48 Days

There are 48 days until early voting begins.  Are you registered to vote?  Do you know where your candidates stand on the issues?  The clock is ticking, but there is still time for you to register to vote and to learn about the candidates.

In Tennessee, you must submit an application for voter registration at least 30 days prior to an election.  If you’re not registered to vote, please take a moment to fill out this mail-in application for voter registration.  Once you submit a valid application, a voter registration card will be mailed to the address you’ve provided.  This card will tell you where to vote.

With ample time before early voting, UT Advocacy will post the results of our general election survey.  This information will help you learn more about the candidates and their views on higher education issues, and will prove valuable as you head to the polls.

Let the voices of the Vols, Skyhawks, and Mocs be heard this year on election day. Mark your calendars now: Early voting runs from October 17th until November 1st.  Election Day is November 6th. 

To learn more about elections in the State of Tennessee, visit the TN Secretary of State’s website.

3 Things To Know This Week About Higher Ed

  • The Joint Government Operations Committee reviewed student conduct rules.  Lawmakers questioned the specifics of rules surrounding student possession of guns and knives on campus.  Tom Humphrey of the Knox News Sentinel has the story.   Or, watch it for yourself here.
  • Governor Haslam hosted the seventh and final higher education roundtable this week at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga.  The discussion turned to higher education funding, where the Governor said, “What we want to know is: If you want to invest in something new, creative, what are you going to divest? Most great businesses do that.” Kevin Hardy reports, “While [the Governor] said he’s committed to ending Tennessee’s decades-long practice of slashing post-secondary education funding, it doesn’t appear that new funding will be available anytime soon.”  The Chattanooga Times Free Press has the full story.
  • Sen. Jim Summerville was removed as the Chair of the Higher Education Subcommittee by Senate Education Chairwoman Dolores Gresham following the reporting of a controversial email.  Sen. Jim Tracy has been named as his replacement.  Update: Sen. Jim Summerville has resigned from the Senate Education Committee.

Haslam Appoints Seven New Members to Higher Education Boards

Members represent fields of business and law, includes students and professors

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the appointments of seven new members to Tennessee’s higher education boards.

Evan Cope and Adam Jarvis will serve as new members of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC). Vicky Gregg, Shalin Shah and Victoria Steinberg will serve as new members of the University of Tennessee (UT) Board of Trustees. Ashley Humphrey and Dr. Bob Raines will serve as members of the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR).

The governor serves as chairman of the board of directors for the TBR and UT systems, and in July, Haslam announced his focus on post-secondary education in Tennessee, particularly in the areas of affordability, access, quality and workforce development.

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Sneak Peek: General Election Survey and Why You Should Care

USA Today reported this week that roughly 90 million Americans won’t vote in November. Dubbed “unlikely voters,” there are numerous reasons these Americans often won’t make it to the polls.  41 percent of those surveyed reported that they won’t vote in November simply because their “vote doesn’t make a difference anyway.”  For those working in and around government in Tennessee, that statement is unsettling.

Our state recently experienced a primary election where some winners were determined by just a few votes.  There was one candidate that lost by five votes.  Others lost by eleven, fifteen, forty-one, and 105 votes.  These races were quite literally down to the wire.  Those running would tell you: EVERY VOTE COUNTS.

When the General Election rolls around in November, don’t become part of this statistic.  Head to the polls and be an issues voter.  To help you learn more about candidates running in your area,  UT Advocacy partnered with the UT Alumni Association to administer a survey on higher education issues to all Tennessee legislative candidates.  Although results won’t be available until mid-September, a sneak peek of the questions we are asking is provided below.

Remember: Early voting begins October 17.  Election Day is November 6.  Don’t be an unlikely voter.  Be an issues voter.  Head to the polls and remind those running that you expect them to vote ORANGE.

Here is what UT Advocacy is asking candidates:

State Support for Higher Education
Ten years ago, state appropriations accounted for nearly 60% of the cost to educate Tennesseans in our public postsecondary institutions.  Today, that funding has been reduced to 32%, thus forcing the out-of-pocket costs to students to rise over the same period.  Due to recurring budget cuts to higher education, campuses have been forced to offset a portion of those reductions with increased tuition, grants, and private gifts.  Tuition is the only source of recurring funding the University can control to ensure the provision of high quality education, research, and outreach to the entire state.

1.  Would you oppose or favor efforts to maintain, if not increase, state funding for higher education?

2.  Would you oppose or favor efforts to cap, freeze, or place other constraints upon tuition?

“Non-formula” Units
Essential to the land-grant mission of the University of Tennessee are the “non-formula” units such as the UT Health Science Center, the UT Institute for Agriculture, and the Institute for Public Service.  These entities are directly responsible for carrying out research, community outreach, and public service in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties.  However, the funding model for these units has not kept pace with the ever-expanding demand for the services these units provide.

3.  Would you oppose or favor expanding current state appropriations to the University’s non-formula units to better meet the service and outreach needs of local governments and Tennesseans across the state?

Campus and Workplace Safety
Recent years have seen legislative attempts to increase the presence of weapons on public college campuses. Current state law already allows select individuals to possess and carry guns on campus in conjunction with their official duties.

4.  Would you oppose or favor alterations to current law that would have the effect of increasing the presence of guns on campuses and in the workplace?

Lottery Scholarships
The HOPE Lottery Scholarship Program provides grants and scholarships to qualifying Tennessee residents attending regionally accredited private or public postsecondary institutions in Tennessee.  The program has experienced fiscal shortfalls in recent years due to increases in participation that exceed growth in revenues, causing concern about the program’s long-term solvency. Despite those concerns, some recent legislative attempts have focused on expanding the use of lottery funds to include for-profit schools.

5.  Would you oppose or favor legislation further authorizing the use of HOPE scholarships at for-profit schools?

6.  If participation continues to exceed revenues, which measure would you support in order to ensure fiscal solvency for the Lottery Program? [Answer options: Raising academic eligibility requirements; Lowering the amount awarded per scholarship; Both; Neither; Not sure; Comments:___ ].

Be an informed voter!  
Check back for results before early voting
begins on October 17th. 

Vice Admiral Visits UT Knoxville, Meets with University Leaders

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Vice Admiral Harry Harris visits with Tom Ladd, Associate Dean of Research and Technology at the UTK College of Business Administration

Today, the University of Tennessee hosted Vice Admiral Harry Harris of the United States Navy.  Harris, a native of Crossville, Tennessee, currently serves as the assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

During his campus visit, Harris received briefings conducted at the Howard Baker Center on the University’s academic, research and public service mission areas as the state’s Land-Grant University.  He was informed of UT’s role in co-managing Oak Ridge National Lab and the work of UT Knoxville’s Governor’s Chairs in the areas of nuclear engineering, energy storage, materials science and smart grid technology. Also highlighted were the efforts to upgrade the UT-ORNL supercomputer to be the fastest de-classified computer in the world.

Harris spent time discussing the UT-Air Force Management Partnership with UT leaders during his visit.  The partnership currently trains over 3,000 personnel through the UT Knoxville National Defense Business Institute.