MARTIN, Tenn. — Enrollment management and budget sustainability were among the topics discussed when the Chancellor’s Advisory Council met Tuesday, June 30, in the Dunagan Alumni Center at the University of Tennessee at Martin. The university’s chancellor calls periodic council meetings to update its members and seek the group’s advice on university matters. The meeting was the first for Dr. Bob Smith, who became interim university chancellor June 1.
Among those attending was UT Board of Trustees member Julia Wells, vice president of marketing services for The Pictsweet Co. First-time attendees were Dr. Roberto Mancusi, associate professor of music and incoming UT Martin faculty senate president, and Jennifer Hampton, Edward Jones financial advisor and UT Martin Alumni Council president.
Others attending included Dr. Brian Donavant, UT Martin associate professor of criminal justice and faculty trustee; Dave Bratcher, president of the STAR Center in Jackson and alumni council immediate past president; Dr. Victoria Seng, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and dean of graduate studies; Dr. Margaret Toston, vice chancellor for student affairs; Nancy Yarbrough, vice chancellor for business and finance; and Andy Wilson, vice chancellor for university advancement.
Smith opened the meeting and described an ongoing “listening tour” as he talks with people and considers ideas for addressing the university’s needs and challenges. One of his priorities is to prepare the university to attract top candidates when the formal search for a permanent chancellor begins later this year. Seng then offered the first of several reports with an update about fall 2015 enrollment.
She highlighted the university’s successful Veterinary Health Technology Program and told of plans for new academic programs that will appeal to future students. She expects the new Master of Arts in Strategic Communication to interest many prospective graduate students with classes on track to begin this fall. Seng also spoke of new scholarship initiatives designed to increase opportunities for more students to attend UT Martin.
Beyond new academic programs and scholarship opportunities, Smith added his vision for UT Martin to offer a range of life skills for students spending four years at the university, which would “create a value proposition” that will resonate with parents. “This (enrollment) is our number one priority,” he said.
In her student affairs report, Toston reported the recent success of the university’s Young Scholars Academy, which annually brings underserved rising juniors and seniors to campus to experience university life. This year’s YSA class attracted 77 students from around West Tennessee, including several who will consider attending UT Martin.
Yarbrough, UT Martin’s chief business officer, reviewed financial sustainability plans, including a two-year, $4.4 million allocation and reallocation of the university budget and a two-year, $2 million reallocation for deferred maintenance. The budget reallocation will target increased efficiency, enrollment initiatives and revenue enhancement, while deferred maintenance projects will cover campus lighting and fire alarm upgrades. The university’s master plan will also be updated in a way “that follows the vision for the campus,” Yarbrough said.
Positive giving numbers and alumni involvement highlighted Wilson’s university advancement report. He cited the new sorority lodges being built off West Peach Street on the south side of campus as bringing both financial support and excitement among current students and alumni. Wilson also noted the success of the university’s first Captain’s Challenge, a fundraising initiative in April driven by social media participation.
Wells asked questions and commented throughout the meeting that featured open discussion and insights into the university’s future. “It’s quite an honor, of course, to be a (UT) trustee, ” Wells said, adding, “I think there’s a real value in hearing each other’s opportunities and disappointments.”
The UT Board of Trustees will meet March 31-April 1, 2016, at UT Martin.
PHOTO CAPTION – UT Board of Trustees member Julia Wells and faculty trustee Dr. Brian Donavant listen as UT Martin Interim Chancellor Bob Smith makes a point during the June 30 meeting of the Chancellor’s Advisory Council at the university’s Dunagan Alumni Center.