LEGACY FORWARD 2026


Memphis University School has a clear and longstanding mission: We are a college-preparatory school dedicated to academic excellence, cultivation of service and leadership, and the development of well-rounded young men of strong moral character, consistent with the school’s Christian tradition. In support of this mission and our unwavering commitment to excellence, we embarked on a strategic planning process in February 2020 to identify goals that will propel the school forward over the next five years. This effort has been led by a committee of community constituents working with our Board of Trustees.

The Board unanimously approved the Strategic Plan proposal, Legacy Forward, presented by the Strategic Plan Steering Committee February 22, 2021. Resulting from a yearlong process involving representatives from faculty and staff, parents, students, and alumni, the plan officially launches August 1, 2021. In the months ahead, the six strategic goals move into the implementation-planning phase, guided by 12 Implementation Champions representing the Board and the school.

List of 5 items.

  • Introduction

    The new Strategic Plan for Memphis University School (MUS) was undertaken and completed during 2020 – a notably transformative year, not only for education but for the globe. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in drastic changes in teaching and learning – with most schools going remote and virtual. 

    It was not simply a time of temporary adjustment. The deep and wide impact of the health crisis resulted in permanent adaptations worldwide, including the acceleration of online consumer behaviors, the injection of new public health practices, the stifling of the economy, the reexamination of such values as personal responsibility and social equity, and the institution of disruptive educational models – along with some “silver linings.”

    Throughout the year, the school remained strategically focused and prepared to face challenges. This time of adjustment coincided with the strategic plan process, providing an opportunity to examine how to continue – and build upon – our longstanding mission.
    Founded in 1893, MUS provides Mid-South boys with unparalleled opportunities to develop intellectually, morally, socially, artistically, and physically, becoming leaders well-equipped to turn great ideas into action. Boys in Grades 7-12 experience a top-tier academic program, small classes with individual attention, a school community centered on an Honor Code, extracurricular activities with opportunities for leadership, and a sense of belonging within a fellowship of common purpose.

    The school created its last strategic plan in 2012, and with the hiring of Headmaster Peter D. Sanders in 2017, the current strategic planning process has been particularly timely.
    In 2020, ten years after the National Association of Independent Schools published its first Trend Book, the message is clear that as the world changes, independent education must continuously adapt to survive and thrive.

    Prevailing themes include transformation in the labor market and employer expectations, evolution in customer attitudes and perceptions, creation of new learning platforms and technologies, demand for updated educator and student skills, revolutions in higher education, and shifts in demographics. Evident prior to the pandemic, these influential trends have been accelerated by its prolonged and lasting effects. 

    As a leader among independent schools, MUS sought a highly engaging, interactive strategic planning project that would be informed by the best internal and external thinking and would serve as a means to inform, motivate, mobilize, and transform the MUS community.

    The result is a Strategic Plan focused on the possibilities and demands for the future – equipped with mechanisms for strengthening Memphis University School’s ability to prepare students for college, career, and life with excellence and innovation while holding true to our mission.
  • Process

    The project officially launched on February 10, 2020, with a joint “visioning” session by the Board of Trustees and a project Steering Committee representative of various school constituencies.
    Undertaken to anticipate change, affirm what the school does well, and set a standard for “the school of choice,” the planning project was guided by data, situational analysis, and market assessment, along with aspirations of the school community.

    In their joint retreat, Trustees and Steering Committee members aligned their views around four objectives: a clear direction, unified vision, progressive action plan that holds true to valued traditions, and – with a thorough understanding of the market – solid preparation for the future.

    The project followed the six-phase, multiyear planning model facilitated by The Napa Group, a consulting firm specializing in higher and independent school education and institutional advancement.

    After the retreat, MUS administrators conducted focus groups to gain stakeholder perspectives about several priority areas identified as “key” to the school’s plan. In all, 12 Focus Groups were held with 174 participants.

