Inaugural Address

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Gregory P. Crawford
October 10, 2016

Third: Change Creation

It is the central challenge we must meet in the 21st century. Change is, indeed, a constant, and never more so than now.

The Miami community is united by an entrepreneurial mindset and a shared conviction that everything can be improved and every problem solved—and that we can be part of the progress. Ours is a spirit that believes everything is possible. Our teacher-scholar model encourages students to recognize opportunities that can generate value for society.

Decades ago, a chance remark by a scientist in one field, overheard by a scientist in another field who recognized it as a solution to his problem, led to rapid advances in genetic engineering; today, such interaction is far more organized and deliberate—meaning more opportunities for unexpected discovery as well as more systematic pursuit of synthesis and innovation.

When great minds converge across disciplines and bring fresh perspective to tough challenges, we can expect groundbreaking results. Such collaboration can extend to colleagues in other universities and beyond the academy to include partnerships with government, industry, and not-for-profits. It expands our resources and helps us focus on questions that will expand knowledge and solve our grand challenges.

Collaborating for change creation is also a central feature of the entrepreneurial mindset needed to bring the benefits of research discovery to society. Here, the interaction involves not only the researchers who make the discovery, but also the financial experts, marketers, business leaders, and others who compose a successful startup team. The Altman Summer Scholar Internship Program and Startup Weekends at Miami are obvious examples of ways our students benefit through collaboration with each other and industry. This magic happens not only in business fields. The change creation mindset is applicable across all disciplines.

For instance, as part of the Doctoral Undergraduate Opportunity Scholarships (known as DUOS), graduate student Michelle Veite this semester is mentoring an undergraduate student, Dan Regan, in Professor Michael Kennedy's lab. They are striving to discover a biomarker that could lead to early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Dr. Kennedy, an Ohio Eminent Scholar and professor of chemistry and biochemistry, leads Miami's Center for Structural Biology and Metabonomics, an Ohio Center of Excellence where 20 undergraduates and four doctoral students are profiling databases for children's diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular disease. The center's research is part of a collaborative consortium with Cincinnati Children's Hospital, Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, and Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital in Cleveland. So consider: Here we have collaborations within collaborations, where undergraduate students, led by graduate students, mentored by a professor, in partnership with hospitals statewide, are all connected by the goal of creating change to solve some very big problems.

To facilitate effective change, collaborators need to consider others' ideas as well as their own, and they must be willing to venture into places that have not been explored, to take risks, and to overcome difficulties in cooperation with other members of their team. The virtues required for such change creation are trust, generosity, and especially courage.

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