UT To Keep Hearing and Speech Clinic Open Based On More Than 40-Year-Old Agreement, But Budget Cut Plans Proceed

The University of Tennessee announced today it discovered in its real estate archives a more than 40-year-old agreement that obligates it to operate a Hearing and Speech Center through 2057.

Based on that finding, the university will continue to offer services from its hearing and speech clinic but will continue with plans to eliminate the Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology from the UT Knoxville budget.

Interim Chancellor Jan Simek said the university will begin to seek options to fund the Hearing and Speech Center, including seeking partnerships with other public or private entities.

At the June 19-20 meeting, the UT Board of Trustees will consider the proposal from the Knoxville campus to phase out its Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology, which represents about $1.4 million of the $11.1 million in mandated cuts from the Knoxville campus budget for FY 08-09. In all, UT Knoxville’s proposal calls for eliminating three academic offerings.

Simek said the university will work diligently to help students complete their degree plans, when possible, in a timely manner. Faculty and staff will continue to deliver courses, advising and other services throughout the phase-out period. The faculty and staff in these units will be reassigned wherever possible, assisted in pursuing opportunities in other units, or, in some cases, assisted in finding opportunities outside the university.

UT President John Petersen will appoint a broad committee to develop possible options for the clinical services and possible options for the audiology and speech pathology academic programs in Knoxville but outside of the UT Knoxville campus budget.

“These difficult economic times have required us to make difficult recommendations for going forward. While the campus cannot continue to financially support these public health care programs, we support the development of a model that allows them to be successful by working in partnership with other public entities and the private sector,” said Simek. “While these programs in Speech and Audiology unquestionably provide a valuable service, our campus administration had to make tough decisions based on our commitment to educating our students.”

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Contact: Karen Collins, karen.collins@tennessee.edu, 865-974-3265