Senate panel spurns four more Haslam nominees to UT Board of Trustees

Four of Gov. Bill Haslam’s 10 nominees to a new University of Tennessee Board of Trustees were effectively rejected by the Senate Education Committee Thursday – a day after another, current board Vice Chairman Raja Jubran, withdrew amid criticism from legislators. That leaves just five of the governor’s 10 appointees up for approval on floor votes.

From the Memphis Daily News report:

Those who failed to garner enough votes to be appointed to the board (in the Senate committee) included current board member Brad Lampley, a former Tennessee Volunteers football player and lobbyist from Nashville law firm Adams and Reese; Melvin Malone, a lobbyist from Butler Snow LLP and former special Tennessee Supreme Court justice; current board member Sharon Pryse, CEO and founder of The Trust Co.; and Bill Evans, former director and CEO of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally said those nominees didn’t receive approval, mainly because the Senate Education Committee wanted to remove lobbyists and appoint a completely new board.

“It dealt mainly with a desire to start a new, fresh board that didn’t have some of the problems that the previous boards have had,” McNally said, noting he agreed with Senate Education Committee chairman Dolores Gresham on that direction.

The Senate passed the measure to create a smaller board of trustees on a 24-7 vote, and it escaped in the House with the bare minimum of 51 votes required for passage. It reduces the size of the board from 27 to 12 members, including the commissioner of agriculture and one non-voting student.

… Haslam spokeswoman Jennifer Donnals said the governor is “disappointed by these circumstances but remains very optimistic about the outcome that will result from the UT Focus Act.” He congratulated those who received approval and added he hopes they receive final House and Senate confirmation soon, in addition thanking nominees who served on the board of trustees.


The Times Free Press report describes the rejections as a “stinging rebuke” of the governor’s choices. The only actual vote was on Malone, who got four yes votes with five needed for passage through the nine-member committee.

Pryse, Evans and Lampley are all members of the current UT system board, which Haslam, a Republican, is seeking to refashion with his UT Focus Act approved this month by the GOP-run General Assembly. (Lampley, like Malone, is also a lobbyist.)

… Conservative Republican lawmakers are furious over controversies, primarily at the UT-Knoxville campus involving “Sex Week,” a sometimes provocative, student-led program to teach fellow students about safe sex practices and how to deal with sexual harassment and assault and other issues, including last year’s blow-up in Knoxville’s athletic department.

… With regard to Malone, Sen. Joey Hensley, R- Hohenwald, said, “I just don’t think it’s appropriate for a lobbyist to be on the UT board.”

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