Board of Trustees

Overview of the New Governance Structure

Middle Tennessee State University’s Board of Trustees is being established under the auspices of the Focus on College and University Success (FOCUS) legislation that was introduced by Gov. Bill Haslam in 2015 and, in 2016, passed by the General Assembly and signed into law. Until the new board is seated, MTSU is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR).

The FOCUS Act calls for the Board of Trustees to be the University’s governing body. The Board is comprised of ten (10) members of which nine (9) members shall be voting members and one (1) member shall be a nonvoting member. Of the (9) voting members, at least six (6) members shall be residents of the State of Tennessee. Eight (8) of the voting members will be appointed by the Governor of the State of Tennessee with at least three (3) being alumni of the University. A University faculty member shall serve as one (1) voting Board member to be selected by the University Faculty Senate. The nonvoting member shall be a student representative to be appointed by the Board.

The governor on Oct. 13, 2016, announced eight appointees to the MTSU board. The appointments, subject to approval by the General Assembly, are effective Jan. 16, 2017. They are:

  • W. Andrew Adams, chairman, National Health Investors;
  • J. B. Baker, owner and CEO of Sprint Logistics;
  • Pete Delay, executive in Forterra Building Products’ Nashville office;
  • Darrell Freeman, executive chairman of Zycron Inc.
  • Joey Jacobs, chairman and CEO of Acadia Healthcare Co.;
  • Chris Karbowiak, executive vice president, chief administrative officer and chief risk officer of Bridgestone Americas Inc.
  • Stephen Smith, board chairman of Haury & Smith Contractors; and
  • Pamela Wright, president, Wright Airport Business Center

The University Faculty Senate chose Dr. Tony Johnston, a professor in the Department of Agribusiness and Agriscience in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, to be the first faculty representative of the Board. The Board will determine a process for the selection of a student representative.

The appointees will undergo orientation and professional development delivered by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, then the board will assume responsibility upon the first called meeting by the governor.

The Board will be responsible for selecting and appointing the president; setting the operating budget; approving personnel appointments; granting all degrees awarded by the University, including honorary degrees; establishing tuition and fee rates; approving contracts; and approving all rules, regulations, curriculum changes, new programs and degrees of the University.

Transition Process

To prepare for the transition of University governance from TBR to the new Board of Trustees, President Sidney A. McPhee established a FOCUS Act Transition Team. Measures endorsed by the team will go to the President for consideration, then the President will submit his recommendations on to the new Board, once seated, for approval.

The team, chaired by University Counsel Heidi Zimmerman, and consisting of key administrators, as well as faculty and staff representation. The team’s duties include:

  • Reviewing policies and procedures of the university as it will exist under the new governing structure;
  • Seeking clarification and interpretation when necessary from state officials and entities on the FOCUS Act;
  • Making recommendations to the President, when deemed appropriate, for the addition, deletion or modification of existing policies or creation of new policies;
  • Reviewing the recommendations of the divisional working groups and, when appropriate, making recommendations to the President to be forwarded to the Board of Trustees for consideration;
  • And serving as a primary communications conduit on the university’s work on the transition.

Divisional Working Groups, each chaired by the Provost, Vice Presidents or an appropriate member of the President’s Cabinet, are reviewing current MTSU policy and preparing recommendations to the FOCUS Act Transition Team for consideration. These groups also include faculty and staff representation. Duties for these working groups include:

  • Reviewing every existing policy and procedure specific to each division or area;
  • Establishing sub-groups as appropriate, and as determined by the chairs, to assist in the policy review;
  • Determining which existing TBR and MTSU policies and procedures should be continued in the new structure;
  • Determining whether the addition, deletion or modification of existing policies or creation of new policies are necessary;
  • And reporting the results of the review, along with any recommendations for addition, deletion or modification of existing policies or the creation of new policies, to the FOCUS Act Transition Team for consideration.

For more information about the transition process, visit:

  • The President’s Post, which includes news and updates from President McPhee on the FOCUS transition.
  • FOCUS Act, a link to the bill approved by the General Assembly and signed by the governor.
  • University Policies, a link to the MTSU policies and standards.