Governor Visits U of M to Support Initatives

Governor Visits U of M to Support Initatives

High achievement scores mean big bucks for public universities.
MEMPHIS, TN-- High achievement scores mean big bucks for public universities. That's why the University of Memphis is adopting a new approach to helping students learn. Governor Bill Haslam visited the campus to talk about his "55-Initative." Only 30 percent of Tennesseans have degrees but the governor wants to raise the graduation rate to 55-percent.

"It's really changing the idea of how we fund higher education in Tennessee again from enrollment to completion," said Governor Haslam. 

It's a new formula the governor wants universities to tackle. University of Memphis is leading the way.

"While we're increasing access that we're also not diminishing quality and I think all the heads of all the schools understand that's the challenge because at the end of the day they're going to be evaluated by do they prepare the students to be out there in the workforce," said Governor Haslam.

One idea the university is adopting is called "academic coaching." An idea that graduate students help undergrads.

"We need to maintain those relationships overtime and frankly that has the best evidence, the most effective, not only to retain our students, graduate our students, but help prepare them for the future, prepare them for a career," said the University of Memphis Provost Dr. David Rudd.

The provost says the university received about $90 million from state funding last year.

"It's a significant amount, it's about a third of our total budget," he said.

If the school wants more grant money, then students have to show they're learning something beyond the classrooms.
    
"All the teachers have been great, they're very open in working with you," said U of M Senior Emily Galbraith.

"I think the teachers have really done a good job especially in our upper level classes they push us really hard," said another senior Taylor Brophy.

Besides this new initiative to retain students, hiring freezes and possible layoffs may all be in the near future for the University of Memphis. Student enrollment is down by a 1,000 students and     that means less money for the university. Staff is coming up with ways to attract more students and keep them on the road to graduation.

Average tuition and fees for a Tennessean attending the University of Memphis can cost close to $17,000 per year. This year, there are about 1,000 less students enrolled at the U of M.

"We're a little bit under than where we were back in 2009," said the provost.

In 2010, the university had its largest student enrollment in history: more than 23,000 but with fees going up every year, it's not surprising enrollment is down.

"There are some national trends apart of this but the reality is we got to be more conscious of costs, we got to be more conscious of what we're charging students in terms of tuition and fees and we got to be more conscious of student debt," said Dr. Rudd.

Governor Haslam visited the U of M campus Thursday morning. He wants to see higher enrollment but more college graduates too.

"University of Memphis is important to what we're trying to do state wide and I think a lot of the initiatives around completion and around increasing enrollment and around the education school is very important to us," said the governor. "12 years from now 55 percent of the jobs will require a degree or a certificate so every one of those percentages we don't get means an unemployed Tennessean."
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