Dear Faculty and Staff:

I am pleased to share that we have grown for the third consecutive summer. As you may be aware, Summer 2014 witnessed a 5.9% drop in enrollment, with a total of 5,466 students (1,463 graduates, 79 law and 3,904 undergraduates). Since 2014, our enrollment has grown steadily and stands at 5,798 (1,459 graduates, 99 law and 4,240 undergraduates) for a net growth of 6.1% over the past three years.  

Most importantly, our 3+3 program for first-time freshman has been a tremendous success growing from 243 students in the first year to 268 last year and 342 this summer. That is 41% growth since its inception. This program is critical to keeping our students on pace to graduate in 4-5 years, along with having significant impact on overall retention rates (which exceeded 80% from year one to year two for the first time in our history).

We are positioned very well for the coming academic year and expect meaningful growth, with numbers continuing to trend in a very positive direction. Our success is only possible because of the dedicated efforts of so many on our campus. Thank you, and all the best for an enjoyable rest of the summer. 

Warm Regards, 

M. David Rudd
President | Distinguished University Professor

Dear Faculty and Staff:

A short note to say thank you as we close one fiscal period and launch a new one. This past year has been very successful for the University of Memphis, across all fronts. We are very well positioned for this coming academic year, one that will include renewed strategic planning efforts.

I hope the summer months are going well as we look forward to welcoming both new and returning students in August. Again, thank you for your hard work and service for our students, University and community.

Warm Regards,

M. David Rudd
President | Distinguished University Professor

Faculty and Staff:

As you know, one of the most significant challenges our students face is affordability. Over the last four years (i.e. including this upcoming academic year), we have been able to implement the lowest tuition increases in our history, an average of just over 2%. As indicated in the table below, this effort has enabled us to make up significant ground with other TN universities, essentially cutting the affordability gap in half.

With this coming academic year, the UofM will move from being on average 10.6% higher in tuition costs than our TN colleagues, to 5.8%. We will also make up considerable ground this coming year, but at this point we do not have all of the TN universities tuition rates. We currently have MTSU data and will gain another 11% this coming academic cycle.

What is particularly important to note is that we are the only Carnegie II institution in the state and arguably offer a distinctive educational experience. Regardless, we have heard our students' request to take affordability seriously, and we have done so over the past three years, with new ground to be gained this coming year.

Once all tuition increase decisions are available statewide, this information will be updated. I thought you would appreciate a quick summary of this critical issue, as I have also sent this information to the Board of Trustees and Board of Visitors.

UofM Affordability Gains

Warm Regards,

M. David Rudd
President | Distinguished University Professor

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. A commitment to growing our research expenditures and impact, including achieving recognition as a national research university.
  7. 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.
  8. A continued commitment to administrative and overall institutional efficiency and effectiveness.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

Warm Regards,

M. David Rudd
President | Distinguished University Professor

Dear Faculty and Staff:

At the heart of our mission is the success of our students. Three years ago the University of Memphis set ambitious goals targeting improved retention and completion rates. As you know, the state outcome formula tracks these numbers on three-year, rolling averages. Over the past three years (academic years 2015, 2016 and 2017), the average of our total degrees awarded moved to a new high of 4,314 - up 9.1% from six years ago (academic years 2010, 2011, 2013 average of 3,955), and up 14.8% from ten years ago (academic years 2007, 2008, 2009 average of 3,757). It is important to share that over the past ten years, the number of bachelor degrees awarded has increased a remarkable 26% from 2,442 in 2007-2008 academic year to 3,084 in the 2016-2017 academic year. During the same interval, doctoral degrees awarded increased from 107 to 161, a 50% increase.

It is great to see our retention initiatives proving their value and our students succeeding at unprecedented rates. This is only possible because of the hard work and dedication of so many on our campus. Thank you!

