.” Should members of the board be involved in the day-to-day operations of an institution to the point where they could make an informed choice in this matter? Probably not. That means that board members are likely to defer to the institution’s president in this matter. That, too, is unacceptable. The faculty should elect the faculty representative. Principles of shared governance require that the faculty be represented by a person they accept as their representative.
  • Page 14 tells us that the faculty member on the board “shall serve a term of one (1) year.” Perhaps a longer term would be preferable. One year, as we’ve seen with the TBR Faculty Regent, is not enough. That position has never accomplished anything meaningful for the faculty.
  • Page 17 informs us that the boards have “the power” to “[p]rescribe curricula and requirements for diplomas and degrees.” This could be read as suggesting that the boards will take over the faculty’s role of (largely) determining curricula. Faculty members, not board members, are the subject experts. This passage goes along with the following one on page 31: “Determination of specific courses or course content, however, shall continue to be the exclusive function of the governing boards of the various institutions.” Is that meant to suggest that the boards could determine the content of specific courses? This appears to me to be a SACSCOC violation. SACSCOC (Principles of Accreditation), Comprehensive Standard 3.4.10 reads: “The institution places primary responsibility for the content, quality, and effectiveness of the curriculum with its faculty.”
  • Page 21 has this to say about tenure policies: “The board of regents and each state university board shall promulgate a tenure policy or policies for faculty at their respective institutions, which policy or policies shall ensure academic freedom and provide sufficient professional security to attract the best faculty available for the institutions.” This language is taken from TCA 49-8-301, which governs TBR tenure policies. However, this language merely provides a framework for the work of the board. In other words, governing boards could develop tenure policies from scratch, policies that could undermine tenure. (Another outcome could be that the six “independent” universities could have radically different tenure policies.) Governing boards, made up (mostly) of people with little or no knowledge of faculty work would be responsible for developing tenure policies. Even if there is currently no interest to attack tenure, the language of the bill makes clear that the new boards are under no obligation to either adopt the current tenure policies or develop similar ones.
  • Page 22, which deals with “termination of faculty with tenure for adequate cause,” There is no mention an appeals process. (It refers to the possibility of a “review,” but that’s not specific enough.)

II Administrative Costs:

  • THEC would have significant additional responsibilities for coordination, which would also require more staff even as TBR will need to retain staff to carry its ongoing responsibility for oversight of the CCs and TCs.

If universities are independent, then what happens to operating systems like Banner and D2L, since we have bought into these systems as TBR?

-Will the universities be forced into negotiating their own contracts for systems like                  this?  Individually, this could be very, very expensive.

  • The potential for increased administrative costs are very real, since the universities will probably have to hire more administrators and support staff to deal with the development of new policies, as well as the potentially expensive costs of gaining access to Banner, D2L, etc.
  • All of this will only increase the decades long trend of a greater proportion of funding for higher ed going to administration and less to instruction.

III MIsc. – Chaotic effect of repeal of ALL TBR policies, including CCTA and TTP

  • Essentially all policies, including academic policies like academic freedom and promotion and tenure, will be at ground zero for the universities, if the act passes

-TBR policies will no longer be in effect

-Potential of corporate influence in the creation of new polices, especially faculty                      policies

  • Even though maintaining the Community College of Tennessee Act (CCTA) and Tennessee Transfer Pathways (TTPs) are in the language of the HB 2578, being part of a system like TRB ensured compliance, but without the pressure of being in a system, universities could decide not to follow these mandates

-Community college students have expressed concerns about the future of TTPs

-There is also certainly concern about the future of the TN Promise if FOCUS passes

AAUP resolution in support of Steven Salaita, now freshly relevant

On October 2, 2014, the TTU chapter of AAUP passed this resolution in support of Steven Salaita, who was fired by the University of Illinois after being offered and accepting a tenured position. The following June, the University of Illinois was censured by AAUP at the national conference. It seems relevant again in light of the recent actions of Mount St. Mary’s University. Here is the text of our chapter’s resolution:


On August 1, 2014, University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise informed Dr. Steven Salaita that the American Indian Studies faculty position he had been offered and had accepted the previous October would not be sent to the board of trustees for approval, stating, “we believe that an affirmative Board vote approving your appointment is unlikely.” No further explanation was initially given to Salaita, to the AIS department chair, or the dean. This action was taken despite the facts that Salaita had returned the signed acceptance letter, quit his tenured job at Virginia Tech, initiated the purchase of a new home in Urbana-Champaign, received his teaching assignments and submitted his book orders, received an invitation to the new faculty welcoming reception on August 19, and had attended a welcoming reception in his honor hosted by American Indian Studies.

