Governor Haslam’s higher education restructuring plan faced opposition from Tennessee State University students on Capitol Hill.
The restructuring plan went before a House Government Operations Committee Tuesday. More than 200 students, teachers and staff filled the hearing room at Legislative Plaza.
The plan, Drive to 55, would give TSU and the other five schools their own governing boards.
The Tennessee Board of Regents would focus on community colleges, technical schools and the state's Drive to 55 program.
Drive to 55 relies heavily on community colleges and technical schools. The goal is to equip 55% of Tennesseans with either a college degree or certificate by the year 2025 to meet predicted job demands.
The Tennessee Board of Regents oversees community colleges, technical schools and six universities including TSU.
The governor's higher education restructuring plan would take the universities away from the TBR. TSU and the other schools would have their own governing boards.
The plan does not affect the UT system, which stays intact with four institutions. TS--U officials told the committee the plan gives UT an unfair advantage.
“You're going to have four institutions in the UT system, and then you're going to break up the TBR four year institutions,” said TSU’s attorney, Laurence Pendleton. “Those institutions will operate independently, and they will operate on their own, and they will then have to go against and compete for resources and dollars with respect to the UT system.”
The committee listened to the concerns of TSU, but passed the bill anyway. Tennessee Tech supports the governor's plan.
The bill will head to the House Finance Committee. The Senate Education committee will hear it Wednesday.