IMPROVED FUNDING FOR UTK: A PLAN
UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE, KNOXVILLE FACULTY SENATE
THE SPECIAL POSITION OF UTK IN TENNESSEE HIGHER EDUCATION
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville is the state's only comprehensive university and land grant institution, offering a full range of instructional programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Its alumni form the core of the state's leadership in business, finance, education, the arts, government and the professions. The University's efforts in research and public service stretch across the state geographically providing basic and applied programs in agriculture, governmental technical assistance, science and technology and other areas.
THE FACULTY AND UTK
Faculty are the heart of the instructional, research and service programs of the University. The scope of the mission of UTK makes the faculty a part of a national rather than a state labor pool. To maintain the highest possible quality, the University must attract and maintain faculty drawn from the best nationally available instructors and scholars. Competitive salaries are essential to maintaining and improving faculty quality. UTK salaries are among the lowest in the nation relative to those at similar comprehensive universities.
In addition to salaries, other kinds of resources also directly influence the ability to attract and maintain a high quality faculty. Instructors and scholars must have adequate funds for classroom materials, field trips, equipment and a strong library collection. Funding faculty salaries while holding operating, equipment and library budgets at their current lower levels would be insufficient.
The current state of low faculty salaries and inadequate funding of support services must be addressed quickly if UTK is to be able to maintain its position as a major comprehensive university within the region and the nation.
WHAT GOOD WILL IT DO THE STATE OF TENNESSEE?
A high quality state university is critical to the economic and social well being of the future of the state of Tennessee. Despite recent improvements, Tennessee remains one of the least well off states in the nation. The attraction of high quality employers is critical to the development of an increased economic base for the state. Improved economic opportunities can enhance the quality of life for all Tennesseans. Economic development cannot occur without a highly skilled and highly trained labor pool. High quality higher education is central to that goal and UTK plays a most important role in this process. UTK trains the largest bulk of instructors in other institutions of higher education in Tennessee and produces by far the largest share of advanced level degrees particularly important in the science and technology based fields on which future economic development is likely to be based. Evidence from states which have made significant economic gains in recent years demonstrates the centrality of quality higher education to economic development. There is widespread agreement that the national reputation and high quality of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. and North Carolina State University were critical in the development of the research triangle in North Carolina and that the superior system of higher education in California had a significant impact on the enormous economic growth experienced by that state in the last twenty years. A similar potential exists today in Tennessee, with the role of UTK in the proposed research corridor between Oak Ridge and Knoxville, the proposed UTK management of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the general improvement of a highly educated state labor pool. The state of Tennessee must itself make an investment in the development of that economic base. A part of that investment must be to provide high quality higher education.
SOLUTIONS: TAX REFORM
UTK and many other state agencies are in dire need of increased funding. The Faculty Senate is on record as supporting the adoption of a progressive state income tax with a proportionate reduction in the state sales tax, at the earliest possible time. To alleviate current revenue shortfalls, the Senate supports the adoption of a one cent increase in the state sales tax.