Annual Address 2012
David C. Hodge
September 6, 2012
Another great example is the conversion of Elliott and Stoddard residence halls to geothermal. How cool is it (pun intended) to have our oldest buildings on campus use one of our most modern approaches to heating and cooling? We will also be using this approach with our new residence halls on the Western campus. We have made a commitment to build our new buildings to meet at least Silver LEED Certification, including the new Armstrong Student Center, and we have committed to removing our coal plant by no later than 2025. All of these examples demonstrate our smart use of resources to reduce our impact on the environment and our bottom line.
Recognizing as President Upham did nearly 100 years ago that "alumni are mighty important factors in what shall come after them," we set a sub-goal "to create a culture of giving that ensures success for Miami's next century." While the initial focus is on increasing giving to provide a strong foundation for the future, this sub-goal has been broadened to embrace a life-long relationship in which the university continues to serve the needs of graduates just as those graduates serve the needs of future generations of students. We are constantly seeking new opportunities to connect and serve alumni including opportunities to continue to learn as well as opportunities for career development.
Our success in meeting our goals for creating the culture of giving are mixed, in no small part due to the recession. We have increased the proportion of our alumni who give during the year from 16 to 18 percent, short of our goal of 25 percent yet still in the top 10 percent of all public universities. We have increased our progress towards our campaign goal from $321 million to $456 million today. We have exceeded our revised goal for the Armstrong Student Center, with $31 million dollars raised from over 10,000 donors. And we have increased the number of endowed faculty positions from 40 to 60. While we remain short of several of our goals, these results nonetheless reflect a substantial advancement in the role of our alumni in giving back to Miami.
Finally, we set a goal to "raise our state and national profile… by strategically and effectively communicating our accomplishments…" For too long we have been referred to as a hidden gem, but that is changing. We have dramatically increased our visibility on many fronts. Certainly, our efforts to present the possibilities at Miami to prospective students and their families has improved greatly, in part because of our greatly enhanced communications devices, but just as importantly through the collective efforts of everyone on campus to support our recruitment efforts. When students come to Miami for a visit, they are met with an incredibly committed and personable staff and faculty. This creates a terrifically strong foundation and ensures that our messages are genuine.
More recently we have also moved to change our domain name so that in this intensive computing and social media world, we stand out as a distinctive name. We have replaced the lantern with the beveled "M" and have begun the process to embrace a consistent look to strengthen national and international recognition of our exceptional quality and the value of a Miami degree. Every communication from individuals or units at Miami presents an opportunity to reinforce our image and to increase recognition. By consistently using readily recognizable identifiers, we do just that.
Even this partial accounting of progress towards our current Strategic Goals adds up to a lot. We haven't met all of our goals—indeed, if that were the case, it would probably indicate that we were not ambitious enough in setting our goals. And we have also devoted a lot of time to what seemed like emergency surgery. Yet the university has been relentless in our drive to be a better university, and while we should be, and must be, hungry to accomplish more, it is also important on occasion to pause for a moment and reflect on how much has been accomplished. Then it is time to turn to the future with both experienced and fresh eyes.
Building the Future
Our Five Year Strategic Goals have served us well, but in the intervening years we have learned much more about how to approach planning for the future, just as the circumstances in which we operate have become more challenging. The world of higher education is undergoing tremendous transformation, driven by a number of critical factors including technological advances, economic stress, and demographic change. It is both a more competitive and a more demanding environment, with significant change occurring more rapidly than ever. These changes are not temporary disruptions; they are, in fact, changes that are framing a "new normal." Success in this environment requires anticipating these changes and effectively adapting them to the core missions of the university. More specifically, success requires an inspiring vision, focused goals, and high performance execution.
While no one can predict the future with absolute certainty, engaging in an effort to identify and assess the broad frame of opportunities and challenges that lie ahead is vital to making those day-to-day decisions that will define the future for Miami University. How and where will learning and discovery take place? What will be the role of the "residential" part of the collegiate experience? How will co-curricular activities contribute to graduates? How will Miami alumni remain connected to and supportive of the university? What is our role in contributing to our region’s/nation’s prosperity? Describing the preferred future of Miami, as we imagine it in the context of an evolving higher education environment, promises to be an energizing experience.