Budget Cuts Defer International VP, Lobbyist Posts

KNOXVILLE–The University of Tennessee has suspended its nationwide search for a Vice President for International Development and cancelled its search for a legislative lobbyist.

UT President John W. Shumaker said the cancellation is a reflection of the tough economic times the state and university face, not a shift in institutional priorities.

“I remain fully committed to expanding international opportunities for our students and faculty,” Shumaker said. “At the same time, I promised Governor Phil Bredesen the university would be responsive to his request for budget cuts, and this is one position we can defer for now.”

The ‘UT 2010 Scorecard’ calls for significant increases in the number of students studying abroad and the number of international students enrolled at the university. These initiatives are key components of Shumaker-s vision for UT to become a preeminent, international teaching and research university serving the people of Tennessee.

“We must provide our students with knowledge of the global influences which we live with each day, and international exposure and educational opportunities are critical if we expect them to be successful in the global economy,” Shumaker said.

“In the near future, I shall assign leadership in international development to existing staff and wait to expand this important function until we have developed a strategic vision for international affairs and identified resources to support it through internal reallocation or other fund raising. International development represents a great opportunity to generate significant new revenue for the University.”

UT issued a “request for proposals” in January, inviting lobbying groups to bid for having the university as a client, Tom Ballard, UT vice president for public and governmental relations said. The bids due Feb. 3 have beenT cancelled and no lobbyists will be hired, Ballard said.

Ballard now serves as UT’s lobbyist at the Legislature, and has several other oversight responsibilities, including the UT Institute of Public Service and the university’s public relations division.

“When we started this process, none of us understood the severity of the state’s revenue situation,” Ballard said. “The growing magnitude of the problem has become more apparent this month.”

A major objective of hiring a lobbyist, he said, was to position UT to “to move forward more aggressively” in seeking increased funding for the university and other areas of legislative interest, such as the formula for providing scholarships from anticipated state lottery proceeds