Annual Address 2012
David C. Hodge
September 6, 2012
Our faculty, staff, and students are very actively involved in regional organizations providing hundreds of thousands of hours of volunteer service each year. We were one of only five colleges nationwide to receive the 2012 Presidential Award for Community Service based on our contributions to early childhood programs.
We are actively involved in both Dayton and Cincinnati groups committed to economic development. As noted earlier, we are also increasing our efforts to commercialize our research results through a number of programs, including the Third Frontier, adding to regional economic vitality.
Finally, we have re-imagined our regional campuses by creating a new academic division that will allow our regional campuses to better serve the current and future needs of the region. Most notably, the number of students interested in receiving baccalaureate degrees has skyrocketed, including the new Criminal Justice program that has long been anticipated by students. We have challenges to be resolved in implementing the new division, but there can be no doubt that this new division will be in a much stronger position to tailor its curriculum and meet regional needs.
The final strategic goal is to "Establish a Firm Foundation for our Future Success by Maximizing and Leveraging our Resources." When we first drafted this goal, virtually no one could have anticipated how important it would become in the face of the recession, yet we understood that no matter what conditions Miami might face, our most important asset is our people. We need to attract, retain, and support people who are committed to our mission, to the highest standards of achievement, and to each other. At Miami our sense of community and shared responsibility matters.
It was that spirit that drove our efforts to meet the immediate need to reduce our budget by nearly $30 million. We approached the difficult need for staff reduction by creating procedures for making the best possible difficult choices and minimized the number of people affected by implementing an early retirement incentive program. We provided counseling and job skill workshops, and we made it a priority to re-hire qualified individuals as other positions became available.
We have also continued on other fronts to enhance the quality of life and work for our employees, including:
- Redesigning the employee performance evaluation process to provide more complete and constructive evaluations.
- Redesigning the employee enrichment program to provide improved opportunities for professional growth and job advancement.
- Implementing Healthy Miami to improve the health and well-being of our employees, including providing more on-site diagnostic testing.
- Becoming a smoke free campus, the first public university in Ohio to do so.
Perhaps most importantly, we set a sub-goal to "create a culture of continuous improvement and caring service." Adopting this approach is fundamentally different from the classic "cutting what we have to" or "doing more with less" strategies. Continuous improvement is about "achieving more by functioning smarter." As technology and academic and business practices change, new opportunities are opened for determining what we choose to do and how we choose to do it. Two major initiatives have been developed to frame this approach at Miami:
- We introduced LEAN process improvement techniques. We have used LEAN on about 100 projects, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars while improving services and processes. Over 200 employees (including me!) have gone through LEAN training.
- We have created a new Resource Center Management budget system that will be fully implemented with the beginning of the 2014 fiscal year. RCM will support and strongly encourage more unit-level accountability and entrepreneurial thinking. It will in turn be supported by much improved Institutional Analytics. We will be able to better understand the implications of our decisions and to be incentivized when advancing the university.
We also set a sub-goal to "become a leader in environmental sustainability by implementing economically viable environmental best practices." Our approach has been to prioritize those actions that give us the greatest impact per dollar invested. By taking the long-term perspective, we have made literally hundreds of changes that have reduced our energy consumption and the cost of energy, as well as our carbon footprint. A great example of this approach is our success in investing in "virtual servers," larger computers that are portioned to look like many independent servers. Not only did we avoid having to build a larger data center, we have substantially reduced energy use, while providing more reliable service.