Dear Campus Community:

As you are aware, the Governor has presented legislation allowing for an independent governing board at the University of Memphis and other TBR member universities. His proposal enables the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) to maintain a "sharpened focus" on the state's community and technical colleges, increases autonomy and local control for TBR universities, and strengthens the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. The proposed legislation (SB2569/HB2578) includes a restructuring of the Tennessee Board of Regents, which establishes local governing boards for the six universities currently under the oversight of TBR allowing the University of Memphis to establish its own governing board in 2017. The legislation is moving forward quickly, and we fully expect final approval in the House and Senate in the coming weeks.

We welcome the autonomy that the FOCUS Act will provide the University of Memphis. The UofM is well into the evaluation and preparation process and has created a taskforce targeting a range of issues related to the eventual transition. As you may notice, there are several changes to the proposed legislation. As requested by the Faculty Senate, an amendment was added to allow the Senate to appoint the voting faculty member to the board. The amendment was approved. An amendment was offered earlier this week to make the student representative a voting member, but the amendment was defeated in committee and did not move forward. Additionally, the Staff Senate made a request for representation on the board, but again, efforts were unsuccessful to add a staff member. Please recognize that we will continue to discuss and address the student and staff requests after our new governing board is in place.

We have established a website to provide up-to-date information on the progression and details of the transition. The site also includes links to the progression and details of the bill and Governor Haslam's website, along with a listing of frequently asked questions and a form for submitting questions about the UofM transition to self-governance. Please don't hesitate to reach out with questions or concerns.

Regards,

M. David Rudd | President

FOCUS Act Website
TN General Assembly Website SB2569/HB2578