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Boosters and school officials at the University of Memphis are pushing for more clout in Nashville and more power in Memphis.

Prominent donors are calling for an independent governing board that would allow the school to call its own shots.

U of M booster Harold W. Byrd said the request for an independent governing board touches on the longstanding desire of many alumni who are eager to elevate the status of their alma mater.
Boosters and school officials at the University of Memphis are pushing for more clout in Nashville and more power in Memphis.

Prominent donors are calling for an independent governing board that would allow the school to call its own shots.

U of M booster Harold W. Byrd said the request for an independent governing board touches on the longstanding desire of many alumni who are eager to elevate the status of their alma mater.

Larry Papasan, chair of U of M's Board of Visitors, said the board plans to bring the issue before the General Assembly next year. Ultimately, it would be up to the state to decide whether the U of M could function autonomously.

For years, outspoken alumni have pushed for U of M's independence. Gov. Phil Bredesen promised the university its own governing board in 1994 during his unsuccessful first bid for governor. Since Bredesen took office in 2003, the move has failed to gain traction in Nashville.

In the current system, the U of M is grouped with almost 20 other four- and two-year schools under the Tennessee Board of Regents. Unlike the University of Tennessee, which enjoys a board of trustees that reports directly to the state, U of M has a board of visitors that only can advise, not set policy.

Proposals and enthusiastic ideas lose their steam when pushed through the "laborious process" involving the Board of Regents in Nashville, Byrd said, adding, "We lose the momentum and things don't happen."

U of M president Dr. Shirley Raines said she likes the idea of an independent board based in the community, but she advocates a strategic approach.
The U of M is the strongest school in the Board of Regents system, she said, and "I like being the lead institution in the largest structure because you have the clout."

TBR Chancellor Dr. Charles Manning said he sees no need for the U of M to pull out of the regents system.

"I think (the school is) treated very well," Manning said. "It is certainly viewed as the campus with the most graduate-level programs. ... I see no need to for the U of M to separate out and I don't see any particular advantage." (Commercial Appeal, March 22, 2007)

University of Tennessee President John Petersen said he supports efforts to include $5 million in the state's 2007-08 budget to begin designing a new library at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

“We'll pursue and see if we can get support for that during the legislative session,” he said.

UTC officials had hoped to get funding included in Gov. Phil Bredesen's budget for the proposed $48 million library, which would replace the existing Lupton Library that was completed in 1974.

While the library ranked No. 3 on the UT system's list for funding, it wound up ranking eighth on the list of projects recommended by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. The commission annually combines the UT system's list with the State Board of Regents. (Chattanooga Times Free Press, March 22, 2007)

The developmental studies program at Southwest Tennessee Community College has received advanced certification from the National Association for Developmental Education.

The certification involves collecting five years of data showing the success of students after they leave the program and enter into regular college-level coursework.

Southwest was the first college to go through the certification process in the state. The certification will be the standard for other schools with similar programs starting this year.

Southwest and Middle Tennessee State University are the only colleges in Tennessee that currently hold the certification. (Memphis Business Journal, March 19, 2007)