Dear Faculty and Staff:

Our TN Higher Education Commission (THEC) quality indicators were very positive for the past academic year. The University of Memphis score summary is provided below. As you can see from the description of quality assurance funding, the assessment is geared toward incentivizing meritorious performance. The UofM is undeniably making excellent progress year after year. Together, we have improved four consecutive years now. Four years ago our score was 87. Three years ago it was 90. Two years ago it was 92. And this year, it is 93.

As you know, we all strive for excellence, and this is evidence of significant and steady progress toward that goal. All indicators show that the University of Memphis is making progress across multiple fronts, and most importantly, we are providing a high quality, comprehensive educational experience for our students.

Thank you for your hard work, your commitment to our students and serving our community so well.

Warm Regards,

M. David Rudd
President | Distinguished University Professor

I am pleased to announce the newest partnership between FedEx and the University of Memphis, via the University of Memphis Research Foundation and its wholly-owned subsidiary, UMRF Ventures Inc. The unique, student-operated call center is part of an economic development initiative designed to provide real and transferable opportunities to students in the Memphis community.

Student employees at the support center will handle technical support calls from FedEx team members, including "first level" technical support, like phone configuration and basic application and computing device troubleshooting. The center will initially employ approximately 20 student agents from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Our first goal as an academic institution is to prepare our students for success after graduation. We know that students who study, live and work on campus are more engaged in the life of the University. This leads them to graduate faster plus have stronger GPAs. The UMRF Ventures call center at the FedEx Institute of Technology serves as a template for future opportunities that benefit our students. We welcome other businesses and nonprofit organizations to partner with us in innovative ways that utilize the skills of the best and brightest students in our region.

Sincerely,

M. David Rudd
President
The University of Memphis

Dear Campus Community:

Far too often over the last several years, we have witnessed acts of horrific violence in our country, with the motivation for such evil almost impossible to comprehend. We are currently unaware of any students, faculty, staff or alumni being directly affected by the mass shooting in Las Vegas, but we are all indirectly impacted by such violence. As we pause to grieve those lost and wounded, and the countless families affected, we will explore ways that we might be able to reach out and help. Kindness always makes a difference.

If you would like to share your thoughts, please do not hesitate to reach out. If you would like to talk with one of our professional support staff, please contact our Dean of Students, Dr. Justin Lawhead, or the UofM Counseling Center, 901.678.2068 or counseling@memphis.edu.

We will keep you updated as more information becomes available.

Warm Regards,

M. David Rudd
President
Distinguished University Professor

The University of Memphis Magazine
As always, I am delighted to share the extraordinary accomplishments of our students, faculty, staff and alumni. In this issue of the University of Memphis Magazine, read how associate professor of art history Todd Richardson, whose specialty is Renaissance art history, proves he is a true Renaissance man by transforming the former Sears Crosstown building into the Crosstown Concourse, and in doing so, breathing new life into a dying neighborhood. We chronicle how a unique internship program between the Memphis Research Consortium and Herff College of Engineering is retaining local talent and spurring economic growth in the biosciences industry in Memphis, a key ingredient to the economic survival of the city as a whole.

I also offer a glimpse back at my first one thousand days in office and detail my plans and hopes for achieving even more remarkable success in the future in a Q&A session. You can also read about a young UofM alumnus who is blazing a trail across America’s National Parks in a record-setting journey that is capturing the imagination of thousands worldwide. The enormous success of our Center for Athletic Academic Services is on display again as we detail how a CAAS counselor helped former Tiger basketball star Geron Johnson—who now mentors youth—get his life back on track.

It truly is an exciting time to be a part of the University. Go Tigers!

Sincerely,

M. David Rudd
President
The University of Memphis

Dear Faculty and Staff:

Three years ago we established a number of goals revolving around student success, including growing our campus and improving retention and graduation rates. I am pleased to report that your hard work is paying off. As has been shared previously, our average graduation numbers over the past three years are at an all-time high for the UofM, with an increase of approximately 25% over the averages from a decade ago. Similarly, our retention rates are improving in parallel fashion, with our freshman to sophomore retention rate above 80% for the first time in our history. Three years ago that rate was at 71 percent.

