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2013 President’s Convocation

Convocation Remarks
by UDM President Antoine M. Garibaldi
 Aug. 19, 2013

Good morning, UDM faculty and staff colleagues!  It is great to see all of you here today in Calihan Hall as we begin the 2013-2014 academic year! I hope you have had an enjoyable summer.  I know that many of you have been around each of the three campuses all summer, but I do hope you had the opportunity to take a little time to rest as we begin another busy academic year.

In my remarks this morning, I will share with you some of (1) our challenges and opportunities for the 2013-2014 academic year; (2) accomplishments of the Schools and Colleges, as well as other divisions of the University; (3) updates on projects that we have been working on within the University and collaboratively with external groups such as local and state governmental agencies, foundations and other non-profit organizations over the last two years; and (4) strategic initiatives and events that will occur in 2013-2014. 

Challenges and Opportunities - As I stated in my August 1 letter to you and our students, the July 19 declaration of bankruptcy by the City of Detroit is a very serious issue even though it does not have a direct financial impact on the University. However, it is an opportunity for us to truly “live our Catholic, Jesuit, Mercy and Urban mission” by continuing to play a vital role in the lives of individuals and families, as well as organizations all across the city. Whether it’s assistance in neighborhoods, non-profit organizations, elementary and secondary schools, health care facilities, we have the commitment and expertise to share with the entire local community. Therefore, if you are asked to share your knowledge and time during this challenging time of the city, I hope you, and where possible, your students, will respond affirmatively to the call.

As a result of the negative media that the city’s bankruptcy has generated around the country and the world, we are taking a proactive approach to promoting the philanthropic and corporate investments that are being made in the city, as well as the numerous positive contributions that you, our students and alumni are making weekly and throughout the year in the city and in many neighborhoods. Hopefully, you have already visited our “Take Another Look at Detroit” page on the UDM website and observed the upbeat message of why Detroit is a good place for a college education, as well as a great place to live, work and play. We will be adding to this page regularly; so if you see any strong factual stories about Detroit or become aware of interesting events, please send them to Liz Patterson, Associate Vice President for Marketing and Public Affairs, or Shiba Palmer, Web Information Specialist, in Marketing and Public Affairs. In addition to the special page on the Website, we are also meeting within the next few weeks with the presidents of the Detroit Regional Chamber and the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau to develop ways to share our website and social media links with theirs and vice versa.

Fiscal 2014 Budget -- As I mentioned in my July letter to the University community, UDM’s FY2014 gap of anticipated revenues and projected expenses is large. Our incoming freshman class is expected to be about the same as last year’s first-year class; and because more than 70% of UDM’s revenues come from net student tuition and fees, enrollment declines over the last five years have placed a financial strain on the University’s annual budgets.

Many of you are also aware that UDM issued tax-exempt bonds in 2007 and 2011 to finance the relocation and renovation of the School of Dentistry, the Chemistry Building, the School of Law, and the construction of the Student Fitness Center, as well as other projects on our three campuses. To meet the requirements of those bond obligations, the University must pursue all options to achieve a full-year balanced budget. To address this situation, we are looking for new and more ways to generate revenue, with particular emphasis on the enrollment of more undergraduate, graduate and professional students in disciplinary areas where enrollment is currently low. In addition to identifying new resources, we will be working to balance the budget by reducing our expenses so that they are more closely aligned to our current revenue reality.

Enrollment Projections for 2013-2014 – During the five June and July Student Orientation and Advising Registrations (SOAR), and the final SOAR program this past Friday, 456 prospective first-year students and their parents visited the McNichols campus.  The Fall freshman class enrollment is projected to be between 500 and 505 students. As of last Monday, the registration total for the Fall 2013 first-year class was 501, compared with 494 last year.  Last week’s total of registered transfer students was 147 compared with 119 last year at this same time. 

The graduate registration total as of last Monday was 931, compared with 986 last year. And the professional school enrollment is at 990, compared with 1,058 last year, with the School of Dentistry’s first-year class enrollment at a 10% increase, but the School of Law’s first-year class at a 10% decrease.  

The overall preliminary registration total as of last Monday was 4,520, compared with 4,566 at this same time last year.  With Term I beginning in one week, there is still time for us to increase the enrollment of new students and returning students, especially in those areas where we are noting a decline from last year.  So please do not hesitate to refer students to the Admissions or Financial Aid offices if they are having any difficulty registering.

