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MEMPHIS — The University of Tennessee Board of Trustees Thursday approved a major reorganization of UT and endorsed a plan to improve quality in all areas of the institution over the next seven years.

The board-s action reduces the number of accredited universities from four to three by combining campuses at Knoxville and Memphis and the Space Institute in Tullahoma. Several administrative positions, including those of chancellor at Knoxville and Memphis, were eliminated.

The flagship institution will have the name the University of Tennessee. Other UT campuses are at Chattanooga and Martin. The resolution creates for the Chattanooga and Martin campuses liaison committees of trustees, community representatives, the UT president and the board-s vice chairman.

Thursday-s action affirms UT President J. Wade Gilley-s first phase of reorganizing the university-s administration, announced in December. The board-s resolution also gives the administration authority to proceed with the next phase of streamlining.

A report from the Streamlining Committee estimates administrative costs can be cut by $40 million in five years.

Gilley told the board that UT should move into the top 25 in graduation rates, increase to 300 the number of National Merit Scholars enrolled and improve faculty salaries.

He outlined his Tennessee Plan for Academic Excellence that would provide $150 million in private funds, administrative cost savings, state funds and other UT revenues to enhance academic and research programs. Money from the fund would also be used to attract the state-s top students and retain and recruit outstanding faculty.

UT-s national profile will be higher as it strives to become one of the top 25 public research universities in America, he said.

Dr. Douglas Olesen, chief executive officer of Battelle Memorial Institute who chaired the Committee on the Future of UT, told the board a top-tier public research university is vital to a state-s economy. The Committee on the Future report said UT must reinvigorate its research program.

The streamlining group recommended and the board approved changes not previously announced by Gilley. Jack Williams, vice president for alumni affairs and development, will become vice president for advancement and assume responsibility for the Office of University Relations as well as development and alumni.

Sammie Lynn Puett-s title changes from vice president for public service, continuing education and university relations to vice president for public service. System-wide continuing education moves to other vice presidents and chancellors operating continuing education programs.

It was announced in December that Dr. John Peters, provost at Knoxville, would become senior vice president for academic affairs and chief operating officer as well as provost in Knoxville. Dr. Dwayne McCay, former vice president of the UT Space Institute, became vice president for research and information technology.

Bill Rice, Memphis chancellor and vice president for health affairs, retains his vice president-s title as head of the health science center.

For the complete report on streamlining, click here.