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TigerLIFE Postsecondary Education Program, the largest program of its kind in Tennessee, is one of the ways the University of Memphis assists students with special needs. Participation in the TigerLIFE program provides students an option for continuing their education beyond high school in order to increase their employment opportunities. After completing the 60-hour program, culminating in a completion award in Career and Community Studies, students with intellectual and developmental disabilities will attain their maximum level of independence, become more employable, and increase their self-efficacy.

At the heart of TigerLIFE is a person-centered planning model that uses the Systems Approach to Placement assessment instrument to develop a specialized program that best fits the unique skills, abilities, and needs of each student admitted into the program. The TigerLIFE program is administered by the University of Memphis Institute on Disability (UMID), whose purpose is to assist people with physical and developmental disabilities in finding meaningful and lasting employment. The Institute serves as a community rehabilitation provider (CRP) for mid-south regional area vocational rehabilitation departments in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Coordinator of Operations, Aaron Boatwright, explains: “TigerLIFE is an outcome-oriented program that is focused on academic advancement and career placement for each student.  Successful program completion may result in direct job placement or admission into formal degree or other postsecondary programs at community colleges or accredited technical schools. All students develop greater independent living skills as a result of completing the program.”

Based on guidelines of the Think College national initiative, the goal of TigerLIFE is to support students in their quest for independence. Forty-nine students attend classes on the main campus of the University of Memphis between the hours of 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, with Friday serving as a service-learning day.

TigerLIFE leadership is currently provided through an Advisory Committee of hard working and dedicated individuals who deserve our thanks, including: Dr. Chrisann Schiro-Geist, Professor and Director of UMID; Dr. Laura Casey, Professor of Instruction and Curriculum Leadership; Ms. Tonyal Mathes, Transition Program Lead Teacher, Shelby County Schools; Ms. Pat Beane, Coordinator, Department of Exceptional Children, Shelby County Schools; Ms. Jamie R. Perry, Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC), Division of Rehabilitation Services - Memphis; and Mr. Maurice Williams, UMID Associate Director and PSE Transition Master Instructor.

The University of Memphis provides multiple pathways to success for many student populations. TigerLIFE is another great example of how the University of Memphis can partner with the Memphis community to meet critical needs.

Thanks to all those involved in this great work.

M. David Rudd, President

The growing student population of the U of M Lambuth campus will soon have more space in which to be healthy, get healthy and stay healthy. The previously named Athletics Building will reopen as the Wellness, Health & Fitness Building (WHFB) with over 90,000 square feet of recreation, classroom and meeting space available. The improved facilities promise to bring new vitality to the Lambuth community.

Constructed in 1970 in a Georgian Colonial style, the WHFB anchors the western side of the U of M Lambuth quadrangle.  Recent improvements have included safety, aesthetic, access and service quality upgrades. Planned future renovations include the conversion of outdated athletic locker rooms to classroom space.

The WHFB will allow for the continued expansion of academic, recreation and intramural opportunities at the U of M Lambuth campus.  The 1,500 seat basketball court and auxiliary multi-purpose gym will host Health & Human Sciences classes as well as competitive,  recreational and intramural basketball, volleyball and dodge ball games.  Campus Recreation and Intramural Services will administer a survey this fall to  explore other desired recreational activities, including the possibility of club sports.  The 25 yard, 6 lane pool is designed for recreational and competitive swimming and will host classes such as beginning and intermediate swim, water aerobics and lifeguarding.  Adjacent men’s and women’s locker rooms will be available.

Lambuth Gym2

The newly refreshed basketball court at the WHFB on the Lambuth Campus looks great!

The WHFB complements the current Fitness Studio located on the first floor of the Wilder Union, which contains free weights, weight machines, treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bicycles, and mat space for stretching and exercises.  Outdoor recreational facilities are located south of the WHFB and include sand volleyball, tennis courts and open field space that will host additional intramural activities such as ultimate Frisbee and the “Punt, Pass & Kick” football event.

