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KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee in Knoxville needs significant new funding over the next six years to bring per student funding to regional averages, the UT president said Friday.

In his report to the UT Board of Trustees, Dr. J. Wade Gilley outlined several options to bring funding up to the Southeast average. He said reaching the funding average is vital if UT is to become a top 25 research university.

Without significant new state dollars, large increases in student tuition and fees might be necessary, he said.

An increase of approximately $60 million in state appropriations and an estimated 5.75 percent annual tuition increase over the next five years would meet the goal, Gilley said.

It also would move us closer to the historic state-student funding ratio of 70 percent and 30 percent respectively, Gilley said.

“If we can expect only a 3 percent annual increase in state funding, a 70 percent increase in tuition would be required to generate the necessary funds,” Gilley said.

With no new state money, tuition would have to approximately double and by 2006 would be about $6,650 for an in-state undergraduate student, he said.

At UT-s Chattanooga and Martin campuses, fees would not rise as much as Knoxville-s under the various funding options, Gilley said. But with no additional state dollars for operating budgets, Chattanooga and Martin would experience six-year tuition increases of 87 percent and 81 percent, respectively.

“If we cannot address our funding needs, we will have to consider limitations on enrollments in our professional programs like pharmacy, medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine as well as further reducing the size of the freshman class in Knoxville,” Gilley said.

He told the board that UT in Knoxville enrolled its best-ever freshman class this fall. The average ACT score is 24, and nearly one-third of the first-year students were in the top 10 percent of their high school classes.

The number of National Merit Scholarship finalists is up 27 percent and African-American Achiever Scholars 11 percent. There is a 27 percent increase in the number of students in the Freshman Honors Program.

Significant progress is being made on the research front, the president said. The first cloned Jersey calf was born this summer and the Health Science Center in Memphis received a $12.7 million federal grant to study neurological diseases.

The board also:
— approved a capital outlay and maintenance budget of $358 million.
— approved a master’s degree program in agricultural operations management at UT-Martin.

Both items now go to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission for consideration.