Martin Talks of University of Memphis High School for Teachers

By Bill Dries

University of Memphis interim president Brad Martin wants to build a high school with the Shelby County Schools system.

MARTIN

Martin’s specific idea is to create a high school for students who want to be teachers, allowing those students to use dual enrollment to earn college credit toward a teaching degree.

Martin said Wednesday, Sept. 11, he has been talking the idea over with Shelby County Schools superintendent Dorsey Hopson for several weeks.

“We think it is a very big idea, and the university wants to be at the heart of making it happen,” Martin said after moderating an education reform forum organized by the New Memphis Institute.

“We have Campus School today, which is K through fifth grade, operated by the university. We have a sufficient number of dual-enrollment students who are in a hurry to get on with their life and have that proficiency. We think there’s an opportunity to take kids who know they want to be a school teacher, recruit them, make them compete to get into the school and get them on a fast-track basis.”

Martin also pitched the idea to the audience of 600 at the forum, and when the crowd applauded, Martin said he would be calling on those who applauded to donate money to make the school happen.

That isn’t the only reminder this week of financial considerations for Martin, who last month kicked off the university’s academic year with a set of priorities for growth during his interim leadership of the school.

Martin sent a memo to faculty and staff on Tuesday estimating the university has a $20 million gap in its current fiscal year budget.

“Enrollment is declining. Our completion rate is flat. And we’re not going to raise tuition again,” Martin said Wednesday. “So, we’ve got to think about how do we do things more efficiently. We are going to do it in this current budget year.”

He also said the email was an attempt to be more transparent about a budget gap that surfaces on a regular basis and has to be balanced by the end of the fiscal year when it arises.

This year that will include a review on unfilled positions.

“We’ve not said we are not going to fill them,” Martin said. “We’ve said we are going to have a review process that permits us to decide strategically how important are they.”