The WHFB will serve all aspects of wellness, health and fitness.  In addition to recreation and intramurals, the WHFB houses four modern classrooms which will serve academic areas that include Nursing and Health and Human Sciences.  Counseling services will relocate to the WHFB in the future, and Student Health services are also planned for the space.

The WHFB is an exciting new resource for the U of M Lambuth community, and one that will support dynamic academic and co-curricular opportunities and wellness services.  We will celebrate the addition of this facility with an open house for students, faculty, staff, community members and alumni this fall.

Way to Go Tigers!

M. David Rudd, President




UofM for Memphis

From our opening in 1912, it was reasoned that “every great city deserves a great university,” establishing the foundation for a relationship that has endured for more than 100 years. As we move toward an inauguration this spring, I would like to focus on that relationship, providing an opportunity for us to give back to the city of Memphis with a year of service. The University of Memphis is already engaged in a broad range of important and impactful efforts with the Memphis community. This year will allow an opportunity to expand those efforts, celebrate their enduring success, and be thoughtful in planning our future together.

We will recognize and celebrate the hard work of our faculty, students, staff and alumni at this spring’s inaugural event. I would like to challenge our campus community, student organizations and alumni to identify and engage in service projects in Memphis, Jackson and the surrounding communities this year. This spring’s inaugural event will celebrate our many partnerships with Memphis and the mid-south and recognize the breadth and depth of our relationships. The goal is 500,000 combined hours of service before the end of the spring semester.

The planning committees are just now getting to work. We’ll keep you updated as the schedule is completed. I look forward to an exciting year, one characterized by a year of service. 

To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.

Anatole France

 For questions, please email .

M. David RuddPresident

Michael Cook, founder and CEO of SouthernSun Asset Management, has just completed negotiations with Oxford Analytica (OXAN) regarding an exclusive partnership with the Cook Analytics & Trading Lab (CA&T) in the Fogelman College of Business and Economics (FCBE), to cooperate for an initial term of three years. Oxford Analytica ( is a leading global analysis and advisory firm based in Oxford, England that draws on a worldwide network of experts to advise its clients on their strategy and performance. This new resource puts the University of Memphis among a select group of universities worldwide that have access to this unique, cutting-edge educational tool.  “Everyone at the table agrees that this partnership offers tremendous upside for all parties and most importantly our UofM students,” says Michael Cook.  Resources like Oxford Analytica help move us to the next level.

In this new partnership, OXAN will provide to the CA&T Lab, in part, the following:

  1. The Oxford Analytica Daily brief for up to 20 terminals in the CA&T Lab;
  2. Collaboration with FCBE faculty and staff to customize a series of workshops and lectures – conducted in the CA&T Lab by OXAN staff throughout each academic year;
  3. Access, on several occasions during the academic year, for Lab students to participate in high-level OXAN conference calls.  These calls usually focus on "hot" topics (e.g. Russian influence in Ukraine and potential economic and geopolitical impacts) and will normally have several high level special material experts from around the globe on the call; and
  4. Make available three delegate positions to attend the annual Global Horizons Conference and Black Tie Dinner at Blenheim Palace – held in mid-September. Beginning in 2015, one student, one faculty or staff, and one leading local business executive shall be chosen at the end of the Spring term to attend the conference.

“Our hope is that we can raise the bar in an urban public university setting, offering our University of Memphis students a unique hands-on and unrivaled experience ” says Michael Cook.  “By so doing, we increase the probability of achieving our vision of producing high caliber, skilled, uniquely prepared graduates who can think independently, analytically, logically, and globally unlike any in the country.

Finally, it is important to thank my dear friend Dr. David Young, Founder and Chairman of Oxford Analytica for his original vision back in 1975, and then to recognize the management and staff of Oxford Analytica led by Mr. Graham Hutchings, the firm’s Managing Director, for their individual roles and collective effort in the evolution of this partnership up and to this point”

I shared earlier that Michael’s generous gift, establishing the Lab, provides a solid foundation for an innovative educational experience that will help prepare our students and provide them with the skills necessary for a highly competitive job market. This new arrangement with Oxford Analytica certainly takes that to the leading edge of technology and data availability. Michael’s commitment to U of M continues to bring a profound and enduring impact on the lives of our students and the broader Memphis community. Every Tiger owes him our deepest thanks.

