A new research center on campus will be named in honor of outgoing University of Memphis president Dr. David Rudd.
The Rudd Institute for Veteran and Military Suicide Prevention will focus on Rudd’s own field of psychology: research into suicide prevention, especially for military veterans.
The naming was officially announced by chairman of the university’s Board of Trustees, Douglass Edwards, when it met earlier this month.
“The institute will focus on expanding access and availability of empirically informed approaches to improving the overall wellbeing of active-duty military, and America’s veterans that have served and sacrificed,” Edwards said.
After taking a sabbatical, Rudd plans to return to the U of M as faculty to head the new research center. In an email statement to the Daily Helmsman, he went into further detail about the institute.
“We'll focus on a broad range of Veterans issues, but most of the work will revolve around the assessment and treatment of suicide risk,” he stated. “The work is geared toward the development, validation and delivery of effective treatment alternatives for active-duty soldiers and Veterans at risk for suicide.”
According to Rudd, work has already begun creating the groundwork for the institute. For now, it will be located within the U of M’s psychology department.
“As we develop and expand clinical service delivery,” he said, “that effort will be housed in Memphis at an external, private location given the unique clinical demands and needs.”
Earning his undergraduate degree at Princeton, Rudd later received his doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin. Throughout his career, he has published over 200 research publications and co-authored several books relating to suicide prevention. Additionally, he has been the past president of three separate psychology associations and has testified before Congress eight times about issues concerning veterans and suicide.
The expertise that comes with being a leader in his field has already proven beneficial for the new institute. Rudd explained that there has already been interest in financing new research.
“Our first study, which has already been funded at $2.2M from the Department of Defense, is a randomized clinical trial that will be conducted at Fort Carson, Colorado,” he explained. “It involves a new treatment approach for soldiers experiencing suicidal thoughts and/or making a suicide attempt.”
At the meeting, Edwards spoke about another positive impact on the U of M Dr. Rudd is leaving behind, speaking about the administration’s culture.
“It is a culture of collaboration and cooperation like none that I’ve ever seen in any organization… it goes from the president’s office, all the way down to graduate assistants and students. They understand why we’re here, and what we’re doing and that’s the culture that Dr. Rudd has instilled in this organization, and you can’t underestimate that.”
The university has benefitted in other ways from Rudd’s work in psychology.
“Under the leadership of Dr. David Rudd, the University of Memphis has been recognized as a top military friendly school for seven consecutive years,” Edwards said. "Veteran assistance and support has been a top priority for Dr. Rudd during his tenure as president.”
Given this, Edwards stated that they wanted to make it possible for Rudd to continue his best work right here in Memphis.
“Effective work in this area is almost entirely about hope and, arguably, the most fulfilling work I've ever done,” Rudd said. “Our work to date has offered help to Veterans in significant pain, helped them find hope, reconnect with loved ones, and find lives worth living.”
President David Rudd will be stepping down from his position as president at the end of the spring semester. After a sabbatical, he plans to return to teaching and resume his research.