Tennessee Colleges Go Begging

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Things are so tough in state government now that the University of Tennessee's veterinary college might lose accreditation for lack of money. University president John Petersen begged Gov. Phil Bredesen today to build a new large-animal facility at the college to meet standards. But Bredesen said there's no money. Besides, the governor said he's not convinced the accreditation agency is serious about cutting off the school.

"On one hand, of course, I want to have first class programs that can be accredited," Bredesen said during budget hearings this morning. "On the other hand, you have this deep suspicion that there's this one-hand-washing-another thing going on here where the accreditation agencies kind of help the universities get more funding by threatening to remove accreditation if they don't. It would seem to me in the scheme of vet schools I'll bet the UT school is a pretty good one. I want to stay accredited, but I don't want to get jerked around on a chain by accrediting agencies either."

"Do they only visit us when the economy's down?" Finance Commissioner Dave Goetz asked.

"It's an old building and it has a poor design," Petersen insisted. "You can give a degree, but a vet from a non-accredited institution cannot practice."

Petersen said a new building would cost $20 million and the university would raise some of the money privately. (As an aside, there was no mention of Petersen's wife throwing hissy fits and upsetting fundraisers, which is big news in Knoxville today.)

"It's not going to happen," Bredesen said of the vet college project. "There definitely will be a one- or two-year dry spell here in terms of major capital projects."

Layoffs, more tuition hikes and enrollment caps also are under consideration at our colleges.

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