strategic plan goal 1 aggressively provide access

Grow enrollment while simultaneously improving student preparedness by pursuing a diversified and far-reaching recruiting strategy that emphasizes our University’s compelling value proposition.

(Note: Most of the discussion under this goal refers to undergraduate enrollment and recruiting, but clearly some elements also pertain to graduate students. Growing and diversifying our graduate student population is pivotal to our overall enrollment and recruitment strategy. A separate sub-section on graduate enrollment and recruiting is included.)

A confluence of factors creates challenges for our undergraduate enrollment and recruiting, including a drop-off in high school graduates driven by demographics; higher high school drop-out rates; a decreased college going-rate especially among males; and lower preparedness of high school graduates. These intersecting forces mean institutions of higher education are — and will continue to be — competing for a shrinking number of college-ready prospective students for the next five-plus years. The University of Memphis is currently dependent on a small geographic area for most of its students. Furthermore, our vision to become a leading national public research university requires that we raise our admissions standards, creating additional downward pressure on enrollment. The combination of these challenges requires us to pursue a broad-based, integrated, full-court-press, all-hands-on-deck effort to significantly enhance all elements of our enrollment and recruiting.


Higher Enrollment and Admissions Standards.

Our objective is to significantly grow enrollment, through clearly setting recruitment goals backed by intentional efforts, while simultaneously raising admissions and academic standards. We are establishing specific University and college enrollment targets within the context of a broader push toward performance management. Eventually, we seek to increase our enrollment to the levels of aspirant universities. This transition will not happen quickly; admissions standards will be increased incrementally to reflect growth in the qualified applicant pool. Our immediate goal in the next one to two years is to stabilize enrollment considering the aforementioned downward forces.


Diversified Student Sourcing.

Our objective is to expand and diversify undergraduate enrollment through recruiting more heavily outside the Memphis area; tapping currently under-tapped student segments, such as transfers and adult learners; and integrating more seamlessly and innovatively with feeder institutions and programs, including our own University Schools. Diversification is needed to create a robust enrollment that is less vulnerable to external forces (e.g., economic shifts), but also to ensure we are tapping every source of prospective students to grow enrollment and to reflect our nation’s diversity. We are seeking to increase our student diversity by recruiting more non-local students; more students from varied ethnic and cultural backgrounds; more international students; and more non-traditional students (e.g., adult, transfer, veteran, (degree) completer, rural, first-generation, disabled).


Purposeful and Distinctive Recruitment & Marketing.

Our objective is to engage in purposeful, persistent and better-resourced recruiting of prospective students based on segmentation that tailors messaging and tactics to the needs and preferences of target segments and differentiates us from competitor universities so that the University of Memphis is included in prospective students’ top choice set of universities. We are pursuing a comprehensive, integrated and data-driven recruitment campaign touching on all elements of recruiting. This means investment in recruiting to match the efforts of our competitors. The result will be more recruiters, recruiting events, marketing and advertising and greater involvement of our campus population in recruiting.


Improved Access and Affordability.

Our objective is to eliminate financial barriers for qualified students to matriculate and remain at the UofM. Affordability is a key (but often underappreciated) element of student success. At the University of Memphis, we have always excelled at making our education accessible and affordable. A high proportion of our students have typically come from low or modest socioeconomic backgrounds, so we know how to serve these students. In our efforts to improve access and affordability, we consider much more than our tuition and fees. We also consider opportunity costs (of attendance), unmet need, financial literacy and accumulation of debt and ability to service that debt after graduation. We understand that post-graduation financial success — return on investment and social mobility — are important to our students. We are committed to ensuring the financial superiority of our value proposition relative to other educational or career options.


Growing Graduate and Professional Enrollment.

Our objective is to grow graduate and professional enrollment — particularly in the STEM+H+B areas — so that our proportion of graduate students grows to about one third of total enrollment within five years. Attaining this growth requires a more intentional, multi-pronged and programmatic approach that significantly grows external research funding and better identifies and markets to prospective students, better informing them about our graduate opportunities and pathways.


