A State of the University message to campus

At the end of each academic year, there’s a natural tendency to reflect on the health and well being of the institution.

I’m sharing a State of the University message with you to capture the accomplishments of faculty, staff and students as we conclude the semester.  I am happy to report that Tennessee Tech University is exceptionally healthy and secure in all areas of operations.

About four years ago, we collectively envisioned where we could take the university. We established leadership teams made up of faculty, staff and students.

Initially more than 50 members of the campus community came together in the Flight Plan process to address: What will Tennessee Tech become?

The major changes and successes we see today were born from the broad-based, data-driven, coherent process of setting goals and working together with discipline, persistence and intentionality as an entire campus community.

As we near commencement for our last graduating class of the Centennial Celebration, here are the ways we’ve improved and excelled in an effort to serve students.

 

Invested in Faculty and Programs

  • Five consecutive years of faculty/staff salary raises (average faculty salary has gone up 11 percent since 2012)
  • Increased full-time permanent faculty by 15 percent (55 faculty members) over five years
  • Reduced student-faculty ratio from 22:1 to 19:1
  • Added over four dozen new academic programs and concentrations

Improved Student Success Initiatives

  • Improved first-year retention rate to 75-76 percent, an increase of 5-6 percentage points
  • Improved six-year graduation rate to 53 percent
  • Saved and enhanced ROTC

Established best practices

  • Received exemplary on-site review by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, our accrediting agency
  • Earned near perfect accreditation visit last year from ABET, the College of Engineering’s accrediting agency

Increased Research, Economic Development and Resources

  • Improved Carnegie classification to Doctoral/Research University
  • Received 13 Intellectual Property disclosures this year, a record number compared to the last 10 years
  • Received largest competitive grant ever awarded to Tennessee Tech (~$4 million)
  • Announced total research monetary awards for fiscal year 2016 already surpasses all of last year, even without two large recent announcements
  • Significantly increased research proposal submissions
  • Partnered with local community and state to recruit approximately 2,500 new jobs to Putnam County
  • Created the most dynamic student/faculty entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Southeast
  • Posted the largest private fund raising year in history, $22 million to date compared to previous high of $8.7 million

Expanded and Improved Facilities 

  • Approved funding for $90 million laboratory science building
  • Launched $45 million student fitness center project
  • Renovated and renamed Oakley Hall
  • Began renovation of Jere Whitson Building as a one-stop Welcome and Enrollment Center
  • Completed Centennial Plaza
  • Expanded and improved food service options

 

What’s next?

As we move toward a new governance structure, we welcome the opportunity to increase campus participation.

We are forming an eight-member transition taskforce to help act as a steering committee as we stand up an independent board. The taskforce will be made up of four faculty members and former Faculty Senate presidents, and four senior administrators.

The charge will include reviewing bylaws, overseeing progress and prioritization of policy changes, and reviewing infrastructure, staffing and data handling.

We have a lot of work to do, but there’s still a need for long-range, purposeful planning while we continue working.

I’m looking forward to doing this together. I welcome your continued conversation about the future.

Have a great summer. Wings Up!

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