The future-focused plans for Tusculum were presented to regional school administrators and counselors from eight school systems on Thursday, Nov. 9 at Tusculum’s Greeneville campus.
Dr. James Hurley, newly-named 28th president, presented his plans and strategies for growing the institution and increasing enrollment in the next 20 years.
“We appreciate your service in education preparing our future students,” said Dr. Hurley. “I also appreciate this opportunity to share with you my vision for Tusculum and how we can strengthen our partnership with K-12 leaders, like you, to create a brighter future for our region’s students.”
Dr. Hurley joins Tusculum with more than 20 years’ experience in higher education and told the group about his excitement in outlining how this historic institution can continue to pioneer the way forward for education in the region. He told the group that Tusculum now has students representing 35 countries which “enhances the learning experience for all students,” and offers 70 majors and minors, as well as six master’s degree programs.
He told the group that student success will be a number one priority for Tusculum moving forward, and to that end, one of his first actions was to hire Doug Jones as vice president for student success and athletics.
“Mr. Jones has more than 20 years of Tusculum experience and will work tirelessly to ensure student success for all of our students. Student success is a priority for Tusculum as we continue to grow and advance the mission of this great institution,” said Dr. Hurley.
Jones has served as Tusculum’s athletic director since February 2016 and will continue in the role as Tusculum’s head baseball coach, a position he has held since 1998, through the end of this season.
Additionally, Dr. Hurley said that work is underway on enhancing the dining options at the school and to develop a full-service campus wellness center.
Moving to the future, Dr. Hurley told the group that the Board of Directors had approved making the change from college to university at its last meeting in October. This is necessary to provide a differentiation from community colleges, which today are robust and well-funded, but decidedly different that a four-year baccalaureate program. Additionally, Tusculum will began organizing itself by undergraduate, graduate and professional programs, several of which Dr. Hurley hopes to add in the next few years.
Priority programs include dental, optometry and physician’s assistant degree programs. In addition, he added that Tusculum will continue to explore the market needs in the area to determine where other degree programs might meet a need.
“We ultimately plan to recruit the best and brightest from our region – and to keep them here,” he said.
Educators were pleased with the opportunity to learn about Tusculum’s new direction.
“I believe it is imperative that we keep communications open between our colleges, universities, and K-12 school systems open in order to impact our economic growth within the region,” said Reba Bailey, assistant director of schools for the Hawkins County School System. “It was exciting to hear about the plans for Tusculum.”