Research shows that state budgets have shortchanged Tennessee State University by at least $150.5 million since 1956.
Sen. Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville) says the legislature and governor have a duty to restore funds that should have been allotted to Tennessee State University’s land grant programs.
“The research makes clear that Tennessee State University, its faculty and its students have been deprived of millions of dollars. I believe the General Assembly has a moral obligation to address this decades-long failure,” Sen. Gilmore said. “We cannot erase what happened, but we can fix this oversight and take steps toward restoring the funds owed to the university.”
The study, prepared by the Office of Legislative Budget Analysis, was presented April 5 to a committee studying disparities in funding for land-grand intuitions, which includes the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and Tennessee State University in Nashville.
The Morrill Act of 1862 established the University of Tennessee as a land-grant university, but the law did not guarantee access to higher education opportunities for African Americans. The Morrill Act of 1890 established a land-grant university system of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in states where African Americans were banned from accessing a public higher education.
While the General Assembly has funded UT’s land-grant programs every year included in the study, the legislature only started including funds for TSU’s land grant programs in 2007.
Using the current funding ratio of 8:1, in which UT gets $8 for every $1 budgeted to TSU, budget analysts found that Tennessee State University was deprived of more than $150.5 million of funds since 1956.
When calculated using a more equitable funding ratio of 3:1, Tennessee State University has been shortchanged by $544.3 million, the study shows.