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April 24, 2014

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Tusculum College Planning For Future, Still Seeks President

Originally published: 2009-02-10 06:40:55
Last modified: 2009-02-10 10:50:16

Additional Images

Trustees, Others

Discuss Objectives

For Next 5 Years



Many Tusculum College trustees, administrators and professors devoted much of last Friday to discussing strategic planning for the college.

That is, what should be the college's objectives in the next five years?

Especially, what courses should and should not be offered as the college seeks to expand its enrollment and become more financially stronger?

Meanwhile, Tusculum College continues without the selection of a long-term president after the sudden departure, then resignation of Dr. Dolphus Henry in the spring and summer of 2007.

Last November, the college announced that Dr. Nancy Moody, president of Lincoln Memorial University, had visited the campus and was "a leading candidate" for the presidency. However, that apparently is no longer the case.

When asked the status of the search for a long-term college president, Kenneth Bowman, chairman of Tusculum's board of trustees, would only say, "I can say the search process is continuing with a lot of vitality. I continue be very optimistic" that a new college president will be chosen "by July 15."

When asked the status of the search for a long-term college president, Kenneth Bowman, chairman of Tusculum's board of trustees, would only say, "I can say the search process is continuing with a lot of vitality. I continue be very optimistic" that a new college president will be chosen "by July 15."

When it was noted that the next meetings of the college's board of trustees are scheduled for May 15-16, and Bowman was asked whether a long-term president will have been chosen by then, he would only say that he is "very hopeful" that will be the case.

Since Henry's unhappy and angry departure two and a half years ago, Tusculum College has conducted two unsuccessful president searches and is in the midst of its third search.

It is clear that Bowman and his fellow trustees want to have the process work well this time with the selection of a capable and committed person to lead Tennessee's oldest college -- even if it takes a little longer to find him or her.

Meanwhile, what many on campus have called the morale-boosting leadership of Dr. Russell L. "Rusty" Nichols, the college's interim president since September 2008, has been appreciated by many in the faculty, some of them suggesting that the college's trustees should persuade Nichols to accept appointment as the college's president.

Dr. Nichols came to Tusculum College after serving for 20 years as president of Hanover College in Indiana. His wife continues to reside in Indiana, and he visits her there as he can.


Nichols presided over last Friday's strategic planning sessions, which involved various committees composed of about 60 people in all -- approximately one-third of them college trustees, one-third college administrators and one-third professors.

In a joint interview on Saturday, Bowman, Nichols and Dr. Edward Kormandy, the trustee's vice chairman, said the aim of Friday's sessions was by next fall to have decided on particular strategies for the college.

A good part of that, they said, will be deciding what courses the college should be offering and which classes it ought to discontinue, keeping in mind what students need and want, but also cost factors and faculty considerstions.

During the interview, Dr. Bowman said the strategic planning discussions focused on, "What are the academic areas that we really need to be strengthening?"

Also, he said, Tusculum needs to be aware of what is being offered college students at nearby universities and colleges, and where are there "niche opportunities" for Tusculum to offer new courses. But also, what proposed new courses would be cost-effective"?

Dr. Nichols said the day-long strategic planning discussion "was trying to clarify our vision for the future of the college."

Dr. Kormandy said those involved are well aware that academic planning must be coordinated with the college's financial planning.
Tusculum College's current on-campus enrollment, both students who reside on campus and commute to classes there, is 692 students, up from what earlier had been a projected total of 678 students, according to Stephen Gehret, the college's chief financial officer and one of its vice presidents.

He said enrollment in the college's Graduate and Professional Studies (GPS) classes, which are mainly held in the evening for working adults, is between 1,250 to 1,300, though GPS's enrollment continually fluctates.

Gehret provided this written statement to The Greeneville Sun:

"The spring 2009 (on-campus) enrollment will exceed revised estimates.

"The Graduate and Professional Studies (GPS) enrollments are down for the first seven months of 2008.

"It is premature to assess the degree to which these declines will impact total tuition revenue and the operating budget."

Gehret's statement continued, "Residence hall revenue is up over budget as occupancy continues strong.

"Unrestricted gifts and bequests exceed budget.

"Income from athletics is above its projected level, and other sources of income (service fees, etc.) are up.

"Any shortfalls in the operating revenues that may develop will be covered by use of the contingency budget, and other identified budgetary savings."


Tusculum College's search for a president has been a long and frustrating one.

In May 2007, Dr. Henry, the college's former president, suddenly left the college at the end of a board of trustees meeting. That July, Dr. Henry's resignation was announced.

The college at that time also announced the appointment of Dr. Nichols as its interim president.

Dr. Henry had tense relations with a number of faculty members. In August 2005, just as the college was beginning its fall term, he discharged Dr. Jonathan Franz, the college's provost and second-in-command.

Later that fall, he fired the college's top two administrators involved with admissions and enrollment management, respectively, providing no public explanation.

That winter, Dr. Henry suddenly fired Dr. Denise Wood, a 16-year faculty veteran who had headed Tusculum's Graduate and Professional Studies (PSP) program. The college later reached a settlement agreement with Wood, who had threatened to sue.


In February 2007, a 33-to-24 "no confidence" vote against Dr. Henry was cast by faculty members attending a closed faculty meeting.

Tusculum officials in February 2008 received disappointing news in regard to the college's search for its next president.

The candidate they had indicated was their top choice, Dr. Craig Turner, president of Hardin-Simmons University, in Abilene, Texas, withdrew his name from consideration.

Turner did so merely by sending an e-mail to Dr. Bowman, chairman of Tusculum's board of trustees. Turner didn't mention then that he had decided, instead, to accept an offer to become president of Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C.

Furthermore, the second choice to become Tusculum's president, Dr. J. Patrick Raines, also withdrew his name from consideration. Raines is dean of Belmont University's College of Business Administration in Nashville.

For more information and stories, see The Greeneville Sun.

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