The Office of Admission is planning several new and aggressive recruitment strategies, including an expanded search of qualified students both in our region and in targeted territories across the country, for the 2014-15 academic year and subsequent years.  The goal of our new strategies is to increase our first-time-in-college student population.  The criteria for the targeted areas include schools and cities where there are large numbers of Catholic families; locations where we have a significant concentration of alumni; as well as demographic information that projects more high school graduates over the next few years. Additionally, we will also be intensifying the recruitment of qualified international first-time students. To illustrate my earlier comment about recruiting in places where there are significant concentrations of alumni across the country, take a look at the following map which shows where our alumni who have graduated in the last ten years reside. The geographical spread is quite impressive.

One component of our new strategy also includes promoting not only the University, but also the City of Detroit.  The offices of Enrollment Management, Marketing and Public Affairs, Athletics and my office are working together and developing a strategy that will be presented to the Detroit Metro Visitors and Convention Bureau and the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Also, as we begin classes for the Fall semester, each advisor plays a critical role in the advising and registration of our students. Advisors, whether faculty, staff or administrators, are instrumental in ensuring that both our new and returning students are receiving the attention they need in order to register for classes each semester. I encourage you to be as accessible as possible as we attempt to register 561 students to be even with last year’s Term I enrollment.  Please help them with any registration difficulties that they may have and refer them to the appropriate offices – admissions, financial aid, their school or college, etc. -- for assistance.  Advisors are usually the first persons who can help our students and give them the extra attention they need to begin the semester without any problems and worries.

Fundraising and the Comprehensive Campaign - Fundraising results this past year were very positive and our comprehensive campaign is off to a good start. In FY2013, the University received gifts of various kinds totaling almost $12 million. However, the number of donors, and particularly alumni donors, has been trending downward. We are addressing that issue and the Advancement staff will be using different strategies to increase the fundraising percentage of UDM alumni. 

During the first two years of the campaign’s quiet phase, donors have committed $23.5 million in gifts, pledges and future expectancies from estate gifts. While this is a very positive figure at this time, only 10% of this total is in unrestricted gifts.  Ninety percent of the total has been designated or restricted to particular uses, such as for scholarships, academic or administrative programs, facilities, etc. Major gift donors, in particular, view their commitments as investments in UDM and, therefore, choose to determine how their funds will be used. But that is still great news because, two major goals of the campaign are to increase the number of alumni donors and to increase the endowment. Since the beginning of the campaign, $3 million in new funds have been contributed to the endowment.  Thus, we have a good rationale to encourage our alumni to make larger gifts to the University also.

Vice President Barbara Milbauer and I continue to meet with alumni, corporate and foundation leaders and members of our Board of Trustees to discuss leadership gift opportunities for the campaign.  Over the past year, I have met with major prospects in Michigan, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, New York City, San Diego, and San Francisco; and we had a very successful Chicago alumni event attended by 32 alumni and their spouses in Chicago in June. More of these receptions in major cities where our alumni reside are being scheduled for the fiscal year as we ramp up the pace of the comprehensive campaign. 

W.K. Kellogg Foundation – As you have heard, the University was awarded a $750,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation that will support graduate scholarships for students in our Master of Community Development Program. This three-year grant will support as many as 15 scholarships, fellowships and co-operative education placements annually for some of our graduate students in this program that is beginning its fifth year. This is the largest W.K. Kellogg grant that the University has ever received, and we are pleased that the MCD program piqued the program officers’ interest when Barbara and I met with them for the first time almost a year ago. The grant will help attract students to the program and also provide essential financial assistance to them as they work with community organizations and take classes. This is very timely support for our MCD students because most of them are employed full-time. In addition to the students’ tuition support, the community organizations that our students assist will also benefit.

UDM Endowed Scholarship Challenge Grant - At last August’s convocation, you may recall my mention of the 2:1 Stange Charitable Trust challenge grant that we received to establish the UDM Michigan Scholars Endowment Fund. The primary goal of this endowment fund is to keep more of Michigan’s outstanding youth in the state for their college education and particularly at UDM. The Mary G. Stange Charitable Trust pledged $1 million if UDM raised $2 million for this new endowed scholarship. I am pleased to tell you that we recently surpassed the $1,000,000 mark toward our goal to fund the UDM Michigan Scholars Endowment. And we are working diligently to exceed that goal. When the challenge concludes at the end of December 2014, $3,000,000 in new funds will be added to the endowment for the specific purpose of enrolling academically talented Michigan high school graduates at UDM.

