Tennessee Higher Education Commission
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The Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) was established by the Tennessee General Assembly in 1967 to coordinate and support the efforts of higher education institutions in the State of Tennessee. One of its statutory requirements is to create a master plan for developing public higher education in Tennessee.
THEC's mission is to elevate the overall educational attainment of citizens in the State through increased accessibility to mission-focused institutions, which deliver educational services on campus, as well as through a planned network of off-campus instruction and to prepare citizens responsibly for success by providing high quality teaching and research in an environment that serves the needs of its consumers.
In recent years, a major focus of THEC has been to arbitrate between the competing demands of the University of Tennessee system and the Tennessee Board of Regents system. Neither body can establish entirely new academic programs, for example, without THEC approval. THEC support is also vital for institutions to receive capital allocations for new buildings and other projects requiring major capitalization. THEC is the official approving agency in Tennessee for any postsecondary institution, public or private, desiring to enroll students receiving veterans' benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs such as those available under the G. I. Bill of Rights.
The Tennessee Higher Education Commission is composed of one "lay" member from each of the state's nine Congressional districts, appointed to six-year terms, the three state constitutional officers (Secretary of State, State Treasurer and Comptroller of the Treasury), two student commissioners serving staggered two-year terms (one each from the University of Tennessee system and the Tennessee Board of Regents system, with voting rights only during the second year of the term, assuring only one voting student-member at a time), and the executive director of the State Board of Education, a nonvoting member. With a maximum total vote of 13 at any one time, the majority required for action to be taken is usually seven votes.
- Tennessee Blue Book, 2005-2006 edition, pp 171–2