There is much good news to share, but I need to begin by thanking you all, the faculty, students, staff and administrators who made all of these outcomes possible through your commitment and hard work. THANK YOU!
Enrollment – According to the final figures that we have received, this fall semester we have realized an increase of two percent in overall enrollment while many of our sister institutions experienced a decline. During this past year, we intensified our recruitment of freshmen, transfer students and graduate students. While we saw a slight decrease in new freshman enrollment, our numbers were much stronger than many of our sister TBR institutions.
Retention Rate – We are also showing a six-percentage point increase in freshman retention over the past two years. This outcome did not surprise me as we have an outstanding student success team that spans a multitude of talented groups from dedicated advisors, staff and administrators. I am grateful to all colleagues involved in this important endeavor, yet I wish to particularly express my thanks and appreciation to Dr. Hodum and Dr. Melissa Irvin for their relentless efforts, care and attention to all issues connected to student success.
New Permanent Faculty – The additional retained and enrolled students, together with some operational changes, enabled us to substantially increase our new permanent faculty hiring. 53 tenure-track faculty members and chairpersons were hired since AY 13-14. Additional searches are on going. More faculty members were hired, or authorized to be hired in AY 13/14 & 14/15 than in many two-year periods in recent past.
Additional Temporary Faculty – By utilizing some of the international student out-of-state fees, we set aside one million dollars for hiring additional temporary faculty in areas that have short-term needs. As these funds are not recurring funds, they could not be used for permanent hires.
Additional Graduate Assistants – Also, using the international student out-of-state fees, we set aside one million dollars to hire additional graduate assistants.
Additional New Graduate Students – New graduate student enrollment rose approximately 14 percent. Through the hard work of the College of Graduate Studies and faculty colleagues in individual departments, we were able to bring more than 270 new students to pursue either a master’s or doctoral degree.
New Student Success Initiatives – Through your hard work, many new initiatives are now instituted to ensure student success, such as the establishment of Math Emporium (much credit goes to Dr. Allen Mills), the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence (many thanks to Dr. Carl Owens), the new EAB platform to empower our advisors with the latest technology (Drs. Irvin and Hodum), the new Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (Drs. Rencis, Wiant, et. al.). These are just some examples among many other student success initiatives. In fact, with assistance from the deans who nominated colleagues from individual colleges, we have constructed a Student Success and Enrollment Taskforce under the direction of Dr. Hodum who will be jointly working with Dr. Sharon Huo to continuously assess and address student success related issues.
Attracting More Highly Qualified Students – According to a report from the Institutional Research Office: “For first-time freshmen of Fall 2014, the average ACT Composite score, at 23.9, is the largest of any entering freshman cohort for at least the past dozen years”. “In comparison to the previous year, nearly all of the major academic units recorded an increase in the average ACT Composite score: Agriculture and Human Ecology, Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, Engineering, and Interdisciplinary Studies.” “ … the Fall 2014 cohort has a larger number and percentage of students with an ACT Composite score of 28 or greater.”
Highest “Performance-Funding” Score – 97.5 for 2013-14 (impacting FY 2015 budget). Highest among all Tennessee Board of Regents and University of Tennessee System institutions (corresponding to incentive funding-5.4% additional appropriations). The score reflects the results of such activities as: Academic Audits, accreditation activities, major field tests, senior exit exams, NSSE surveys and QEP projects. Many thanks to Dr. Huo and her team and all of you who assisted in various related areas.
Women in STEM Disciplines – The number of women in STEM disciplines reached a record high level of 952 in Fall 2014.
A comparison of Fall 2013 and Fall 2014 shows notable increases in female undergraduate enrollment in Agriculture, Chemical Engineering, and Environmental and Sustainability Studies.
Overall Enrollment UP 2% increase in Fall 2014 overall enrollment. All, but one other TBR institutions showed declines
Freshman Retention UP 6% increase in freshman retention over a two-year period
Tenure-Track Faculty UP 53 tenure-track faculty and department chairs were hired since AY 13-14. Additional searches are on going. More faculty members were hired or authorized to be hired in AY 13/14 & 14/15 than in many years in the recent past
Additional Temporary Faculty UP $1Million in additional funds for hiring of temporary faculty
New Graduate Students UP 14% increase-More than 270 new grad students
New Student Success Initiatives UP Over 25 New Initiatives to improve student success
Highest “Performance-Funding” Score UP 97.5 – 2013-14 for FY 2015 – Highest among all Tennessee Board of Regents and University of Tennessee System institutions (corresponding to incentive funding-5.4% additional appropriations)
No. of Women in STEM Disciplines UP 952 – Reached a record high in Fall 2014
More Highly Qualified Students UP 23.9 Ave. ACT – For first-time freshmen of Fall 2014, the average ACT Composite score, at 23.9, is the highest of any entering freshman cohort of at least the past dozen years. Nearly all of the major academic units recorded an increase in the average ACT Composite score. The corresponding cohorts of the past five years, the Fall 2014 cohort has a larger number and percentage of students with an ACT Composite score of 28 or greater
New Academic & Degree Programs UP 16 New Programs [Submitted or in preparation-Ph.D., Master’s, PSM, new concentrations]
Suspended/Closed Programs DOWN 3 Concentrations
New Off-Campus Programs UP 2 [Milan and Vital School]
The US News & World Report rating of Tennessee Tech as one of the top public universities in the south is a reaffirmation of the quality of education that Tennessee Tech offers to our students.
It is no news to any of us that the higher education establishment is changing rapidly in all fronts. We have some significant new challenges, but some of the issues that we are facing today are not new and have been around for many, many years. What is new, however, is their degree of severity and urgency. In this environment, “no-action” is in fact a choice and a form of action. It is attributed to Dr. Benjamin Franklin, saying: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
Fortunately, at Tennessee Tech, we have understood the urgency of responding to the challenges that are before us and, as the above examples illustrate, we are already benefiting from some of our recent decisions and actions, such as the emphasis that we have placed on student success, retention, recruitment and proper budgeting. Some of the other initiatives will require a longer period of time to bear fruit.
Again, thank you Tennessee Tech community for your hard work and dedication.