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Austin Peay loses battle with Troy, but may win war

While its true that the Tennessee Higher Education Commission has decided to let Troy State University move into Clarksville against Austin Peays wishes, where one door is closing, another may be opening.
While it's true that the Tennessee Higher Education Commission has decided to let Troy State University move into Clarksville against Austin Peay's wishes, where one door is closing, another may be opening.

During last Thursday's meeting, THEC decided to allow the Alabama-based university, which has more than 50 satellite campuses worldwide, to relocate from Smyrna and offer a master's degree in management in Clarksville. Troy State received approval to locate in Smyrna in November 2002, so although the school actually never opened there, its officials were able to file for a less stringent “change of address” with THEC rather than having to apply as a new out-of-state institution, according to Dr. Sherry Hoppe.

Troy State's win sounds like a loss for Austin Peay, but it has opened one door for the University that had been closed for several years. During the meeting, THEC Executive Director Rich Rhoda recognized that Austin Peay has been prohibited from offering a graduate program in business and encouraged the University to develop its own proposal for a graduate program in business with the involvement of both THEC and the Tennessee Board of Regents and submit it as soon as possible.

The following day, Hoppe met with faculty from the School of Business to discuss the development of a master's in management program. “Without exception, everyone who attended the meeting was in favor of moving forward with the new degree program,” says Hoppe. “This is the first step toward a long-term goal.”

The group is meeting with a consultant late this week to continue planning the proposed program. “We are looking at how to shape the program, whether to offer it as a general degree or give people options for specialization,” says Hoppe.

She adds that it primarily will be a night and weekend program aimed at offering non-traditional students the opportunity to earn a master's in management over a 12-month period.

TBR Chancellor Charles Manning has assured Hoppe that if Austin Peay submits the completed degree proposal by April 15, it will appear on the TBR's June agenda. Hoppe hopes to submit the proposal to THEC in July so Austin Peay can begin offering the classes in Fall 2004.

In other meeting news, THEC tabled Troy State's proposal for a master's degree in education, giving Austin Peay the opportunity to prove that the University already is meeting the community's needs for that degree.

“We have to look at how we are packaging our master's degrees and how much flexibility we are offering to non-traditional students,” says Hoppe. “We need to develop a game plan for meeting the needs of people like our teachers in the school system who have a degree and need weekend and night classes to pursue their master's.”

Austin Peay will submit proof it is meeting the community's needs for a master's in education at THEC's March meeting.
—Rebecca Mackey