UMSL’s chancellor sees the glass as more than half full

Chancellor Tom George

Chancellor Tom George shared some results from UMSL’s recently conducted climate survey during his annual State of the University Address Wednesday at the J.C. Penney Auditorium. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Balancing its budget and attracting a strong incoming freshman class were just two of the many highlights University of Missouri–St. Louis Chancellor Tom George touched during his annual State of the University Address.

Talking to about 350 people Wednesday in the J.C. Penney Auditorium, George said he was proud of the way in which UMSL faculty, staff and students had pulled together to guide the campus through “tough times” plaguing higher education nationally and in Missouri.

Chancellor George, Weatherbird

Chancellor Tom George shared a thumbs up with the Weatherbird on the front page of Thursday’s edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. (Cartoon by Dan Martin, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

“We’re alive and well,” George said, kicking off his 20-minute presentation. “We had to make some difficult decisions, but they are paying off. We ended the fiscal year [June 30] with our first operating fund surplus since FY2012.

“We’re ahead of the other [UM] campuses in that regard,” he said. “And our financial plan laid the groundwork for faculty and staff raises distributed this fall.”

UMSL established a $2.5 million merit raise pool, George said, to “reward and help retain our great employees.”

A decline in the high-school-aged population has negatively affected the enrollments of most universities nationally, including UMSL. But George said the campus is starting to see a turnaround.

“The quantity and quality of our incoming freshman class is outstanding,” George said. “Incoming freshman enrollment is up more than 11 percent and the average ACT score of 24.4 is a record. That’s well above the state and national average.”

Overall, main campus enrollment is down about 2.5 percent at 10,590 students, but credit hour production remains essentially identical to last fall. George said total enrollment – on and off campus – should reach about 16,600 students when official counts are completed around Oct. 1.

Other highlights of George’s presentation included:

    • UMSL granted 3,068 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. It was the third straight fiscal year of topping 3,000 degrees.

 

    • Faculty research expenditures exceeded $20 million – a 25 percent increase over two years.

 

    • UMSL donors contributed more than $26 million for scholarships, facilities and programs. It was the fourth consecutive year the campus has surpassed $26 million in gifts and pledges.

 

 

    • UMSL is a primary partner along with Ameren and Capital Innovators in the first-ever accelerator to focus primarily on energy technologies. The Ameren Accelerator was launched in the spring of 2017 to fund and mentor start-ups to spark innovation and create jobs in Missouri.

 

George’s slide presentation deck can be viewed here.

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