August 18, 2015

In response to the news reports, Chancellor Morgan (TBR) has provided the following statement:

"The Tennessee Board of Regents has been invited to participate in a developmental process to see what opportunities may exist to reduce costs for the operation of state facilities, including ours. The RFI is an early step in this process to identify possibilities.

From the beginning, it has been our understanding, and our participation has been predicated on the basis that each of our institutions would have the option of utilizing a state contract for services if they believed it to be advantageous. We were recently reassured of this fact by those leading this effort. Our institutions are very diverse in terms of mission, geography, organization and current cost structure. Our facilities are varied and include academic and office space, student activity and living space, and athletic facilities.  Thus, each of our institutions would need to carefully assess and analyze a business case for their particular set of circumstances prior to opting into such a contract.

As for the impact on employees, I would be very surprised and frankly, disappointed, if the expected savings, if any, achieved through a contract was primarily due to reducing the pay and benefits of the people who do the work.  If that were the case, I doubt many of our institutions would choose to participate.  If, however, substantial savings due to operational efficiencies could be redirected to activities that would enhance student success, then careful consideration of those opportunities would be appropriate.

If the efforts underway result in a determination that it is desirable for the state to issue an RFP, we would certainly continue to offer input so that any resulting arrangement would be structured to allow our institutions to evaluate the pros and cons of participation. Our participation in such an RFP process will be open and transparent so that everyone has visibility into the process each step of the way.

Using taxpayer funds and student tuition dollars wisely and efficiently is a priority for the TBR and its institutions. Our campuses have reported more than $15 million in improved efficiencies and cost savings in recent years, and more are being planned. Our goal has been to increase cost effectiveness, enhance efficiency and improve productivity of the current administrative services while promoting student success, and our campuses are already making substantial progress in that effort. We hope that any facilities management initiative would move forward in a way that supports our continuing progress in meeting the Governor’s Drive to 55 completion goals."

We will continue to update you as more information becomes available.

M. David Rudd | President