Dear Miami Community,
As many of you know, yesterday, the Ohio Senate voted to pass Senate Bill 83, the Ohio Higher Education Enhancement Act. The current version of this legislation may raise questions about how it may impact Miami’s campuses and the educational experiences of our students if enacted.
The bill will now go to the Ohio House, where hearings are underway on a companion piece of legislation, House Bill 151. Any differences between the bills will have to be reconciled and approved by both chambers before it can be sent to Governor Mike DeWine for his action.
The potential areas affected by the current version of the bill are:
- university mission statements; diversity, equity, and inclusion policies and practices;
- policies related to intellectual diversity and “divisive concepts;”
- syllabus requirements;
- faculty workload requirements;
- faculty evaluation and post-tenure review processes;
- partnerships with the People's Republic of China;
- Board of Trustees appointments and training;
- endowment agreements;
- campus speakers;
- a requirement of an American history/government course or proficiency for all undergraduate students;
- financial reporting;
- and a prohibition on employees of any state institution of higher education to strike.
Miami University, along with its colleagues in the Inter-University Council (IUC) of Ohio, an association that includes all of Ohio's 14 public universities, submitted a response to the legislation.
As the letter states, Miami, as part of the IUC, is committed to working together with the legislature to improve higher education in the state: “Our partnership is critical as we look at a declining population, global talent wars, and increasing competition for our workforce, especially in the most in-demand job sectors that require our graduates.”
In our letter to State Senator Jerry Cirino prior to the bill’s passage in the Senate, the IUC acknowledged the senator’s numerous conversations with member universities to address our shared concerns. As the bill moves to the House, we will continue to advocate for free speech in the classroom, diversity of thought, acceptance for all, and supporting faculty. As the IUC expressed in our letter, we hope that the House will consider further revisions that will guard against government overreach, increased bureaucracy, and costs of implementation. As the IUC stated, there are still concerns regarding vagueness in certain terms, an underappreciation of student success programs (diversity, equity, and inclusion programs), shared governance, new endowment provisions, and potential economic impact.
We will continue to work with our IUC partners and state legislators to resolve concerns about Senate Bill 83. As this work continues, Miami remains committed to the success and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff, and we will always advocate for, support, and care for our community.
Those who wish to engage on their own behalf can share any feedback to their Ohio Senator and Representative. It is best practice to use personal contact information and email. Contact information for members of the Ohio General Assembly is available online: https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/. Miami students, faculty, and staff who have questions about this legislation may reach out to Randi Thomas, Vice President of ASPIRE, at 513-529-4668.
Miami University President