The Tennessee Higher Education Commission – the public policy coordinating body for the state's public higher education system – has unanimously elected Cato Johnson as its new chairman.
"I look forward to helping the commission reach its goal of increasing the educational attainment beyond high school so that more Tennesseans with college degrees can make positive contributions to our workforce needs," said Johnson, who served as vice-chairman last year.
"I want to thank Cato for his work on the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC)," Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said. "I look forward to working with him as chair, and I appreciate his willingness to serve Tennessee in this new capacity."
THEC consists of 9 universities, 13 community colleges and 27 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology throughout the state and approximately 252,000 students attend each year. The commission makes higher education budget recommendations for over $1.2 billion in state funding as well as a current capital budget of approximately $400 million.
"Tennesseans need and deserve citizens who step up for their best interests, and understand how important education is to the well-being of our state," Richard Rhoda, THEC executive director said. "Cato Johnson provides that understanding and the leadership to do just that.
Johnson, who has served on THEC for five years, said higher education – always an important issue – is even more so "during these challenging times."
The 15-member board includes Mayor A C Wharton Jr., Tennessee State Secretary David Lillard and Secretary of State Tre Hargett.
Johnson, who lives in Bartlett, is the senior vice president of Corporate Affairs for Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare.