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Hefner to Retire From Tennessee State University

by Black Issues

Hefner to Retire From Tennessee State University

Dr. James A. Hefner, president of Tennessee State University, plans to retire as the sixth president of the university effective May 31, 2005.
J. Stanley Rogers, vice chair of the Tennessee Board of Regents, praised Hefner’s “steadfast commitment to opening the doors of education to all. Jim Hefner is one of the greatest educators in Tennessee. He loves TSU and TSU rightly loves Jim Hefner. At no time in the university’s history has TSU come farther faster. I know Hefner will continue to be at the forefront of great things for TSU for a long, long time.”
Over the last few months, questions have surfaced surrounding Hefner’s leadership and his handling of the university’s private foundation following two state audits.
The reports released in April concluded that Hefner had “exploited his position” to get $10,000 worth of giveaways, including Super Bowl tickets, from food services vendor ARAMARK Corp. The other found mismanagement and a $2.6 million deficit at TSU’s foundation because Hefner awarded scholarships without making sure the foundation could pay for them.
In his statement to the media, Hefner acknowledged he made a mistake regarding the Super Bowl tickets. “I hope that Super Bowl tickets do not define who I am. The public is the ultimate judge, but let me say this: For 40 years, my passion has been to educate young people.”
Hefner plans to “devote my last year to doing the good work we have been doing over the last 13 years — work that has fostered and maintained stability on campus.”
Since Hefner has been president: 
• Enrollment has risen from 7,405 in 1991 to 9,024.
• Annual alumni giving has risen from $67,000 in 1991 to $500,000.
• Annual sponsored research has risen from $7 million in 1991 to $41 million. In Tennessee, only Vanderbilt University and University of Tennessee-Knoxville receive more.
• Tennessee State’s endowment was $1.2 million in 1999. Today, it is close to $11 million, an increase of more than 500 percent.
Prior to Hefner’s retirement announcement, the state’s board of regents recommended hiring an executive vice president to oversee day-to-day operations at TSU while Hefner concentrated on fund raising. He was expected to select a vice president by the end of June to help him fulfill the recommendations of the audits.

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