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Dear Colleagues:

Two University of Memphis teams of faculty researchers have been selected to receive research grants from the Tennessee Board of Regents in a competitive evaluation process.  Each grant is for $40,000. One team of faculty researchers (Dr. Yonghong Jade Xu, Dr. Chloe Lancaster and Dr. Cynthia Martin) is from Counseling, Educational Psychology and Research and the Office of Institutional Research; the other (Dr. Gregory Washington, Dr. Susan Neely-Barnes, Dr. Susan Elswick, and Dr. Robin Lennon-Dearing) is from Social Work.  Congratulations to each of these researchers on securing this funding!

In November 2013, the TBR Office of Academic Affairs disseminated a call for research proposals designed to support faculty research with the primary focus on underrepresented and target sub-populations with the overarching goal of increasing the understanding of pluralism in the education enterprise and the global world in which our institutions must function. The TBR received twenty proposals related to numerous aspects of diversity, locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. They are recommending funding eight proposals –two from U of M.

The Counseling, Educational Psychology and Research proposal focuses on STEM student graduation rates.  Dr. Cynthia Martin, with OIR, explains, “In Tennessee, the six-year graduation rate of science, technology, engineering, and mathematic (STEM) students in four-year institutions is only about 20 percent, with African American students at a rate lower than 15 percent.  Consistent with the goal of the recently emplaced outcomes‐based funding formula that rewards the State higher education institutions ‘for the production of outcomes that further the educational attainment and productivity’, this project seeks to identify institutional interventions that will effectively improve the retention rates of STEM students, in particular African Americans.”

The Social Work proposal is titled “The Students Helping Students Program: ‘Response to Intervention’ in Higher Education.” Response to Intervention (RtI) is an evidence based practice model in K12 education that is used to identify “at risk” students and give them additional educational supports to promote success. Dr. Susan Neely-Barnes explains, “Although well established in K12 education, research on its use in higher education is lacking. The project will use Masters in Social Work students serving as graduate assistants to screen undergraduate BA in social work students on writing skills, study skills, reading fluency, stress management, and coping skills. Undergraduates who are identified as “at risk” will be offered either one-on-one or group intervention targeted to the identified skill area. Students will also be encouraged to use existing campus resources when appropriate. Reassessment will occur monthly and students will stay in the program until supports are no longer needed.”

The excellence of the proposals brings distinction to the University of Memphis and both teams are to be congratulated for their outstanding success.

Go Tigers!

M. David Rudd, Provost

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Dear Colleagues:

The Master of Health Administration program is receiving lots of attention this month when Modern Healthcare magazine ranked it 19th among top business graduate schools for physician-executives. The Memphis Business Journal picked up the story last week to amplify the praise:

http://www.bizjournals.com/memphis/news/2014/04/04/university-of-memphis-healthcare-program-receives.html

The MHA program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME). The 53-credit hour program offers both on-campus and executive options designed for both recent college graduates and working professionals.

As Dr. Lisa Klesges, dean of the School of Public Health, said, “Gaining this high level recognition for the quality and value of our MHA degree validates the great opportunity that we offer in the region as well as a national standing. We are proud of this accomplishment and the contributions of our talented faculty that support the MHA program.  The program has been successful because of the hard work and commitment of our university administration, staff, students, alumni and community partners.”

While all this is impressive in its own right, the national attention will likely increase a year from now when the Executive MHA option is launched in June of 2015. Dr. Dan Gentry, professor and director of Health Systems Management Policy emphasizes that this is an innovative program that blends distance education with periodic on-campus experiential learning, professional development and career networking, while still allowing students to complete the degree in two years. Those with full time careers will now be able to earn this prestigious degree with minimum time away from their jobs.

Congratulations are in order for their national ranking, and also for the forward thinking innovation which will bring future recognition when the new program starts next year.

Go Tigers!

M. David Rudd, Provost

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Dear Colleagues:

The good news out of Admissions just keeps coming!​  I have reported previously about a remarkable increase in freshman applications. Today I want to focus on the percentage of students admitted compared to those who have applied—data that US News and World Report will consider when determining our selectivity ranking.  Despite some controversy, rankings continue to play a significant role in student decision-making, particularly first-time freshman.  (http://www.acenet.edu/news-room/Documents/Rankings-Institutional-Behavior-and-College-and-University-Choice.pdf).

 One of the metrics USN&WR gathers to determine its rankings is Acceptance Rate, which it defines as “The ratio of the number of students admitted to the number of applicants for fall admission. The acceptance rate is equal to the total number of students admitted divided by the total number of applicants.” (http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2013/09/09/best-colleges-ranking-criteria-and-weights). Both the applications and acceptances count only first-time, first-year students.  Remember, we get applications from many students that fall into the transfer category and returning adults learners.  Our combined total applications are at 12,000 now (across the main and Lambuth campuses). 

