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2015 President’s Convocation

Convocation Remarks
by UDM President Antoine M. Garibaldi
 Aug. 17, 2015

Good morning, UDM faculty and staff colleagues. Welcome to the beginning of the 2015-2016 academic year! I know that many of you were busy working on one or more of our three campuses this summer, but I hope you were able to get some rest and relaxation.

As I have done in the past, this morning I will share information about the following four areas: (1) some notable accomplishments of the University over the past four years; (2) specific progress we are making on key strategic goals such as advancing academic and institutional excellence; increasing undergraduate and graduate enrollment; heightening the distinction of the University; managing our fiscal resources efficiently and effectively; fundraising and the Comprehensive Campaign; and our engagement with the community; (3) significant accomplishments of the Schools and Colleges and divisions of the University last year; and (4) a preview of a few University initiatives and events that will begin or occur in 2015-2016. There is not enough time to mention all of the major activities of the school year, but you will find the other events in the weekly Campus Connection newsletter and on the UDM website during the year.

Before highlighting some of our progress over the last few years, I want to quickly flash back to the summer of 2011 when organizational theorist Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great, How the Mighty Fall, was the keynote speaker at the Mackinac Policy Conference and also the annual conference of the National Association of Colleges and University Business Officers. Supported by his empirical research and data, Jim Collins conveyed his straightforward message that corporate and non-profit institutions must be "great" if they expect to succeed. Moreover, he writes in the opening sentence of his bestseller Good to Great that "Good is the enemy of great." For Collins and all who want to be great, pursuing achievable aspirational goals serves as a useful motivational tool. And so you may recall that as we began our strategic planning process in 2011, I asked the University Community to adopt the motto of "Advancing UDM from Good to Great." UDM, fortunately, is already "good" in many ways – excellent faculty and staff like you, very talented students, outstanding alumni, a national and regional reputation, a strong Jesuit and Mercy Mission, and more. And I recommended that we work to become even better and advance from good to great with some prospective thinking and aggressive work to accomplish several bold goals over the next three to five years, specifically by prioritizing the following important items:

The primary purpose of our annual Strategic Planning reports is to document the year-to-year progress or lack of progress on each of our five strategic goals; and those results serve as a catalyst to do more than merely meeting our goals but to excel on each and every one of them.

Notable Accomplishments at University of Detroit Mercy since June 2011

Four years later, we have not yet achieved the goal of being "Great," but we have indeed made progress. For example, through much work in schools, the community and on our own campus, we are beginning to increase our first-year enrollment, which you will hear about shortly. We have increased our small endowment by 76% from $25 million to $43 million; and we are on a pace to raising almost half of private donor funding towards one of the University's largest ever campaigns. We have implemented and staying the course on an ambitious strategic plan that includes five major goals that I have just finished mentioning. And, of particular importance, during the largest municipal bankruptcy, we have strengthened partnerships between the University and local and state government, businesses, and philanthropic, neighborhood and other non-profit organizations to improve our surrounding neighborhoods, specifically the Livernois – McNichols Corridor. You will hear more about that in a few minutes also. And we have made extensive renovations to and added facilities on each of our three campuses, including the 40,000 sq. ft. Student Fitness Center, the first newly constructed, free-standing building on the McNichols campus in 42 years; the Anthony Asher Law Clinic; and the New Dental Clinic and Simulation Lab. And more renovations and potential new facilities are likely to occur in 2015-16, though all the details are not finalized at this time.

Since 2011, the University has also received more than $36 million in foundation and government support. A few of these grants include:

Our success in obtaining more than $36 million in grants from foundations and government is due to both our aggressive pursuit of these funds and our ability to involve so many of you – faculty, staff and administrators – in the process of writing the proposals and case statements and developing innovative ideas that appeal to prospective funders. Some of these grants were not awarded on the first submission; but we were determined to learn from our initial weaknesses to submit a stronger proposal that had a better chance of being funded. We will be seeking similar opportunities during the year, and I thank you in advance for helping in these collaborative grant writing projects.

Noteworthy Recent Rankings and Designations - Over the last few years, the University has also received many noteworthy rankings and designations, which have played a role in fulfilling the third goal of the University's Strategic Plan, to "Heighten the Distinction of the University." And I want to highlight a few of the more recent designations and rankings, such as:

Accomplishments such as these are a compliment you, our faculty and staff, who provide an excellent undergraduate and graduate education and experiences to our students here at UDM.