M. David Rudd, President

There are more graduate students enrolled at the U of M than at other public universities in the region, including UTHSC, Ole Miss or MTSU.  Does that surprise you?   Given that graduate students are at the core of research activity, it is important that our faculty, and our community, understand how far we have come in graduate programs during the last twenty years since the change in our name (from Memphis State) and the corresponding focus on becoming a great metropolitan research university.  Including our law students, more than one out of five U of M students on campus today is pursuing a Masters or doctoral degree. This contributes to both a deeper intellectual and research culture plus it ensures that the U of M is a great environment for those undergraduates who are interested in going beyond the Bachelor degree level in educational attainment.

Fall 2013 Graduate Enrollment





Degree Type

U of M



Ole Miss
































 *MTSU does not separate certificate program enrollment from Master’s degree program enrollment


U of M – Office of Institutional Research

UTHSC - C. Judith Nyabando, Ed. D., Associate Director, Institutional Effectiveness

Vanderbilt -, Joann Burnum

Ole Miss -

MTSU -, Teresa Thomas

Tennesseans with advanced degrees will be employed in higher paying professional jobs and are key to the growth of our region and state, especially in emerging industries. Consider these statistics from the Tennessee Conference on Graduate Schools:

  1. By 2018, one in every seven new jobs will require at least a Master degree.
  2. Every $1 million of investment in graduate education yields 22 jobs and $76,859 in state and local taxes annually.
  3. Annually, Tennessee needs 10,213 graduate degree holders to fill workforce demands, but only supplies 7,882 currently.
  4. To catch up with national averages, 81,000 Tennesseans with bachelor degrees need to pursue graduate degrees.

“We’re relying on other states to provide advanced expertise because we’re not producing enough graduate students,” says Dr. Jasbir Dhaliwal, interim dean of the graduate school and vice provost for academic affairs.  “We left the old Memphis State days 20 years ago, and there has been a shift in our internal culture. Research is also becoming more important to the state and the region. Our younger faculty have much stronger research backgrounds. That’s driving a lot of good students to come here.”

It is important that our community on-campus, and external stakeholders nationally, realize how far the University of Memphis has grown as the primary research and graduate education hub of this region. As employers and students realize that the chances to secure good jobs with career advancement increasingly include a work force with graduate degrees, our present and future success addressing their needs will be tied to the continued success of our graduate programs, and telling the story about how very far we have come.

The university remains fully committed to adding to the more than 1000 Ph.D. students and close to 4000 graduate students that it currently enrolls.

Go Tigers!

M. David Rudd, President


University of Memphis undergraduate Theatre & Dance students, Jon Castro and Greg Szatkowski, and MFA director/playwright Jung Han Kim, made a splash at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival last month with a solo piece called “Perfection.” This year, 50,000 performances of more than 3,000 shows were performed in 299 venues across Scotland’s capital city, making it the largest arts festival in the world.

“Perfection” is the story of a man who has been told he only has six months to live,” says director/playwright Jung Han Kim. “It explores how he focuses on the decision he struggles to make about what he should do and what he should say before he dies. In doing so, he covers all aspects of the human experience that we all face daily.” Jon and Greg alternated in the performances of this piece. Kim and his actors raised all the travel funds needed to make the international trip, with some assistance from the Department of Theatre & Dance.

Upon returning to Memphis Jon Castro reports: “We made about $1,600 at the box office, which will all be donated to charity to feed hungry kids around the world. Our show was a big hit and success, as we obtained amazing reviews including a five star review from The Skinny Magazine out of London.  We put our name on the map across the world and, if that wasn't amazing enough, I think our show is being looked into getting produced somewhere else. I am so grateful I was able to go on this trip!”