Given the rise in applications, the percentage of freshmen admitted to the main campus compared to the number who have applied is strikingly different this year than the past three years:

    (as of 3/26) Fall 2014          9,237 applied      4,504 admitted   or  49%                

                        Fall 2013         5,862 applied      4,342 admitted   or  74%

                        Fall 2012         6,181 applied      4,116 admitted   or  67% 

                        Fall 2011         6,493 applied      4,454 admitted   or  69%  

These figures apply to the main campus, but the percentages on the Lambuth campus tell a similar story.

 In one year the percentage of students admitted of those who applied will go from 74% to under 50%.

Without changing our admission criteria, the increase in applications is the result of a number of initiatives in admission and enrollment management which appear to be making a huge positive impact: more aggressive recruitment; an easier application process, a larger prospective student base broadening the geographic area, and fee waivers for students with financial difficulties. Collectively these efforts are attracting more and more potential well qualified students to UofM.

Betty J. Huff, Vice Provost for Enrollment Services, Stephen J. McKellips, Director of Admissions, and their team emphasize that the proof will be how many students actually show up in the Fall.  But their efforts are to be applauded for the encouraging direction the data is pointing.

The message to our prospective students is getting through.  One of the series of compelling and attractive Recruitment and Orientation postcards mailed to prospective students sums it up pretty well:

“There is only one Memphis.  There is only one you.  Find your original path here.”

 Go Tigers!

M. David Rudd, Provost

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Dear Colleagues:

I’m pleased to share that Dr. Don Wagner has agreed to chair a Summer Utilization Taskforce for the University of Memphis.  The taskforce will be charged with studying and making recommendations on a number of critical issues, including:

  1.  Summer course scheduling, utilization, and enrollment to improve degree pathways, critical course access, and degree completion
  2. Summer budgeting and potential incentive pay
  3. Exploring possible use of “free” summer courses for students that maintain trajectory on a 5-year degree completion plan
  4. Complete student and faculty surveys on a range of issues about summer utilization
  5. Possible development of summer programs for high school sophomore and junior level students

 As you all know, our summer programs are not fully utilized nor strategically employed.  This effort will hopefully lead to meaningful and productive recommendations about how we can better utilize our summer offerings.  If Don reaches out to you for help or input, let me offer encouragement for you to embrace the chance to participate in this important effort. 

 Go Tigers!

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Dear Colleagues:

 As many of you know, we have created a website to provide more information and detail about our ongoing evaluation of our budget model:  www.memphis.edu/sri.   We are calling the budget model Strategic Resource Investment (SRI)which is the University of Memphis’ version of a widely used higher education budget model often referred to as Responsibility Centered Management (RCM).  As an update, the committee continues its work and will offer a recommendation in the very near future. Once we’ve received a recommendation,we  will begin a year-long process of discussion, providing ample opportunity for input across campus. The website now includes a forum component, a mechanism allowing easy access for you to raise questions and concerns or simply offer input.  Deans and department chairs have already raised a number of questions. The forum will start by addressing those questions in the coming weeks.  Let me encourage you to visit the website and make use of the forum. Thank you for your help as we explore how to make our budgeting process more transparent, efficient and effective. 

 Go Tigers! 

M. David Rudd, Provost

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Dear Colleagues:

In recent weeks I have shared several updates on the impressive escalation in student applications and admissions for the 2014-2015 academic year.  Today, I want to give you insights to one of the tools being used to drive this momentum.

In early January, a new application named Tiger Select was developed for freshman candidates in our current database.  This new application provides ease and convenience for users.  So far, there have been nearly 4,500 of these new applications submitted since it was deployed.  Students are finding much of the data in the application was pre-populated using prospect information already on file.  It takes students less than 10 minutes to complete the rest of the application.

This new application tool also allows for electronic transmission of transcripts and test scores directly from school counselors to the University of Memphis.  These enhancements have been helpful to the Admissions Office to achieve a 24-48 hour turnaround time for decisions on completed application records.

According to Steve McKellips, admissions director, “There still remains much to be done before interested students actually enroll at the University of Memphis, but there have been great strides made recently that will certainly help the University reach its enrollment goals for Fall 2014.”

This new, stream-lined application process is helping us provide more efficient and effective customer service.  Please join me in congratulating our admissions staff on their creativity and willingness to try new strategies.  And thanks to all of you for working every day to provide our students with the best possible experience at the University of Memphis.

Link to slides on Tiger Select application:  http://www.memphis.edu/provost/presentations.php

 Go Tigers!

