About President M. David Rudd

MDRuddM. David Rudd is in his sixth year as President of the University of Memphis, a position he has held since May 2014. As a Distinguished University Professor of Psychology, he also continues funded research, along with his affiliation with the National Center for Veterans Studies at the University of Utah as co-founder and scientific director. Before transitioning to President, he served as University of Memphis Provost. Prior to moving to Memphis, he was dean of the College of Social & Behavioral Science at the University of Utah and previously held positions at Texas A&M University College of Medicine, Baylor University and Texas Tech.

University Impact

Student success has been a central focus of his tenure in Memphis, with record-breaking improvements in student retention and graduation rates. He spearheaded efforts to create a new division of Student Success, developed the University’s first integrated recruitment, enrollment, retention and graduation plan, created a one-stop admissions center, developed targeted degree pathways for all majors, implemented an Academic Coaching for Excellence initiative, offered need-based funding for the first time in UofM history and expanded the availability of scholarship opportunities for students. The University of Memphis became the first institution of higher learning nationally to partner with Folds of Honor to support higher education for spouses and children of America’s fallen and disabled service members. In May 2019, he testified before the U.S. House Committee on Education and Finance on several of the UofM initiatives targeting vulnerable students.

He has made a strong commitment to containing higher education costs and lowering student debt, holding tuition flat during his first year, the first such move in more than three decades at the UofM. For the second time in five years, the UofM had no tuition increase, with the five-year average under two percent and well below historic University averages.

Among the core values at the University of Memphis are student success and access, along with diversity and inclusion. Over the past five years, the University of Memphis had the lowest tuition/fee increases in the State of Tennessee and dramatically improved overall affordability in a rapidly changing higher education landscape.

More than 50 percent of first-time freshmen at the University of Memphis are eligible for Pell grants (families with household incomes under $50,000). For Fall 2018, approximately 620 students came from households with an income threshold of $50,000 or less and were eligible for Hope scholarships. These 620 students represent 25 percent of the incoming first-time freshman cohort. Last year, 86 percent of these students had their tuition and fees fully covered by Pell, Hope and UofM institutional aid. Under President Rudd’s leadership, the University of Memphis is committed to continuing to expand these numbers each year and aims to be covering all tuition/fees for these qualifying students by the Fall 2021.

The University of Memphis' commitment has always been, and continues to be, one of delivering high-quality educational programs to all students at the lowest possible cost. Toward this end, the UofM recently approved and will be implementing the following beginning Fall 2019 as part of our Access Memphis initiative:

Guaranteed Tuition Plan – All incoming first-time, full-time freshmen will be eligible to enroll in our guaranteed tuition plan, which assures that they will lock in the Fall 2019 tuition rate for eight consecutive regular semesters if they take at least 12 student credit hours per semester.

Tuition Cap – Resident undergraduate students will only pay for 12 credit hours. All credit hours above 12 are free of charge. Resident graduate students will only pay for 10 student credit hours. Graduate credit hours over 10 are free of charge for resident students.

Uniform Tuition Rates – Students, regardless of whether they are taking traditional on-ground/in-person or online classes, will pay the same tuition rate.

Not only have the past five years witnessed historically low tuition increases, but it has been coupled with significant growth in summer and fall enrollments. Given dramatic changes in higher education funding, President Rudd also initiated efforts to improve efficiency across all University divisions, including the development and implementation of a new budget model that allows for greater local control and direction and reinforces entrepreneurial creativity. In 2017, President Rudd helped the UofM Research Foundation (UMRF) launch a private, innovative company, UMRF Ventures, providing a unique and effective alternative to employ students in high-paying jobs that allow them to focus more time and energy on completing their education. In its first year, UMRF Ventures successfully launched three partnership centers, all fully staffed by students. It employs 300 students and gross revenue approached $4M in only its second year.

Most out-of-state students at the University of Memphis have received a sizeable cut in tuition under a simplified four-tier tuition structure. The restructuring sets tuition for Tennessee residents, out-of-state residents, international students and UofM Global online students. Students from outside a 250-mile radius of the UofM will see a considerable decrease in costs.

Efforts to grow community partnerships and engagement have been very successful during President Rudd’s first five years, with creative partnerships with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Shelby County Schools and Methodist Healthcare. His first year saw a record $37.9M raised and broke that record this past year with a total more than $41M. The last two years have seen consecutive records for academic fundraising at $23M and $26M. Over a five-year period, $164M has been raised. More than $500M is being invested on campus and in the University Neighborhood District, with over $140M of private funds. In 2017, the UofM launched a unique partnership with Shelby County Schools, the River City Partnership, targeting teacher recruitment and retention. Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc. and International Paper each made $1M commitments to support the River City Partnership while the Crews Family Foundation invested $500,000.

