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NASHVILLE (WATE) - Gov. Bill Haslam invited educators and administrators, as well as prominent business people from throughout Tennessee, to Nashville Tuesday.
They were there to give their input about how to make higher education more attainable and Tennessee's workforce better educated in the future.
The meeting was the first of many for the governor and his team.
The purpose of Tuesday's post-secondary education review kickoff meeting was not to point fingers or to resolve all the problems plaguing secondary education in Tennessee.
The goal was find ways to balance the cost, quality and access to higher education in the state, known as the Golden Triangle.
"I think some of the key things that we've talked about continually is affordability, access, and how you produce a workforce for the industries and the people of Tennessee, so that people get great jobs coming out of our programs," University of Tennessee President Dr. Joe DiPietro said. "So certainly that's something that we've talked about with our chancellors frequently."
One of the ways suggested to help increased productivity in education was to get students out into the workforce in four years, rather than five or six. To do that, educators discussed getting more students enrolled in summer school.
"I think the notion that, if you look at (UT Economics Professor) Dr. (William) Fox's work, that says that if you graduate in four, as opposed to five or six, you make more money, that starting salary out of school might help some students be encouraged," said Dr. Pietro.
But employers played a key role in discussion as well. They asked if students are prepared for the jobs they will take when they graduate.
"Clearly there is a challenge to Tennessee," Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan said. "If we're going to thrive in this economy as well as the economy of tomorrow, we're going to have to do a much, much better job of raising education attainment."
Tuesday's meeting was the first, with seven more scheduled throughout the state. They all have the goal of making students better prepared for the workforce and making the state's workforce among the best.
"We think that we're on the right path," Gov. Haslam said. "To complete college is one step there. Having the state be able to step up and fund more of higher education, which hopefully we can do if Medicare and TennCare doesn't take more of our budget away. Those are key elements, but it's a much more complex piece than just one or two things."
One of the speakers pointed out that the state's effort to shift incentives to completion from enrollment will be closely watched throughout the U.S.
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