Inaugural Address

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Gregory P. Crawford
October 10, 2016

Meaningful Connectivity: Miami University in the 21st Century

Welcome

There are so many to welcome here today—Miami University students, faculty, staff, and alumni—plus our friends, special guests, emeriti, and state and educational leaders; those from our campus communities including Oxford, Middletown, Hamilton, Luxembourg, and West Chester; and many from Cincinnati and throughout Ohio. For my wonderful wife, Renate—we've been a terrific team for nearly three decades—and for my daughters, Ally and Michaela, and my parents, Phil and Dolores—your unwavering support means so much. Thank you for such a warm welcome.

Miami has a long history with ROTC units in the Navy, Air Force, and Army, so I extend a special welcome to our active duty United States Military, veterans, and ROTC cadets—please stand and be recognized. Within the Miami family, we also have several students who've been awarded the Purple Heart and decorated for acts of bravery. Our deepest appreciation goes to all of you for your courage in defending our country.

Today we open a new chapter in Miami's 207-year history. Our gathering celebrates the entire story of this amazing university—its proud past, its promising present, and its bright future that we'll shape together. The world needs Love, Honor, and our mission-driven vision to use our knowledge and skills with integrity and compassion to better our global society. We are One Miami, not only geographically on multiple campuses, but also historically, through three centuries.

After 103 days on the job—but who's counting?—what excites me most is how connection is so central to our life at Miami. I've known for a long time about Miami Mergers—Renate's sister and brother-in-law are a Merger, and they have been a terrific example of Love and Honor for as long as I've known them. I've also felt connected to Miami through the great Coach Ara Parseghian, a son of Miami who studied and started his career here and became part of Miami's Cradle of Coaches.

Just as the pioneers in Southwestern Ohio needed a college in the 19th century, just as the advocates for social justice in the 1960s needed Western College, which is now united with us, so Oxford, Ohio, the United States, and the world need Miami in the 21st century. Our long narrative propels us into the future on a trajectory of scholarship and service, with unsurpassed passion to build a community of excellence.

Each of our centuries has come with its own challenges, which we have successfully met. The 21st century is a time of rapid change and increased globalization. Despite great advances in areas like medicine and technology, we see widening gaps between rich and poor, inequalities and inequities, and sometimes-fearful reactions to rapidly evolving demographic, economic, and technological trends. At the very moment when we have become more instantly connected by communication than ever before in human history, we find ourselves deeply divided over culture, race, religion, and wealth distribution. Simultaneously, there are more opportunities and unlimited options for life and career paths.

In order to meet these challenges, we must overcome division by achieving what I call "meaningful connectivity," finding synergy and synthesis among the vast diversity in our world to solve problems. In the coming months and years, you'll hear me talk a lot about the importance of entrepreneurial thinking, partnership, inclusivity, community, unity, and society—all of which require and advance meaningful connectivity.

To navigate this change we need to ground our anticipation, our assessment, and our actions in a clear sense of purpose that is guided by our mission. All universities are not the same, nor should they be. There are very different needs to be served by higher education, and it is important that we stay focused on the societal needs that we can address best. Unfortunately, a lot of commentary on higher education these days tends to apply a one-size-fits-all mentality to critiques of what is happening or opinions of what should be done. There is great value in having a variety of higher education institutions, but it is incumbent on us to know how we fit into the broader fabric so that we can strive to be the best in fulfilling our mission.

The Four Mindsets: Where We Excel in Holistic Learning, Social Justice, Change Creation, and Virtuous Leadership

As we open this new Miami chapter today, I want to describe to you four mindsets that undergird meaningful connectivity: holistic learning, social justice, change creation, and virtuous leadership.

First, I'll describe these mindsets, sharing where Miami already excels; then I'll focus on how we will build on that excellence.

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