Ad Hoc Committee on Fiscal Management and Efficiency

As a result of the eight member Ad Hoc Committee on Fiscal Management and Efficiency's work last school year, three central themes have been identified: Make a Great First Impression; Streamline and Enhance the Core Business; and Create Lean and Effective Business Practices. And, within these three themes, the Committee proposes focusing on the following fifteen key initiatives:

The First Impressions Task Force, which will be co-chaired by Elizabeth Patterson, Associate Vice President, Marketing & Public Affairs, and Debbie Stieffel, Vice President, Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, will review what can be done to enhance first impressions of the University on both the website and the physical campuses. The Academic Task Force, which will be co-chaired by Provost Pamela Zarkowski and Dean Will Wittig, will work with the Deans of the Schools and Colleges as well as other stakeholders to assess program closings and streamline programs to be more effective and efficient. Lastly, the Fiscal Task Force, co-chaired by Diane Praet, Associate Vice President, University Registrar and Jim Priskey, Associate Vice President, Finance, will explore how we can be more fiscally efficient. It is anticipated that recommendations from the three Task Forces will be made in the next nine months. However, three items have been approved by the President's Council for implementation this year: Web Redevelopment, Brand Analysis and the McNichols Entrance Expansion.

Web Redevelopment, Brand Analysis and McNichols Entrance Expansion – The First Impressions Task Force, which was established to review proposed initiatives to strengthen how the University presents itself, has received approval from the President's Council for two major investments: the redevelopment of UDM's website and a University brand analysis study.

A firm has been selected to assist UDM with developing a user-friendly, "responsive" website to attract, engage and serve our key constituents, especially prospective students. The development of the new website will include:

The process will include gathering input from stakeholders and users as well as a review of all current web pages to update or delete content with a primary focus on attracting prospective students.

The Brand Analysis Study will be conducted by another firm that specializes in higher education branding to examine UDM's current brand position and perceptions among UDM's key constituents. The process will utilize extensive research with focus groups, surveys and interviews. Based on research findings, a brand strategy will be developed to strengthen UDM's brand identity position.

More information will be available as both projects begin very soon. We want you to be involved in these initiatives so please provide your input and support when asked as part of the research and website review phases of these projects. Both projects will be critical to advancing the University's student recruitment and fundraising priorities.

McNichols Entrance Expansion – I am also pleased to announce another initiative that will help strengthen how the University presents itself, the expansion of the McNichols entrance. This expansion will include a large welcoming archway displaying the University's name. A double-lane entryway for incoming vehicles, which will allow visitors to enter in one lane with a continuous flow for students, faculty and staff in the other lane. We are in the preliminary stages of receiving bids for the architectural/engineering and design components of the project, which could begin in late fall.

Enrollment Projections for 2015-2016

First-Year and Summer Enrollment Update – One of the most important areas where major changes have been made is in our Enrollment processes. You may recall that in 2011-2012, I contacted many of the local and suburban school districts. These contacts were followed up by personal visits of admissions, faculty, Deans, other staff and me. That relationship building with the schools' administrators, teachers, counselors and others has helped us obtain a much larger number of applications than in previous years.

In 2013-14, the Enrollment Management and Student Affairs department developed new and enhanced strategies for enrollment by:

As of August 10, 530 first-year students have confirmed for Fall compared with 480 last year at this time. This is a 10.4% increase. Confirmations of graduates from Catholic high schools total 112, which is a 36.5% increase, compared with 82 last year; and 85 of the confirmed students are from the Detroit Archdiocesan high schools compared with 66 last year, which is a 28.7% increase.

Our Student Orientation, Advising and Registration program (SOAR) participation rate for this summer was 99.8% compared with 92.4% at this time last year for Fall 2014.

The new first-year students have an ACT composite score average of 24 and a high school grade point average of 3.49, both of which are similar to last year's first-year students. Deposits from students who attended UDM's second annual Accepted Students Day in March are trending similar to last year's pace; 172, or 82%, of the 211 students who attended the program have deposited so far, compared with 150, or 82%, last year. The discount rate for first-time students is 61% compared with 59% last year on this date.

As of Monday, August 10, 134 new transfer students were registered for the Fall compared with 163 in Fall 2014; and 197 new graduate students registered compared with 214 last year.

There are 20 confirmed students for the new NIH REBUILD Detroit. The inaugural program began this summer with a month-long program for the students. And, ended with a closing ceremony, which was held on July 31. Thank you to everyone who assisted with this new program.

With respect to registration for Fall 2015, as of August 10, 2,446 undergraduate students are registered for Fall 2015 compared with 2,497 in Fall 2014, a 2.1% decrease; and 881 graduate students are registered compared with 857 in 2014, which is a 2.8% increase. The professional school enrollment is at 1,100, compared with 1,058 last year, which is a 3.9% increase.

The overall preliminary registration total as of today is 4,553 compared with 4,412 at this same time last year, which is a 3.2% increase. With Term I beginning in two weeks, there is still time for us to increase the enrollment of new students and returning students, especially in those areas where we are observing a decline from last year. Therefore, I encourage you to refer students to the Admissions, Financial Aid or College/School offices if they are having any difficulty registering.

Our first-year housing registration numbers are 22% higher than last year by 53 students: 296 vs. 243. The total housing registration for Fall 2015 has increased by is 2.4% from 705 last year to 722 this year.

