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