Annual Address

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Gregory P. Crawford
October 23, 2019

THIRD Transformative University

While each of us probably has a slightly different idea of what a transformative university looks like, I think we can agree on several elements:

  • At the transformative university, undergraduates are creators of knowledge, integral to our research and graduate programs in many ways. They leave as creators of new knowledge and agents of change.
  • The future will be more partnership-oriented, establishing more connections with other universities, government, industry, not-for-profits, international organizations, hospitals, and numerous others.
  • The transdisciplinary focus and life-long learning disposition will be essential – maintaining strength in disciplines while constantly crossing boundaries.
  • Students will study abroad, study away, and embed in companies and organizations for internships and immersive opportunities, redefining “engaged learning.”
  • Graduate and professional programs will play an increasingly critical role in meeting the needs of students and society as the demand continues to grow for post-graduate education and re-training.
  • Resources will be repurposed into new areas, and programs will accelerate.
  • Students will increasingly become architects of their own education and future – fashioning unique combinations of majors, co-majors, minors, and master’s programs. New programs will reflect this convergence and connectivity of disciplines.
  • There will be more online learning opportunities and hybrid online classroom experiences, utilizing artificial intelligence, leveraging technology for improved delivery and enhanced pedagogy.
  • There will be no substitute for a high-quality, four-year undergraduate, residential experience, with a strong liberal arts foundation. Transformative education involves intersection of place, relationships, and developmental stage.

In order to provide the right space for this transformative university, we will re-imagine our infrastructure. We must leverage our own resources and attract new resources that support our transformational experience, our mission, and our aspirations. That includes our physical campus. The clinical health sciences building –whose pre-construction phase was recently approved by the Board of Trustees – is only the beginning.

It will be a contemporary space, open and collaborative, where our clinical work of nursing and speech pathology and new offerings such as the physician’s assistant program will be co-located. The student health center will afford a full integration of our services and opportunities for our students. Situated near the rec center, Goggin Ice Center, and Kinesiology and Health, it creates a concentrated locus of scholarship and practice in the health sciences. This “health district” will promote idea generation, partnerships, and research and curriculum collaborations across boundaries, within the academy and beyond.

This is the beginning of our re-imagining the campus in the coming decade to accommodate our transformative vision. We need improved proximity through new spaces to stimulate transdisciplinary thinking, creative research and scholarship, invention and discovery, value creation, collaborations, and partnerships.

What would a contemporary university look like if you could build it from the ground up today? This is more than a thought experiment – it is a real possibility as we consider what disciplines will bring synergy to solve enduring questions and the greatest challenges of our day. How can we achieve our aspirations through smart organization, co-locating and clustering? I have charged Academic Affairs and Financial Business Services to build our 10-year campus plan and how to fund it with collaboration and coordination top of mind.

Our Regional campuses are already rethinking their use of space and place. With infrastructure improvements, their commerce degree will now be taught at the Voice of America Learning Center – also offered fully online. This is a commerce “hub” of sorts, now combined with our professional MBA program and Butler County Small Business Development Center. Dean Bishop-Clark is leading the charge to create other hubs and locations of strength – namely Hamilton for nursing and allied health professions and Middletown for Engineering Technology.

Amid all this change, we can be confident in the strengths and institutional values at our foundation. We hear the buzzwords – “robot-proof,” “future-proof” – and the advances in data and artificial intelligence are real. Science and technology, mathematics and data will change the future, and we must prepare our students for that world. But the best preparation for the future – along with strength in one’s major discipline – is still an education in character and intellect that makes our students and graduates great leaders and citizens. When people ask me how to be robot proof, the answer is simple – be good at being human.

You hear people talk about “humanics” these days – a combination of science and technology, quantitative and analytical knowledge, and humanities. At Miami, we are already there. Our unwavering liberal arts commitment, integrated across campus in each discipline and major, is our strength. Our Humanities Center convenes a host of fields for evidence-based civil dialogue so vital in our time. Our Janus Forum invites intellectual debate in open inquiry and free expression. Our Howe Center for Writing Excellence equips our students and faculty for clear communication, a sought-after edge in the workplace today. Our faculty have created medical humanities and art therapy minors.

Our science and engineering students graduate not only with top-tier knowledge and skills – but also with the ethical and moral fortitude to ask NOT only whether we can do something with technology but whether we should. Our data-expert graduates have storytelling skills to translate complex numerical insights into accessible language. This is our strength.

Our broad education equips students with exposure to new ideas, critical and deliberative thinking, transdisciplinary perspectives, self-knowledge, interpersonal empathy, inclusive respect, and transparent and robust integrity. Like most new graduates, they probably get their first career opportunity based on their major or particular skill set. Miamians then draw on a breadth of education that propels them to their first promotion, to greater responsibility, and onward to leadership roles. Miami graduates aren’t just good at what they do. They’re good at who they are. They connect at the human level.

That is the power of Miami. That is the state of this university. The world is changing. We are responding effectively, but we are not passive products of that change. We are factors that produce change for good wherever we go, because we carry the power of mission and purpose – core values that run deep through our community and each member.

And so I end where I began. This special place we all call home is founded on strong relationships and shared values. It has been a great year for Miami because Miami is a great place, with great people. I thank you all for your contributions – your humility and compassion, your wisdom and creativity, your service and leadership, your relentless pursuit of excellence.

Renate and I are grateful every day for you. We admire your character and leadership. We are inspired by your passion and compassion. We are proud to participate with you in this vital mission. Love and Honor!

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