Strategic Plan Executive Summary - June 28, 2019

Honoring Miami’s Past and Present

The world for an entering Miami University first-year student is different from any previous generation. Yet today’s first-year student walks onto campus with the same hopes and dreams as students have done throughout our history. Excitement about learning, career expectations, contributions to community and the possibilities of tomorrow abound. Miami University’s challenge is to support the aspirations of students and to prepare them for lifelong learning, even as the world around them continues to change. This strategic plan will position Miami to ensure that our students of today and tomorrow will continue to have the chance to pursue their dreams, opportunities Miami has helped students fulfill for more than two centuries.

Planning Miami’s Future

In October 2018, President Greg Crawford appointed a 14-person steering committee to lead Miami’s strategic planning efforts. The president identified six areas of focus: academic excellence; research and scholarly success; transformative student experience; diversity, equity and inclusion; financial sustainability; and Miami as a national university. The committee’s work was based on the principle that success will depend on broad input from the entire Miami community.

The committee’s charge from President Crawford: “We are asking the committee to develop a five-year strategic plan that builds on the many strengths of Miami University, but recognizes the need for change and innovation. Our charge to the committee is to take a hard look at our current approaches and to recommend transformational change. We believe that incremental changes to our current strategy and tactics—as valuable as they have been—will not prepare Miami for the new world of higher education.... ”

Strategic Recommendations

As we present our recommendations, it is important to recognize the context of our work. Higher education is changing so quickly that Miami already has launched several strategic initiatives to address some of the issues raised in this strategic plan. A new development campaign, a feasibility assessment for new buildings, regional campus reform including a major shift to offering both two-year and four-year degrees in the traditional classroom setting and online and even changes to our budget model all are in process. The world is moving too fast to explore one strategy at a time, so coordination and communication have never been more important across the Miami community.

We know that Miami University is living in a new era of financial accountability. As you will read throughout this report, Miami cannot afford every program or service we might wish to provide. Every decision we make must be fully informed by the financial implications. It is imperative that we manage our resources wisely, develop diversified revenue streams to reduce dependence on tuition and align every resource with the university’s broader strategic initiatives. In today’s world of higher education, this is the job of every Miami division, department and administrative unit.

We observe a common theme across the various recommendations in this report. Our current decision-making processes are too often decentralized and disconnected, and it will be important moving forward to rethink our strategic planning as a process that can make these connections in real time. As we seek to create a transformational experience for students, we must strengthen the connections between academic and co-curricular decision-making. A standing Strategic Planning Committee can help to make these connections while also providing strategic direction for the university.

In this context, we offer the following recommendations categorized into four groups that include cross-cutting strategies. We will innovate to position Miami to thrive in a rapidly changing environment. We will invest in proactive solutions. We will invigorate our process and culture to clear pathways for creative solutions. And we will act decisively to implement the reforms envisioned in this plan. (See summary table of recommendations for implementation). We recognize that Miami cannot act upon all of the recommendations at once, so this plan is a living document that will require constant adaptation as higher education continues to evolve.

Summary of Recommendations

Innovate

#1-Establish Honors College
#2-Enhance cross-unit curricular collaborations
#3-Cultivate cross-disciplinary research
#4-Position Miami as a teaching & learning national resource
#5-Develop a curricular “innovation lab” for experimentation
#6-Renew partnership between academics & residence life
#7 Redesign our student academic advising system

Invest

#8-Improve infrastructure to support research & scholarship
#9-Improve faculty culture for involvement in externally funded research
#10-Improve approach to how faculty resources are allocated to align with strategic initiatives
#11-Enhance student retention strategies
#12-Substantially increase endowment to support scholarships
#13-Provide necessary resources to Miami students studying abroad or away
#14-Enhance the relationship between Miami and the city of Oxford
#15-Review recommendations from existing Sustainability Committee and align with plan

Invigorate

#16-Reorganize academic structure
#17-Transform the Global Miami Plan
#18-Redesign curricular process
#19-Complete curriculum review: undergraduate
#20-Complete curriculum review: graduate
#21-Develop master plan for e-learning
#22-Create plan for revenue-generating graduate degrees & certificates
#23-Revise program review goals and process to align with strategic plan

Implement

#24-Establish ongoing Strategic Planning Committee
#25-Establish Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee
#26-Coordinate facilities planning with strategic plan
#27-Improve allocation of resources to align w/strategic plan priorities
#28-Develop strategic enrollment management plan
#29-Clearly define and market Miami strengths
#30-Enhance external visibility of research

A Commitment to Implementation

Change is difficult for both human beings and organizations. It requires more than agreement on priorities and action steps. Our community must commit to meaningful change. Throughout the planning process, we often heard about barriers created by a Miami culture that was resistant to change. Frequently, our first administrative reaction goes to why an idea cannot be implemented, rather than asking why it is important, and if so, how we can make it happen. We began our planning process by emphasizing Miami’s position of strength. In fact, as we complete this document, we have seen news about our large and accomplished incoming Class of 2023. This success is a good thing, which will allow us to continue to invest in our future. But that should not conceal our long-term reality: Miami must adapt to future challenges faced by higher education across the nation. We believe this strategic plan is a step in that direction.