TSU board could cease to exist if House, Senate can’t come to an agreement

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Tennessee State University will almost certainly see some sort of change to its board this year.

Now the question is: What will that look like?

“It’s time for the people in this building to put egos and disputes aside and act like grown-ups and take responsibility for ensuring that TSU is successful going forward,” Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville) said.

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In a development that is a little less than shocking, the Tennessee House and Senate have differing versions of the same bill after the Senate passed theirs Thursday along party lines.

“I think the Senate likes the Senate version, prefers the Senate version,” Sen. Bo Watson (R-Hixson) said.

It would essentially gut the majority of the board, instead allowing the governor to appoint eight of ten members.

“The Senate believes that this board has failed in its oversight in its responsibilities and has allowed the administration to run a university in a way that has resulted in multiple challenges,” Watson said. “The Senate believes the only way to fix that is to replace the board.”

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Alternatively, the house would vacate any TSU board members whose term expires in 2025. There are currently three of them.

“We’ll have conversations,” Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) said. “We’re in two different spots, so we’ll see what happens when it goes back over on Message and if it bumps back, we’ll go to conference.”

It’s the latest inconsistency between the House and the Senate, as the two chambers are currently embroiled in a disagreement over how to move forward with two separate education voucher bills. But both sides say multiple disagreements aren’t indicative of a bigger issue and a bigger rift.

“At the end of the day, you have two bodies and there’s two different trains of thought. You’ll see the same thing on F&E, it’s not anything indicative,” Sexton said. “It’s just we have 99, they have 33. Sometimes we have different opinions, and you’ve got to work them out.”

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If they can’t come to an agreement, TSU’s board will cease to exist entirely.

The two sides have been at odds with each other since last year’s special session on public safety.

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