As you know, we set an ambitious goal of an average annual growth rate of 2% for five years, after five consecutive years of declining enrollment. Last year we grew approximately 3%. As of the 14th day enrollment data, we have a headcount of 21,783 students, approximately 255 over last year's numbers (1.3% growth), for a two-year average exceeding our goal. Not only are we growing, but our efforts are proving successful to make sure we continue to attract students who are highly qualified academically. This year's freshman class stands at 2,677 today, in comparison to last year's record class of 2,750. Remember, last year's class represented a 30% increase over the previous year. The mean ACT score for this year's class improved by half a point, a significant year-to-year increase. Additionally, our yield rate from the highest two academic qualification categories increased significantly. We have set a stretch goal of 3,000 highly qualified, first-time, full-time freshman in the coming years, consistent with our goal to grow the residential nature and capacity of our campus.

This level of success and movement is not possible without the hard work and dedication of so many on our campus. Thank you for your continued dedication to our students, our City and community. You are making a remarkable difference in the lives of so many, making our campus community and our City a better place, and helping change the landscape of Tennessee and our nation.

M. David Rudd

President
Distinguished University Professor

Dear Campus Community:

Given President Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, commonly referred to as “dreamers,” please know that our University stands ready to support all UofM students affected by this shift in U.S. policy. Rest assured that the American dream is alive and well at the University of Memphis, and we will be working with our representatives in the U.S. Congress and Senate to make sure our voices are heard on an issue so critical to the future of our country and University. We are also working with the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU) to address our concerns about this policy shift that directly impacts some of our students. We will be hosting a meeting addressing this policy shift in the next few weeks; please stay tuned for details regarding date and time. We will also provide periodic updates over the course of the next six months as Congress takes action.

I have had the distinct pleasure of meeting many of our students potentially impacted by this policy change. I can say without hesitation that they are remarkable young men and women. As with many of our students, their journey to the UofM has not been an easy one, and the road ahead promises serious challenges. They should know that they are not alone, as we will be working through our elected officials to support their argument that not only do they belong on our campus, but they are making significant contributions to our campus, our community and our country. The United States is an immigrant nation, a country fueled by the creativity, energy and entrepreneurial spirit of people from around the globe. We will stand with our students, and we will work with our elected officials to keep their American dream alive.

Regards,

M. David Rudd

President
Distinguished University Professor

Dear Faculty and Staff:

Welcome back! I hope the summer months have been enjoyable and productive ones and you are ready for a new academic year. I also hope you will join me in keeping friends, family and colleagues from Houston and the Texas coast in your thoughts. We are actively exploring ways we can help from a distance and will be sharing information on ways you can volunteer or contribute in the next few days.

As of today’s enrollment figures, the University of Memphis continues to grow across all categories, undergraduate and graduate. Overall growth is 1.5%, with our new freshman class currently larger than last year’s (a record class of over 2,700 by Day 11), in addition to growth in continuing, transfer and graduate students. Enrollment figures are not final until the 11th class day. Academic qualifications of our incoming freshmen continue to improve with higher overall average GPA, an increase in mean ACT, and an improved yield from our two highest academic qualification categories.

As was mentioned in last week’s initial faculty meeting, our goals are to attain a freshman class of approximately 3,000 per year and growth of 2% per year. We are averaging 2% growth over the past two years and well on our way to achieving our freshman class goal. Our growth this year is particularly impressive given record graduation numbers over the past three years, coupled with three small freshman classes until last year’s record freshman enrollment. With the resulting number of juniors and seniors on campus, in reality, our University should be contracting. There is convincing evidence our retention and completion initiatives are working, something only possible because of the hard work of so many on our campus. Freshman to sophomore retention exceeded 80% for the first time in our history. Thank you!

