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Dear Faculty and Staff:

On February 1, Governor Bredesen presented the state budget recommendations for FY2010-2011. The Governor recommends the budget, then the General Assembly reviews it, amends it and may place other legislation obligations in place.  Therefore, this e-mail is about the Governor’s Budget Recommendations, not the final budget.  It will be the end of the legislative session before appropriations are completed. We do not know about tuition and fees for next year until the Tennessee Board of Regents receives the final appropriations and sets tuitions and fees. We do know there will be a different funding formula for next year for higher education with an increased emphasis on retention and graduation rates.

I was pleased to be invited by the Governor to be present for his speech addressing the joint session of the General Assembly.  He commended the University of Memphis for our response to the higher education legislation by creating the Memphis Research Consortium (MRC), similar to his commendation for UT-Knoxville and their partnership with Oak Ridge National Lab.  Before the special called session, he had challenged UT-K to become a top 25 land-grant public research university within 10 years.  After our establishment of the Memorandum of Understanding for the Memphis Research Consortium, he challenged the University of Memphis to become a top 25 “Metropolitan Research University,” among our peers.

We gladly accept this challenge and look forward to our work collaboratively with the MRC.  By law, the University of Memphis and the UT Health Science Center must report on a plan for the MRC in February of 2011.

The Governor’s emphasis on the higher education reform bills passed by the General Assembly were most focused on changes in the funding formulas for higher education to emphasize retention and graduation rates.  The Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) is charged with determining the new funding formulas in consultation with the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) and the UT Board of Trustees.  In addition, the legislation speaks to chief academic officers and Faculty Senates having input through TBR and the UT Board.  

Citing memoranda  from Dale Sims, Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance with TBR , and Richard Rhoda, Executive Director of THEC, below are some major points from the Governor’s FY 2010-2011 Budget Recommendations.

While the Governor is recommending a 6 percent state funding reduction, there is an accompanying recommendation to substitute non-recurring funds to offset “part” of the budget reduction.  Higher Education would receive a 3 percent budget reduction in funds, but this may not be the limit of the cut if appropriate funding plans are not enacted.

We are grateful that the Governor has recommended a one-time 3 percent bonus for all state employees, including TBR employees, on a one-time non-recurring basis.  Retirement contributions will be provided to the TCRS and the 401K match.  While much more attention is needed for salaries, in these times of reduced budgets and loss of jobs in the private sector, we are pleased to have some attention given to a bonus for those in higher education.

The Governor’s budget does not contain any capital outlay projects, but there will be some funds for capital maintenance, provided to TBR as a whole, and we are checking at this time to determine which maintenance projects from the University of Memphis may be covered. 

 With this budget from the State, we also are examining the ARRA funds, stimulus funds, and our own budget constraints and efficiencies.  We have been working to manage the revenues from the State, ARRA funds and our expenditures to plan for the day the stimulus funds expire.  Our priorities will remain our students’ learning and their staying on track for graduation in a timely manner. 

I will attempt to keep you informed via e-mail of major legislative initiatives.  Kevin Roper from our Government Relations Office will be in Nashville for each day the legislature is in session.  Occasionally, we have professors and students invited by the Shelby County Delegation to make presentations.  Today, students from the Hardin Honors Program presented research and project posters as a part of a larger TBR exhibit, organized by Vice Chancellor Paula Short.

Please do not hesitate to contact me, or David Cox in my office, who also works with the Faculty Senate, or Kevin Roper, in his capacity as head of the Government Relations Office.

 

Sincerely,

Shirley C. Raines, President

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