Tennessee Tech announces record-high graduation rates

Board approves request to state for funding of a new manufacturing engineering building

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(Oct. 7, 2021) -  Tennessee Tech announced it has hit a record high for its graduation rate. The Board of Trustees also approved the university’s efforts to obtain state funding for a new building for its manufacturing engineering program.

Graduation rates hit record highs

Tennessee Tech President Phil Oldham, in his report to the board, announced that Tech’s graduation rates have hit new highs, with the 6-year rate hitting 60% for students who started in Fall 2015.

The university has set a collection of goals related to the university’s Tech Tomorrow strategic plan. This is the first of Tech’s 2025 goals that has been reached.

“We continue to offer students the best return on their educational investment of any public university in Tennessee,” Oldham said. “This is a combination of factors, including our affordability, our strong retention efforts, our high graduation rate and our track record of career placement.”

Oldham highlighted the university’s first-year student advising program, the Launchpad, which provides personalized, holistic advising to students, and the personalized career development plans available to students.

He also shared that Tech set new records for both fundraising and external research funding, both more than $22 million for the last fiscal year.

New guaranteed scholarships

Brandon Johnson, vice president of Enrollment Management and Career Placement, told the board about the new Presidential Scholars program which offers guaranteed scholarships to high school students who meet the established criteria. These new guaranteed scholarships will be effective starting fall 2022 for any new freshmen who meet the requirements and submit their application for admission by Dec. 15. Additional information about the new scholarship, as well as other university grant and scholarship programs, is at https://www.tntech.edu/news/releases/21-22/tennessee-tech-launches-new-presidential-scholars-program.php.

State capital funding request for new manufacturing engineering building

To address state workforce needs and community engagement, Tech will seek funding in the 2022-2023 state budget for an Advanced Construction and Manufacturing Engineering Building. The proposed facility will be 80,000 square feet and house the equipment and labs necessary to provide engineering students with hands-on education in a modern building. The project will address workforce development needs in manufacturing, including automotive manufacturing, with modernized facilities for both traditional and advanced manufacturing.

The proposed building will provide a modern home for the university’s foundry, which is one of only four university foundries in the nation capable of pouring molten steel. The project also includes demolition of Lewis Hall and the Foundry facilities.

The estimated cost of the project is $62 million. The state-required match is nearly $5 million, of which one-third must be from private gifts. 

The Advanced Construction and Manufacturing Engineering Building is in addition to a state Capital Budget request that was approved at the board’s June meeting dealing with the renovation of Johnson Hall and demolition of Foster Hall.

Both of these capital projects are subject to a recommendation by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and action by the Tennessee General Assembly.

Two other capital projects were discussed for 2022-2023: a replacement for the West Tucker Stadium structure and the construction of a multi-level parking garage. These projects will be self-funded through university funds, private gifts and bond financing. They will come before the board for approval at the December meeting.

New faculty trustee

Dan Allcott was seated as the faculty member of the board. He replaces Sally Pardue, whose term expired this past June.

He is a music professor, cello instructor and Director of Orchestra Studies. He has received the university’s Scholastic Research Award, was awarded a non-instructional assignment for research, and has received a multi-year grant from the National String Project Consortium to found the Tennessee Tech String Project, which provides music lessons for students while providing mentored teaching experience for Tech students.

Allcott was elected by Tech’s Faculty Senate last spring. He serves on the Academic and Student Affairs Committee.

In other business

  • Six members of Tech’s 2021 class of National Merit Scholarship finalists shared why they chose Tennessee Tech for college as well as news of their experience as freshmen. The students, all from Tennessee, were Abby Fox from Cookeville, Will Joyner from Kingsport, Mathias Hagewood from Millersville, Anna Buchanan from White House, Amanda Bacon from Chattanooga and Charlie Hasting from Maryville. This is a record number of such students for Tennessee Tech.
  • The board approved a 6% increase to Oldham’s salary, along with a one-time 10% bonus, in recognition of his leadership.
  • The board heard an analysis of the results of the university’s employee performance evaluation and compensation plans.

Materials from today’s meeting and the webcast of the meetings are available at https://www.tntech.edu/board.

The board’s next meeting is Dec. 2, 2021.

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