Rep. Williams leads FOCUS Act forum set for Wednesday, April 13

Currently awaiting Gov. Bill Haslam’s signature, the Focus on College and University Success (FOCUS) Act is the topic of discussion at a public forum Wednesday, April 13, from 1-4 p.m. in Derryberry Hall Auditorium.

Rep. Ryan Williams, R- Cookeville,  will moderate the forum, according to Karen Lykins, Tech’s associate vice president for communications & marketing.

Four of the six current Tennessee Board of Regents presidents are attending, including: University of Memphis President David Rudd, East Tennessee State University President Brian Noland, Austin Peay State University President Alisa White and Tennessee Tech President Phil Oldham.

The FOCUS Act will revise the structure and management of higher education institutions in the state of Tennessee, according to the Tennessee General Assembly website. The changes will include unknown impacts to TBR, including financial changes, such as changes in tuition and fee funding levels, changes in employment levels and reallocation of existing funding.

“The change promises to be positive for students because it leads to stronger, more relevant and cost-effective institutions,” said Lykins.

According to Lykins, only 20 to 30 percent of the university’s budget comes from the state as opposed to the 70 to 80 percent state funding in 1972.

“This means that public universities must now aggressively pursue students by providing the most valuable educational experience for their tuition dollars,” said Lykins.

President Oldham addressed university students and faculty in a statement on the FOCUS Act web page at, which answers questions and provides more information about the new bill.

“At Tech, we embrace the autonomy this change will bring and also recognize the increased responsibility our university faces,” said Oldham.

Thursday, April 14 at 11 p.m., President Oldham will host a second forum open to the campus concerning how the FOCUS Act will affect Tech specifically. The forum is open to faculty, staff and students.