Christine Lawler, reviewing for The Skinny, wrote “Perfection is utterly engaging, moving, and leaves the audience with strong imagery to take away with them. The play showcases excellent work from Kim and Castro, who both have strong careers ahead of them, if they maintain this standard of performance. With their profits going directly to charity to feed the hungry – hence the company name – they prove to have even more heart than is portrayed on stage.”

(click the link below to view review:

While he was performing in Scotland, Jon was honored at a ceremony at The Orpheum Theatre.  He shared a Memphis Theatre Award-- “The Ostrander”-- with his Theatre & Dance co-star, David Couter, for Leading Actor in a Drama for Tom Stoppard’s play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.  The play also won the award for Best College Dramatic Production.  The Memphis community recently got to know Jon when he was featured in a short promotional film, produced by Steven Ross, that chronicles the dreams and struggles of our typical U of M students.  Professor Ross’ film showed Jon auditioning for, rehearsing, and performing the role that just earned him this acting award.

Like Jon, 40% of our undergraduate students are the first in their family to attend college. Many of them must work full-time, while going to school full time, just to afford tuition. It is particularly inspiring to follow their success and, of course, their representation of the U of M in distinguished international venues such as Edinburgh.  As Jon says about his adventures, “I had an amazing time in Edinburgh. I learned and grew so much as a person and as an artist. I was able to utilize all that I have learned at The University of Memphis overseas at the biggest arts festival in the world.”

We congratulate Jon and his fellow students for making us proud to be Memphis Tigers!

You can view the promotional film about Jon at:

M. David Rudd, President

Dear Colleagues:

Welcome back to a new academic year.  I hope that the summer months were productive and enjoyable.  A win over APSU was a nice way to start the week, despite the rain.  As I’m sure you’ve read, we’ve had some good news over the summer months across a number of fronts; including, faculty activities/awards, grant funding, and significant gifts to the U of M.  I’ll continue to share details related to several gifts over the next few weeks, including the launch of a targeted capital campaign for our Lambuth campus.  The news is promising on the enrollment side.  Given the importance of enrollment to our overall budgeting process, it is hoped that these updates will prove educational.  We also hope to transition to an enrollment strategy that clearly differentiates budget neutral (or budget negative) categories like dual enrollment (we have about 900 dual enrollment students who do not pay full tuition).  Last year we had dual enrollment of 815 high school students.  This year we have 900 in classes, but because of a new application/registration procedure have only processed about 345 to date. We’ll have the other 555 in the system by week’s end.

We have completed the second “purge” (identifying students who have not paid for the semester), so these enrollment numbers are likely to be reasonably stable. As you know, total enrollment fluctuates a bit from week to week depending on a host of variables.  As mentioned above, the numbers summarized below are promising for several reasons and it is critical to put these numbers in context.  Over the course of the last two years, the U of M has increased the number of graduates by 392 students over the record highs of previous years, with last year’s total being a record.  These historic graduation numbers, coupled with several years of low enrollment, resulted in a total decline in enrollment of 1,245 students from Fall 2011 to Fall 2013.  The net impact of higher graduation rates, coupled with two years of notable enrollment declines, reduces the total number of available continuing students. It’s important to recall that 62 cents of every dollar in our budget is generated from tuition and fee revenue.  An added complication is that the formula funding model was not fully funded by the Tennessee Legislature this year, compounding the problem (with a net loss to the U of M of approximately $2.6 million).  The intersection of these issues certainly challenges us to retain existing students at remarkably higher rates and recruit larger numbers of bright, capable incoming students.

As of late last week, following is a summary of current enrollment (Note: The categories referenced below do not include all enrollment categories, such as: audit students, non-degree students, readmits, transient students, certificate students, special status students, etc.):

First-Time Freshman: 2,368, an increase of 220 students over the fall enrollment for 2013-14
Total Undergraduates 17,258 (after all dual enrollment students have registered), a decrease of 34 students from last year
Total Graduate Students 3,769 (a decrease of 227 over last year.  Our first year doctoral students increased.  Some of the decline in graduate numbers are a function of the increased graduation numbers referenced above, along with a shift of some funds to targeted doctoral programs to enhance our research infrastructure and related productivity)
Total Law Students 337 (a decrease of 25 over last year. The first year law class grew to 121 this year. Also recall that last year’s graduating class was among the largest in recent history at 127)
Total Enrollment Across All Categories 21,356 ( a decrease of 292 from last year)

