David C. Hodge
September 6, 2012
In 2008, we approved five major goals and 41 sub-goals. Some of these goals had specific measures attached to them, most did not. We don't have the time today to explore our progress on all of these goals, so I will offer a few highlights for some of the more visible or critical goals.
The first goal is to "Make the Miami undergraduate experience among the very best in the nation." The goal is first and foremost about academics, especially curriculum reform. The Top 25 initiative, in particular, has fundamentally changed how we view our approach to education. With its focus on active, engaged learning and discovery, students report that they spend more time on higher order activities and our research shows that their critical thinking skills have improved. Faculty also report that students collaborate better, take more risks, and yes, even spend more time on their classwork!
We continue to be at the forefront of other significant curricular reforms:
We have energetically focused on increasing those high impact experiences that have been shown to make the most difference in student success:
We have made being a more diverse and more inclusive university a priority, recognizing that we cannot be among the very best universities without those qualities. Among the changes and accomplishments we have achieved are:
The one critical measure that has proven most challenging to our academic ambitions is our goal to raise our six-year graduation rate from 81 to 85%. Even though there is an obvious delay between our actions and changes in that number, our annual retention rates would suggest that we have not made progress. In my view, this is one of those "signature" measures that reflect the sum effects of our collective efforts. Part of the challenge is developing the sense of urgency that is needed to advance. It is easy to be satisfied with our high ranking and to assume that we are doing well. This is one of those situations where "good is the enemy of great." We must not let our success limit our aspirations to be great. With our overwhelming emphasis on student success, we need a true sense of urgency to improve the academic success of our students.
For us to move the needle will require an "all hands on deck" attitude, much like we have achieved in our recruiting efforts. We must be relentless in our commitment to understanding what works in providing the mix of challenge and support that will encourage even more of our students to succeed. The Steering Committee for Retention and Graduation has created lists of best practices that target critical aspects of student experience. Among their suggestions are: