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Compliance Certification Report
Federal Requirement 4.1

Last Updated August 2, 2004
(static edition)

Federal Requirement 4.1:

When evaluating success with respect to student achievement in relation to the institution’s mission, the institution includes, as appropriate, consideration of course completion, state licensing examinations, and job placement rates.

The Institution Certifies Compliance: Yes

Compliance report completed by: Audit Team 36

Statement of Rationale for Judgment of Compliance:

The mission of the University of Memphis includes the statement that the university is “committed to excellence in undergraduate, graduate, and professional education … and in the preparation of a diverse student population for successful careers and meaningful participation in a global society.”  To assess the success in achieving its mission, UofM monitors course completion (graduation rates), results of the various licensure examinations, and job placement rates.

Course Completion

Graduation rates, defined here for course completion, are carefully monitored at the University of Memphis. In 1999, the university set a goal of increasing its graduation rate for undergraduate students as part of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s (THEC) assessment program. [1]  From a 1999-00 baseline of 24.6% for first-time, full-time UofM students graduating in five years, the university has steadily increased the rate to 33.2% in 2003-04. [2]  An indirect, but important measure of course completion is retention rate.  A THEC report on retention of first-time freshmen over a 13 year period [3] shows the average retention of UofM freshmen at 78.7%, a rate comparing favorably with the state average of 79.9% for all public four-year colleges and universities.

At the graduate level, 59% of first-time master’s students entering UofM in fall 1999 had completed their degree requirements by spring 2003. Of the first-time doctoral students entering in fall 1998, 52% had completed their requirements by spring 2003. The one year retention rate for master’s students entering UofM in fall 2001 was 75.8%, the highest in a six year period. The doctoral student retention rate for students entering the same semester was 86.3%, also the highest for a six year period. [4]

The Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law monitors course completion through attrition studies for accrediting agencies. In 2002, the completion rate for Law students was 95.5%. [5]

Licensing Examinations

Licensing examination results are maintained at the University of Memphis in eight areas for which academic degrees are awarded: teacher education, engineering, law, nursing, clinical nutrition, audiology, speech pathology, and school psychology.  Assessment data, including licensing scores, are presented in the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) Annual Report Card instituted by the board as a means of demonstrating public accountability by the TBR institutions. [6] In addition, pass rates are included in the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s annual report to the legislature and citizens in The Condition of Higher Education in Tennessee. [7] The UofM presents a six year history of licensure first-time pass rates at its assessment website. [8] In five of these academic areas, the first-time pass rate exceeds 90% for all test takers during the 1999-2003 period. Overall, the six year report shows an average first-time pass rate of 88% for all UofM programs, exceeding the state average of 85%.  

Job Placement Rates

Job placement rates are available through surveys conducted by various offices at UofM. The Office of Career and Employment Services conducts a study of students as they are graduating. The most recent and complete data on graduates and their job status is the 2002 survey. For that year, 24% of the bachelor recipients, at the point of graduation, indicated they were not employed, but seeking. This figure was slightly up from 2001 in which 21.2% of the graduates were seeking employment, but below the period of 1997 to 2000. [9]

A survey of recent graduates (two years from graduation) is conducted by the Office of the Provost approximately every other year. For the survey conducted in 2002 of 1999-2000 graduates, 89% of the respondents indicated they were either working full-time, were self-employed, or enrolled in school. [10] This figure is slightly higher than the state average for public universities at 88%. The same survey shows that 2.7% of UofM graduates were unemployed and seeking work compared to 4% for all public universities in the state.

Placement rates for School of Law graduates, on average at 96% for the past 5 years, have exceeded the national placement rate for over 15 years. [5]    

In 2003, the UofM conducted a series of focused interviews of area employers. [11] These interviews were designed to assess employers' perceptions of  recent UofM graduates. Overall, these employers felt UofM “graduates whom they hired could hold their own against those from other universities.” Another significant finding of this study was that an internship experience was said to be an important element to a bachelor degree. From an employer’s perspective, if a graduate did not have an internship experience, he or she was at a disadvantage when competing with other job applicants. The University of Memphis has responded by creating a position within the Provost Office to coordinate out-of-class experiences. [12]

Relevant Organizational Unit(s):

Vice Provost for Academic Affairs; Director of Career and Employment Services

Supporting Documentation and Evidence:

[1] Tennessee Higher Education Commission, Performance Funding Form
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[2] Tennessee Higher Education Commission, Goal and ReportReturn to narrative

[3] Tennessee Higher Education Commission Report, Retention Rates
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[4] UofM First Time Student Retention Rates
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[5] UofM Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, Completion Rates
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[6] TBR, UofM Annual Report CardsReturn to narrative

[7] The Condition of Higher Education in Tennessee
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[8] UofM First Time Pass Rates
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[9] Status of 2002 Bachelor Degree Graduates
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[10] UofM 2002 Alumni Results
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[11] UofM Regional Employers' Focus Interviews
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[12] Tennessee Higher Education Commission, Performance Funding Report 4b
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