The UT Foundation’s Board of Directors met on Friday morning to discuss the UT System’s performance the past year, and what goals it will strive for during the 2019-2020 school year.
Interim President Randy Boyd with opening remarks, sharing the Tennessee Promise, finance and research’s part in helping UT become a Top 25 school.
According to Boyd, the State of Tennessee granted the University System $643 million. In addition, $10 million is to be allocated to the development of security systems across the state, in the event there is an active shooter situation on campus.
$10 million was approved for residencies and $17 million for salary raises across the state. $81 million in capital was also provided for a new building to be built on the Ag campus.
“We have the best support we have ever had,” Boyd said of Tennessee legislators, adding that the legislature was understanding of Sex Week thanks to the students' "responsible event."
“There wasn’t a single legislator that made a single comment. The program was done appropriately, the legislature was fine, so we were able to take that off the table," Boyd said. "It was a fantastic year from the government and legislature side.”
Boyd shared benefits of the new Tennessee Promise Program, which would allow students who qualify academically and whose family incomes are below $50,000 to attend the university free of tuition and fees.
“We need to do more...we’ve got to do a better job,” Boyd said. “We want to be known, not by how many people we exclude, but by how many people we include. We want to be an inclusive university.”
Boyd said he hopes the program will also make an impact on the culture of the state of Tennessee to where more people can believe - and expect - to be able to afford to go to college. The current plan for Tennessee Promise is anticipated to use up 1.2% of the the total amount of financial aid provided by the university.
The amount of money raised for the Tennessee Promise endowment program is to be announced at the UTC vs. UTK football game, scheduled for Sept. 14.
Boyd’s plan for getting UT into the Top 25 includes providing more resources and support to the agricultural campuses in the UT system, and getting those campuses and the flagship campus to work together more closely, citing that UT is the only university in the SEC which does not have the two units working together, especially in rural communities.
Boyd added that the university needs to work more closely with Oak Ridge National Laboratory to boost the number of faculty and graduate students doing research on subjects such as artificial intelligence and bioinformatics.
Boyd hopes to combine the collaborative initiatives with the creation of new centers of excellence to further connect different research components of the university in terms of research.
University Treasurer Ron Maples reviewed the budget for the university, citing “decent” returns from the past year.
“We budget conservatively - so that means we budget less revenue than we think we are going to earn, and we budget a bit more on the expenditure side than we think we are going to spend,” Maples said.
“We are a budget-driven entity - we are not a for-profit entity. We are not driven by profit. We are driven by our budget - by the money that we are given to operate on, so thus, we will live within our budget, and I think you expect us to do that and more.”
The proposed budget was passed by the foundation in an unanimous vote.
The budget will be proposed to the Board of Trustees at the next meeting, scheduled for next week.
Real estate and benefits to the university
Two properties previously owned by the university were recently sold, with the proceeds to go to different colleges and departments on the flagship campus.
The Hickory Hollow Estates in Knoxville were sold for $109.5 thousand after 11 years on market, with the proceeds to benefit the Haslam College of Business.
Arnold Circle Lot 70 in Jacksboro sold for 82.5 thousand, with the proceeds to benefit UTK Libraries, WOUT, McClung Museum and UT Gardens.