M. David Rudd, Provost

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Dear Colleagues:

Once again U.S. News and World Report has nationally ranked The School of Communication Sciences and Disorders at The University of Memphis as having top graduate programs in both Audiology and also Speech-Language Pathology. For their 2015 rankings U.S. News analyzed more than 1,300 graduate programs and placed the University of Memphis graduate program in Audiology 12th nationally and the graduate program in Speech-Language Pathology 15th.  We congratulate the faculty, staff and students for this impressive and sustained accomplishment.

Dean Maurice I. Mendel writes: “The School has been nationally-ranked since 1998, and continually strives to stay one step ahead of the state-of-the-art and the state-of-the-science in their field. The research laboratories and outstanding team of research personnel currently have almost $4 million in external funding to maintain our Center of Excellence (Center for Research Initiatives and Strategies for the Communicatively Impaired, CRISCI) in the study of communicative disorders. These research projects, led by our expert faculty, provide cutting edge research that adds to the evidence base for the profession.”

The School is committed to providing students, the community, and the discipline with innovative and high quality classroom instruction, clinical service, research that enhances both the theoretical and applied knowledge of communication sciences and disorders.  It has demonstrated consistent success in promoting active learning, expert mentoring, and spirited engagement in service activities, so that students are prepared to design and deliver effective, culturally-sensitive, evidenced-based clinical services in audiology and speech-language pathology which improve the functioning and general well-being of persons with speech, language, swallowing, hearing and balance disorders.

As US News & World Report once again recognized, the University of Memphis programs prepare professionals who are well qualified for employment in a range of education- and health-related settings and who, once employed, are recognized for their competence, leadership, ethics, and commitment to service and life-long learning. Please join me in congratulating the School on this remarkable achievement.

 Go Tigers!

M. David Rudd, Provost

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As today is National Arts Advocacy Day, I think it is appropriate to share with you a couple of outstanding videos produced by the Departments of Art and Theatre & Dance in the College of Communication and Fine Arts. They are powerful reminders of the impact our arts departments play in the life of the University but also as community partners with Memphis and this region.  I hope you will have a look at them and join me in applauding their message.

The “Art Talk” video was directed, shot and edited by Daniel Wildberger, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design, and Isabel Machado, Filmmaker and PhD candidate in History. They were invited to make a video about the school by Art Chair Richard Lou, who praised the filmmakers’ talents and also their storytelling sensibility in “creating a beautiful video.” Professor Wildberger says, “Since early on we thought it would be great to let the students tell their stories. Every one of the students was asked the same questions. We had no script, but the questions gave us a little structure. It basically revolved around 3 things: the school, the city, and their work. Another important concept we had was to make it look as real as possible. The students are in their own ‘habitat’: classrooms, libraries, labs, in the art building and around campus.”  

 The students who are interviewed on camera are: Jody Stokes-Casey (Art History), Jonah Sidhom (Graphic Design), Kathryn Hicks (Graphic Design), Nancy Hardwood (Painting), Charli Byrd Ardrey (Art Education), and Peter Joseph Hoeffecker (Sculpture).

 The video is a wonderful recruitment tool for the department, but stands as an excellent work of art in its own right. The On Location International Film Festival has expressed an interest in showing it as part of the “Memphis Rocks” program later this year.  You can view the Art video at:

                         http://vimeo.com/87948691

 The Theatre & Dance promotional video prominently features a successful regional actress and graduate, Ann-Marie Gideon, who says on camera “I learned to work hard and never give up in a business that isn’t easy…I gained the confidence and experience that helped me to launch my professional career.” The promotional video features a combination of actors, designers and directors in addition to Ann-Marie, including testimonials from Jon Castro, Kitty Devany, Tristan Parks, Janie Crick, and Jung Han Kim. It shows a variety of work in the Theatre Building along with references to off-campus opportunities in Arezzo, Italy, Chicago’s Second City comedy training, and the American Theatre Wing’s Springboard NYC seminars.  The video was shot and edited by filmmaker Andrew Harper and produced by Director of Publicity and Promotions Alice Berry.

It is being used as a recruiting tool for Theatre & Dance and the department has been distributing it on individual jump drives which are handed to prospective students at conferences, such as the recent Southeast Theatre Conference earlier this month.  As Alice has learned, “Students are excited to see it and also to be handed a copy on their own jump drive.  We have had a terrific response to it so far.  The Department has been putting an emphasis on recruiting students for the programs by bringing students to campus for workshops and performances and by sending faculty to area schools for workshops and having a greater presence at theatre conferences. But our students are our best ambassadors.”  You can view the Theatre & Dance video at:

                         https://vimeo.com/89507440

As Richard R. Ranta, Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts says, “Videos such as these are tremendous billboards for Memphis and the impact The University of Memphis arts programs on this region. We intend to do more of them to showcase the work happening in this College. They remind us that U of M arts students and graduates are also having a huge impact on our community by playing an increasingly significant role in many disciplines as many shift toward work that is collaborative and community-based.”

