Roudebush Hall
Roudebush Hall, home of Miami's administrative offices

Annual Address 2014

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David C. Hodge
September 3, 2014

The Miami Mission: Our Compass in a Fluid World

Introduction

Good afternoon.

There is nothing quite so invigorating as the beginning of the academic year. The influx of new and returning students, faculty, and staff brings with it a renewed energy and excitement. It is a time when we blend the traditions and mission that have sustained Miami so admirably over the years with new realities and possibilities that are perhaps best represented in those who are here for the first time.  

As I have noted on every possible occasion, the key to our future success is our ability to anticipate change and seize the opportunities (while avoiding the pitfalls) that come with that change. And certainly change is all around us. Expectations continue to rise while concerns for cost and effectiveness have become widespread. Technological change is transforming possibilities for advancing the learning discovery environment while simultaneously stimulating new models of education that may threaten traditional universities. The size of the graduating high school class in Ohio and throughout the Midwest and Northeast is shrinking, the racial and ethnic composition of our population is changing, and we are more global in our student body, our learning, and our engagement.

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.

Miami's Mission

Most of us have probably not taken a look at our Mission Statement recently, so let me start by sharing that with you.

Miami University, a student-centered public university founded in 1809, has built its success through an unwavering commitment to liberal arts undergraduate education and the active engagement of its students in both curricular and co-curricular life. It is deeply committed to student success, builds great student and alumni loyalty, and empowers its students, faculty, and staff to become engaged citizens who use their knowledge and skills with integrity and compassion to improve the future of our global society.

Miami provides the opportunities of a major university while offering the personalized attention found in the best small colleges. It values teaching and intense engagement of faculty with students through its teacher-scholar model, by inviting students into the excitement of research and discovery. Miami's faculty are nationally prominent scholars and artists who contribute to Miami, their own disciplines and to society by the creation of new knowledge and art. The University supports students in a highly involving residential experience on the Oxford campus and provides access to students, including those who are time and place bound, on its regional campuses. Miami provides a strong foundation in the traditional liberal arts for all students, and it offers nationally recognized majors in arts and sciences, business, education, engineering, and fine arts, as well as select graduate programs of excellence. As an inclusive community, Miami strives to cultivate an environment where diversity and difference are appreciated and respected.

Miami instills in its students intellectual depth and curiosity, the importance of personal values as a measure of character, and a commitment to life-long learning. Miami emphasizes critical thinking and independent thought, an appreciation of diverse views, and a sense of responsibility to our global future.

This is a strong statement whose purpose is to present the essence of Miami University with as much clarity and brevity as possible. I would like to highlight five core themes from the Mission that go to the heart of what we do, themes that have been a part of Miami for a long time and that figure prominently in our future.

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