Dear Faculty and Staff:
As you know, the University of Memphis held the Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting yesterday. A summary of the meeting highlights, including critical themes, initiatives and issues, will be routinely provided. It was a great discussion with lively conversations across all committees. One thing is abundantly clear, our new Board will help us to innovate, grow and expand our impact nationally. Among the central themes that emerged were the following:
- A commitment to continuing to strategically grow our campus, with an emphasis on creative use of scholarship funds to expand not just regionally, but nationally. It is important to mention the effort is focused on attracting the best and brightest students from around the country to Memphis.
- A commitment to containing costs and lowering student debt. The BOT approved a 2.6% tuition increase, the fourth consecutive year of the lowest increases in our history (an average of 2.1% over the past four years compared to an 8% average over the previous 15 years).
- Action targeting progress on faculty and staff salaries, with recognition of the need for a long-term plan, along with embracing creative alternatives, including a vision that looks at total compensation across multiple domains. Consistent with this discussion, the BOT approved development of a parental leave policy, with specific details pending clarification of the financial model.
- Recognition of the rapidly changing landscape in higher education content delivery and the need to invest in long-term technology upgrades, along with expansion of the highly successful UofM Global pilot project and to continue exploring innovation in content development and delivery.
- Discussion of innovation regarding approaches to cross-department and interdisciplinary work, particularly the idea of interdisciplinary institutes. We will be discussing in more depth the remarkable success of the Institute of Intelligent Systems and MD2K, both glowing examples of interdisciplinary success.
- A commitment to growing our research expenditures and impact, including achieving recognition as a national research university.
- Recognition of the need to explore external partnerships in the expansion of our on-campus housing options and efforts to expand the number of residential students at the UofM.
- A continued commitment to administrative and overall institutional efficiency and effectiveness.
- A commitment to empowering the UofM team to do everything necessary for student success and growth of our mission while adhering to our quality processes and best practices, with the goal of unleashing the capability of each and every member of our campus to be creative, innovative and impactful.
- Finally, there was discussion of our need to launch a new strategic planning effort, with a goal of moving forward in August.
As the above points evidence, our new Board of Trustees is a remarkable opportunity for the UofM. I look forward to working together to launch a new strategic plan and move the UofM firmly into the top tier of national research universities.
M. David Rudd
President | Distinguished University Professor