President Rudd launched a national visibility campaign in his first year in partnership with FedEx Corp., an effort that is already garnering attention. More UofM academic programs are currently ranked than at any time during the University’s 107-year history. President Rudd has been a strong advocate for growing the University’s research mission. During his first year, the UofM was successful in landing a National Institute of Health Center of Excellence in mobile health technology, with 10 nationally-ranked university partners. The Center’s first three years have been a great success, with the University receiving its largest grant in history at $15M in year three. President Rudd is spearheading efforts to create an Emerging Research University Fund in Tennessee, targeting research expansion in universities across the state.

FedEx Express and the University of Memphis established the Learning Inspired by FedEx LiFE program, a new initiative that allows employees of the FedEx World Hub the opportunity to earn a tuition-free, fully-online degree from UofM Global. LiFE: Learning inspired by FedEx is a unique initiative that provides FedEx Hub employees in Memphis, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Oakland and Newark as well as FedEx Logistics Inc. employees the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree through the University of Memphis online program, UofM Global, at potentially no cost to the employees.

The Focus on College and University Success (FOCUS) Act, passed in 2016, allowed for an independent governing board to be established at the UofM, which increases autonomy and local control of the University's strategic direction. The UofM Board of Trustees assumed responsibility for the University with approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) during the inaugural meeting held in March 2017.

Under President Rudd's leadership, the University of Memphis footprint has continued to expand. The $21 million state-of-the-art Laurie-Walton Family Basketball Center opened on the Park Avenue Campus and work has begun on the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music $40-million, 40,000-square-foot music center, and the $18.5M Alumni Mall Amphitheater and Pedestrian Cable Bridge. The Pedestrian Cable Bridge, which will be completed later this year, will include an iconic cable-stayed pedestrian bridge that will soar over the Southern Avenue railroad tracks and adjacent to an $18.5M five-story, 11,140-space parking garage.

The $30M Center for Wellness and Fitness project is to begin this year. The 74,000-square-foot Center for Wellness and Fitness will be combined with the current Student Recreation and Fitness Center and Larry O. Finch Recreation Facility to give the University nearly 200,000 square feet of indoor recreation facilities.

The University of Memphis became the first institution in the U.S. to enter into a Research Collaboration Agreement with the Czech Academy of Sciences. Comprised of 54 research institutions, the CAS is responsible for leading research in the Czech Republic across a range of natural, technical, social sciences and humanities topics.

Research and Service

President Rudd’s undergraduate degree is from Princeton University. He completed his doctoral training at the University of Texas at Austin and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in cognitive therapy at the Beck Institute in Philadelphia under the direction of Aaron T. Beck. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Professional Psychology and a Fellow of three professional societies. In addition to his clinical work, President Rudd is an active researcher with more than 200 publications and more than 10,000 citations.

President Rudd has garnered more than $19M in grant funding as a principal or co-principal investigator and served on the Institute of Medicine/National Academies of Science Committee on Assessment of Resiliency and Prevention Programs for Mental and Behavioral Health in Service Members and Their Families. Last year, he chaired a workshop on suicide and serious mental illness for the National Academies.

President Rudd serves on several editorial boards, is past Chair of the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, past President of the Texas Psychological Association, past President of Division 12 Section VII of the American Psychological Association, past Past-President of the American Association of Suicidology, a previous members of the APA Council of Representatives and currently serves on the board of the PDV Foundation. President Rudd has testified eight times before the U.S. Congress, both House and Senate, on issues related to veterans and suicide.


Dr. Loretta Rudd is a clinical associate professor in child development at the UofM. Dr. Rudd earned her PhD in educational psychology from Baylor University. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communication disorders/deaf education from The University of Texas at Austin. She also received a Master of Education in educational administration from Tarleton State University.

Previously, Dr. Rudd was an assistant professor at the University of Utah. For 12 years, she taught in public education in Texas and California.

Dr. Rudd teaches several classes at the UofM and serves on several boards, such as the Urban Child Institute, Girl Scouts of the Mid-South and Libertas School of Memphis. She is chair of the UofM Women in Leadership and Philanthropy and a member of the Shelby County Early Childhood Education Consortium Committee (birth-third grade).

They have two children — Nicholas, who graduated from Vanderbilt University, completed his MPP at the LBJ School for Public Affairs at the University of Texas-Austin and starts law school at the University of Texas in August. Emma recently graduated from NYU with honors and will be attending graduate school pursuing a doctorate in the social sciences.