Increased UofM Global Enrollment.

Our objective is to leverage our online experience and capabilities to substantially grow both our fully online enrollment and our number of completely online programs — particularly in STEM+H+B fields of study. We have the infrastructure to scale up, so our emphasis is on adding programs and instructional capacity while preserving our high quality of instruction. We are maintaining our competitive edge through implementing advanced online innovations that provide advantages and benefits difficult to achieve in classroom settings. Our online focus is increasingly on nontraditional students and companies. With this in mind, we strive to design maximum flexibility into our online offerings. We are also regularly evaluating UofM Global to ensure we are achieving a mix of programs that meets student and employer needs.


Differentiated Lambuth Offering.

Our objective is to create a contrasted academic and student experience at our Lambuth campus that provides a clear alternative to the Central campus and better leverages Lambuth to serve the citizens of western and middle Tennessee. The value proposition of Lambuth is compelling: a small campus experience with the resources and imprimatur of a major university. Lambuth offers an intimate and personalized learning alternative to the Central campus, while maintaining access to the advantages and benefits of the Central campus. We are striving to better market this best-of-both-worlds value proposition. Our longer-term strategy is to leverage Lambuth to better serve the educational markets in western and middle Tennessee beyond the Memphis metropolitan area.


Goal 1

Historical Data Targets
Fall 2018 Fall 2019 Fall 2020 Fall 2021 Fall 2022 Fall 2023 Fall 2024 Fall 2025 Fall 2026 Fall 2027
Total Enrollment 21,458 21,685 22,205 21,622 21,917 22,250 23,425 24,625 26,075 27,550
Total Undergraduate (degree-seeking) 15,563 15,568 15,444 14,591 14,181 14,200 15,000 15,800 16,850 17,900
In-state 14,606 14,488 14,162 13,105 12,593 12,500 12,750 13,000 13,500 14,000
Out-of-state 729 950 1,149 1,332 1,421 1,500 2,000 2,500 3,000 3,500
International   130 133 154 167 200 250 300 350 400
Dual Enrollment 1,501 1,652 1,784 1,953 2,391 2,500 2,600 2,725 2,850 3,000
Total Graduate 4,225 4,307 4,822 4,920 5,209 5,550 5,825 6,100 6,375 6,650
Master’s 2,860 2,831 3,307 3,393 3,747 4,000 4,250 4,500 4,750 5,000
Professional 312 347 362 347 317 350 350 350 350 350
Doctoral 1,053 1,129 1,153 1,180 1,145 1,200 1,225 1,250 1,275 1,300
First-time, First-year Freshmen Enrollment 2,480 2,683 2,540 2,593 2,414 2,352 2,772 3,220 3,696 4,200
Transfer Students 1,419 1,455 1,221 1,160 1,120 1,200 1,300 1,800 2,300 2,800
Number of Applications 20,301 20,077 17,774 18,070 19,403 21,000 22,000 23,000 24,000 25,000
Acceptance Rate 58.80% 62.70% 64.10% 78.10% 72.20% 70% 70% 70% 70% 70%
Yield Rate 20.30% 20.70% 21.70% 18.20% 15.70% 16% 18% 20% 22% 24%
Mean ACT 22.83 22.77 22.58 21.24 20.98 21 22 23 24 25
Mean High School GPA 3.46 3.51 3.53 3.49 3.44 3.45 3.55 3.65 3.70 3.75
Student Debt                    
% Students Graduating with Student Loan Debt 65.1% 65.6% 62.8% 63.7% 58.6% 58% 58% 54% 52% 50%
Average Debt of Students Graduating with Debt $27,247 $26,933 $27,182 $26,108 $26,394 $26,000 $26,000 $26,000 $25,000 $24,000
% GR Students graduating with student loan debt 48.9% 49.1% 48.5% 46.3% 44.2% 44% 44% 42% 40% 38%
Average Debt of GR Students Graduating with Debt $39,311 $40,674 $42,305 $39,701 $39,805 $39,000 $39,000 $39,000 $35,000 $32,000

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