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MARTIN, Tenn.– A University of Tennessee at Martin degree program created to meet the needs of working adults is receiving $1.1 million in startup funds.

UT President J. Wade Gilley Thursday announced the funding plan for UT-Martin’s Bachelor of University Studies. The BUS degree is part of his “New College” program to offer degree programs without having to be in residence on a university campus.

The money will come from the Tennessee Plan for Academic Excellence (TPAE), a $335 million Gilley initiative funded by administrative savings, private gifts and other university sources.

In December Gilley announced a $280 million research initiative as part of TPAE. Nine major research centers will receive $60 million in state and university funds and attract $220 million in federal and private contracts.

UT-Martin started the program last year and had its first graduates in December. The BUS degree is expected to attract many new students because of its flexibility and the manner in which the degree will be available to the public as a result of the grant.

“There are approximately 400,000 Tennesseans who have two years of college credits but were unable to finish a bachelor’s degree program,” Gilley said. “Now, those who want to complete their bachelor’s degree may be able to do so without having to travel to UT-Martin or any other campus.”

Dr. Nick Dunagan, UT-Martin interim chancellor, said plans are under way to add at least 10 courses a year for delivery on the Internet over the next three years. The funding will provide the necessary resources needed to develop the courses, establish online student support services, staff the project and purchase required technology to offer the BUS degree through UT New College.

“Our faculty and staff committees working on this project deserve tremendous praise for their efforts and for the outstanding plan which resulted in today’s announcement,” said Dunagan. “This is another example of a university that is seeking to meet the educational needs of not only West Tennessee but the entire state.

“Dr. Gilley has been extremely supportive of our efforts, and we appreciate this expression of confidence in our ability to truly make a difference to thousands of Tennesseans.”

The BUS degree is a 130-credit-hour program that includes 38 hours of general education, 42 to 54 hours in an individual area of interest, and elective courses with the potential for up to 30 hours of experiential credit.

One of the most appealing features of the degree program is the transferability of courses from other state institutions.

“In an effort to address the Tennessee Legislature’s fall 2001 articulation mandate (transfer of courses between state institutions), all credit courses taken at a Tennessee Board of Regents institution can be transferred into the UT-Martin BUS degree,” said Dr. Victoria Seng, UT-Martin assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs.

Seng said these courses will apply toward the degree with the condition that a minimum number of credit hours are earned at UT-Martin and four-year institutions and that all credit hours can be applied to a board of regents’ associate of arts or associate of applied science degree.

For information about the UT New College or the BUS degree, call 1-800-829-UTM1 or send an e-mail to bus@utm.edu.