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Message from Faculty Senate President, Beauvais Lyons

The President of the Faculty Senate sent the message below to all faculty members. It does, however, also pertain to gradute students and anyone interested in higher education.

Message from Faculty Senate President, Beauvais Lyons

Dear Colleagues:

Early Saturday morning, the US Senate passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. As the House passed its own version of the tax bill in mid-November, the House and Senate will now nominate members for a conference committee to reconcile the two versions of the bill.

I am writing today to encourage you to take action on this issue as someone who is committed to education. The US House bill includes language that would make tuition waivers for graduate students and dependents of campus employees subject to income tax, significantly increasing the tax liability of hundreds of thousands of students. This would make access to higher education difficult for many, and would hurt the University of Tennessee, especially for our graduate students who receive tuition waivers. In addition, the House version of the bill does not allow interest paid on student loans to be tax deductible. The Senate bill does not include either of these provisions. Here are articles about the impact of this bill on higher education from the New York Times and the Washington Post.

I hope that everyone who cares about higher education will express your opposition to the House version of the Tax Bill. Graduate students in particular are key to our teaching and research mission, and access to graduate education is critical to the economic, social and cultural well-being of our state. Tax reform does not serve our country if it hurts access to and support for higher education.

The most effective method of expressing your concern is by contacting Congressman Duncan, and Senators Corker and Alexander directly on this issue. Below are links to their web sites:

Congressman Jimmy Duncan

Senator Lamar Alexander

Senator Bob Corker

Please take a moment to do this today. Thanks for helping to take a stand on this important issue.

Beauvais Lyons

Faculty Senate President and Chancellor’s Professor