mission ascend - to move upward, to rise to a higher levle



Produce well-rounded, successful graduates and cutting-edge research
for the enrichment of our ever-changing society.

Our mission describes what we do. We educate students to prepare them for productive pursuits, and we engage in research and scholarship that advances new knowledge. Although we successfully achieve many other things, education and research are what we are chartered to accomplish and must do well. While our mission remains relatively stable over time, the environment where we operate is everchanging. This continual churning creates ceaseless challenges for achieving our mission. Currently, our educational environment is being roiled by increasing competition for a shrinking pool of prospective students; a growing need for resources to educate students unprepared intellectually and emotionally for college; rising costs of attendance that have outstripped inflation for decades; a growing proportion of students and their families who question the value of a college education (given the cost of a college education); and growing employer dissatisfaction with the qualifications of college graduates. Our research environment is also being shaken by increasing competition for shrinking external research funding; increasingly complex research issues that seem insoluble using standard approaches; mounting rules, regulations and restrictions in response to cyberterrorism and other threats; and, growing dissatisfaction by funding organizations with research output that is too narrow, lacking in relevance/impact and untethered from economic development considerations.

These shifting forces require us to adapt and, more importantly, present rich opportunities for mission advancement. How we educate students and how we investigate the world is rapidly progressing. The University of Memphis is fundamentally transforming our educational and research models with life and career success as the goal for our students and high societal impact as the goal for our research.


Success-Driven Education.

The University of Memphis excels at educating our students. Our instructional model focuses on Student Success that extends beyond graduation to encompass great outcomes for our students in their careers and in their lives. To achieve this Student Success, we apply a three-step model, summarized as Access → Opportunities → Outcomes. Every action we take on behalf of students should impact at least one of these three dimensions of Student Success:

  • Access means eliminating barriers to matriculation for students who meet our standards and creating easier pathways to our University that fit a student’s situation and stage in life.

  • Opportunities means we provide myriad opportunities for students to succeed by providing a full array of impactful programs, experiences, services, academic support and facilities that maximize student success.

  • Outcomes means that our instruction and student experience result in career and life success for our students. By emphasizing practical education that promotes soft and life skills, we produce well-rounded, mature and confident citizens fully prepared for professional and life challenges.


Impact-Driven Research.

Our research model is being transformed through increasing our focus on societal impact and strengthening our research enterprise. This involves several fundamental changes to how we approach research and scholarly work, including creating more substantive institutes and centers; more translational and interdisciplinary research; a greater emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering + Math), Healthcare and Business (STEM+H+B); a focus on Grand Challenge issues; increased investment in infrastructure; increasing partnerships with the private sector; and strengthening the connection between our research and economic/community development.

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