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
Distinguished University Professor