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Compliments of Rep. Jimmy Eldridge









February 17, 2017




Legislature Moves Forward With Confirmation Of University Governing Boards

Appointments will aid in state meeting Drive to 55 challenge


This week in Nashville, the legislature moved forward with the confirmation of 48 appointments to Tennessee’s new university governing boards, giving the higher education institutions involved increased autonomy to support student success as the state continues its Drive to 55 initiative: the goal of getting 55 percent of Tennesseans equipped with a college degree or certificate by the year 2025 to meet the demands of the 21st Century job market.


The 48 appointments include the governing boards of Austin Peay State University, East Tennessee State University, Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee State University, Tennessee Technological University, and the University of Memphis. The boards are the result of the Focus On College And University Success (FOCUS) Act, which was passed by the General Assembly in 2016.


Prior to the passage of the FOCUS Act, many education experts raised questions as to whether the higher education structure in place at that point was organized appropriately to meet today’s changing education environment – including a 10 percent increase in overall first-time freshman enrollment at Tennessee universities and a nearly 25 percent increase in first-time freshman enrollment at state community colleges last year alone. With 46 institutions under its belt to look after, proponents agreed it was difficult for the Board of Regents to meet all of the diverse challenges of today’s educational system.


With the FOCUS Act, the massive 46 institution conglomerate under the Board of Regents was shifted and local governing boards were created, allowing community colleges the ability to focus at a system level, while giving the state’s four-year universities the benefit of greater overall autonomy and decision-making.


Now that they are appointed, the new boards will have the authority to appoint campus presidents, manage university budgets and set tuition, and guide other operational tasks of the universities they oversee.



Tennessee Treasury Returns Record Amount Of Unclaimed Property To Tennesseans In 2016
$789.2 million still waiting to be claimed across state


The Tennessee Treasury Department returned a record amount of unclaimed property in 2016 to Tennesseans across the state, marking a 28% increase over the prior year. In total, 41,827 claims were processed in 2016, totaling more than $34 million with an average claim amount of $817.


Unclaimed property is money that has been turned over to the state by businesses and organizations that cannot locate their original owners. Each year, millions of missing dollars are returned with the assistance of the Tennessee Treasury Department helping get that money back to original owners. And, while $34 million was returned during 2016, there is currently $789.2 million of money and property still waiting to be claimed.


Types of unclaimed funds held by the Treasury include stocks, bonds, gift certificates, checks, unclaimed wages, refunds from utility and other companies, life insurance annuities, among others. In Tennessee, unclaimed property does not include real estate or physical items.


The Treasury Department credits the large increase in returned property in 2016 to the Department’s website: ClaimItTn.gov. This searchable online database contains all unclaimed property in Tennessee dating back to the beginning of the program. You can visit www.ClaimItTn.gov to search for your name, and can file your claim through the website. The Department recommends searching for common misspellings of your name and addresses as well.


There is no expiration date for unclaimed property in Tennessee and it is held by the state until claimed by its rightful owner.


These unclaimed property services are offered by the Treasury Department free of charge and no fees are associated with processing a claim. Once a claim is received, the Treasury verifies the funds are going to the correct person, with many claims being returned within two weeks of being submitted.


For those without internet access, the Unclaimed Property Division can be contacted by phone at (615) 741-6499.




Tennessee Names First Female State Architect


Earlier this week, the State Building Commission voted unanimously to appoint Ann McGauran as Tennessee State Architect. With the appointment, McGauran becomes the first woman to serve the state in this capacity since the position was first created in 1955.


McGauran is a senior architect with more than 25 years of architectural and project management experience. Since 2014, she has worked at the Tennessee Department of General Services, most recently serving as the Executive Director of Business Operations. McGauran has substantial experience as an architect in the private sector, including with Vanderbilt Medical Center, where she worked as a project manager and in other capacities. 


The State Architect and staff serve as support for the functions of the State Building Commission and also provide oversight for all capital projects and real estate transactions that are under authority of the State Building Commission.


The motion to appoint McGauran as State Architect was made by House Speaker Beth Harwell, who currently serves as the first female Speaker of the House in Tennessee history.











Rolfe has 33 years of experience in business and investment banking in Tennessee


NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Nashville business executive Bob Rolfe as commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD). An innovative business leader, Rolfe, 56, has more than three decades of experience in business and investment banking in Tennessee.


“Bob Rolfe has spent his career growing companies and creating jobs, and he will bring incredible experience and energy to our work of making Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs and ensuring that success is felt throughout the state,” Haslam said. “Bringing someone of Bob’s caliber to this position says a lot about the momentum we have right now in Tennessee, and I know that will continue to flourish under his leadership.”


Rolfe comes to the administration from Medical Reimbursements of America (MRA), a 250-employee Franklin company that provides specialty reimbursement solutions for more than 500 hospitals and health systems across the country. As chairman and CEO, he led the development and rollout of the first technology-based solution dedicated exclusively to the resolution of complex accident claims.


In 2011, Rolfe co-founded West End Holdings, a Nashville-based private equity partnership that acquires and manages underperforming companies, transforming their operating and financial performance. He spent the first 18 years of his career as an investment banker at J.C. Bradford and Co.


“As a lifelong Tennessean, it is an honor to have the opportunity to serve our governor and the citizens of our great state,” Rolfe said. “After spending many years working in the business community, I look forward to applying my energy and efforts toward recruiting additional capital investment and jobs across the state of Tennessee.”


A native of Nashville, Rolfe received his executive MBA from the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama. An active member of the Nashville community, he currently serves on the advisory board of Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

He and his wife, Kathy, live in Nashville and have three adult children, Robert, Carly and Leslie. They are members of First Presbyterian Church, where Rolfe has served as an elder for more than 20 years.


