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Capitol Hill Review: 02/13/17-02/17/17

Legislature Moves Forward With Confirmation Of University Governing Boards

Appointments will aid in state meeting Drive to 55 challenge

This week in Nashville, the legislature moved forward with the confirmation of 48 appointments to Tennessee’s new university governing boards, giving the higher education institutions involved increased autonomy to support student success as the state continues its Drive to 55 initiative: the goal of getting 55 percent of Tennesseans equipped with a college degree or certificate by the year 2025 to meet the demands of the 21st Century job market.

The 48 appointments include the governing boards of Austin Peay State University, East Tennessee State University, Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee State University, Tennessee Technological University, and the University of Memphis. The boards are the result of the Focus On College And University Success (FOCUS) Act, which was passed by the General Assembly in 2016.

Prior to the passage of the FOCUS Act, many education experts raised questions as to whether the higher education structure in place at that point was organized appropriately to meet today’s changing education environment – including a 10 percent increase in overall first-time freshman enrollment at Tennessee universities and a nearly 25 percent increase in first-time freshman enrollment at state community colleges last year alone. With 46 institutions under its belt to look after, proponents agreed it was difficult for the Board of Regents to meet all of the diverse challenges of today’s educational system.

With the FOCUS Act, the massive 46 institution conglomerate under the Board of Regents was shifted and local governing boards were created, allowing community colleges the ability to focus at a system level, while giving the state’s four-year universities the benefit of greater overall autonomy and decision-making.

Now that they are appointed, the new boards will have the authority to appoint campus presidents, manage university budgets and set tuition, and guide other operational tasks of the universities they oversee.


Tennessee Treasury Returns Record Amount Of Unclaimed Property To Tennesseans In 2016

$789.2 million still waiting to be claimed across state

The Tennessee Treasury Department returned a record amount of unclaimed property in 2016 to Tennesseans across the state, marking a 28% increase over the prior year. In total, 41,827 claims were processed in 2016, totaling more than $34 million with an average claim amount of $817.

Unclaimed property is money that has been turned over to the state by businesses and organizations that cannot locate their original owners. Each year, millions of missing dollars are returned with the assistance of the Tennessee Treasury Department helping get that money back to original owners. And, while $34 million was returned during 2016, there is currently $789.2 million of money and property still waiting to be claimed.

Types of unclaimed funds held by the Treasury include stocks, bonds, gift certificates, checks, unclaimed wages, refunds from utility and other companies, life insurance annuities, among others. In Tennessee, unclaimed property does not include real estate or physical items.

The Treasury Department credits the large increase in returned property in 2016 to the Department’s website: This searchable online database contains all unclaimed property in Tennessee dating back to the beginning of the program. You can visit to search for your name, and can file your claim through the website. The Department recommends searching for common misspellings of your name and addresses as well.

There is no expiration date for unclaimed property in Tennessee and it is held by the state until claimed by its rightful owner.

These unclaimed property services are offered by the Treasury Department free of charge and no fees are associated with processing a claim. Once a claim is received, the Treasury verifies the funds are going to the correct person, with many claims being returned within two weeks of being submitted.

For those without internet access, the Unclaimed Property Division can be contacted by phone at (615) 741-6499.


Tennessee Names First Female State Architect

Earlier this week, the State Building Commission voted unanimously to appoint Ann McGauran as Tennessee State Architect. With the appointment, McGauran becomes the first woman to serve the state in this capacity since the position was first created in 1955.

McGauran is a senior architect with more than 25 years of architectural and project management experience. Since 2014, she has worked at the Tennessee Department of General Services, most recently serving as the Executive Director of Business Operations. McGauran has substantial experience as an architect in the private sector, including with Vanderbilt Medical Center, where she worked as a project manager and in other capacities.

The State Architect and staff serve as support for the functions of the State Building Commission and also provide oversight for all capital projects and real estate transactions that are under authority of the State Building Commission.

The motion to appoint McGauran as State Architect was made by House Speaker Beth Harwell, who currently serves as the first female Speaker of the House in Tennessee history.

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