About President M. David Rudd

MDRuddM. David Rudd is 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 his current position, 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.

University Impact

Student success has been a central focus of his tenure in Memphis, with record-breaking improvements in retention and graduation numbers over the past four years. He spearheaded an effort to create a student success center, 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.

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. Not only have the past four years witnessed historically low tuition increases, but have 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. Just this past year, 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 has successfully launched three partnership centers, all fully staffed by students, with a fourth center underway for Fall 2018.

Efforts to grow community partnerships and engagement have been very successful during his first four 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 $37M raised, with second year numbers surpassing that total and exceeding $38M raised. The four year total in fundraising set a new record for the UofM with well over $100M. A total of more than $500M is being invested on campus and in the University Neighborhood District, with over $140M of private funds. This past year, the UofM launched a unique partnership with Shelby County Schools, the River City Partnership, targeting teacher recruitment and retention.

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 106-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. Dr. Rudd is spearheading efforts to create an Emerging Research University Fund in Tennessee, targeting research expansion in universities across the state.

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 Dr. 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 Southern Gateway. The Southern Gateway is a $35 million project that will include an iconic cable-stayed pedestrian bridge that will soar over the railroad tracks and will include a six-level parking deck as well as a pedestrian mall that aligns with the bridge. The UofM is currently in the design phase for construction of a new Student Wellness Recreation and Fitness Center.

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 $18M in grant funding as a principal or co-principal investigator and currently serves 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.

Dr. Rudd serves on a number of 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. Dr. Rudd has testified seven 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 and currently attends the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, and Emma, who attends New York University.