In addition to the summary numbers listed above, let me share arguably the most critical statistic from TBR.  After the 3rd day of classes our total Full Time Equivalent undergraduate students stood at 16,367, a net increase of .3%.  Please remember this is our full-time equivalent (not just total headcount). We fully expected to see a noticeable drop in our FTE given our significant increases in graduation numbers, along with significant reductions in total enrollment over the last two years. In short, the increase in undergraduate FTE is a good thing.  It is critical for us to start to move away from just reporting total headcount since this includes dual enrollment numbers (which are budget neutral or slightly negative) and part-time students which pay reduced tuition, both of which do not translate in meaningful ways for our overall budget picture. We will transition to reporting that more accurately reflects our budget model, including: Total Undergraduate Full-time Equivalents (FTE) and Total Graduate Students.  Additionally, we will introduce a mechanism that recognizes tuition paying graduate students versus those receiving waivers and stipend support.

The increase in overall undergraduate FTE suggests an increase in retention efforts, certainly a very good sign.  These numbers reflect that the hard work by many is paying off.  As we sort through implications for our overall budget I’ll share details as they emerge.

Thank you for your hard work. I look forward to an exciting and enjoyable year.  Go Tigers.

M. David Rudd, President

Dr. Remy Debes and Dr. Stephan Blatti, both in the Philosophy Department, have received prestigious awards from the Templeton Foundation, but for independent projects. Both faced stiff competition, and it is quite remarkable that Memphis claimed two such awards in a single year. It is an honor for these two researchers, and also for the University.

Dr. Remy Debes was awarded $72,307 in support of a philosophical research project to be undertaken during the 2014- 15 academic year. His project will culminate in a book tentatively titled Peculiar Perspectives: An Inquiry into Respect, Understanding, and Human Dignity.  The project examines the various ways in which human beings understand one another, and argues that one form of interpersonal understanding - empathic understanding - constitutes a form of respect for persons. His grant is part of a larger 4.5 million dollar Templeton project, “Varieties of Understanding,” at Fordham University, which awarded grants to scholars in the areas of Psychology, Theology, and Philosophy. In the Philosophy division there were 161 letters of intent with only 24 applicants invited to submit full proposals, and only 8 selected for funding.

Dr. Debes primary area of research is Ethics, History of Ethics, and the philosophy of emotion. He is an affiliate member of the Institute for Intelligent Systems. In 2009, Professor Debes was named an Alumni Distinguished Teacher, one of four faculty members university-wide to receive this recognition. He was recognized again in 2010 with one of two College of Arts and Sciences Excellence in Teaching Awards.

Dr. Stephan Blatti was awarded an $82,311 grant in support of a philosophical research project to be undertaken during the 2014-15 academic year. Civic immortality, the nature of heaven, and ethical and social issues raised by the prospect of human life extension are among the topics theologians and philosophers will explore in research grants awarded by “The Immortality Project” at the University of California, Riverside. In 2013, first-round grants totaling $2.4 million were awarded to 10 research teams for scientific research into immortality. Blatti’s grant is from the second round of funding awarded to scholars in philosophy and theology: only 24 teams and individuals from these fields were awarded grants. His project will culminate in a book tentatively titled Being of Life: Human Animals, Mortality, and the Human/ Nonhuman Divide.

Professor Blatti’s primary area of research is metaphysics—specifically, the problem of personal identity. He serves as Director of the Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities, and he is an affiliate faculty member of the Institute for Intelligent Systems.

When you consider the competitive nature of these awards, for the Philosophy Department to have two recipients in the same year is a genuine mark of distinction.  As Professor Debes exclaimed, “It was a joyous surprise for us.” It certainly calls for celebrating the work of these outstanding faculty, who honor the University with their accomplishments.

Go Tigers!