“We hear a lot about the need to invest in STEM fields–science, technology, engineering, and math–to spur innovation and grow our economy,” adds Dean Ranta. “And of course that is necessary. But I wish to echo a growing chorus of others who have lately argued for the need to place the Arts in the center of that anagram, to expand the slogan, and turn STEM to STEAM.”

Arts students not only entertain, but also work across disciplines, across diverse strands of our community to help solve some of our thorniest problems. I think these videos are persuasive reminders of the impact the arts are having here at The University of Memphis.

Go Tigers!

M. David Rudd, Provost

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Dear Colleagues:

The Provost’s Fellowship Program offers faculty who have demonstrated leadership potential and are interested in higher education administration the chance to develop knowledge, skills and experience as an administrator; to increase the understanding of the faculty about practices and procedures in academic administration;  to assist in the development and implementation of projects in current key areas; and to provide ongoing faculty involvement and input into the activities of the Provost’s Office.  Fellows participate in a range of learning opportunities, both special and routine, and develop greater insight into academic initiatives, strategic planning, budget issues, and challenges in higher education. The goal of the program is to provide  faculty members with a more expansive range of leadership experiences at the campus level. I am pleased to announce that the 2014 -2015 Provost’s Fellows are Susan Neely-Barnes, associate professor of social work, and Katharine Schaffzin, associate professor of law.  These two faculty members were selected from a very competitive pool to work on special projects in the provost’s office.

Susan Neely-Barnes joined the University of Memphis faculty in 2010 after serving for five years as an assistant professor at another institution.  Since arriving at the U of M, she has been instrumental in the development and accreditation of the new Master of Social Work (MSW) program as well as student recruitment and admissions.  Susan’s fellowship is for the 2014 fall semester.

Katharine Schaffzin began her U of M career in 2009.  Prior to beginning her academic career, she was a litigator for one of the nation’s largest law firms and also clerked for the Honorable James Knoll Gardner of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  While at the U of M, she has worked extensively on faculty development initiatives as well as serving on the law school’s faculty recruitment and admissions committees.  Katharine’s fellowship is for the 2015 spring semester.

Please join me in congratulating these outstanding faculty members.  I look forward to working with them as they become familiar with campus wide academic initiatives, strategic planning, budget issues, and challenges in higher education. 

Sincerely,

M. David Rudd, Provost

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Dear Colleagues:

 I want to send everyone off to Spring Break with some very positive news.  As many of you know, ACAD 1100 has undergone some changes over the past couple of years in hopes of improving student outcomes.  We now have evidence that these changes are resulting in measurable impacts.  Congratulations and thanks to our ACAD instructors for enthusiastically embracing change—you are making a difference!

 First-Time Freshmen 

Metrics

Fall 2012

Fall 2013

Average ACT Score                  

20.71

20.68

Average HS GPA                       

3.21

3.20

1st Semester GPA            

2.60

2.65

Earned Hours                    

12.83

13.10

Dean’s List                         

20%

22%

Fall-to-spring retain       

89%

91%

 The table above shows an increase in every retention factor we assess…and that’s not even the best news.  Let’s take a look at Fall 2013 numbers. When we look at students who took ACAD versus those who didn’t, we can see that the ACAD group fares better than the non-ACAD group in EVERY variable we assess, with some of these being significantly better!

 First-Time Freshman, Fall 2013

Metrics

ACAD1100

non-ACAD 1100

1st Semester GPA

2.65

2.53

Earned Hours                    

13.10

12.27

Dean’s List                         

22%

20%

Fall to Spring  Retention       

91%

89%

 When we look at Honors students who took ACAD versus Honors students who chose not to take ACAD 1100, we see that the ACAD students had stronger outcomes than the non-ACAD students.

 First-Time Freshman Honors Students, Fall 2013

Metrics

ACAD1100

non-ACAD 1100

1st Semester GPA

3.48

3.23

Earned Hours                    

16.33

15.26

Dean’s List                         

65%

48%

Fall to Spring  Retention       

98%

95%

 These numbers clearly show that we are on the right track with ACAD and that we have some incredible instructors who are making a real impact on students’ lives.  Thank you!

 Enjoy Spring Break and don’t forget to cheer for the Tigers at the conference tournament!

 M. David Rudd, Provost

 

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