strategic plan ascend vision to move upward, to rise to a higher level


To become a nationally recognized public research university.

Our vision describes our aspiration for the University of Memphis as we peer into the future. If things unfold as expected and we execute on our plan, our vision will become our reality. While bold and ambitious, becoming a nationally recognized, leading public research university is also a logical and natural extension of the great strides we have made over the past 110 years. The long arc of our institution bends upward, marked by ever higher levels of recognition and performance. Our recent achievements, such as our R1 research designation and our athletic accomplishments, have given us national notice and significant momentum that we are leveraging.

We understand that ascending to the highest ranks of national public research universities is not a forgone conclusion. It will take a lot of work. And there will certainly be some dips in the road — setbacks that we must work through. We must be realistic optimists. We must understand our current situation. We cannot reach our destination if we are unclear about our starting position. This means owning up to who we are — both our strengths and weaknesses — and clearly seeing the challenges and opportunities before us. We must leverage our strengths and mitigate our weaknesses. We must be alert to opportunities and realize them to their fullest, particularly opportunities that align with our strengths. But we must also be ever watchful and prepared for external uncertainties. Success will entail calculated risk-taking. Risk assessment and risk management must be core competencies.

Of course, we must be clear-eyed about our competition. We should not fool ourselves into believing there is not a competitive dimension to our vision. Other universities are not standing still and there is only so much room at the top of higher education. However, while we will certainly keep an eye on the competition, our focus is mostly on our own performance. Peer and aspirant universities serve a useful purpose as navigation aids that help us determine our position and where we must coursecorrect. And certainly, we welcome opportunities to collaborate with peer universities, particularly our sister institutions in Tennessee. Nevertheless, we do expect a level playing field: fair treatment and resourcing that reflects the value we provide to our students, community, state, region and society.

Rivalry in higher education makes our vision more than an aspiration. Increasing competition among universities makes ascending to the highest ranks a strategic imperative. A shake-out in higher education is occurring and accelerating. Smaller, undifferentiated and underfunded institutions are failing, merging or being absorbed (by more successful institutions). Regional universities will likely suffer disproportionately. Further complicating matters, what is required to be a leading research university is a moving target, requiring us to thoroughly rethink important elements of our University. Our Strategic Plan is reflective of this essential shift in mindset. Our plan proposes significant redesign and revamping of our enrollment and recruiting, academic instruction, student experience, research and University operations and finance. Our objective is uplifting and differentiating the University of Memphis. We have no choice but to change. However, in forging a new course, we will stay true to ourselves and our principles. We will follow our own lights and do things the Tiger Way with integrity, hard work, courage, determination, kindness, discipline and teamwork. And we will continue to serve our community and the citizens of Tennessee as we rise to meet the opportunities that summon us.

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