Regents looks for ways to cut spending
CHATTANOOGA (AP) — Members of the Board of Regents are discussing ways to reel back the costs of their quarterly meetings after an Associated Press review found the last four gatherings cost the state more than $187,000.
“People can understand that it costs to get a board member from Memphis to Johnson City, (but) will those same people understand that it costs them to put on a function for entertaining those people once they get there?” board member Greg Duckett, of Memphis, said in a conference call Tuesday.
The AP review of Regents’ records showed in August that $54,157 of the $187,296 spent for the last four meetings went toward travel and hotel costs. The rest of the expenditures included money for food and catering; flowers and decorations; welcome packages for the board members; hotel rooms and travel expenses; music for events; a sound system; and activities for the board members’ spouses.
The Board of Regents, which oversees six universities, 13 two-year colleges and 26 technology centers, has come under criticism from Gov. Phil Bredesen for not adopting his education proposals aggressively enough.
Bredesen, a Democrat, has also said the board should take “a hard look at how it’s spending its money.”
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported last month that the last three meetings of the University of Tennessee’s board of trustee meetings cost the state $78,676.
Robert P. Thomas, the board’s vice chairman, said the system needs to balance the cost of its quarterly meetings with the desire of each college to show off its campus.
“I think we can be just as effective with board members going to two campuses a year (instead of four),” he said.
Another proposal would call for regents to visit several schools in a region during their meetings, instead of only the host institution.
“The regional concept is one that I think would save a lot of money,” said Regent Howard W. Roddy, of Chattanooga.
One change already adopted by the board will shorten meetings to require one overnight stay instead of two.
Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press, http://www.timesfreepress.com
Published in The Messenger on 10.11.07