Rolfe joins the administration on March 1. He replaces Randy Boyd who left ECD earlier this month to return to the private sector.




For immediate release:                            


Nearly 26,000 Tennessee high school seniors participate in first ACT Retake Day;

More than 1,300 new students now able to access up to $21 million in HOPE Scholarship funds

NASHVILLE—Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced today that 25,977 students in the state’s high school class of 2017 participated in the department’s first ACT Senior Retake Day last fall. Of those, nearly 40 percent increased their overall score, and 1,331 seniors raised their composite above a 21—creating access to HOPE Scholarship funds that provide up to $16,000 to help students pay for college. Tennessee is the first state to offer the retake opportunity on a statewide scale. 

There were several highlights in the results. In addition to the students who raised their overall composite, thousands of students raised individual subject test scores, which will help them be more competitive at institutions that allow for students to “superscore,” where they take the highest individual subscores across multiple ACT tests. The ACT retake also resulted in more students hitting the ACT college-readiness benchmarks in all four subjects. In Knox County Schools, for example, 25 percent of students who retook the ACT hit all four benchmarks during their junior year. The retake resulted in 32.1 percent of these students hitting all four benchmarks.  Statewide, the percentage of retake students in the class of 2017 who met all four benchmarks increased from 21.5 percent to 26.8 percent. 

Additionally, over a third of school districts increased their districtwide ACT average, with the best gains in Maryville City, which increased its composite average by a full point.


“Our goal is to open more doors for students after high school, and these results are one more step toward that vision,” McQueen said. “We want students to graduate from high school with the ability to access whatever path they want to explore, and we know too often low ACT scores create a barrier. This retake option is not just strengthening our students’ future opportunities, but it is strengthening our state’s future, as well.” 

October 2016 was the first time Tennessee offered public high school seniors the chance to retake the ACT for free. The department proposed this option since its research shows students have a high likelihood of increasing their score when they take the college entrance exam a second time. Higher composite scores not only provide access to state support, but they also make a student more competitive for entry into higher education institutions and for institutional and private scholarships. They also allow students to enroll directly into credit-bearing coursework instead of remedial classes. Gov. Haslam’s FY18 budget, released last month, proposed to continue funding the ACT Senior Retake option.

Today’s results also point to areas where the state can target future efforts to maximize this investment. For example, the department is encouraging districts to focus on ensuring that the students whom its research indicates will most benefit from a retake—typically those who were lower-performing—take advantage of this free opportunity. A review of the data show that students who generally earned higher composite scores participated in the retake day last fall, while those who scored below a 17 were far less likely to do so. However, those students scoring in that lower range increased their composite score the most on average.





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Memphis' New Show "Sun Records" Debuts on CMT






There’s more exciting news about Tennessee’s continued rise as the global music destination of choice. CMT is launching a new TV series that will tell the story of Memphis’ Sun Studios. The red-blooded, born-from-the-blues series Sun Records premieres Thursday, Feb. 23, at 10 p.m. ET/PT and joins Nashville to complete CMT's new Thursday line-up.

Set in Memphis, Sun Records tells the story of nothing less than the birth of rock ‘n’ roll. Guided by Sam Phillips, young musicians like Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis combined the styles of country music with the 1950s R&B sound created by artists like Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Fats Domino and Ike Turner and changed the course of music forever. The series chronicles these young artists’ often jarring and sudden meteoric rise to fame in the face of sweeping political change.

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Kimberly Leonard Promoted to TDTD Director of Sales





Kimberly Leonard, most recently part of the TDTD team as PR media manager, has been promoted to director of sales.

In this role, Kimberly will oversee tourism’s sales activities, including managing details for TDTD’s participation in sales trade shows including ABA, NTA, IPW, and more, working with all sales partners to manage Tennessee’s group and leisure sales efforts.






Mark Your Calendars for Tourism Opportunities






The Tourism Industry is made up of forward-thinking professionals, which means we are all planning ahead and seeing to it that important events, conferences and workshops are part of our annual schedules. Don’t miss out on key events.

Take a look at this list, see which ones are a good fit for your needs and mark your calendars accordingly. As a reminder, TDTD regularly updates the industry calendar. So keep checking back for updates.




Heartland Travel Showcase
March 3-5, 2017
Pigeon Forge, TN
TN Association of Museums Conf.
March 15-17, 2017
Pigeon Forge, TN

STS Spring Symposium
March 27-29, 2017
Knoxville, TN

TDTD Sales Sampler
April 4-6, 2017
Multiple Markets

Spring Training
Professional Development Conf.
April 19-20, 2017
Manchester/Coffee County
Conference Center

West TN Travel Writer FAM
April 18-23, 2017
Memphis and Surrounding Region


Smoky Mountain Travel Writer FAM
May 8-13, 2017
Sevier, Blount and Cocke Counties

STS Marketing College
May 14-19, 2017
University of North Georgia

Governor’s Conference on Tourism
Oct. 4-6, 2017
Gatlinburg, TN

Sunbelt Agricultural Expo
Oct. 17-19, 2017
Moultrie, GA
Tennessee is the Spotlight State

Rural Tourism Conference
Oct. 23-25, 2017
Pickwick Landing State Park

Governor’s Conference on
Economic and Community Dev.

Oct. 26-27, 2017
Gatlinburg, TN


Josh Duggin Appointed VP for Technology at DSCC

Josh Duggin Appointed VP for Technology at DSCC

DSCC’s FAFSA Fever Winners Announced