253  Permanent or Semi-Permanent Off-Campus Instructional Facilities

Approved by President
Effective Date: June 5, 2017
Responsible Division:  Academic Affairs
Responsible Office:  University Provost
Responsible Officer:  Vice Provost for Academic Programs

I.  Purpose

This policy establishes the intent of Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU or University) to seek every means of facilitating student access to, and fostering student participation in, the programs that the University provides.

II.  Definitions

A.  Semi-Permanent Off-Campus Instructional Facility. A facility leased by the University for multi-year use.

B.  Permanent Off-Campus Instructional Facility. A facility owned by MTSU. Ownership of such facilities may be inherent or derived.

C.  Inherent Ownership. A facility that is approved, built, or purchased, and maintained, in whole or in part, through the use of State funds appropriated for that specific purpose.

D.  Derived Ownership. A facility that is donated to, and accepted by, the University and maintained through the use of MTSU funds appropriated for that specific purpose.

III.  Policy

A.  Introduction

1.  The University recognizes and strongly supports Tennessee's long-standing public policy of providing access for Tennesseans to public higher education.

2.  By the adoption into law of the Tennessee Challenge 2000 goals (T.C.A. § 49-5-5024), Tennessee formally recognizes the fundamental role of higher education in improving the quality of life of its citizens and in nurturing and sustaining the economic life of their communities and the State.

3.  Counties with limited access to, and low participation rates in, post-secondary education are invariably among the poorest in the state.

4.  In support of this public policy, therefore, the University seeks every means of facilitating student access and fostering their participation in the programs that the University provides.

5.  In so doing, MTSU takes special note of the many citizens who, because of economic, family, work conditions, and geographic location, may find participation in post-secondary education difficult if not impossible.

6.  MTSU encourages outreach to these citizens by providing them both off-campus and technologically delivered instruction as well as support services such as evening, week-end, and compressed scheduling of classes, sponsored scholarships, and financial aid.

B.  Quality and Efficiency Standards

1.  In carrying out this charge, quality and efficiency are and must be the controlling factors.

2.  MTSU must, in all circumstances, ensure that the quality of instruction meets or exceeds the national standards of good practice and is comparable in quality and results to the instruction provided on the main campus.

C.  Selection of Off-Campus Instructional Facilities

1.  These standards of quality and efficiency extend to the selection of off-campus instructional sites. Off-campus instructional facilities must be both conducive to learning and efficient in their operation.

2.  As a norm, MTSU will seek to offer instruction in schools, community buildings, industrial training centers, and other such facilities where suitable space is provided at little or no cost to the University.

D.  Establishment of Semi-Permanent or Permanent Off-Campus Instructional Facilities

1.  The University recognizes that under certain conditions and circumstances, a semi-permanent or permanent off-campus instructional facility designed to serve the needs of the University may be warranted or necessary and cost-effective.

2.  In such instances, MTSU may initiate the process for the establishment of a semi-permanent or permanent off-campus teaching facility.

3.  Recognition of need for such a facility will generally grow out of the University’s strategic planning process. In every case, however, the establishment of a semi-permanent or permanent off-campus instructional facility must be thoroughly planned in advance and involve the MTSU Board of Trustees (Board) throughout the planning process.

4.  To facilitate this planning, the following rules governing the development of semi-permanent or permanent off-campus instructional facilities are established. 

a.  The establishment of semi-permanent or permanent off-campus facilities constitutes a major investment on the part of the University and the State and, therefore, requires proper planning and prior approval by the Board.

b.  The approval process will be initiated in the following manner:

(1)  Preliminary Assessment. The University shall assess current access and participation conditions in the targeted area and the needs of its instructional program in that area. This assessment shall be strictly an internal process and shall not include assessment of the external support, possible funding sources, or the level of local and private interest. The focus, instead, shall be on the instructional needs of students in that area and on the facilities necessary for delivering the needed instruction. The assessment must, as a minimum, address the following considerations:

(a)  A description of the geographic area under consideration;

(b)  Distance from and the quality of access to the main campus, other off-campus facilities, and other public or private post-secondary institutions;

(c)  The level of educational achievement in the area as denoted in U.S. Census data and other sources;

(d)  The number of students from the area who currently participate in post-secondary education and the institutions at which they are enrolled;

(e)  The programs and courses currently offered in the area by MTSU and other public or private institutions;

(f)  Historical enrollments of local residents in courses provided locally by MTSU or other institutions;

(g)  The number of temporary instructional facilities currently in use, the quality and suitability of those facilities, and total square footage in use;

(h)  Current costs for rent, delivery of support services, maintenance, etc. associated with the use of each temporary instructional facility;

(i)  The programs and courses needed but which cannot be delivered because of space or quality of space limitations;

(j)  The ability of delivering the needed programs and services by distance education technologies; and

(k)  The availability of additional space in the area suitable for the delivery of the needed programs and courses and the estimated cost of that space.

(2)  Letter of Intent. Upon determination of probable need, the President shall notify the Board by letter of intent that conditions in the given locale or region are such that a semi-permanent or permanent instructional facility may be necessary and warranted. A copy of the outcomes of the preliminary assessment should be attached.

(3)  Economic Impact Analysis. Upon receipt of the University's letter of intent and its preliminary assessment, the Board shall direct the conducting of a thorough study to determine the economic viability that will accrue to the region and the residents thereof by the development of the instructional facility. This study will, among other things, include an analysis of the region's current economy and a forecast of the long-term impact that the proposed facility will have on the economy of the targeted region.

(4)  Authorization to Proceed. After thorough review of the preliminary assessment outcomes, the Board shall make a determination that either:

(a)  The conditions described in the preliminary assessment warrant further consideration and that a full-scale feasibility study should be undertaken; or,

(b)  The present conditions as described in the preliminary assessment do not warrant further consideration at the moment.

Prior to receiving the letter of authorization, the University must not discuss the facility publically or seek to enlist public or private support for its establishment. The use of any funds, public or private, raised or committed prior to the receipt of the letter of authorization will be subject to review by the Chair and the Board.

(5)  Feasibility Study. Upon receipt of the letter of authorization to Proceed, MTSU shall organize and conduct a feasibility study. The study should accomplish the following objectives:

(a)  Define and document the extent and level of need;

(b)  Define the type (lecture rooms, labs, etc.), quality, and amount of space needed;

(c)  Determine whether or not the space needed may be currently available through lease or purchase;

(d)  Determine the approximate cost of leasing, purchasing, or constructing the semi-permanent or permanent instructional facility;

(e)  Determine and document the level of private and local financial support that will be made available; and

(f)  Determine the amount of appropriated funding that would be required to purchase or build a permanent facility or to lease a semi-permanent facility.

(6) Determination of Feasibility. Upon completion of the feasibility study, the President shall determine whether or not a positive recommendation to the Board is warranted. If a positive recommendation is warranted, the President shall communicate the recommendation by letter to the Board. The recommendation must be accompanied by a full copy of the feasibility study.

(7)  Board Review and Action. The Board will review all pertinent information and make a determination with regard to approval and authorization to plan.

(8)  Planning and Implementation. Upon approval by the Board, the University will proceed to formal planning of the facility, ensuring that all the requirements of the State Building Commission and other state agencies are strictly followed.

Forms: none.

Revisions: none.

Last Reviewed: November 2020.

References: T.C.A. § 49-5-5024.