David C. Hodge
September 6, 2012
The pool of students is becoming more diverse but is not necessarily growing in size in many states including the Midwest. In addition, more than 60 percent of students pursuing degrees in higher education are non-traditional students, defined as 25 years of age or older and working full or part-time. To be competitive, institutions like Miami will need to extend their recruitment activities to other regions of the country and world and will need to cater to the growing market of non-traditional students. It is important that we provide a welcoming campus environment and offer a culturally-relevant curriculum for all students.
Rapid Technological Change
The rapid advance of technology has transformed not only the global marketplace but also the delivery of higher education. Over 6 million students (about one-third of all college students) now enroll in at least one online course each semester. Two-thirds of higher education institutions report that distance learning is part of their strategic direction.
The challenge for higher education is to keep pace with technological innovation and adopt new technology-aided teaching methods that advance student learning. Effective technological approaches are burgeoning, including the use of inverted classrooms; hybrid courses which include both face-to-face lectures and technology-enhanced lectures; and lecture-capture technology to increase retention of information. These approaches have the potential to facilitate the learning process not only for technology-savvy traditional students but also for non-traditional students who have full-time work and other responsibilities.
Degree Valuation and Assessment of Learning
As the cost of higher education rises, parents and policy makers alike are questioning more than ever before the value of a college degree. A recent study showed that barely half of all those who graduated with a college degree during the past five years have a full-time job. Outstanding student loan debt is now over $1 trillion dollars and is estimated to surpass credit-card debt as the second-biggest form of U.S. household debt.
As a result, accrediting organizations, policy makers, and families are demanding assessment and other accountability measures that ascertain whether or not students are learning and acquiring the skills needed in order for them to find jobs once they attain their degrees. Universities are being asked to continuously improve through assessment of student learning outcomes and data-driven decision-making and to increase retention and graduation rates, including the opportunity for some high-ability students to graduate in three years.
To better ensure that a degree has value over the course of a lifetime, students and employers are seeking interdisciplinary-learning outcomes that can be applied to a variety of possible life situations and employment contexts, such as analytic inquiry, active and discovery learning, writing, real-world problem solving, creativity and innovation. This new approach is influencing the delivery of general education, moving it away from the traditional first-two years of college to one that encompasses all years of the college experience and focuses on specialized and broad knowledge and skills.
Role of Governing Boards, External Stakeholders, Faculty, Parents and Students
Like accrediting bodies and policy makers, governing boards now assume a more active role in setting the strategic goals and priorities of universities. Similarly and understandably, faculty and students, along with alumni and other external stakeholders, seek a voice in charting the future of their institutions. The involvement of numerous stakeholders in shaping the university's direction requires a dynamic plan that is responsive to the needs of many constituents but at the same time anticipates the rapidly changing environment of higher education in innovative ways.
There are clear trends developing at the present time that portend significant changes for higher education. In his address last year, President Hodge underscored that Miami University has a choice: we can anticipate and lead or we can follow and respond. For Miami University, there is no choice. We have an enormous opportunity and challenge as we initiate the Miami 2020 Plan. We must anticipate and lead. Thank you.
The approach to creating the Miami 2020 Plan is framed by several key principles. First, our new plans must incorporate all three essential elements noted above—vision, goals, and execution—in order to achieve the level of success we aspire to. Second, it is imperative that these plans are "owned" by the entire extended Miami community. Finally, we need to have these plans in place when the current Five Year Strategic Goals complete their cycle.
To jump-start this process, senior leaders of the university, including the divisional deans, vice presidents, and selected other leaders, have created an initial set of five goals for the university and outlined a process for engaging the extended Miami community in developing the Miami 2020 Plan. These goals and this process have been further reviewed by chairs and directors. I would like to use my remaining time today to share these goals and the process with you, encouraging everyone to join in defining this roadmap for our future.