PULASKI, Tenn. (WATE) – The University of Tennessee Board of Trustees has voted unanimously to add Martin Methodist College to the UT system.

In a trustees meeting Friday morning, the board confirmed Martin Methodist College will become the fifth UT System campus on July 1 and be renamed the University of Tennessee Southern.

This has been in discussion for months. The Pulaski-based school, which has been in operation for more than 150 years, will become a specialized campus for the first 4 years as part of a research period. It’s the first new campus added to the UT system since Chattanooga in 1969.

According to UT leaders, there are many benefits to the decision. On the top of mind, student tuition and fees. Data present in Friday’s meeting show Martin Methodist College tuition is currently $26,000, upon transition it will drop 61% to $10,200.

Students at the college will also have access to the UT Promise scholarship program, which covers fees and tuition for students from low-income households.

UT System President Randy Boyd said last year that this is important to have a campus in the southern Middle Tennessee region. He said this is a way to keep students in that region in Tennessee, instead of surrounding or nearby Alabama universities taking potential students.  

For staff, there are also some benefits. University leaders said all 152 employees of the school will become UT System employees. Mark La Branche will be appointed as the Chancellor of UT Southern. Employees will also be allowed to carry over vacation and sick time balances. There will be about a 2% salary pool increase. Staff will also be afforded a discount on their education. Employees will receive free tuition and their dependents will receive a 50% discount.

University of Tennessee system marketing leaders say the school will have its own independent sports branding like the current schools do. They say input from the Giles County community went into the branding and logos. Those will be revealed on June 30, 2021.

The UT Board has voted to partially finance the acquisition with First Horizon Bank. 

The UT System currently comprises of four campuses in Knoxville, Chattanooga, Martin and Memphis.