By April 2017, ETSU will officially have its own governing board.
“For the 105 years we’ve existed as a university, we’ve always looked to Nashville for guidance, for direction, oversight, police, authority, et cetera,” said ETSU President Brian Noland.
On July 1, however, Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposed FOCUS Act became law, which allows for six public universities across the state of Tennessee, including ETSU, to break away from the Tennessee Board of Regents into their own governing bodies. TBR will shift its focus to its community colleges and colleges of applied technology.
Haslam is expected to announce his appointments to the governing board by the end of September or early October.
“This really is an energizing time in the history of the institution because it provides us with the opportunity as a campus to define the rules of engagement, to examine our policies, to look at our operating structures and really make some organizational adjustments that align with the needs of the modern university,” Noland said.
Over the summer and into the beginning of the fall semester, Noland has worked on preparing the university for the upcoming changes, as well as drafting a list of appointee recommendations for Haslam.
“He has sought input from people across the region,” Noland said. “If you were to bring eight of the best and brightest people in the region, alums of the university, who would they be? I’ve given my thought on the individuals who represent the values of the institution, and I know the governor has reached out to others across the region.”
Noland also said the university filed paperwork last week with the Southern Association with Colleges and Schools to request a change of governance.
SACS serves as ETSU’s accrediting board, and getting its approval on the bylines for the institution’s new governance board is essential before moving forward.
The new governing board will contain 10 members: Eight will be appointed by the governor, one by ETSU’s Staff Senate and one student representative.
“I cannot say for certain that the student representative will be the SGA president, but it is a fair assumption that the SGA president moving forward would also serve on the board of trustees,” Noland said.
By late February or early March, Noland expects the governor’s appointees to be confirmed by the state senate and representatives.
The new governing board will bring many major decisions that have been made in Nashville in the past to Johnson City.
Students, faculty and the public can have a front row seat to financial decisions, such as tuition increases, and be able to share their input directly.
Major financial decisions that require the use of state funds, such as the building of the performing arts center, will still need approval from TBR.
With this shift in power, Noland anticipates students will know what the following academic year’s tuition increases will be by late May or early June instead of late July or early August.
“This gives us the opportunity at an institutional level to define our processes for the needs of our students,” Noland said, “rather than using processes that have been defined from Mountain City to Memphis that may not meet the unique elements here in Johnson City.”