    The rest of the project occurred in virtual sessions – four Steering Committee meetings to frame concepts and shape the emerging plan; six Task Forces engaging about 50 faculty, staff, students, parents, community partners, and alumni to build out the plan’s actions, timelines, and metrics; further community engagement to provide feedback as the plan developed; and Leadership Team sessions, coupled with Board Strategic Planning Committee perspectives, to converge stakeholder input, finalize priorities, and recommend the final plan for the Board’s approval at its February 2021 meeting.
  • Vision

    Embracing excellence, innovation, tradition, and inclusivity, MUS produces leaders and citizens of character who are dedicated to service in our rapidly changing world.
  • Mission

    Memphis University School is a college-preparatory school dedicated to academic excellence, cultivation of service and leadership, and the development of well-rounded young men of strong moral character, consistent with the school’s Christian tradition.
  • Philosophy

    Memphis University School is committed to high standards of honor and integrity, academic performance, service, leadership, and athletics, and to the transmission of Judeo-Christian values.

    An MUS education is characterized by a rigorous curriculum, a lively exchange of ideas, supportive teaching, and adherence to an honor code. Its objective is to instruct students in the skills and subject matter of the humanities and sciences, to engender successful habits and techniques of learning, and to instill the foremost principles of personal responsibility, morality, and gentlemanly conduct.

    A dynamic extracurricular program devoted to excellence promotes leadership and service and encourages development of physical fitness and a rich variety of talents and interests. Non-denominational and non-sectarian, MUS seeks to foster a respectful appreciation of the spiritual nature of people and honors the sincere expression of widely differing faiths. MUS aspires to be a community of mutual respect and concern regardless of individual differences.

List of 6 news stories.

  • Goal 1: Academic Excellence

    Leverage transformative teaching and learning practices that embody MUS’s mission and its rigorous place-based curriculum. Read More
  • Goal 2: Faculty Development

    Deliver and sustain academic excellence and the evolving teaching and learning model through the best faculty. Read more
  • Goal 3: Facilities Enhancement

    Thoughtfully plan and invest in a beautiful campus and physical plant footprint to ensure the school’s academic excellence and student experience. Read more
  • Goal 4: Inclusivity

    Foster a diverse and inclusive community culture in which all students are safe and welcome and that enables them to adopt and practice the MUS core values of honor, intellect, character, and leadership. Read more
  • Goal 5: Visibility and Brand

    Strategically leverage the MUS brand and reputation to expand visibility and understanding of the school in selected markets and position the school for success in internal and external endeavors. Read more
  • Goal 6: Sustainability

    Ensure a sustainable future through diversified revenue streams informed by future trends, realities, and opportunities in key areas of enrollment, advancement, and partnerships. Read more
While led by the Administration, Board, and a Steering Committee, this plan is a product of the entire MUS community – faculty, staff, students, parents, alumni, and external partners – who provided insights and perspectives through focus groups and other feedback loops during its development.

Collectively, this collaboration along with the dedication of several generations of MUS Owls and the school’s unwavering commitment to excellence have been essential to the plan’s development – and will be central to its future success.

STEERING COMMITTEE

List of 4 items.

  • Co-Chairs

    Jim Barton ’85Trustee/Parent
    Anne McWatersEnglish Instructor/Parent of Alumnus
  • Trustees

    Andy Cates ’89, Trustee/Parent
    Margaret McLeanTrustee/Parent of Alumnus
    Chris SandersTrustee/Parent of Alumnus
     
  • Faculty

    Joe Abrahams ’96, Director of Counseling
    Lin AskewSue Hightower Hyde Chair of English/Parent of Alumni
    Grant BurkeArts Department Chair
    Elizabeth CrosbyEnglish Department Chair/Parent of Alumnus
    Zach HansenDirector of College Counseling/Parent
    Jonathan JonesAnne and Glenn A. Crosby Chair of Christian Ethics/History Department Chair/Parent
    Orlando McKay, History, P.E. Instructor/Parent/Parent of Alumnus
    Pete SandersHeadmaster
    John Simi, Director of Technology
    Analice Sowell, Science Department Chair
    Buck Towner ’07, Director of Admissions
    Joe Tyler, Lower School Assistant Principal/Math Instructor
     
  • Students, Alumni, Parents

    J.D. Huber ’20
    Brandon Arrindell ’04
    Trey Moore ’14
    Saadia Omer, Parent

2021 GOAL CHAMPIONS

List of 6 items.