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VOL. 126 | NO. 147 | Friday, July 29, 2011

THEC Approves Lambuth as State School

By Bill Dries

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The Tennessee Higher Education Commission on Thursday, July 28, approved the acquisition of Lambuth University in Jackson, Tenn., by the state of Tennessee.

The approval in Nashville sets up a Friday vote by the Tennessee Board of Regents on transferring Lambuth specifically to the University of Memphis.

The private United Methodist Church affiliated institution closed June 30 after several years of financial difficulties.

Meanwhile, a feasibility study by THEC staff and executive director Richard G. Rhoda, spells out some continuing maintenance needs that under one scenario could require a subsidy by the University of Memphis or more than the $11 million the state approved for the transition over the next four fiscal years starting with $5 million in the current fiscal year.

The report concludes the Lambuth campus has “significant deferred maintenance issues throughout various buildings on the campus.” Those issues include making the campus compliant with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act to renovations of Hyde Science Hall.

The state not paying for the campus and not assuming any of Lambuth’s debt was a key condition of the state agreeing to reopen the university as a public institution.

The feasibility study concludes addressing the deferred maintenance issues will “require external use of non-state funds while others can be addressed programmatically and operationally.”

The THEC report recommends the Regents develop plans that include paying for the maintenance through student tuition, using the appropriated state funding but nothing beyond those amounts and some of the state money generated for the campus through activities under the state‘s outcomes funding formula. The funding could also be some combination of the three options.

Rhoda and his staff concluded the conversion to a public institution is “feasible with a good likelihood of success.”

“There are costs, however, for both operations and capital maintenance that require careful consideration by state policy makers,” the report concludes.

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