Richard L. Irwin

Executive Dean, UofM Global, College of Professional & Liberal Studies, Center for Regional Economic Enrichment

(901) 678-2991
Richard Irwin

About Richard Irwin

An innovative leader, Dr. Richard L. Irwin serves as the Executive Dean, UofM Global, the College of Professional & Liberal Studies (CPLS), and the Center for Regional Economic Enrichment.

Under Irwin’s leadership, UofM Global has become the top ranked online program in Tennessee with more than one-third of the academic programs ranked nationally.   UofM Global enrollment has more than doubled in the four years and now serves more than 5,000 students from 42 states and several foreign countries who are completing their studies fully online.

The dramatic growth achieved by UofM Global and CPLS is partially attributable to the entrepreneurial spirit embodied within industry partnerships such as LiFE, or Learning Inspired by FedEx, launched in 2018. Since then, LiFE has expanded to include operating companies FedEx Express, Logistics and Freight and more than 1,000 employees have initiated their journey toward a post-secondary degree. As a result of this innovative collaboration with FedEx, UofM Global was recognized by Chief Learning Officer as the Gold Medal Winner for Learning in Practice.

Irwin has also fostered subsequent collaborative partnerships with companies such as Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, the City of Memphis, and Nike. More recently, UofM Global was invited to join InStride, a prestigious network of like-minded institutions including Arizona State University, CUNY, University of Virginia and University of Wisconsin, committed to supporting corporate strategic enterprise education programs on a global scale. UofM Global has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report as the #1 online program in Tennessee and top 10 for best overall value. Furthermore, almost a third of the degree programs offered through UofM Global are also nationally ranked.

Since returning to CPLS in 2019, where Irwin served as Associate Dean from 2010 to 2014, the college has seen a boost in enrollment. This growth has been fueled by the UofM Global industry partnerships along with new, attractive academic program offerings in Commercial Aviation (B.S.) and a Doctor of Liberal Studies (DLS).  As one of three such programs in the country, the DLS from CPLS is the only one that may be completed fully online through UofM Global.

Irwin serves as principal investigator for GROWWTH (Growing Relational and Occupational Wealth in West Tennessee Households), a $25 million grant from the Tennessee Department of Human Services, housed within the Center for Regional Economic Enrichment. In collaboration with three regional workforce boards, seven community organizations, the Greater Memphis Chamber, and local businesses, GROWWTH seeks to transform the economic vibrancy of West Tennessee, the State’s most poverty-stricken and under credentialed region.

A tenured, professor in the Kemmons Wilson School of Hospitality and Resort Management, Irwin has authored more than 100 articles, books, book chapters and commissioned reports.  In recognition for his contribution to academia as well as the sport industry, Irwin was awarded the prestigious Sutton Award by the Sport Marketing Association in 2013.  He has also been recognized by the University of Memphis as a PI Millionaire for generating more than $1 million in grant funding.

Irwin earned his Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate degrees from the University of Northern Colorado and now resides in Germantown, TN with his wife Carol, who is a tenured professor in the College of Health Sciences.