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Dear Faculty and Staff:

Welcome back! I hope the summer months have been enjoyable and productive ones and you are ready for a new academic year. I also hope you will join me in keeping friends, family and colleagues from Houston and the Texas coast in your thoughts. We are actively exploring ways we can help from a distance and will be sharing information on ways you can volunteer or contribute in the next few days.

As of today’s enrollment figures, the University of Memphis continues to grow across all categories, undergraduate and graduate. Overall growth is 1.5%, with our new freshman class currently larger than last year’s (a record class of over 2,700 by Day 11), in addition to growth in continuing, transfer and graduate students. Enrollment figures are not final until the 11th class day. Academic qualifications of our incoming freshmen continue to improve with higher overall average GPA, an increase in mean ACT, and an improved yield from our two highest academic qualification categories.

As was mentioned in last week’s initial faculty meeting, our goals are to attain a freshman class of approximately 3,000 per year and growth of 2% per year. We are averaging 2% growth over the past two years and well on our way to achieving our freshman class goal. Our growth this year is particularly impressive given record graduation numbers over the past three years, coupled with three small freshman classes until last year’s record freshman enrollment. With the resulting number of juniors and seniors on campus, in reality, our University should be contracting. There is convincing evidence our retention and completion initiatives are working, something only possible because of the hard work of so many on our campus. Freshman to sophomore retention exceeded 80% for the first time in our history. Thank you!

Again, welcome back, and thank you for your hard work and dedication to our students, University and community.

Warm Regards,

M. David Rudd

Distinguished University Professor

Dear Campus Community:

The deeply disturbing incident in Charlottesville, perpetrated by the KKK, white supremacists and neo-Nazis, is the latest in a string of national events rooted in racial tension, overt racism, hate and bigotry. Tragic events like these challenge not only our nation, but our City and campus. Over the past three years, our campus has engaged in vigorous debate and discussion about these issues, and done so in a manner consistent with our commitment to a foundational value of equality and campus community strengthened and enriched by our diversity.

We will continue our Critical Conversations series in the fall semester, addressing this continuing and disturbing trend of national events. Last year, I met with several student groups/organizations to discuss a wide range of topics and will continue to do so this year. If you have suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact me or Provost Weddle-West directly. As a University deeply committed to the development and personal growth of all of our students, please know that there is a broad range of support resources available, starting with our faculty and staff.  Do not hesitate to reach out to any of us, including your Dean of Students, Dr. Justin Lawhead, who is easily accessible in the University Center.

Our campus and broader City are defined by our diversity and strengthened by its rich tapestry. As we again grieve for this tragic loss of life and a country struggling with racial tension, please know you are part of a campus community that values and is deeply committed to diversity, along with your individual growth and personal development. Just a few days ago, our Student Government Association leaders joined other student leaders from across the country and signed a letter supporting the University of Virginia and condemning the racist and bigoted behavior. I have never been more proud than to witness our students' response to national events over the past three years. There will always be hate, insecurity and fear in this world. Hope, in the face of adversity, is never easy, but something our campus has evidenced repeatedly in the most difficult of circumstances. I am grateful to be part of the University of Memphis and this community. I look forward to hearing from you.

Warm Regards,

M. David Rudd
President | Distinguished University Professor
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