The University of Tennessee Board of Trustees approved a historic low tuition increase for the third straight year.
The 1.8 percent undergraduate tuition increase trustees approved is the lowest increase since 1984 and marks three consecutive years of increases at or below 3 percent—a first since the UT system was established in 1968. Trustees approved a 2.2 percent increase in 2016 and a 3 percent increase in 2015. The majority of fees will not increase. Of those for which a change was approved, the net increase at each campus ranges from 0 percent to less than 3 percent.
“Since we began self-limiting tuition and fee increases in 2015, our goal has been and continues to be keeping college tuition affordable for all Tennesseans,” UT President Joe DiPietro said.
Increased state funding and University-wide efforts to control spending have led to three years of UT self-imposed limits on tuition increases. It’s part of the University’s efforts across campuses to help Tennesseans toward better futures through higher education, DiPietro said.
“Together, we are stronger,” he said. “Together, we’re making Tennessee stronger through our efforts.”
DiPietro also noted that the Tennessee Higher Education Commission set its first binding tuition recommendations last year, and that the University is well below the recommendation.
“You’ve heard me say this before, but I continue to be proud of our efforts to be a national leader in proactive efforts to hold down tuition increases,” he said.
DiPietro said 44 percent of UT undergraduates finish with a bachelor’s degree and without debt. For those who graduate with debt, the amount is around $24,000, on average. But those with a college degree have an average seven-figure increased lifetime earning potential.
“A UT education remains a very wise investment,” he said.
DiPietro also highlighted the findings of a special, independent Title IX Commission engaged in 2016 to review the University’s processes, protocols and resources around sexual assault awareness, prevention and response. The four-member commission spent six months reviewing policies and procedures and conducted 65 interviews with 52 administrators and staff at UT campuses. Commission members also hosted focus groups and listening sessions with students in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Martin.
All campuses, according to the commission, have focused on increasing awareness and understanding about sexual misconduct, including boosting prevention efforts and responding with compassion and care when incidents occur.
The commission recommended hiring a system-wide Title IX coordinator; enhancing staffing and resources at each campus; updating policies, procedures and student codes of conduct; and enhancing case management, care support, education, prevention and training.
DiPietro said the University will work to quickly implement their recommendations.
“As I’ve said in the past, we will never be complacent on issues of sexual violence,” he said. “We will seek to establish the gold standard for awareness, prevention and response, and doing so is a priority for every University of Tennessee campus and institute. At UT, we believe strongly that even a single incident is one too many.”
The board also welcomed new trustees David Shepard, Terry Cooper and Andrew McBride.
In other business, trustees approved:
- Fiscal year 2018 operating budget of $2.3 billion
- Extending trustee Raja Jubran’s term as vice chair through 2019
- Salary increases for merit and market value
- DiPietro’s annual performance review and goals for fiscal year 2018
- Adoption of an updated public records policy
- Naming the Boyd Family Track and Field Center to honor Jenny and Randy Boyd at UT Knoxville
- Faculty tenure
- Terminating or de-activating 10 academic programs across the UT system
- Resolutions honoring former trustees Miranda Rutan and Jefferson Rogers, former UT Institute of Agriculture Chancellor Larry Arrington, and former UT Vice President for Academic Affairs Katie High