UDM Strategic Plan: 2012-2017 First-Year Report – By October, you will receive a summary of the progress that has been achieved during the first year of the UDM Strategic Plan: 2012-2017. The document is in production now and will be available in a booklet and electronically so you can read about the progress under each of the goals. This booklet will also be shared with other key constituencies such as foundations, friends and prospective donors. The UDM Strategic Plan: 2012 -2017 is our blueprint for the next five years, and I appreciate everyone’s involvement in the first year of the strategic plan’s implementation efforts. And I also thank the members of the Strategic Planning Team for their assistance, as they continue to meet monthly.

Economic and Community Impact Brochure – The University continues to make a significant impact on the region and the community and one way to deliver that message was by developing a brochure that summarizes our efforts. With the assistance of Liz Patterson in the Department of Marketing and Public Affairs, an initial draft of the UDM Economic and Community Impact on Metro Detroit brochure has been created. This brochure will highlight UDM’s economic and community impact on and to the city through academic programs, professional clinics and joint ventures with business and community organizations. The document will be available in October and will be distributed widely to alumni, business and government leaders, foundations and other non-profit organizations, and other key stakeholders. It will also be included as an insert in our Fall issue of Spiritus.

Neighborhood Initiatives – One of our major collaborative neighborhood revitalization initiatives, the Livernois Streetscape Enhancement Project (LSEP), was conditionally funded a few months ago, and the Pre-Implementation Phase and initial bidding on various aspects of the project are underway.  This project will cost nearly $2 million, and close to $1 million has been committed by the Michigan Department of Transportation.  The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) is coordinating the additional matching funds that will be coming from the city, federal and other state sources, as well as the Kresge Foundation and UDM. The Livernois Streetscape Enhancement Project (LSEP) will have new sidewalks, pedestrian-oriented improvements and landscaping on Livernois Avenue beginning from the Lodge Freeway to 8-mile. After the Pre-Implementation Phase over the next few months, bids will be approved for the design and engineering components of the project, and the actual work should begin by early next spring.  We are the “anchor institution” in this project and a compelling case was made that these improvements will help us “to increase both enrollment and the number of students, faculty and staff who choose to live in the surrounding neighborhoods.”

We have also been actively engaged in another neighborhood revitalization project with Marygrove College. Like the Livernois Streetscape Enhancement Project, this future project will also have a direct impact on both the residential community and retail establishments in our area. I will share more information about this project in late Fall.

Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority Meetings -- Since Fall 2012, we have also held and hosted bi-monthly meetings with the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority (MLBFA) regarding blight in our surrounding area and the need to demolish vacant and dilapidated property within our vicinity. These conversations have been extremely productive and led to an action plan for demolitions this summer.  On May 20, however, Governor Snyder transferred the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority to the Michigan State Housing Development Authority provide more stability to its staff and operations. The result of that realignment is that the MLBFTA now has more money to demolish and acquire homes as well as stabilize neighborhoods. What does that mean for UDM? Next Monday at 1 p.m., just east of us at Puritan and Turner Streets, near Bethune Elementary School, Governor Snyder will hold a press conference that will kick-off Michigan’s largest residential blight removal campaign in the state housing authority’s 47-year history. Many of Michigan’s congressional delegation, other state and local political leaders, and I have been invited. And you are also. Governor Snyder and MSHDA recently announced that five Michigan cities were approved to share $100 million for blight elimination under a pilot program approved by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The demolition funds will be used in the cities of Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Pontiac, and Saginaw. Detroit will receive close to $53 million from this fund.  The Governor, Mayor and other elected officials will launch the first phase of the blight eradication initiative in Detroit’s Marywood Neighborhood District on Turner Street near our McNichols campus. The goal of this effort is to reduce the city’s 78,000 vacant, abandoned, and foreclosed properties this year. Six properties will be demolished at this press conference. I know it may be difficult for many of you to attend because it is the first day of classes for the McNichols campus, but I hope that some of you and our students will be able to be present.
 
Academic Accomplishments - During the 2012-2013 academic year, we achieved many noteworthy academic accomplishments. I will mention a few here, beginning with the University’s twelfth consecutive year of recognition as a top tier Midwest Regional University in the U.S. News and World Report’s 2013 edition of “America’s Best Colleges.”  We moved up three places from number 23 to number 20, making us one of the highest-ranked Michigan universities on the list. With the help of the members of the Academic Leadership Team, let me share some of their most important accomplishments.

School of Architecture - The School of Architecture will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year. The festivities will begin on September 6 with a food-truck picnic that the entire UDM Community is invited to attend. Renovations of the studio spaces that were designed and developed by students and faculty is near completion and the Volterra Residential College opened for its first group of students this past summer. DCDC’s work on the Detroit Future City project with the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation moved into the implementation phase and the Livernois Community Storefront opened on Livernois near Outer Drive.

