KATN, part 3

Update on Tennessee State University's interim president from the Tennessean.

TSU's interim chief hails progress, acknowledges bumps along way
Shields declined to comment on the personnel changes, but they follow months of intense scrutiny into the way TSU does business. The coming months promise more staff shake-ups. TSU's payroll is top-heavy with administrators. Part of Wednesday's presentation was a chart that showed that 5 percent of TSU's staff are top administrators, while professors and instructors make up just 37 percent of employees.

At neighboring Middle Tennessee State University, which is three times TSU's size, top administrators are 4 percent of the staff and instructors are 43 percent.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools declined to reaffirm TSU's accreditation in December, giving the university one year to meet the accrediting body's standards. The university has drafted a new report that will be ready for faculty review by April 15.

Shields has been working to improve student services. She shadowed one student into the records office and was outraged at the way the woman was treated by employees — and the fact that the student was in the process of transferring out of TSU and no one bothered to ask why.

Shields sent everyone who answers a phone at the university to a training class, and she's not afraid to cold-call departments from her cell phone, just to see how they treat callers.

"I called a lady into my office yesterday, and we had a little chat about her unfriendly phone manner," Shields said. "Students love TSU, and they want TSU to love them."


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