Tennessee State Forms Advisory Committee for FOCUS Transition

Tennessee State University this week announced a new advisory committee created to offer support and insight for the university’s transition to a new state-mandated leadership model.Comprised of business leaders, higher education executives, community members and alumni, the committee will serve for one year in preparation for the university to switch from a statewide governing board for all four-year institutions, to individual boards for schools in the Tennessee Board of Regents System.

Members include:

  • Traci Otey Blount- Executive Vice President, Robert L. Johnson Entertainment
  • Attorney Charles Robert Bone- CEO, Bone McAllester Norton, PLLC,;
  • Lauren J. Brisky- Former Vice-Chancellor, Chief Financial Officer, Vanderbilt University;
  • Beverly Carmichael- Senior Vice President, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc.
  • George L Davis Jr.- Co-Owner/Chief Technology Officer of Ultimate Progress Incorporated
  • Dr. Kelley Castlin-Gacutan- Superintendent, Birmingham Public Schools
  • Dr. Fred Humphries- Former President, Florida A&M,  Tennessee State
  • Jamie Isabel- Owner, Dalmatian Creative Agency, Inc.
  • Richard Lewis- Owner, Lewis & Wright Funeral Home
  • Dr. Edith Peterson Mitchell- President, National Medical Association
  • Wendell Moore- Former Deputy Governor State of Tennessee
  • Dr. Shirley Raines- Former President, University of Memphis
  • Dr. Maria Thompson- President, Coppin State University
  • Bishop Joseph W. Walker, III- Presiding Bishop, Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship Int.
  • Brenda Wynn- Davidson County Clerk

TSU Glenda Baskin Glover said that the committee members, none of which have been announced as soon-to-be appointees of the university’s independent board, bring a wealth of knowledge in preparing the school for the new leadership mandate.

“The University has formed this Transition Advisory Committee to assist the leadership, and my office from a strategic execution standpoint as we advance to this new governance structure,” Glover said. “The men and women serving on the TSU Transition Advisory Committee represent a cross section of professionals with extensive backgrounds in higher education, board governance, and executive management.”

The FOCUS Act has stirred controversy among higher education stakeholders in the state since its passage in March. In an editorial published by the Tennessean, TSU Foundation board member Bill Freeman criticized its potential for the legislation to force TSU into direct competition with other institutions for resources. 

The real worry is that this legislation would change funding sources and dilute the influence these schools currently have on allocating capital funding to the respective schools.

Haslam has said this legislation wouldn’t change current funding. Am I wrong in my concern? I don’t think so. It always seems that big plans are proposed, we are given pat answers to legitimate concerns and then it turns out we all had reason to be concerned.

Each of these six universities would be set adrift, yet the four colleges and universities with the University of Tennessee system would stay united.

Transition into the new leadership structure is expected to begin this summer, and to end by November 2017.

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