Good News: State Funding Up
We’re very pleased to be seeing an increase in state funding for the coming year.
We will receive $174.7 million—a $21.1 million increase in our base appropriations. Although it doesn’t get us back to our 2008 level of state funding, it is an increase over what have we received during the past three years.
The added $21.1 million represents:
• $6.9 million from the phase-in of the Complete College Act
The state now looks at colleges’ and universities’ graduation rates as part of its funding formula. This means that improving our graduation rate—a priority in our Top 25 journey—is not only good for our students and our academic operation, it means added dollars for our campus.
• $7.4 million for appropriation improvements
Gov. Bill Haslam increased his funding of higher education by $35 million, and this is our share.
• $3 million for the College of Engineering
State officials recognize that Tennessee needs to produce more engineering graduates. We need additional funding to increase the enrollment in the College of Engineering. This fall, we expect about 675 freshman engineering students, which is an increase of about 9 percent over last fall. Matched with additional resources, the state’s $3 million will help the college grow between 25 and 30 percent over the next five years.
• $2.6 million for salary raises
The legislature approved a 1.5 percent across-the-board salary increase. For UT, that will cost $4.7 million. UT funds 45 percent of that amount; the state provides 55 percent, or $2.6 million.
• $1.2 million for employee benefits
As salaries rise, so do benefits. This funding covers those benefits.
We received $24 million to help us convert our fifty-two-year-old coal-fired steam plant into a natural gas facility. The state got this money through a lawsuit settlement with tobacco companies. We already have funded $1 million for the design phase.
We also will receive $6 million from the state for other capital improvements. This money is earmarked to replace aging underground steam lines across campus.