General Questions

  • What are the expected benefits of this change?
    • We anticipate more autonomy and control, plus the speed and agility to respond to the changing dynamics of higher education. There will be a keener sense of advocacy of the University of Memphis and the needs specific to our campus and community.
  • What challenges do we anticipate with the transition?
    • The UofM will be assuming full authority for its future. With this autonomy comes increased responsibility. As such, we will need to review and establish policies that reflect and support our mission. We need to establish a board with proper policies and devote time to educating and training board members.
  • How quickly will this change take place?
    • The FOCUS Act must first be approved by the General Assembly and signed into law by the Governor. As the act is now written, it calls for a transition period starting July 1, 2016. Board members would be appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the General Assembly. We anticipate the boards to be functional by mid-2017.
  • Does this affect how the UofM gets funded by the state?
    • No. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission will continue to determine the state's funding formula.
  • Will this affect UofM's tenure process?
    • The bill requires that the UofM's state university board "promulgate a tenure policy or policies for faculty." The bill requires that the "policy or policies shall ensure academic freedom and provide sufficient professional security to attract the best qualified faculty available for the institutions."
  • How is the University of Memphis involved in the FOCUS Act discussions?
    • Governor Haslam established a transition task force to offer guidance on the proposed FOCUS Act during the legislative process and its potential implementation once approved. President Rudd was named by Governor Haslam to serve on that task force as a member of the steering committee, which is charged with evaluating key operational areas that will need adjusting under the FOCUS Act, and to ensure that all sectors of Tennessee public higher education are positioned to maximize student success under the new governance structure.
    • In addition to his direct involvement with the transition task force, Dr. Rudd hosted a series of open forums in February for faculty, staff and students; deans, chairs and program directors; and the Faculty Senate to ensure that he was able to accurately represent the concerns of the UofM community during his committee participation.

 

State University Board Questions

  • Who are the members of the UofM Board of Trustees?
    • Per the FOCUS Act the Governor appoints eight members of the Board, the Faculty Senate appoints the Faculty Trustee and the Board of Trustees selects the non-voting Student Representative. Click on the link for information about the Board of Trustees.
  • How long are board members' terms?
    • The initial appointments will be for staggered terms of three, four and six years. After the initial terms, all terms will be six years.
  • Is the university president a member of the board?
    • No. The president will be a nonvoting attendee, but not a member. The state university board will select the president, as well as assess his or her performance.
  • What are the powers of the state university board?
    • The 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 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; due to bond issue matters, The Tennessee Board of Regents will have administrative roles for the budget process.
      • Establish policies and regulations regarding campus life.
      • Assume general responsibility for operation, delegating to the president powers and duties as necessary and appropriate for the efficient administration of the institution and its programs.
  •  When is the first Board meeting?
    • The first board meeting will be held on March 17, 2017.
  • Are Board meetings open to the public?
    • Meetings of the Board of Trustees are subject to the Tennessee Open Meetings Act and will be open to the public, subject to certain legally recognized exceptions. Information about meeting dates will be publicized in advance. Also, Board meetings will be live-streamed and available for viewing over the internet.
  • Where will Board meetings be held?
    • There is no set location for Board meetings.  However, the meetings will be held on property owned or controlled by the University of Memphis.  The location will be included in the notice of meetings.
  • Will employees be allowed to attend Board meetings?
    • Employees are permitted to attend Board of Trustees meetings with the approval of their supervisor and consistent with operational needs. Supervisors should not arbitrarily withhold approval and should objectively evaluate the effect on business operations. In large departments, supervisors may require employees to attend at varying intervals so business units are not impacted. Employees will not be required to use annual leave to attend Board meetings. Board meetings will also be live-streamed and available for viewing over the internet.
  • Can I contact Board members?
    • The University has established a Board Office. This office will be responsible for coordinating communication with the Board members. Also, it is anticipated that a general email address will be created as well as implementation of a public comment period at Board meetings.
  • Will this change how the University operates?
    • The FOCUS Act transferred governance, management and control of The University of Memphis from the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) to the University's Board of Trustees. UofM's Board of Trustees will be responsible for overseeing the educational and operational activities of the University. This change will allow for more autonomy and local control enabling the UofM to react quickly to changing dynamics in higher education and allowing for strategic initiatives specifically designed for our institution. As a result, there may be some changes in how the University operates. Further, there will be increased responsibility. However, we are confident that any changes made will be in the best interests of the University.

Tennessee Board of Regents Questions

  • Tennessee Board of Regents Focus Act Website
  • What will the Tennessee Board of Regents govern?
    • The Tennessee Board of Regents will maintain control over the community colleges and Tennessee College of Applied Technology locations.
  • Is there anything that the The Tennessee Board of Regents will continue to do for the universities?
    • During the transition period beginning July 1, 2016, and ending November 30, 2017, the The Tennessee Board of Regents will continue the following functions on behalf of the state university boards:
      • data systems
      • capital project planning and management
      • procurement
    • Starting on November 30, 2017, state university boards will be allowed to request to assume the performance of these functions from the Tennessee higher education commission, otherwise the Tennessee Board of Regents will continue the above mentioned functions.