“I have a really big announcement. I wanted to go ahead and get it out of the way, because it’s gonna be really controversial,” began UM President John Stewart.
Stewart was introducing his state of the university address to faculty and staff. “Starting in Fall 2015, the University of Montevallo will host its own football team.” Quiet gasps and groans filled Palmer Hall.
As it turns out, Stewart was merely opening his presentation with a small inside joke. He began to show pictures of the coaching staff and MVPs for the fake team. The slides consisted of photoshopped pictures of UM faculty and staff heads on the bodies of unknown football personnel.
University police chief Chadd Adams was to be named defensive coach. The quarterback-that-could’ve been was English professor Kathy King.
After this farce, Stewart began to get down to business. His last state of the university was in 2010. He presented UM’s progress in those three years.
Stewart’s overall goal for UM is for it to rank with the south east’s top private schools while maintaining it’s public institution credentials. “I think we’re on our way,” said Stewart. Each part of the speech began with “Every great private college has…”
A total of $14.5 million was spent on new projects and improvements to UM facilities. This includes UMOM, Barnes & Noble on Main Street, the promenade on North Boundary Street and the boardwalk at the lake.
The funds for these projects were provided by the university, the city and Shelby county itself.
He broke down the sources for the university’s funding. 52 percent comes from revenue and tuition, 38 percent from state funding, 12 percent from room and board, 3 percent from reserves and 2 percent from other resources.
Upcoming projects include a control room and restroom for the university observatory, a 3D art building and the restoration of the historic Peterson House.
Stewart noted that the university has tripled its enrollment efforts. Currently, UM’s “fiercest competition” for incoming students comes from UAB, Alabama and Auburn.
Stewart stated that the current strategy for recruiting more students is to “stick with what we’ve been doing well for 117 years.”
Currently, Stewart says UM faculty and staff are paid in the mid point compared to other state institutions. There is a two year $1.6 million plan to increase employees wages. He mentioned working on faculty and staff pay so they are payed like a “great private college.”`
The university president mentioned rising above the “little private arts school” stereotype he used to hear about UM when he first came here. He brought numbers to showcase how word about UM was spreading. Three million viewers tuned into the UM men’s national championship basketball game this year.
University commercials are being broadcast on five stations in the state, and media mentions have increased by 14 percent in three years.
A seven year comprehensive campaign plan to raise $20 million for the university is currently in the planning phase. Stewart outlined five goals associated with this campaign. They include growing scholarship endowment, developing the faculty and staff, maintaining facilities, and creating both an annual and traditions fund.
Stewart lastly mentioned the challenges UM faces in the near future. These include closing the book on an ongoing five year strategic plan and increasing student enrollment. There has been a decline in both summer school and graduate school enrollment. Stewart wishes to hire an out of state recruiter to aid this problem.
“I honestly believe in my heart that we are 10-15 years away from being a mini-Berkley or mini-UVA,” said Stewart at the close of his speech.