Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey among 8 people appointed to ETSU’s local governing board

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JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – Governor Bill Haslam has appointed eight individuals to the newly created local governing board at East Tennessee State University. Among the appointees is state Senate Speaker Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey.  Ramsey, from Blountville, is not seeking re-election.

He is also, one of the five East Tennessee State University graduates to join the school’s board.

The goal of the appointments is support student success in the state’s education initiative called Drive to 55. The program moves the governance of the ETSU from the Tennessee Board of Regents to a the local governing board. A first in the institution’s 105-year history.

The appointees to the ETSU governing board are:

  • Janet Ayers, president of the Ayers Foundation
  • Steven DeCarlo, CEO of AmWINS Group, Inc.
  • David Golden, senior vice president, chief legal and sustainability officer and corporate secretary for Eastman Chemical Company
  • Dorothy Grisham, owner/operator of an Allstate Insurance Agency
  • Dr. Linda Latimer, anatomic and clinical pathologist and owner of Mountain Regional Pathology
  • Scott Niswonger, chairman and founder of Niswonger Educational Foundation and executive chairman of Landair Transport, Inc.
  • James Powell, founder of Powell Companies and former chair of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission
  • Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, owner of Ron Ramsey and Associates.

This governing board is one of six that will be appointed by the governor. Meaning, Haslam will appoint members to local governing boards for Austin Peay State University, Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee State University, Tennessee Technological University and the University of Memphis.

“These six local governing boards will provide more focused support to the institutions as we continue the Drive to 55, our push to have 55 percent of Tennesseans with a degree or credential by 2025,” said Haslam.

The move to appoint governing boards was a direct result of the governor’s FOCUS Act that was passed in the General Assembly earlier this year.

“There is incredible momentum around Tennessee’s college enrollment rate, which increased to a historic high of 62.5 percent in 2015. With Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect we’ve been successful in increasing access to higher education, but as we change the conversation and culture of expectations in our state we have to ensure our colleges and universities are supported in their efforts to create student success,” Haslam said.

The board appointments are effective January 16, 2017, but are subject to confirmation by the General Assembly.

If confirmed, board members will undergo orientation and professional development delivered by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. The ETSU board will assume responsibility upon the first called meeting by Haslam.

For more details about the Drive to 55, check out:

See also: About the ETSU FOCUS Local Governing Board Appointees (.pdf)

ETSU President Brian Noland shared this statement Tuesday with the students and faculty:

“As many of you know, the signing into law of the FOCUS Act earlier this year by Gov. Bill Haslam began the transition of moving the governance of East Tennessee State University from the Tennessee Board of Regents to a campus board for the first time in our institution’s 105-year history.  It is with great enthusiasm that I share with you the names of those individuals who, earlier today, were announced by Governor Haslam as members of our Board of Trustees.  They are Janet Ayers, Steven DeCarlo, David Golden, Dorothy Grisham, Dr. Linda Latimer, Scott Niswonger, Jim Powell and Ron Ramsey. These men and women are recognized as leaders in their fields and are also known for their strong support and affinity for the university.  Also named to the board as the faculty representative is Dr. Fred Alsop, a professor in our College of Arts and Sciences. Alsop was selected for the role through a process defined by the Faculty Senate. In addition, I am pleased to announce that Dr. David Linville will serve as the Secretary of the Board of Trustees.  Dr. Linville is a tenured professor in the Quillen College of Medicine and has done a masterful job chairing our Governance Transition Committee.  I anticipate the Tennessee General Assembly will hold confirmation hearings for the Governor’s appointments in March 2017.  Once confirmed by the General Assembly and following authorization from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), the Board of Trustees will likely convene for the first time in April 2017.  In the coming months we as a campus community will have the opportunity to welcome the trustees in person, providing time for members of our community to become acquainted with the board.  The trustees will have much to learn about the university and what it means to be a member of the board.  At this time, I would ask that we be mindful that our Board of Trustees has not been officially seated and, until the installation next spring, we will continue to be governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.    This is a historic time in the 105-year history of East Tennessee State University.  I share in the Governor’s excitement with his announcement, and I look forward to working closely with the trustees. Gov. Haslam’s announcement can be viewed at  Thank you, BN – Brian Noland, President “

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