Record enrollment helps University of Tennessee finances

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Record enrollment has helped the University of Tennessee to make up for much of the revenue lost due to the coronavirus crisis, system President Randy Boyd said this week.

Lost revenue and added costs totaled around $147 million including about $40 million in lost revenue from sports, the Knoxville New Sentinel reported. However, thanks to grants, reduced expenses and an increase in tuition revenue, the total deficit was around $9 million, which was covered by reserve money, Boyd said at a Friday Board of Trustees meeting.

Enrollment increased 1.9% across the UT system to an all-time high of 52,559 students.

“Even though we had zero increase in tuition, our enrollment is up, and thus, our revenue from enrollment is up,” Boyd said. “Second, we get a third of our funds from the state of Tennessee. The state of Tennessee gave us the same amount of money this year as they did last year, so we didn’t take a cut there. And then third, our research dollars were actually up this year 1.4%, so all the key sources of revenue were either flat or up.”

Boyd said he does not have financial concerns for the spring semester.

To help cover the athletics deficit, the athletic department is instituting a tiered salary-reduction for employees earning more than $50,000 annually, effective Nov. 1 through the end of the fiscal year. The pay cuts are expected to save up to $1.6 million.

UT Knoxville will also cover several annual costs that the university typically charges the athletic department, including academic services and parking fees and will loan the athletic department any needed funds if assistance is unavailable from the SEC.

The Board also voted to reaffirm its diversity statement and add alumni to the statement. It now reads, “The Board of Trustees recognizes that diversity in the educational environment, including an outstanding and diverse student body, faculty, staff, and alumni, and an environment conducive to learning, adds value to the educational experience and the degree earned."

Of the current UT system students, 19.6% are people of color. Meanwhile, current public high school juniors and seniors in Tennessee are about 36% people of color, according to Brian Dickens, chief human resource officer and chief diversity officer.

“If you look, two and three, four years out in terms of the diverse population that’s going to be coming through for potential students, it’s important that our campus reflects that population,” Board Chair John Compton said.

The Board also discussed plans to add Martin Methodist College, in Pulaski, to the UT System.

Discussions are still in the early stages, but UT hopes to have a special-called board meeting about the addition before the end of the year, Boyd said.

“We believe this is a win-win-win for Martin Methodist and that community,” Boyd said Friday. “We’ve talked with the faculty and the staff and they are incredibly excited about the opportunity to be a part of the state system.”