Haslam Announces FOCUS Act Transition Task Force

Monday, December 07, 2015 | 03:15pm

State, higher education leaders to provide guidance on Drive to 55 alignment plan

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the members of the transition task force to offer guidance on the proposed Focus On College and University Success (FOCUS) Act during the legislative process and potential implementation if approved by the General Assembly.

Comprised of higher education leaders and professionals, the transition task force will have two components: a steering committee to provide high level implementation guidance to the governor and a working group that will offer technical assistance and report back to the steering committee.

“The Drive to 55 is changing the landscape for Tennessee students and public higher education in our state,” Haslam said. “The conversation has brought us to this point: making sure our colleges and universities are aligned in support of student success, and I want to thank these leaders and professionals from Tennessee higher education for helping work through the details of this proposal.”

As charged by the steering committee, the working group will research implementation issues and provide detailed recommendations to increase efficiency in data systems, policy processes and other issues involving state higher education alignment. Drive to 55 Executive Director Mike Krause will chair the working group, which will also include:

Dr. Mary Lou Apple, Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) member, former Motlow State Community College president
Dr. Keith Carver, University of Tennessee (UT), executive assistant to the president
Dr. Russ Deaton, Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) interim executive director
Dr. Tristan Denley, TBR vice chancellor for academic affairs
David Gregory, TBR vice chancellor of administration
Dr. Brian Noland, East Tennessee State University president
Roland Rayner, Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Memphis director

The transition steering committee is charged with evaluating key operational areas that will need adjusting under the FOCUS plan announced last week and ensuring all sectors of Tennessee public higher education are positioned to maximize student success under the new governance structure.

Haslam will chair the steering committee and serve with the following appointees:

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville)
House Speaker Pro Tempore Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville)
Emily Reynolds, TBR vice chair
John Morgan, TBR chancellor
Evan Cope, THEC chair
Dr. Russ Deaton, THEC interim executive director
Raja Jubran, UT Board of Trustees vice chair
Dr. Joe DiPietro, UT president
Dr. Glenda Glover, Tennessee State University president
Dr. Sidney McPhee, Middle Tennessee State University president
Dr. Brian Noland, ETSU president
Dr. Phil Oldham, Tennessee Technological University president
Dr. David Rudd, University of Memphis president
Dr. Alisa White, Austin Peay State University president

The transition task force will also seek feedback from a variety of stakeholders including students, parents, higher education leaders, higher education practitioners and advocacy groups.

The FOCUS Act is the next step in the Drive to 55: ensuring that colleges and universities are organized, supported and empowered in efforts to increase the percentage of Tennesseans with a postsecondary credential to 55 by 2025.

By 2025, 55 percent of the jobs available in Tennessee will require a postsecondary credential, and currently only 33 percent of Tennesseans qualify. The governor launched his Drive to 55 two years ago to increase the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary degree or certificate.