Go back

News in higher education

Tennessee's universities love to tout enrollment numbers.
As soon as their final figures are in and sometimes before schools are eager to let the world know: We have more students! We must be doing something right!

It's no accident that several of the state's private and public universities are experiencing rapid enrollment growth. Many set out with just that goal to significantly raise their attendance numbers, and with it, their revenues.
Tennessee's universities love to tout enrollment numbers.
As soon as their final figures are in and sometimes before schools are eager to let the world know: We have more students! We must be doing something right!

It's no accident that several of the state's private and public universities are experiencing rapid enrollment growth. Many set out with just that goal to significantly raise their attendance numbers, and with it, their revenues.

But there's a down side to growth, and schools must decide how to increase enrollment without sacrificing the quality of programs that attracted all those new students in the first place.

"More students mean more money, but you also have to plan that very carefully because more students mean more expenses, as well," said Bobby Hodum, executive director for enrollment at Tennessee Tech.

"You don't want to grow faster than your facilities or personnel can keep up with."

Tennessee Tech President Bob Bell made it a goal for the Cookeville school to increase its enrollment to 10,000, hoping more students would mean more "life and vitality" on the campus, Hodum said.

But when 600 extra students showed up on campus this fall, the school realized it was unprepared in one crucial area: parking. It's so crowded on campus these days, students are parking in Bell's driveway, with his permission.

Outside of the parking situation, Hodum said, campus facilities have coped well with the expanded enrollment.

"It was maybe a little faster than we expected, but we're still well within our capabilities," Hodum said. (The Tennessean, Sept. 17, 2007)

The University of Tennessee spent $1,600 flying four top administrators from Knoxville to a NASCAR race in Bristol last month, officials confirmed, a trip of about 110 miles.

The trip cost twice the usual amount, $800, because the plane made a second round-trip over concerns the pilot might have to put in too many hours, violating a safety regulation, officials said.

"In retrospect, it may not have been the best decision because the pilot could have made it back in time … but there were legitimate concerns related to weather, traffic after and around the race,'' said UT spokeswoman Karen Collins in an e-mail to The Tennessean.

UT President John Petersen and three other administrators took the 30-minute flight Aug. 25 on the university plane to attend the NASCAR Nextel Cup Sharpie 500 at the Bristol Motor Speedway, about a two-hour drive from Knoxville.

Flights on university planes became an issue under former President John W. Shumaker, who used them for personal trips before he resigned under fire in August 2003. (The Tennessean, Sept. 14, 2007)

First Harvard, then Tennessee State University, then what?
Outgoing Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell will be the interim dean of a new college at TSU starting in January.

Purcell will leave office after eight years as mayor, then spend the fall teaching a seminar about cities at Harvard University.

He then will spend about a year leading TSU's College of Public Service and Urban Affairs, TSU President Melvin Johnson said recently. The new college will be on TSU's downtown campus.

"To be present at the beginning of this great new college at our outstanding Tennessee State University is both an honor and a privilege," Purcell said in a statement.

"Public service and urban affairs have been central to my professional life, and I look forward to working with the faculty and students as we advance our knowledge and involvement in American cities."

TSU's expectation that he will serve a year presumably means Purcell won't be running for a U.S. Senate seat next year, but he could finish his deanship in time to mount a campaign for the governor's office in 2010. (The Tennessean, Sept. 18, 2007)