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State senators have rejected nearly half of Bill Haslam's nominees to the University of Tennessee's Board of Trustees, dealing a surprise blow to the governor.

A Senate panel voted down three nominees who are serving on the university's current board, as well as a fourth candidate because he's a lobbyist. A fifth person also withdrew from consideration.

The Bent Tree via Flickr

A higher percentage of high school seniors from Tennessee have filled out their federal financial aid forms for college than from any other state. 

It's a familiar refrain for state higher education officials: Tennessee has led the nation ever since Tennessee Promise went into effect in 2015, requiring students to fill out the financial aid form to stay eligible for free community or technical college. But the attention paid to filing rates — just one step in a long process of getting students into college — shows its importance as an indicator of how many students will end up continuing their education.

TN Photo Services (file)

Tennessee has put a spotlight on its community colleges in recent years, making these higher education institutions the focus of programs like Tennessee Promise. Now, state officials are trying to give technical colleges the same boost — and they're starting by trying to win over high school guidance counselors.

Stephen Jerkins / WPLN

Governor Bill Haslam presented a limited agenda Monday night, in an unusually reflective and retrospective State of the State speech.

In his final statewide address as governor, Haslam spent most of his time highlighting what he sees as his successes, including low unemployment and an improving education system. But as for new proposals — there weren't very many.

Courtesy of Tennessee Board of Regents

The governor is hearing funding requests from every department in the state this week, and the routine is a familiar one — hit him with the highlights and then ask for money. 

UT Knoxville

The new chancellor of the University of Tennessee Knoxville laid out a lofty vision for the campus at a ceremony celebrating her new role late Friday.

Emily Siner / WPLN (File photo)

Technical colleges could get a big boost under Tennessee's next governor.

Many of the top candidates are pledging to increase funding for the state's tech schools. They say putting more money into those institutions is the best way to close Tennessee's so-called skills gap.

Screenshot of APSU's video

Now that all four-year universities in Tennessee have their own governing boards, those schools have to deal directly with issues like accusations of discrimination. At Austin Peay in Clarksville, the board of trustees decided Thursday morning that a recent complaint of gender discrimination was not substantiated. 

Emily Siner / WPLN

The head of the Tennessee Board of Regents says she plans to change how the leaders of community colleges are evaluated.

Flora Tydings took the helm of the public higher education system about six months ago, amid a rocky period for some higher education administrators. During that time, three college presidents have been publicly criticized by their faculty.

Chas Sisk / WPLN

Meharry Medical College and Middle Tennessee State University have come up with a plan that they believe could help close the healthcare gap between Tennessee's cities and its rural areas.

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