Story by ELLEN BECKER, Managing Editor / Photo by ANDREW MATHER, Photo Editor
President Charles Ambrose unveiled a new strategic positioning platform during his state of the university address Monday.
The UCM Board of Governors adopted the new platform, entitled “Learning to a Greater Degree,” last November. It was developed through a campus-wide effort led by University Relations and the consulting firm, Cryder Rinebold, and is grounded in qualitative and quantitative research.
According to Ambrose, it describes, “who we are” as a university, outlines what UCM stands for and “benefits of the UCM educational experience for all of our important stakeholders.”
Ambrose said the new platform has been a part of the university’s strategic resource model since its inception in 2010. He emphasized that it is not a marketing campaign, and outlined four “reasons to believe” in a UCM education, including future-focused academics, engaged learning, a worldly perspective and a culture of service. “In short, strategic positioning allows us to answer the question, ‘what makes our university distinct in a highly competitive and crowded higher education market?’ Ambrose said. “It helps us clearly define who we are and what we aspire to be as an institution.”
The new platform is not replacing the university’s “Choose Red” campaign, according to a news release. The university will continue to use “Choose Red” as a recruiting message and to “promote school spirit on campus,” according to the release.
A video was played during his speech that included student testimonials explaining how they are “Learning to a Greater Degree,” and how a UCM education extends beyond the classroom with hands-on learning experiences and prepares them for jobs as they graduate.
During his speech, Ambrose also mentioned that the fiscal year 2013 budget and revenue growth is dependent on increased enrollment, enhanced marketing and outreach, and further development and advancement. “For FY 2013 we have budgeted for an enrollment growth of 3.4%,” he said. “That, coupled with our tuition increase based on CPI, is forecast to provide an additional $3.5 million.”
He said that the university has decided to try and reach more students from the St. Louis area. “Nearly 15% of our students already come from St. Louis or the surrounding counties and we believe there are opportunities to enhance recruitment of students from this important area,” he said.
Ambrose also said the UCM Foundation Board of Directors made two decided earlier this year to make additional financial resources available to students and university programs for the 2012‐13 academic year. This will include increasing the endowment payout by more than 60 percent from the previous year, resulting in an increase of nearly $300,000. The Foundation also decided to repurpose more than $200,000 in unrestricted funds toward student scholarships and university programming.
The university recently received an $8 million reduction to its base budget, which equals 12% of state support, and Ambrose said state support will remain a difficult issue. “This year, Missouri’s budget benefited from $220 million in one‐time revenue, so questions still remain about next year’s state financial outlook,” he said.
Ambrose provided a list of steps the university has taken to manage its resources, including managing open positions and overall institutional payroll, completing an examination of the recommendations of the administrative review, analyzing institutional reserves, exploring cost‐sharing and revenue‐sharing opportunities university‐wide and continuing to review academic programming to ensure that student needs are met.
He gave an overview of the university’s savings over the past two years, which includes $2 million from the FY 2012 administrative review, $900,000 from the FY 2013 administrative review, $1.5 million from the staff hiring freeze, $120,000 from the Athletics Department’s general operations budget, and $400,000 from debt refinancing savings. “Additional savings totaling more than $2.8 million are being realized through measures such as faculty early retirement, energy management, the move to in‐house facilities management and extended academic review,” he added.
“All of these actions involve difficult decisions that include reducing the level of funding provided by the general fund, which affects programs that have historically served the campus and broader local communities,” Ambrose said. “But these actions have also led to efficiencies that will allow us to do more for our students and do it in a way that is more cost effective and sustainable for our future.”
For more information on the new strategic positioning platform, visit www.ucmo.edu/greaterdegree.