Inaugural Address

1

2

[3]

4

5

6

7

8

Gregory P. Crawford
October 10, 2016

Second: Social Justice

Our mindset of social justice is not merely a discipline or research area; it is in our DNA.

Miamians hold a deep appreciation for the unique role that universities can play in challenging injustice and promoting inclusive excellence. We leverage the power of a well-informed community to impact positive societal change and, in pursuit of the highest degree of excellence, are dedicated to something that transcends ourselves.

Over the course of more than 200 years, Miami has sown seeds of social activism—from Western College's storied connections to Freedom Summer and our extended civil rights research to grassroots efforts such as Project Civility on the Middletown campus. We intersect learning and research for the greater good: prime examples being the Regional Campuses' Center for Civic Engagement that partners with and benefits more than 100 community organizations; the Engineers Without Borders globally-oriented student organization; and the Center for Community Engagement in Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine, where education and architecture together provide an inner-city setting for learning that lifts up those areas.

Miami's Center for Social Entrepreneurship brings together students of many interests and majors who want to leave their mark on the world. They are led by faculty who are passionate about creating solutions to persistent social problems—particularly for those who are marginalized or living in extreme poverty. Students seek strategies to address these social issues globally in a meaningful way, whether financial, educational, environmental, nutritional, or governmental.

This commitment to social justice and community engagement undergirds Miami's 21st-century emphasis on diversity, equality, and opportunity as we move to a model of inclusive excellence.

Inclusion means welcoming every person and bringing together different backgrounds, cultures, races, nationalities, and perspectives. As our Code of Love and Honor says, "We respect the dignity of other persons, the rights and property of others, and the right of others to hold and express disparate beliefs." Our embrace of diversity pervades all of our activity and decision-making. It is not simply a matter of the majority's sensitivity for the minority, but a comprehensive environment where each individual's dignity is respected, their input sought, and their perspective valued, regardless of differences in ethnicity, gender, sexuality, ability, socio-economic status, or any other identifying factor. Diversity and meaningful connectivity belong together.

This connective engagement of persons is critical to success in the 21st century. The challenges we face are too big and too complex for any individual to solve alone. The status quo and the single-perspective echo chamber are inadequate. Solutions arise from seeing serendipitous connections among seemingly unrelated ideas across disciplines. Research shows that people with more diverse sources of information have better ideas, and more diverse teams often outperform teams with greater individual talent.

Inclusion is the opposite of suspicion and the enemy of mistrust. People who practice openness come to greater understanding and have the ability to work together for the common good. That's why inclusive excellence is so important for our mission, and why it will be integral to everything we do at Miami. Social justice and inclusion call for virtues emphasized in our core values, such as respect, honesty, and openness.

In my short time here, I've already seen our students living this mindset in vivid ways. One day, outsiders came on campus to shout anti-gay and anti-Islam slogans. Overwhelmingly, our students peacefully and respectfully expressed their disagreement and shared their own messages of Love and Honor, respect, and tolerance. Social justice and inclusivity require making these important human connections across group divisions with the willingness to engage other people fully, to respect who they are without judgment, and in turn, to share who you are with humility, honesty, and generosity.

I often refer to us as One Miami. As One Miami on multiple campuses, we are a built-in model of diversity and synergy. In a world with too much shouting and too little listening, we are well-positioned to convene difficult conversations in search of common ground, based on fundamental respect for others. Such dialogue must be the starting point of any solution to the divisions among people today.

1

2

[3]

4

5

6

7

8