UDM Fiscal Briefings

During the summer, a few days after our Board of Trustees' meetings, about 80 of you attended the first of our UDM Fiscal Briefings. The forum highlighted the Fiscal Year 2015 operating results as well as the status of the Fiscal Year 2016 budget. Vince Abatemarco, Vice President for Business and Finance, shared the budget details that were presented to the Board of Trustees at our June Finance Committee and Board of Trustees meeting. We will have more of these periodic fiscal briefings after the October, January, March and June Board meetings. The goal is to keep you informed of the fiscal status of the University during the year.

University Advancement and Comprehensive Campaign Activities Update

The Campaign for University of Detroit Mercy has raised over $45 million as of July 31, 2015 and we have another $4.5 million of verbal commitments that are currently being finalized. The campaign is entering the second year of its leadership gift phase and next June, in anticipation of the public launch of the campaign, the Board of Trustees will approve the campaign goal.

The campaign has four primary areas of support: Student Financial Aid; Academic Programs and Faculty; Facility Renovations; and Operating Budget. Of these, Student Financial Aid has been the most attractive to donors. Forty percent of the $45 million raised thus far has been raised for student scholarships and grants. Also worth noting is that the campaign has raised $14.5 million in gifts and pledges for the endowment.

It is important to note that donors are increasingly designating and restricting their gifts. Ninety percent of gifts and pledges we receive are restricted and, therefore, do not have a direct impact on the University's operating budget.

FY 2015 Gift Revenue – In FY 2015, the University received $10.6 million in cash from private gifts and grants. This is a 35% increase compared with the 10-year annual average of $7.8 million. Despite the higher than average proceeds from gifts and grants, the number of alumni donors declined by 2% in FY2015 and the University Advancement staff is focused on reversing this trend.

Neighborhood Initiatives

Livernois-McNichols Corridor Initiative - In the Spring of this year, the first phase of the Livernois Streetscape Enhancement Plan continued and is almost completed. Now we are ready to publicly launch a new but long-planned Live6 Alliance. "Live6" is a play on words for Livernois Avenue and Six Mile Road. The press conference will be held on Monday, August 31, at 1:00 p.m. on the west side grounds of the School of Architecture. We have invited many city, state, community and philanthropic leaders. With the generous financial support from the Kresge Foundation and our institutional contribution, this initiative will focus on four key goals: place making, business attraction and retention, public safety and neighborhood stabilization. This initiative will: create a new entity that serves the Livernois/McNichols area and adjacent neighborhoods; stimulate the interest and an increase in institutional investment in capital projects and programs that will improve the quality of life in surrounding neighborhoods; provide better communication and coordination between anchor institutions and surrounding communities; and attract new businesses to the Livernois/McNichols district. Philadelphia-based U3 Advisors will continue to work with us on this initiative, as they have for the last three years.

Other Important 2015-16 Initiatives

Strategic Plan: 2012-2017 Third-Year Report – As we have done the previous two years, the UDM Strategic Plan: 2012-2017 Third-Year Report will be distributed electronically over the next couple of weeks. As mentioned earlier, significant progress has been made on each of the goals; but more intensive work is needed to increase our enrollment, retention and graduation of students. With only two more years remaining in the current five-year strategic plan, the Strategic Planning Team will begin the process of developing the next five-year plan soon.

Higher Learning Commission Accreditation Review - Finally, and most importantly, we will have our accreditation review on September 26 and September 27, 2016. Provost Zarkowski and Dr. Nancy Calleja, Chair of the 2016 Steering Committee, will share more about that shortly.

Academic Accomplishments

During the 2014-2015 academic year, we achieved many noteworthy academic accomplishments as well. With the help of the members of the Academic Leadership Team, I will share a few of their most important accomplishments.

School of Architecture

College of Business Administration

School of Dentistry

College of Engineering & Science

College of Health Professions/McAuley School of Nursing

School of Law

College of Liberal Arts & Education

Libraries/Instructional Design Studio

Career Education Center

The Institute for Learning and Service


Facility Updates

There have been many significant renovations to all three campuses over the past year. And many of those renovations have contributed to our ability to attract outstanding students and faculty. Even more, those campus improvements are being used to encourage alumni to come back and visit and provide convenient space for outside guests to host their events.

McNichols Campus

Corktown Campus (Dental)

Riverfront Campus (Law)

GM Student Corps Closing Event on Campus

On Wednesday, we will again host the closing activities and ceremony of the GM Student Corps program. More than 100 high school students who have been working during the summer on designated projects will attend a day of activities on campus that will serve as the capstone of their 10-week program. Joining the students and many university colleagues will be: several UDM students who worked as mentors to the students; high school administrators; and senior executives from GM, including Mark Reuss, Executive Vice President, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain, who is one of the founders of the three-year old program. Please join us for some of the activities.

Celebrate Spirit!

On Thursday, September 10, the UDM community will come together at Celebrate Spirit! to officially welcome the new school year for UDM faculty, staff and students. This year's Celebrate Spirit! speaker is Kerry Weber, Managing Editor of "America" Magazine. The service is co-sponsored by University Ministry and the Institute for Leadership and Service. I hope you all of you will be able to join us.

Thank you for your continued cooperation and for all you do for UDM!