Warm Regards,

M. David Rudd
President | Distinguished University Professor

Dear Faculty and Staff:

I hope you are enjoying a smooth transition from the spring semester into the summer months. Our past academic year has been a very good one across a number of fronts. As you can see below, summer credit hours are up 4.1% over last year. As you will also notice, summer enrollment contracted for six consecutive years from 2009 to 2014. We have gained considerable ground over the past three years, with this year representing our largest year over year growth.
Although our summer enrollment is relatively small compared to the regular academic year, it is critical to our retention and completion efforts, and certainly a very good sign. Along those lines, our current enrollment for the fall semester is up 9.4% compared to this point last year, likely reflecting success in our many retention initiatives. We do not expect such a large increase to hold until fall enrollment is complete, but it is a remarkably encouraging sign.
Thank you for your hard work on behalf of our students, University and broader Memphis community. An update on final raise recommendations will be shared this coming week, prior to our Board of Trustees meeting. Our next academic year is shaping up to be a very good one, particularly on the heels of a very successful legislative session.

Warm Regards,

M. David Rudd
President | Distinguished University Professor

Dear Campus Community:

Taylor Mayberry, a rising senior at the University of Memphis majoring in Nursing (Class of 2018), has been selected for appointment as the Student Trustee on the University of Memphis Board of Trustees. She is a 2013 graduate of Germantown High School in Germantown, TN. Taylor is currently the President of the Student Nurses Association and serves as the Secretary of Health Care for the Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature. As a member of the Student Government Association, in 2016-2017 she served as Chief Justice of the Student Government Court. Taylor was named a finalist by the Student Trustee Selection Committee, and I will recommend her to the Board of Trustees for approval at the June Board meeting.

Please join me in congratulating Taylor on her nomination as the first Student Trustee at the UofM.

M. David Rudd
President | Distinguished University Professor

Dear Faculty and Staff:

Now that the Tennessee state budget has been approved by the House and Senate, and is awaiting the Governor's signature, listed below is a brief summary of the implications for the University of Memphis.

This was one of the best sessions for higher education and the UofM in many, many years. The following items specific to the University were included:

Increase in operating funds: $6.7M
Allocation for capital maintenance/improvement: $14M
Allocation for the Scheidt Family Music Center: $44M
Allocation for the Memphis Research Consortium: $2.5M

Next Tuesday, there is a meeting with the Director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission regarding creation of an "Emerging Research University Fund" for the coming fiscal year set. I am optimistic about this initiative.

Given that we now have an approved budget, we will be moving forward with salary and tuition recommendations at the Board of Trustees meeting in early June. I will forward information about the salary recommendation next week, along with data regarding summer enrollment which is trending in a positive direction.

I hope your summer months have started well.

Warm Regards,

M. David Rudd
President | Distinguished University Professor

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Our latest issue of The University of Memphis Magazine highlights the extraordinary achievements of our students and the faculty and staff who support their many accomplishments. Get to know our Cheer team, which won the national championship of the Universal Cheerleaders Association, and our student athletes, whose athletic and academic success is recognized nationally. We have also chronicled the personal and professional journeys of two of our alums – Luther McClellan, the first African-American graduate of the University, and Donald Godwin, who provides a testimony to the benefit of persistence.

The University of Memphis has entered an exciting new era with the confirmation and inaugural meeting of our new governing board, the University of Memphis Board of Trustees. This board, made up of eight business and community leaders, a faculty member and a student representative, will position the University to grow and compete nationally. Read more about our board in the Trustee Spotlight section of our magazine.

We have always sought to form partnerships that strengthen the community. Throughout these pages, we discuss how researchers at the UofM are finding ways to overcome life circumstances that serve as barriers to success for many children in the region through partnerships with community organizations.

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

Sincerely,

M. David Rudd
President
The University of Memphis

Board of Trustees

The Focus on College and University Success (FOCUS) legislation supported by Governor Haslam and passed by the Tennessee General Assembly in spring 2016 allowed for the establishment of an independent governing board at the University of Memphis and other public universities across the state. Our inaugural Board of Trustees (BOT) met for the first time on Friday, March 17, 2017.

The UofM welcomes the autonomy that the FOCUS Act provides the University of Memphis. In the coming months, a host of issues will be reviewed with the Board of Trustees as a prelude to launching a new strategic planning effort in late summer or early fall. Independent governance presents an opportunity for our campus to invest in greater depth and detail in our future. As we transition, we will continue to focus on the reasons we are here – student success, knowledge creation, research innovation and community service.

We are grateful to Governor Haslam for choosing these very talented leaders to serve on our board. Detailed information about our Trustees can be found at memphis.edu/bot/board/.

Sincerely,

M. David Rudd
President
The University of Memphis