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Plight of Tennessee universities gets national attention

January 14, 2002

A recent series in "The Chronicle of Higher Education" spotlighted the financial woes of Tennessee universities with a profile of East Tennessee State University.

With a budget shortfall that could rise to as much as $2.5 million, not to mention a $1.37-million loss in endowment funds, East Tennessee State University has "put the brakes on its hiring," according to the Jan. 7 issue.

"We're hiring very selectively, only for the highest-priority areas," says Dr. Bert C. Bach, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

The university is hiring almost entirely at the assistant-professor level and conducted only 21 national searches this year. Administrative positions such as the dean of the College of Applied Science and Technology, are being filled with interim appointees, and campus officials say administrative staff would be the first in line for cuts if funds continue to dwindle.

Tennessee's budget shortfall is the source of the problem; the current recession has only exacerbated the situation, according to the article. Is an answer on the near horizon? Not likely, says Bach. "It doesn't look like there's a lot of sentiment among the population for an income tax."