Martin Methodist University – located in rural Pulaski, Tennessee – is likely to be the first institution added to the University of Tennessee System in 50 years, Knox News reported.
The University of Tennessee Board of Trustees voted unanimously to add Martin Methodist University to the university system on Wednesday. Martin Methodist University’s board voted unanimously voted to join the University of Tennessee as well.
The next step would be approval from the state’s General Assembly and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, followed by a final vote from the University of Tennessee board, which could happen by summer 2021, according to University of Tennessee System President Randy Boyd.
He told Knox News that the merger could lower tuition at Martin Methodist University by 60%.
It’ll also mean Martin Methodist students can benefit from the UT Promise scholarship program, last-dollar scholarships for students with an annual household income below $50,000. Martin Methodist employees will have access to University of Tennessee system benefits, as well.
“That’s really what this is about, providing the people of southern Middle Tennessee with a high quality, affordable education,” Boyd said. “It’s a higher education desert, and they deserve better. And we want to be able to partner with them to help solve this need.”
Some University of Texas System faculty – including University of Tennessee Knoxville’s faculty senate president, Dr. Shawn Spurgeon – expressed concern that a new university could put strain on the system and called for further discussions with system stakeholders, which are expected to take place this month.