M. David Rudd, President

You may have read the great news that three May graduates of the U of M-- Fatima Noor, Chimene Okere and Taylor Dodd-- have accepted presidential appointments with the Obama administration that will continue until January 2017. I want to congratulate them, and also put their achievement in a larger context. Among the many accomplishments during their academic careers at UM are a number of connections to leadership programs coordinated and developed by the Division of Student Affairs. Again and again we are discovering that the more our students are engaged in student affairs activities the more likely their probability of academic and professional success.

Each of these three students was involved with multiple leadership training initiatives through the Office of Student Leadership and Involvement and their LEAD (Leadership Education and Development) programs. Through partnerships with local leaders, LEAD strives to educates develops and retains the next generation of Young Leaders for the Mid-South community. Associate Dean of Student Leadership and Involvement Dr. Justin Lawhead, and Senior Coordinator of Leadership Programs Jon Campbell have many success stories to share. Here is a sampling:

  • Emerging Leaders—this leadership scholarship community of 186 students posted impressive academic success statistics with 13% of them earning a perfect 4.0 GPA for the semester and all four years GPAs were above 3.4, and first year students finishing with an average 3.65 GPA. The senior class developed and implemented four community projects with Lifeline 2 Success, The Kroc Center, Agape, and Leadership Memphis.

During the sophomore level, students participated in IDEAD projects which allow students to complete a short, 50 hour project with a company or department.  Alexis Bingham so impressed ALSAC/ St. Jude with her ideas for a branding strategy for ALSAC that she was offered a handsome internship following her presentation.

  •  Tiger Leadership Institute—a cohort based leadership training experience, now exceeds 500 graduates over the five-year life span of this program, growing from 47 to 130 students in the past year alone. The program was expanded to include a cohort at the Lambuth Campus.  91% of the first year participants are re-enrolled for the upcoming Fall semester.
  • Professional Connections— These monthly meetings focus on interviewing, personal branding with an emphasis on utilizing social media, and  a review of personal resumes. Forty-three students participated in the spring seminar. We are also proud to have our community partner The Lipscomb and Pitts Breakfast Club continue to lend significant support by recruiting professionals who can provide important feedback on how to successfully transition from academia to the workplace.
  • Lunch with a Leader – The popular series, focusing on highlighting the strength of leadership in the Memphis community recently hosted speakers Mike Womack (Sr. VP of HR Customer Satisfaction, Autozone), Nancy Williams (former Executive Director, Child Advocacy Center), Amy Weirich, (District Attorney, Shelby County), and Edith Kelly Green (The first African American female vice president and former chief sourcing officer for Memphis-based FedEx Express and currently the largest multi-unit franchise owner of Lenny’s Sub Shop Franchise). The upcoming year will focus on community efforts to retain and engage talent in the Mid-South region.

LEAD is an enormous benefit to our students, and through community based co-curricular programming, LEAD students learn about problem solving, team building, critical thinking and other important workplace skills. LEAD makes the essential connections between the classroom and the real world.

It is impressive work.

Go Tigers!

M. David Rudd, President

As the new academic year gets underway you are going to hear some remarkable stories about gains in first-time student numbers and their likely academic quality.  Dean Richard Sweigard of the Herff College of Engineering has a great story to tell about their success in attracting new students to engineering this Fall.

“According to the latest Application Activity Report from the Office of Admissions, our number of new students enrolled is up about 16% over last year at this time. According to our own records, we have seen about 19% more students in new student orientation than we did last year.  I am not sure what the final exact count will be but I am confident we will be in that 16% to 19% increase range.”

The really good news, however, is that due to their recruiting efforts and merit scholarship program, they have 40 freshmen with an ACT of 30 or above. This is significant because these are students who will very likely graduate. The University recruited very hard this year and it appears that, overall, nearly 2,250 incoming first-time freshman will be joining us, an increase of 231 compared to last year.

Dean Sweigard predicts: “I think we will see an even larger increase next year.  The word is starting to spread among the local schools.  We plan to visit about 40 high schools this fall.  That should boost our numbers significantly for fall 2015.”

M. David Rudd, President

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