MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Middle Tennessee State University’s Board of Trustees endorsed Tuesday the creation of a master’s degree in physician assistant studies that could be offered as soon as next fall.
The governing board unanimously approved the recommendation from the Academic Affairs, Student Life and Athletics Committee following a report from committee chair, Trustee Pam Wright.
Provost Mark Byrnes said the program focuses upon one of the largest of the fastest growing occupational sectors in the region and aligns with the university’s goal to create additional pipelines from undergraduate major to graduate programs.
Only one other public university, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, currently offers a master’s in physician assistant studies.
“We propose to offer a second, high quality and affordable, public option,” MTSU said in its submission to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, which must also approve the degree before it can be offered.
“This program would prepare highly qualified physician assistants capable of addressing the increasing demand for access to health care among residents of Tennessee’s fastest growing region (greater Nashville).”
In other actions, the board:
• Approved a policy that provides tenure-track faculty with an additional stop-the-clock opportunity to address the interruption in their progress towards tenure caused by COVID-19;
• Unanimously approved a motion by the Academic Affairs, Student Life and Athletics Committee to “acknowledge, commend, support and endorse the administration’s actions and responses to COVID-19.”
President Sidney A. McPhee also told the board that the Tennessee General Assembly’s Joint Subcommittee for Education, Health and General Welfare voted unanimously to extend MTSU’s operations through 2027.
The decision came after a review of the university’s Sunset Audit, which is required of all state public entities at least once every eight years to determine whether institutions “should be continued, restructured or terminated,” he said.
McPhee said the audit resulted in only one finding “related to administrative processes in preparing” the campus crime log, which has already been addressed.