Again, welcome back, and thank you for your hard work and dedication to our students, University and community.

Warm Regards,

M. David Rudd

President
Distinguished University Professor

Dear Campus Community:

The deeply disturbing incident in Charlottesville, perpetrated by the KKK, white supremacists and neo-Nazis, is the latest in a string of national events rooted in racial tension, overt racism, hate and bigotry. Tragic events like these challenge not only our nation, but our City and campus. Over the past three years, our campus has engaged in vigorous debate and discussion about these issues, and done so in a manner consistent with our commitment to a foundational value of equality and campus community strengthened and enriched by our diversity.

We will continue our Critical Conversations series in the fall semester, addressing this continuing and disturbing trend of national events. Last year, I met with several student groups/organizations to discuss a wide range of topics and will continue to do so this year. If you have suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact me or Provost Weddle-West directly. As a University deeply committed to the development and personal growth of all of our students, please know that there is a broad range of support resources available, starting with our faculty and staff.  Do not hesitate to reach out to any of us, including your Dean of Students, Dr. Justin Lawhead, who is easily accessible in the University Center.

Our campus and broader City are defined by our diversity and strengthened by its rich tapestry. As we again grieve for this tragic loss of life and a country struggling with racial tension, please know you are part of a campus community that values and is deeply committed to diversity, along with your individual growth and personal development. Just a few days ago, our Student Government Association leaders joined other student leaders from across the country and signed a letter supporting the University of Virginia and condemning the racist and bigoted behavior. I have never been more proud than to witness our students' response to national events over the past three years. There will always be hate, insecurity and fear in this world. Hope, in the face of adversity, is never easy, but something our campus has evidenced repeatedly in the most difficult of circumstances. I am grateful to be part of the University of Memphis and this community. I look forward to hearing from you.

Warm Regards,

M. David Rudd
President | Distinguished University Professor

Dear Faculty and Staff:

As many of you know, three years ago we made a decision to sell the UofM President's house secondary to the need for costly renovations and annual maintenance expenses. Those funds were deposited into a holding account until a decision could be made about the best strategy for future investment. After discussion with our Board of Trustees Executive Committee Members, President of the Faculty Senate and Executive Committee Members, along with members of the Alumni Association Boards, we are recommending moving forward with building an Alumni and Faculty House on campus, a facility that would provide a unique meeting and dining space for alumni and faculty. In addition, the facility will provide a more intimate setting for events hosted by the Office of the President, our Alumni Association and other senior leaders on campus, along with space dedicated to UofM traditions and heritage.

We currently have approximately $1M. I am initiating a fundraising effort immediately to cover the remaining funds needed. I am optimistic we can raise the additional funds quickly and have appointed a planning group that will include:

  • Bobby Prince, Chief Development Officer
  • Tammy Hedges, VP for External Relations
  • Bruce Harber, Chief Operating Officer
  • Tom Banning, President, Faculty Senate
  • One additional Faculty Senate Representative (yet to be appointed)
  • Judge Butch Childers, President, UofM Alumni Association
  • Tony Poteet, Assistant VP for Campus Planning and Design

We look forward to the planning for the new Alumni and Faculty House moving quickly, and I will make sure you are kept up to date as the project begins. This facility will serve an important and much needed role on our campus.

Warm Regards,

M. David Rudd
President | Distinguished University Professor

Dear Faculty:

As previously shared, the University of Memphis is actively pursuing the creation of an Emerging Research University Fund geared toward advancing our research mission and Carnegie I aspirations. In active coordination and partnership with the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and the other public research universities in Tennessee, the UofM is participating in an interim study with the goal of generating a detailed review to be presented to Governor Haslam in September.

I am optimistic about this project being funded in the upcoming legislative session. The completed report will be shared, and you will be updated as this effort continues to move forward.

Warm Regards,

M. David Rudd
President | Distinguished University Professor