The state representative and state senator representing Giles County supported the proposed partnership between Martin Methodist College and the University of Tennessee.
Clay Doggett, R-Pulaski, who represents Giles and most of Lawrence counties in the 70th District, and State Sen. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, supported having Martin Methodist and the University of Tennessee becoming the University of Tennessee Southern, or whatever the name turns out to be, effective in 2021.
“Hopefully, we can get this done. This is a big thing,” Hensley said at the Sept. 15 meeting of the Giles County Republican Party.
A nonbinding letter of intent has been signed between the two educational institutions.
“Martin Methodist is in good shape, but the pandemic has accelerated conversations about the future across the higher education system,” Martin President Mark La Branche said.
“The trustees and I had been talking about sustainability for a long time. When presented with the opportunity to expand the breadth and quality of our mission, the trustees were eager to explore.”
Martin Methodist also is one of four universities and colleges participating in the Lawrence County Higher Education Center with Columbia State Community College, Tennessee Technological University and Middle Tennessee State University.
The partnership between Martin Methodist and UT won’t conflict with or weaken the center in Lawrence County, La Branche said,
“Our commitment to the Higher Education Center remains and our partnership is likely to be expanded and enhanced,” he said.
“The presence of UT in the region will also enhance the centers capacity to serve,” La Branche said,
“We are only 15 minutes apart. Remember that the center depends on accredited institutions to deliver instruction. This will be a win- win for the entire region.”
The partnership would provide more opportunities for Southern Middle Tennessee families who would have the chance to take more undergraduate and graduate programs and pay lower tuition, officials said.
Martin Methodist College is 150 years old and is the only four year and graduate institution between Freed-Hardeman University on the west and the University of the South on the east. It serves Giles and 12 other counties in Southern Middle Tennessee near Alabama,
“We are always looking to expand educational opportunities for Tennesseans,” Randy Boyd, president of the University of Tennessee System, said.
“Martin Methodist is a historic institution that for 150 years has provided opportunities and excellence to Tennesseans in critical areas such as nursing, education, criminal justice, social services and business. Its graduates are vital to the long term economic success of the region.”
With the partnership, Martin Methodist would become a new campus of UT, would be governed by the UT Board of Trustees and become a financial responsibility of the state of Tennessee.