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Trustees hear NSSE results, view campus plan

Miami’s board of trustees were told Friday, Dec. 8, that a new national survey both confirms the value of a Miami education and provides benchmarks to measure improvement.

Provost Ronald Crutcher told trustees that answers by Miami seniors to a series of questions about the quality of academic challenges they have faced earned Miami the designation of a "strong performer" in the first-ever National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).

Miami ranked in the top 15 percent among comparable universities in each of five categories — level of academic challenge, collaborative learning, interaction with faculty, educational experiences and supportive campus environment.

Counting only seniors’ responses (first-year students were also queried), Miami ranks in the top 4 percent, Crutcher told trustees.

The NSSE survey will be a valuable tool in tracking year-to-year improvements and making cross-institutional comparisons, said Crutcher.

A total of 276 universities and colleges participated in the study, which was supported by a $3.2 million grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts.

In other action:

• Trustees reviewed a master landscaping plan for the Oxford campus that will guide outdoor planning for the next 30 to 50 years.

The plan, the result of an 18-month study by Kinzelman Kline, a Columbus consulting firm, provides a comprehensive overview of how Miami can best maintain and enhance the beauty and charm of its campus.

The plan identifies major "campus connectors" that visually link campus open spaces. Proposed improvements include replacing the concrete pavement of "slant walk," the historic entrance to campus, with paving bricks.

• Trustees reviewed revised costs for the $2.96 million child-care center and renewed their approval of the facility, which will be built on the Western campus. "The most critical benefit of the center will be in recruiting and retaining faculty and staff," Richard Norman, vice president for finance and business services, told trustees.

The center, which is expected to open in the summer of 2002, is expected to serve more than 120 children, from infants through kindergartners.

• Trustees gave the go-ahead to university administrators to negotiate a long-term lease for the historic Oxford College with a local arts group that is planning to create a community arts center.
Built in three phases from 1849-94 as a private women’s school, the building was acquired by Miami in 1928. Miami, which discontinued residence hall operations at Ox College, has been seeking to sell or lease the building for the past several years.

The goal, according to Norman, is to preserve the National Register of Historic Places building, located on a prime uptown site at High Street and College Avenue. "And if in the process we can help community organizations make Oxford a better place to live, so much the better," he said.

Following the meeting, Bob Campbell, president of the Oxford Community Arts Center, said that trustees’ action is an important first step in making the long-time dream of a center for the visual and performing arts a reality.

The proposed center would serve school children through retirees. Existing community groups, ranging from OxAct to the Oxford Community Band, would be headquartered at the center, which also would have studios, classrooms and performance areas.

"Until we have successfully negotiated a lease, it would be premature to discuss our plans in detail, but this center will be a real plus for our community," Campbell said.

• Trustees received the 1999-2000 financial report, which showed total revenues of $340 million. Of these revenues, 43 percent came from tuition and fees while only 24 percent came from state appropriations.

• Trustees approved conferring an honorary degree on Theodore Rogers, an investor in private equity and a 1956 Miami graduate who has been extensively involved in civic activities, serving on numerous fine art boards, including the New York City Ballet and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. He also has worked extensively with the Achilles Track Club, an organization that helps runners with physical disabilities.

• Trustees elected new officers for the 2001 calendar year. They include Roger Howe, chair; Fred Wall, vice chair; Laurel Pressler, secretary; and Chandra Shah, treasurer.

Date Published: 12/14/2000
Volume: 20   Number: 19


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