MEMPHIS, Tenn. --It's been an issue lawmakers and educators have been talking about for years, and now Governor Bill Haslam is making his move.
Governor Bill Haslam announced on Tuesday he supports a bill that would allow the six public universities in the Tennessee Board of Regents system to establish their own governance boards.
That includes the University of Memphis.
If passed, the bill would be a major overhaul for all of the six universities involved, reported The Tennessean.
Under the current system, these schools are not allowed to set their own tuition rates, approve their own budgets, or select the college president.
Governor Haslam said this would be a good thing.
“When it comes to higher education in Tennessee we’re in a fundamentally different position than we were even a few years ago," The Tennessean reported Haslam as saying during his announcement. “The changing landscape in higher education has prompted a broader discussion about whether we’re putting our colleges and universities in the best position for success."
It would also allow the state to purely focus on those community colleges and technical schools, who have seen an uptick in attendance thanks to Tennessee Promise.
Here at home, the University of Memphis released the following statement on the matter:
“We are appreciative of Governor Haslam and his support of this historic change to the governance structure for public universities in the State of Tennessee,” says UofM President M. David Rudd. “Should the legislation be approved, we will be able to establish an independent Board of Trustees, establish tuition rates, and make decisions within our own footprint of leadership. The UofM is unique among public institutions across the state and this change would enable us to better serve our students and our community, and compete more effectively on the national stage. We are excited about what independent governance means for the future of our university and city.”
State Senator Lee Harris has taught at the University of Memphis for more than a decade and said local authority is needed.
"There could be really tiny changes that a division, a department or college or university want to make that have to be appealed all the way up to TBR," he told WREG.
The bill will be presented to the General Assembly in 2016.
If passed, Governor Haslam said he would then put together a committee to help everyone transition.