Annual Address 2011
David C. Hodge
September 29, 2011
Yet another example of building commonality that improves service and performance is the HUB, an online management system for student organizations being implemented by the Office of Student Activities and ASG. The website brings student organizations and events together in one place. Miami offers an incredible array of opportunities for students, but we have been challenged to connect individuals and organizations to each other. The HUB is a significant first step in providing that connection, one that will work hand-in-hand with the Center for Student Engagement and Leadership in the heart of the Armstrong Student Center. It is another huge step forward in the lives of Miami students.
Most central to our University goals are advances in academic programing. Improvements are everywhere, from new curricula to new majors, from new research clusters to new laboratories. We are now entering our fifth year of the Top 25 Project, a university-wide effort to move our undergraduate experience to a more engaged learning environment with better outcomes. And we have done just that. Our internal assessment of the impact of the Top 25 classes shows improvements in critical thinking, collaboration, and risk-taking, with classes devoting more time to higher level activities and, most re-assuring, students spending more time on their classes! Earlier this week, we received the results of the latest National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) which provided additional evidence of the impact of the Top 25 initiative and our many other curricular and co-curricular innovations. While our sister universities on average stayed the same or dropped, we continued to show notable improvement for both first year students and seniors in the levels of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student faculty interaction, and enriching educational experiences. Quite simply, we are on the move in building academic excellence.
Our newest innovation in the academic world is the adoption of Niihka, the Sakai-based learning system. Believe me, as a former user of Blackboard, I can attest to the incredible improvement that Niihka offers me in the class I am teaching this semester. However, the significance of choosing an open-choice solution goes far beyond simply improving the execution of routine class management, as useful as that is. By choosing Sakai, the Miami community made a clear statement about the value of innovation and execution. Created by higher education for higher education, Niihka encourages faculty and students to dismiss conventional borders and re-imagine how an online support system can enhance engaged learning and teaching. Our faculty embraced that opportunity from the very beginning, and new ideas for extending its functions are rolling in.
This past year we also established the office of enrollment management with a direct reporting line to the provost and to the president. The importance of enrollment management was a highlight of the SPTF assessment and recommendations. The Office of Enrollment Management will proactively manage undergraduate enrollment size and composition by integrating divisional capacity planning in the enrollment recruitment strategy. We have enjoyed great success in moving towards the SPTF goal of increasing the number of students from outside Ohio. These students add to our national and international reach and bring broader perspectives to the learning environment. This fall more than 38% of our new students came to us from outside Ohio, with 5% of them coming from outside the US. Enrollment Management will work with University Communications to further enhance Miami's national reputation and attractiveness. Last year we began a new branding and marketing effort that has already significantly impacted our visibility. Miami offers an incredible value to prospective students—we just need to make sure that more people understand that!
One of the best examples of entrepreneurial thinking in our academic programming is the consideration of changes to the academic calendar, most importantly the possibility of offering a short winter session in January that can greatly expand the possibilities for high impact experiences for our students. If the January term is adopted, students with other constraints will be able to study abroad, extend an internship, and participate in whatever imaginative programs that we create. And speaking of imaginative programs, next semester we will launch the AIMS Digital Innovation Center. Modeled after our Luxembourg Center, the Innovation Center will give a semester long opportunity for students to live, work, and learn in the technologically-rich San Francisco Bay area.
Finally, and more fundamentally, we recently made the decision to accept an invitation by the Higher Learning Commission, our regional accreditation authority, to become one of 20 schools that will pilot a new approach to accreditation. Rather than focusing a huge amount of attention on a 10-year cycle report, the new approach provides for continuous monitoring of outcomes on five critical dimensions of student learning. As a pilot school, we will be part of the assessment of the effectiveness of the framework and measures. We believe that this will provide a much more useful approach towards accreditation. More importantly, it will align with, and strengthen, our fundamental commitment to developing the very best outcomes-based culture of learning.