Dear Faculty, Staff and Students:

Last week representatives from the University of Memphis met with Mayor Strickland and other city officials to explore how our University might help in response to recent national events and the tragic loss of life. An issue that emerged with great clarity was the need for an enduring, coordinated effort, one that recognizes the longstanding nature of many of the issues and concerns raised.

As a first step, we have decided to establish a University of Memphis Diversity Council to help direct this effort. The Council will work in coordination with Linda Hall and the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Daphene McFerren and the Benjamin Hooks Institute for Social Change, the Critical Conversations Committee and our President's Leadership Council. In the coming weeks, we will be reaching out to faculty, staff, students, alumni and community leaders to join the discussion. The Council will provide for broad-based input, allowing a voice across all University constituents. We look forward to supporting the City of Memphis as we move forward.

As mentioned in previous communications, we are strengthened and unified by our diversity. Although our local and national challenges are significant, we have tremendous talent on our campus and look forward to helping move our University and city forward.

Regards,

M. David Rudd
President | Distinguished University Professor

Dear Campus Community:

The deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, followed by the loss of the officers in Dallas, have shaken us all. In the midst of this troubling time many of you - students, faculty and staff - have contacted me asking to be part of a broader campus response. Along with our Office of Multicultural Affairs, I am reaching out in the coming days to explore how best for us to respond, how best we can facilitate healing, how best for us to be part of the solution to such senseless violence.

In times of great despair, I am always encouraged by the caring and compassion expressed on our campus. This past month I was reminded of a core value for our campus, city and nation, that we are unified and strengthened by our diversity. During this period of great pain, let's rely on one another to chart a path forward, respond with unity and decisiveness that we are, and will be, a part of the solution.

Please know that services are available for anyone that needs support and assistance. The Counseling Center is ready to help our campus. The Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Dean of Students Office are also open for anyone who wants to talk or just needs a place to be with others. If you need to talk with me, don't hesitate to reach out. Our leadership team is ready to offer support and assistance during this difficult time.

Warm Regards,

M. David Rudd
President | Distinguished University Professor

Dear Faculty and Staff:

Last week we analyzed the UofM graduation numbers and rates since 2000, revealing consistent and steady improvement over the past decade. From 2000-2003, the average annual number of graduates was 3,125. From 2008-2010, the annual average improved 16% to 3,631. Over the past three years we have experienced record numbers, with each year exceeding 4,000. From 2014-2016, the average annual number of graduates has reached 4,229, a 16% increase over the previous three-year average from 2008-2010. As you might agree, that’s remarkable progress over the past decade and a half. We still have some work to do to reach our goal of a graduation rate well above the national average, but we are making excellent progress. At the heart of our mission is not only maintaining access to an affordable, high-quality, comprehensive college experience for our students, but also making sure our students are successful in finishing what they have started and launching a commitment to lifelong learning. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to our students and community. The evidence indicates your efforts are paying off, helping to develop students prepared to contribute fully to a democratic society and shape the lives of thousands of students and families.

I also want to share our success with private fundraising for the University of Memphis. As you know, last year we set a record with $36,774,472 raised. This year, our team surpassed that with a total of $38,536,048 raised. I want to thank our Chief Development Officer Bobby Prince and his team for an exceptional job, with two consecutive record years. Needless to say, their efforts have profound impact on our university, community and the lives of many, many students.

Thank you again for all you do for the University of Memphis and our community. I hope the summer months are going well, and I look forward to the start of another academic year in late August.

M. David Rudd
President | Distinguished University Professor