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News in higher education

Tennessee State University will receive a $750,000 grant from the Intelligence Community Centers for Academic Excellence to strengthen its curriculum in intelligence studies to prepare students for careers in the U.S. intelligence community.

The university also could receive an additional $750,000 for each of the next two years for its Pilot Center for Academic Excellence in Intelligence Studies.
Tennessee State University will receive a $750,000 grant from the Intelligence Community Centers for Academic Excellence to strengthen its curriculum in intelligence studies to prepare students for careers in the U.S. intelligence community.

The university also could receive an additional $750,000 for each of the next two years for its Pilot Center for Academic Excellence in Intelligence Studies.

Lenora Peters-Gant, national director of the Intelligence Community Centers for Academic Excellence will visit the university March 21 to announce that it is one of four universities awarded grants under the program. The program is sponsored by the executive branch agencies of the federal government focused on national security issues, including Homeland Security.

The pilot center is a joint project of TSU's College of Arts and Sciences and College of Business. The center is developing new courses on intelligence studies and modifying existing courses to include core curriculum of the field. (Nashville Business Journal, March 7, 2006)

Homer Pittard Campus School supporters have more reason to feel optimistic about the school's future.

Rutherford County Commission's Budget Committee unanimously voted last week to approve the concept of spending $2.5 million for renovations to the school, contingent on a 15-year or more operating agreement with MTSU.

The agreement would enable the county to operate the school, which is owned by MTSU, with the university reimbursing the county if it ever broke the contract. The final contract would come back through the school board and commission's committee system for final approval by the County Commission.

Campus School's fate was a matter of contention in December when MTSU considered an offer to close the school's doors and move its student-teacher program to the City Schools system. Many education majors at MTSU get their first classroom teaching experience at the 77-year-old school, which has been hailed for its academic excellence. (Murfreesboro Daily, March 10, 2006)

Students at Tennessee's colleges and universities could face significant tuition hikes again this fall without an increase in state funding, higher education officials say.

The University of Tennessee will need to raise tuition 8 to 10 percent next year just to deliver the same programs as this year, UT President John Petersen said last week in an appearance before the Senate Education Committee.

That assumes no increase in state appropriations for higher education, a 3 percent inflation rate, higher energy costs and a state-mandated 2 percent pay raise that the state won't fund.

UT is not alone. Officials from institutions ranging from the University of Memphis to East Tennessee State are facing similar tuition pressures.

Although Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Charles Manning declined to predict about next year, an official with the Tennessee Higher Education Commission said state universities, community colleges and technology centers all could see tuition rise.

THEC Executive Director Richard Rhoda said that without new state dollars and no change in enrollment, tuition could go up 7 to 9 percent at state universities, 8 percent to 9 percent at community colleges and 15 percent to 16 percent at tech centers.

Gov. Phil Bredesen, who by his office is chairman of both the UT and the Tennessee Board of Regents systems, was surprised by the tuition hike estimates, but not the trend.

"That's the first that I've heard of it, and I've not had a chance to talk with him about it," Bredesen said of Petersen's predictions. "He's going to have to keep increasing tuition. There is no way, in today's world in a state university like that, to not be doing that.”

Tuition jumped 13 percent at UT, 12.5 percent at the University of Memphis and just under 10 percent at other Regents universities.

University administrators say without any increase in state appropriations and there hasn't been any new operating money in three years raising tuition is their only option to meet increasing costs. (Chattanooga Times Free Press, March 3, 2006)

More than 80 percent of adult Tennesseans expect their children to graduate from college, but that lags far behind the state's reality, according to a new University of Tennessee survey.

With just 20 percent of adults in Tennessee holding at least a bachelor's degree, Comptroller John Morgan said the survey "paints a picture we can't ignore."

"I have been guilty of presuming that part of the reason that Tennessee does so poorly in terms of educational attainment is that Tennesseans don't recognize the importance of education," Morgan said. "I was exactly wrong."

State educators must figure out what's causing the gap between expectation and reality, he said.
Morgan, who requested the study from the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee, cited high tuition and a lack of information on how to finance college as likely causes.

The study shows that about 78 percent of high school juniors and seniors expect to get at least a technical certificate or an associate's degree. But nearly 17 percent of those students said they haven't decided whether they will attend college, according to the study.

For those Tennesseans who earned only a high school diploma, the top reasons for not continuing their education were because they started a family, got the job they wanted or couldn't afford college, the study shows.

And of those adults who have a high school diploma, just 28 percent want to continue their education, according to the survey.

In Tennessee, 15 out of every 100 ninth-graders graduate from college in the state, and 56 percent of high school graduates enroll in postsecondary institutions, educators said. (Chattanooga Times Free Press, March 2, 2006)

East Tennessee State University will begin offering in-state tuition this fall to residents of five western North Carolina counties, reducing the cost by more than $4,000.

The tuition change also will apply to existing students at the school who are from Avery, Madison, Mitchell, Watauga and Yancey counties. Three Virginia counties will get the same deal.
Out-of-state tuition at East Tennessee, located just across the state line in Johnson City, Tenn., is about $6,900 per semester, with in-state tuition around $2,250. Meanwhile, in-state tuition for undergraduates in the University of North Carolina system averages about $2,000.

East Tennessee will require out-of-state students to have slightly higher test scores and grade-point averages than in-state students to qualify for the discount. Similar tuition deals are offered by other Tennessee universities located near state borders. No such deals are offered at North Carolina's public universities. (KnoxNews, March 6, 2006)

A change in a federal law for institutions offering online courses is spurring a much speculated rush for an increased number of Tennesseans enrolling in online courses.

Until recently, educational institutions offering cyber education were required to adhere to the “50 percent rule.” The rule mandated universities and colleges conduct at least 50 percent of their courses on campus in order to be able to offer federal financial aid to their students.

Last week, however, Congress passed a law that not only removes the financial restrictions but also allows students to earn credit for online courses taken at other universities.

Lifting the restrictions on online education is spiking up student enrollment, according to Charles Manning, chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents. Even without the change in the 50-percent rule, online learning is proving to offer a higher level of competition to traditional on-campus courses because of its accessibility and lesser cost, Manning said. (The City Paper, March 7, 2006)