On August 22, Chancellor Wise released an open letter explaining her decision, referencing the alleged incivility of his recent tweets about the Israeli bombing of Gaza, speculating that some students might feel unsafe and unvalued in his classroom. The Board of Trustees released a supporting letter affirming the chancellor’s views, stating that the University of Illinois “is a university community that values civility as much as scholarship.” The board met on September 11 and voted 8 – 1 not to reinstate Dr. Salaita. Documents obtained by the Champaign News-Gazette under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act indicate that a large number of donors had contacted Wise and the board beginning in July, demanding that Salaita not be hired; Dr. Wise has stated this was not a factor in her decision.

Many academic professionals view the University of Illinois administration’s unilateral decision, which did not involve faculty at any level, as a violation of the principles of academic freedom and shared governance. Sixteen academic departments at the university have passed resolutions of no confidence in the administration; two conferences scheduled at the campus have been canceled by their organizers; over six thousand professors have signed a petition for an academic boycott of the university; AAUP, MLA, the American Historical Association, and other professional organizations have issued statements condemning the actions of the University of Illinois and demanding the reinstatement of Dr. Salaita with pay.

The letter from Dr. Anita Levy, Associate Secretary of AAUP, which was sent to Chancellor Wise on August 29, makes the following points:

“…Aborting an appointment in this manner without having demonstrated cause has consistently been seen by the AAUP as tantamount to summary dismissal, an action categorically inimical to academic freedom and due process and one aggravated in his case by the apparent failure to provide him with any written or even oral explanation… We see that a very serious issue of academic freedom has been raised by the actions against him, an issue that will not be resolved as long as the actions remain in effect and their soundness has not been demonstrated by the University of Illinois administration under requisite safeguards of academic due process.”

Levy points out that the University of South Florida received AAUP censure under very similar circumstances in 1964, and acknowledges that a University of Illinois Committee on Academic Freedom of Tenure has been charged with determining Salaita’s tenure status.

In a follow-up letter on Sept. 9, Levy added: “The issues raised in this case are so critically important, and seen as such nationally, that an investigation by the Association would have commenced by now were it not for the role being assumed by the university’s committee.

We are informed that the subcommittee expects to produce a report promptly. We will continue to monitor developments closely and respond accordingly.”

The Tennessee Technological University chapter of AAUP has resolved to follow the example of several university chapters and state conferences nationwide in issuing a statement in support of the national AAUP’s position on this issue.

Academic freedom is the bedrock of the university system, which cannot effectively function in its mission without the free exchange of ideas, even –and perhaps especially –on controversial subjects. Tenure, with its emphasis on due process, and shared governance are not ends in themselves, but tools to protect academic freedom and ultimately the integrity of the university. Administrations and governing bodies making unilateral decisions about faculty and education issues without due process and procedural rigor, and without due participation from faculty representatives, sets a dangerous precedent which must not be countenanced. We urge the University of Illinois to reverse this disastrous course, and urge the academic community to continue expressing their disapproval if the university does not do so. We resolve to firmly oppose the efforts of any university to disregard the principles of academic freedom and shared governance, and invite both faculties and administrations of other institutions, and of our own, to stand with us in declaring unqualified support for those principles.

Tennessee Technological University chapter of AAUP

October 2, 2014

New Faculty Guidebook


Welcome to Tennessee Technological University.  As a new faculty member, you probably have many questions you would like answered. Recognizing your need, the Tennessee Tech Chapter of the American Association of University Professors has produced this guidebook, which presents in one relatively short document information about many of the topics that are probably of interest to you in your efforts to become acquainted with TTU. In addition to this guide, we recommend your participation in the annual orientation for new faculty at the beginning of each academic year, which is coordinated by the Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs.


Let us stress that the information presented in this guidebook is by no means complete or exhaustive.  It is intended merely as a point of departure.  Eventually, you will want to refer to numerous other documents that discuss the matters contained hereinafter in far greater detail than was possible or desirable in this guidebook.


One of the first documents that you will want to consult after browsing through this guidebook is the Faculty Handbook, accessible on-line in the latest version at https://www.tntech.edu/handbooks/facultyhandbook/.  In it many of the matters discussed briefly below are spelled out in considerable detail.



Access the New Faculty Guidebook here.

TBR Audit Report

The document at the link below is worth reviewing. As a start, look at look at page 9 & 10 on the report listed as 13 & 14 on the pdf. Among other things, it is an interesting glimpse at the magnitude of increased tuition and E&G revenues coupled with the increase in administrative salaries. In this fiscal environment for higher education (which has been quite good since the 2008-2011 crisis ended) how could we suddenly have e a budget shortfall?

TBR Audit Report

TTU Strategic Risk Assessment

Tennessee Tech University (TTU)
Strategic Risk Assessment

  1. Research Environment
  2. Competition:
  3. National Environment:

Approximately 125 universities are included in the U.S. News and World Report 2015 ranking of Graduate Engineering Programs. Most highly ranked programs are associated with state flagship or private institutions with huge endowments. In Tennessee, Vanderbilt is 34th and the University of Tennessee – Knoxville is 64th.

