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THEC Recommendations for State Appropriations

Friday, November 20, 2020

Dear Faculty and Staff:

Yesterday the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) recommendations for state appropriations, student fees and capital projects were released. The full document is attached if you would like to review it in detail. Of particular importance, you will note that among the operational increases recommended for the locally governed institutions (LGIs), the University of Memphis is recommended to receive a 2.8% operational increase in formula funds. Please recognize that these are only recommendations. In the coming weeks, Governor Lee will submit his budget recommendations, and funding decisions will be debated during the session. As this process unfolds over the coming months, new information will be shared as it emerges. The final budget for higher education will be shared once finalized by the Legislature and signed by the Governor.

I also want to share a few items that emerged in the last THEC session where the recommendations were discussed and endorsed by commissioners. As you will note, Austin Peay State University (APSU) is recommended to receive a 9.1% operational increase. The details of such a significant year over year increase was discussed by the commissioners. Subsequent analysis and review revealed that the increase was primarily a function of APSU being granted the unique ability to award an associate degree almost seven years ago. The original intent was geared toward military members at Fort Campbell, but in recent years, associates degrees appear to have been uniformly awarded across the student population, resulting in the dramatic increase in the number of degrees awarded and consequently in the formula funding increase. After debate, the commissioners agreed this matter will be referred to the Formula Funding Committee for review and action. I am on that committee, along with other LGI presidents, and we will be recommending that no LGI institutions be allowed to award associates degrees, or if they do, that data should not be included in formula calculations (i.e. graduation rates). I am confident this will be removed from the formula this summer.  

It is also important to point out that our STEM building received funding support in the last legislative session, the only capital project funded. Accordingly, we have no new projects on the capital projects funding list for this upcoming session.

Again, I will keep you updated as new information emerges.

I hope you have an enjoyable Thanksgiving break and are able to connect with family and friends.

Regards,

Dr. M. David Rudd, President