The Academic Affairs Division performs a wide array of tasks related to academic programming at Tennessee colleges and universities, and is the THEC division charged with reviewing and evaluating new and existing academic programs at universities and community colleges. The Academic Affairs Division also monitors compliance with certain facets of the Complete College Tennessee Act (CCTA) of 2010, coordinates the state Performance Funding program, and administrates federal and state grant programs.
In concert with the legislative changes enacted under the Complete College Tennessee Act of 2010, the approval process for new academic programs was recently modified, and includes heightened attention to institutional mission distinction, a focus on the importance of institutional collaboration, and workforce development, and avoidance of duplication of programs and services.
As described in Academic Policy A1.0, institutions wishing to begin the Letter of Intent process for proposing new academic programs should reference the following resources while conducting their initial feasibility study:
The Tennessee Higher Education Commission's Performance Funding program has been in operation for over thirty years. It is nationally recognized as a successful statewide supplemental funding incentive to encourage continuous improvement of programs and services. All public universities and community colleges have been able to earn additional funds (up to 5.45 percent of the institution’s state funding) on the basis of quality improvement as measured by a common set of indicators.
The incentive has encouraged institutions to build comprehensive evaluation systems whereby they can reliably measure student learning. The Performance Funding Program serves as an accountability instrument for each five-year Master Plan and tracks measures the Commission is statutorily required to report annually to the Tennessee General Assembly. For the 2010-15 cycle, institutions will focus on two quality standards: Quality of Student Learning and Quality of Student Support and Success.
The Academic Affairs Division is responsible for outreach to institutions via both state and federal grant programs, including the Improving Teacher Quality grant program, Diversity in Teaching, the UTeach program, and SREB Doctoral Scholars Program.
This federal program was established to provide grants for colleges and universities to develop and implement workshops for K-12 teachers in the areas of mathematics, science and humanities. The purpose is to establish a collaborative planning partnership between higher education and K-12 education for teacher preparation and continuing professional development.
The Diversity in Teaching Grant (formerly known as the Minority Teacher Education grant program) is a competitive matching grant program that aims to increase the number of qualified teachers from under-represented groups who are committed to diversity as an instructional tool and entering the teaching profession in grades K-12.
In partnership with the Tennessee Department of Education and the UTeach Institute at the University of Texas-Austin, THEC is proud to announce the opening of three UTeach replication sites across the state. Each of these sites seeks to increase the number of K-12 Math and Science teachers in Tennessee by providing high-quality advising and instruction to Math and Science majors who wish to pursue a career in teaching. For more information, please visit one our three campus UTeach sites.
Since 2007, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and the Council on Developmental Disabilities have participated in a statewide taskforce to increase awareness and develop postsecondary opportunities for students who have an intellectual disability and are seeking continuing education and career development opportunities at a Tennessee college or university. Currently, there are two programs in Tennessee for students with intellectual disabilities: Vanderbilt University and UT Knoxville. The Think College website is an excellent resource for learning more about postsecondary education opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities across the nation.
Several P-16 Initiatives are housed within the Academic Affairs Division, the most notable of which is the higher education portion of Tennessee's First to the Top Program.
Core to College - See the Core to College Tab
In partnership with the Tennessee Board of Regents and Chattanooga State Community College, THEC is currently piloting a statewide initiative to reduce the number of Tennessee students that require mathematics remediation. The SAILS program embeds high quality remedial math instruction in the senior year of high school, allowing students to address math deficiencies prior to entering higher education. Funded by the Governor’s Online Innovation budget, SAILS will reach over 8,000 high school seniors in 2013.
Tennessee is a governing state in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness in College and Career Readiness (PARCC) consortium. The postsecondary sector plays a significant role in this initiative, with Tennessee faculty and leaders serving in key roles during the development of the PARCC Assessment.
Core to College is a multi-state grant initiative designed to promote strong collaboration between higher education and the K-12 sectors in the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and aligned assessments. Core to College is funded by Rockefeller Philanthropy Associates with technical assistance provided by Education First.
With the support of the Tennessee Board of Regents and University of Tennessee, faculty redesign teams have been formed to assess and align the K-12 Common Core State Standards to credit bearing, entry level courses in English and Math.
Eight regional Curriculum Councils were formed in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Education Centers of Regional Excellence (CORE) Offices to promote better communication and relationships between K-12 and higher education regarding Common Core implementation.
Several facets of the Complete College Tennessee Act of 2010 are monitored by the Academic Affairs division, including mission distinction, articulation and transfer reporting, dual admissions, and research enhancement.
University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Oak Ridge National Laboratory Enhanced Research and Graduate Education: The UTK-ORNL collaborative Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education has been established. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission has approved the UTK Ph.D. in Energy Science and Engineering. (last updated January 2011)
Memphis Research Consortium: The Consortium represents the collaboration of the University of Memphis, UT Health Science Center, St. Jude Hospital and other Memphis-based business and health providers toward enhanced research in specified biotech and health-related fields. (last updated January 2011)
The Chairs of Excellence program began in the midst of the education reform and improvement measures passed by the General Assembly in the mid-1980s. This program brings eminent scholars to Tennessee public institutions and attracts research initiatives and private funding to our state. The program has resulted in an unprecedented level of donations to higher education from private and corporate sources.
In 1984, the General Assembly and the Governor of Tennessee announced the creation of a new "Centers of Excellence" program for Tennessee public higher education. Selected through a statewide competitive process, the Centers of Excellence are designed to build upon the research strengths of the campuses of Tennessee Board of Regents and University of Tennessee. Their purpose is to focus on the capabilities of public higher education to serve the people of Tennessee by expanding the state's research base; thereby, increasing its national and international stature and its economic competitiveness.
The Centers of Emphasis program (formerly called "Campus Centers") began in 1984 with matching funds from the state. The Centers have been established at each community college on a competitive basis through formal proposals submitted to the Tennessee Board of Regents for approval.