  1. Regional Environment:

TTU is a Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) institution and therefore funded as a regional four year institution with some funding support for three research centers. The TTU graduate program in engineering is among more than 100 regional programs in the U.S. News and World Report that are unranked.

  1. Local Environment:

As a TBR institution, TTU is charged as a resource for regional development. However, the region doesn’t have a well developed industrial base to support research and struggles with economic develop issues (Additional comments on this topic in Section D).

  1. Basic Research Revenue Streams:

Primary funding sources for basic research are partnerships with high tech industries, competitive federal initiatives similar to NSF and NIH, state and federal earmarked initiatives, and successfully marketing intellectual property. Competing for basic research revenue streams is challenging for regional institutions.

TTU Funding sources include state funding for centers of excellence from the comparison several flow through grants, leveraged undergraduate programs, and some basic research grants (historically, includes earmarked federal funding).

  1. Vertical Integration of Research Capability:
  2. Faculty:

For sustainability, focus area research activities require a critical mass of highly specialized faculty. A university must minimize the effects of perturbations caused by departures of research faculty over time. Recruiting research faculty at a regional university is comparable to drafting professional athletes by small market sports franchises. After a faculty member establishes a successful research initiative, they receive lucrative offers to join more prestigious research programs at other universities.

  1. Graduate Students:

A vertical integration strategy for research also requires a critical mass of qualified graduate students in research focused Ph.D. programs. It is difficult to sustain multiple graduate degree program options and attract students to unranked graduate programs. That problem is exacerbated by the decrease in demand for Ph.D. degrees in STEM disciplines. Many Ph.D. graduates at highly ranked research programs are now accepting post-doctoral positions. As a result,limited job opportunities for STEM graduates devalue a Ph.D. from a regional program.

  1. Leveraged Undergraduate Engineering Programs

A limited source of investors to invest in basic research at TTU has resulted in an increased emphasis on leveraging undergraduate degree programs for capital formation. Common flagship university strategies for leveraging undergraduate programs include reducing the variety of electives and number of core course sections offered. Economies of scale enable resources to be allocated to research activities. Another leverage strategy is to use enrollment growth in an academic area as a revenue stream for another area.

Leveraging places a burden on engineering programs with a diverse student population but causes minimal disruption at flagship institutions with a homogeneous population of students who have excellent academic credentials. The College of Engineering at TTU signature has been producing basic and midlevel management engineers for regional companies from a lower socio-economic class students. However, there are numerous examples where graduates, with faculty mentoring, excelled and became leaders in society.

2012 TTU College of Engineering freshmen ACT scores indicate a broad range of scores. Currently, many in the cohort are marginally prepared to purse an engineering degree. As shown in the histogram, approximately 40 % of students can be considered at-risk and do not meet minimum unconditional admission requirements (ACT > 24) for UTK College of Engineering.

TTU is also aggressively recruiting international students who pay full tuition. International students (120) accounted for 20% of 2012 increase in enrollment in the College of Engineering. If international students are included, the percentage that does not meet UTK admission standards would likely exceed 50%.

In the last couple of years, TTU College of Engineering core course class sizes have at least doubled. The number of D’s, W’s, and F’s in core computer science and engineering courses affirm that there are a large number of at-risk students engaging in at-risk behavior (working part-time) in an at-risk learning environment (large classes). Revenue streams derived from international student enrollment and leveraging undergraduate programs has created an economic bubble that could affect financial stability of the university. For example, a successful Tennessee Promise Initiative could suddenly and materially affect that revenue stream.

  1. Research Leadership

Several TTU leadership positions have recently been staffed by administrators from flagship universities because of the assumption that research strategies for state flagship institutions are transferrable to a regional university. Developing a major university organizational structure at TTU has increased administration costs over 75% during the last 3 years. During that period TTU research activations have fallen by approximately five million dollars (30%). Approximately 3.5 million of the current 12 million dollars of research are budgeted from TBR funding. During that period the number of TTU awarded Ph.D.’s and graduate students has remained essentially constant.

  1. Conflicting Strategies:

As indicated in Section A.1.c, TTU is charged with being a resource for developing the region. Regional needs include developing infrastructure in rural areas; recruiting new companies; supporting and expanding current businesses and industries; improving education standards for a diverse economy; and developing a regional “brand identity” to leverage regional economic development activities. However, there doesn’t seem to be a well-defined strategy for university engagement in regional development.

TTU is ideally suited to partner and contribute to regional development. Resources for a horizontal integration research strategy include an interdisciplinary critical mass of appropriate degree programs, faculty, and students from various colleges that focus on applying domain knowledge in new and existing technology to structural improvements in selected economic development based industries. This approach is similar to the Morrill Land-Grant Acts during the 1800’s that created agriculture colleges across the United States. At that time agriculture was the primary engine for economic development.

In the current university environment, new initiatives have replaced abandoned and de-emphasized initiatives. The graph of engineering degrees awarded by TTU reflects inconsistencies between enrollment in academic programs and anticipated demand for graduates from those degree programs.