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Update on Vision 2009 presented to faculty

A projected tight state budget makes it more important than ever to set priorities if Miami is to move forward on its "First in 2009 Vision" initiatives, Provost Ronald Crutcher told Faculty Assembly Jan. 30.

"We can no longer rest on our laurels," the provost said. "We have no choice — we must have the will to make hard decisions."

Benchmarking Miami programs and departments against peer institutions that are comparable in quality, stature and effectiveness, as well as benchmarking against universities Miami may want to emulate, is a critical part of the process, Crutcher said.

Examples of peer institutions cited by Crutcher include Indiana University, University of Vermont and the University of Delaware, while "aspirational" universities include the University of Virginia, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, College of William and Mary, Duke, Northwestern and the University of Notre Dame.

Miami’s response to an increasingly competitive climate in higher education will require creativity and wisdom, Crutcher said, adding that he has been impressed by the efforts of the First in 2009 Coordinating Council and the response to those efforts.

That council, formed in August 2000 to facilitate campuswide discussions, includes faculty and staff members Pamela Fox, chair; Curt Ellison, Dennis Roberts, Carolyn Haynes, Gus Jones, Phyllis Callahan, Lee Sanders, Kevin McNeilly, Rich Taylor, Allan Winkler, Cheryl Evans, Bill Snavely and Susan Mosley-Howard. Student representatives have included Carolyn Hadgikosti, Matt Wray (fall) and Don Seymour (spring).

One of the council’s first steps was to ask each department and program at the Oxford, Middletown and Hamilton campuses to discuss the Student Assessment and Expectations Report completed last spring by a committee chaired by Marcia Baxter-Magolda (educational leadership).

Other university committees were asked to discuss reports on liberal education and advising.

The response rate of more than 95 percent was impressive and discussions were lively, said Crutcher. Three main questions were considered:

• How can Miami’s strong educational experience best be preserved and enhanced?

• How can Miami use assessment and grading practices to increase students’ learning?

• How can Miami set high expectations, communicate them clearly and provide students with the appropriate support to meet them?

The responses provide documentation about many best practices already taking place, but also indicate a certain degree of polarization, particularly on questions regarding grading.

For example, some departments recommended eliminating grades from all 100-level foundation courses while other departments believe that transcripts should include average gpa’s for each class and that faculty should rank students in every course in addition to assigning a grade.

However, the responses also offer common perspectives and themes, as well as suggesting possible solutions.

Major themes raised in the discussions include clarity of university mission and resource alignment and the need to enhance the first-year experience and reduce class sizes, improve writing across the curriculum, create new interactions between student affairs and academic affairs, and form a centralized coordinating body for advising.

The 2009 Council will continue working with the recommendations received this fall while encouraging additional departmental dialogue this spring, said Fox.

One of the council’s observations, she added, is that the external perception is that Miami has a well-defined and understood mission, but that internally there is uncertainty and debate. For example, there are questions as to whether co-curricular life is enrichment or distraction and how Miami can enrich the first-year experience and liberal education while maintaining excellence in professional programs.

Council members believe that the strategic planning process currently under way will serve to reorganize and affirm Miami’s values, said Fox.

Miami faculty, students, and staff are urged to take part in the 2009 vision strategy process. Forums scheduled in the next several weeks provide opportunities for involvement.

The first, to be held from 5-6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26, in Room 100 of the art building, will focus on student assessment and expectations. The second, scheduled from 5-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 6, in 115 Shideler will focus on university values.

At both forums opening remarks by a panel consisting of faculty, administrators, and students will be followed by discussion.

Full reports on the responses are available at King Library and on the Web at www.muohio.edu/provost/reports.html.

Date Published: 02/08/2001
Volume: 20   Number: 24

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