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Miami begins strategic opportunities assessment with landscape review of higher ed

The university is initiating a new project to identify opportunities to strengthen Miami to better support its teaching, research, and service missions

Miami University sundial

Miami begins strategic opportunities assessment with landscape review of higher ed

At the direction of the Board of Trustees, Miami University is initiating a new project to identify opportunities to strengthen Miami to better support its teaching, research, and service missions, and to reimagine itself to serve dynamic needs and interests of students now and in the future. An overview of this effort was given by Miami President Gregory Crawford during the State of the University Oct. 3 and by Provost Elizabeth Mullenix during Faculty Assembly Sept. 7.

“Reflecting on accomplishments since the launch of our MiamiRISE strategic plan in 2019, it is clear that the world around us has undergone significant transformation. Our commitment to lifelong student success requires excellence and creativity in navigating new directions that will position Miami for a vibrant and exciting future,” said Board of Trustees Chair Mary Schell. “Considering the rapidly evolving landscape in higher education and the world, we recognize the need to adapt and innovate. To this end, the Board of Trustees has tasked President Greg Crawford with collaborating with key stakeholders and leaders across the university to craft a new set of strategic opportunities.”

In 2019, Miami’s Board of Trustees approved MiamiRISE, the university’s strategic plan to “Act Boldly. Succeed Fearlessly. Shatter Expectations.” The plan included 30 strategic recommendations in four categories: innovate, invest, invigorate, and implement, and it prioritized scholarship and artistry, innovation, student success, and engagement. In addition to navigating a complex environment around the COVID-19 pandemic, the university was also able to accomplish the plan’s recommendations, including establishing an Honors College; redesigning the student academic advising system; transforming the Global Miami Plan; improving infrastructure to support research and scholarship; enhancing student retention strategies; and developing a strategic enrollment management plan. The last decade has also seen Miami slash its carbon footprint by over 50%, and the university intends to go carbon neutral by 2040.

“We are thrilled and excited to begin this process. We expect the results to yield the most transformative and innovative opportunities for the future ever in Miami’s more than 210-year history,” President Crawford said. “Throughout this transformative planning journey, we’ll draw upon the successes and insights from our prior strategic initiatives, ranging from state-of-the-art infrastructure enhancements to the development of the Honors College, and will seek to gather input from across our campus community and beyond to ensure that our plans fit the goals and needs of our students and broader community into the future. The outcome will be a stronger Miami that is even more well equipped to prepare our students for a lifetime of success and impact, while remaining true to our liberal arts foundation.” 

The university is now seeking to build on that foundation with the next set of strategic priorities. To get started, the university will conduct a review of the higher education landscape and trends to better understand the rapid changes across the sector and their impact on Miami and serve as a foundation to then determine priorities to pursue. While the vast majority of this project will focus on identifying opportunities to strengthen Miami’s programs, offerings, and position within the higher education landscape, the review will also seek to identify opportunities to increase revenue and reduce costs such that Miami can rechannel funding to fortify academic pursuits and to elevate the student experience. 

The identification of opportunities will be led by Miami faculty and staff administrators in working groups focused on specific areas. These working groups will invite the engagement and input from all disciplines and areas across the Miami community. In these early stages of this project, no final decisions have been made around actions, priorities, or programs.

Given the breadth of the review, and with the support of the Board of Trustees, Miami plans to engage the higher education practice of an external firm, Bain & Company, to support the initial assessment, help it evaluate options, and facilitate an effective process. Bain & Company is a global management consulting firm with deep expertise advising institutions of higher education on areas such as strategy and growth.

Over the next few weeks, President Crawford will invite Miami colleagues to serve on committees and work groups that will meet regularly to help guide and inform their research and results. 

"This strategic blueprint is poised to usher Miami University into a new era, positioning us to be more innovative, adaptable, and agile,” said Deborah Feldman, vice chair of Miami’s Board of Trustees and president and chief executive officer of Dayton Children’s Hospital. "Leading a multifaceted entity in the health care domain, I recognize that this transformative process is our ticket to ensuring Miami University thrives in an increasingly technology-driven, rapidly evolving global landscape."

Concurrently, Miami University is embarking on an enterprise system overhaul that promises to heighten operational efficiency. This transformation will introduce avant-garde tools encompassing data analytics and artificial intelligence. Miami also has launched the $1 billion “For Love. For Honor. FOR THOSE WHO WILL.” capital campaign, raising approximately $630 million since 2016.

“I am excited to begin this process of charting the path for Miami’s future, and I look forward to the engagement of our faculty throughout,” Mullenix said.

The initial assessment will serve as a foundation to the strategic planning process which will begin in earnest in January 2024. More information will be shared with the community as this project progresses.