College of Business Administration – This past year, several new scholarships for business students were initiated. The CBA students in expanded service-learning courses assisted area schools by providing financial literacy courses and website development. They also provided free income tax preparation. The College also hosted several prominent guest speakers including Mayor Dave Bing.

School of Dentistry - The Department of Restorative Dentistry received the 2013 ADEA/Zimmer Dental Implant Education Teaching Award which included a $25,000 grant. The American Student Dental Association (ASDA) student chapter received the Gold Crown Award for Most Improved Chapter. And the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) student chapter received the Distinguished Chapter Award and the Best Membership Communication Award.

School of Law - The School of Law completed its 100th Anniversary year, which included a number of events to celebrate its history and future in the City of Detroit. The clinic programs, now in their 47th year, have settled into their new facility, the George J. Asher Law Clinic Center. The 11th Annual Justice Fellowship Auction raised over $90,000 to fund thirteen fellowships for current law students.

College of Liberal Arts & Education - The Teacher Education Program attained national accreditation and is now ranked as Exemplary by the State Board of Education. The Briggs Building is undergoing renovations to the lower level and first floor hallways and some classrooms, and will have a new student lounge and signage. New minors in Economics, Financial Economics Religious Studies, and Islamic Studies were approved.

College of Health Professions and McAuley School of Nursing - Nursing students have continued to excel in licensure and certification test scores and pass rates, surpassing the Michigan and national averages and outcomes. The Fall 2013 enrollment in the Health Information Management Program has doubled from the previous year. Upon graduation, 100% of Physician Assistant students secure employment in their field.

College of Engineering & Science - The UDM student chapter of the American Chemical Society received the Outstanding Award for the 2012-13 academic year. Pre-college summer programs attracted nearly 1,100 students to campus and another 800 high school students participated in Technology Day. Faculty in Electrical and Computer Engineering successfully completed an $180,000 autonomous vehicle project with the Department of Defense.

University Libraries & Instructional Technology - The Instructional Design Studio debuted four unique digital collections: Folklore Archives, five histories (U of D, Mercy, UDM, CBA and E & S), Convocation books and university course catalogs and bulletins. Several blogs were created to highlight and publicize collections and library services and the Libraries/IDS were host to many organization fundraiser and other community activities.

Athletics – Last year, our 288 student-athletes had another successful academic year with seventy-five percent (215) of them receiving a 3.0 or higher and 42% (121) received a 3.5 or above. The Women’s Golf team won the Horizon League Championship and advanced to the NCAA. Also, the Men’s Lacrosse team won the MAAC Championship. Doug Anderson won the 2013 Denny’s Slam Dunk Contest and Ray Michael McCallum was selected 36th in the NBA draft and will be going to the Sacramento Kings.

Facility Renovations - As I mentioned in the last section on the accomplishments of our schools and colleges, there have been 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 the buildings and grounds of the three campuses. Facility renovations included:

Student Center Ballroom Renovations – For some time it has been obvious that we need another large place to hold large campus and public events. And the opening of the Student Fitness Center has made that more apparent as more requests have been made to use it. I am pleased to tell you that we will be renovating the second floor Student Center Ballroom. This renovation, which will begin in December, is being funded through the gift of an alumnus and a donation from one of our business providers. We are currently receiving bids for the architectural/engineering and design components of the project. The project is expected to be completed by next August.

Concluding Remarks – As we begin this academic year, we have a mix of challenges and opportunities; but I believe that our opportunities are more numerous than the challenges that we face. The Jesuits and Sisters of Mercy founded their college and university in 1877 and 1941, respectively, to provide a superior education to individuals from all backgrounds in this metropolitan area. Our sponsors undoubtedly faced similar challenges over the last thirteen decades of this University’s existence, but through faith and hard work the doors of this institution have remained open. Let us recommit ourselves to the ultimate goal of educating our future leaders in the Mercy and Jesuit traditions. 

Finally, retention and graduation of our students is extremely important; and with modest improvements in both areas, our undergraduate and graduate enrollment can be much higher. This year we will be using MAP-Works, an early warning system that assists staff and faculty in identifying students who may be experiencing problems during the semester. Retention efforts are only successful when everyone on campus is involved. And I hope that you will use MAP-Works so that we can retain as many students as possible over the next several years. Dr. Sheryl McGriff, Dean of Career Services, and Ms. Emilie Wetherington, Director of University Academic Services, will now provide us with an overview of MAP-Works.

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