The 83rd General Assembly authorized a study of state higher education in an attempt to unify the efforts. In January 1964 Tennessee Education Commissioner J. Howard Warf presented a plan to the state Legislative Committee calling for a single board to control all state colleges and universities. Warf’s plan was supported by Memphis State and other former teachers’ colleges, but UT opposed the plan. UT President Holt proposed instead the creation of a “positive coordinating board” for all higher education. The Warf plan would have dissolved the UT Board of Trustees.
In November 1964 the Legislative Committee reported that it would recommend essentially Warf’s plan by establishment of the Tennessee Board of Regents as “a central coordinating-governing agency.” The proposal would have removed the State Board of Education from governance of higher education institutions and would have placed the UT Board of Trustees and a Board of Trustees of State Colleges and Universities under the regents. The regents were established, but as a separate governing body for institutions other than UT.
In March 1967 Governor Buford Ellington proposed the creation of a “lay” coordinating board to study and make recommendations on Tennessee higher education problems and asked the legislature to appropriate $175,000 to allow its creation. The board was to develop formulas for distribution of state funds and then submit their findings to the governor and the legislature. The general assembly responded by creating the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) to coordinate various operational aspects of Tennessee’s two higher education systems, the University of Tennessee and the Tennessee Board of Regents. The commission is composed of nine lay members, with six-year terms, representing congressional districts of the state, appointed by the governor; three constitutional officers (comptroller of the treasury, secretary of state, and state treasurer), who are ex officio voting members; two ex officio student members appointed by their governing boards for a two-year term, the second year of which is a voting membership; and the executive director of the State Board of Education, as an ex officio nonvoting member. THEC coordinates academic offerings, institutional facilities, land acquisition, and master planning.