Governor Phil Bredesen says it’s possible the state could rework the way it governs its colleges in the coming year. But he says that’s not his top priority for higher education.
Earlier this year Bredesen and some lawmakers said the time might be ripe to consolidate Tennessee’s two college systems. The University of Tennessee and the Board of Regents have been developing overlapping programs for decades, at higher cost to the state.
Now Bredesen says his higher-ed working group hasn’t ruled out a merge, but that it would be a means to another end.
“It’s not the highest priority. I think all of us feel, and certainly our consultants feel, ‘Let’s decide exactly what it is we want to do first,’ and then we will work from there as to whether the governing structure we have is the best for that, or whether that’s something which needs to be changed as part of the overall strategy.”
Bredesen says the emphasis should be on graduation; he says too many students drop out before finishing degrees in Tennessee.