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Distinctive Features of Miami University

Scope: Employees and Students are covered by this policy.


Distinctive Features of Miami University



A university is its people – its alumni, students, faculty, and staff. Ideally, to come to know Miami is to know its people. This may be done by studying statistical profiles of Miami’s faculty, staff, and student body; by reading The Miami Years and Men of Old Miami; and, most appropriately, by visiting its people on the campuses.

A close look at the history and present state of Miami University reveals several basic themes as dominant features that define its uniqueness and give it a special character. Enunciated by the University Senate and the Board of Trustees, they are:

A Liberal Arts Heritage

A feature in which Miami takes pride is its liberal arts heritage. The educational focus of the University has always been the liberal arts. Even as the University established professional schools in education, business, creative arts, and engineering and computing, the liberal arts have continued to be the integrating element of the student’s education. Every undergraduate student is required to take courses selected from the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences.

A Public University with Many Qualities of a Liberal Arts College

As a second important feature, Miami University is a multi-campus, publicly assisted institution which has many qualities frequently associated with a liberal arts college. The strong emphasis on liberal arts already mentioned is part of this picture. Another part is that Miami has, in the recent decades of growth in higher education, limited itself in the development of associate, baccalaureate, and graduate programs to those endeavors, international as well as local, which it believes it can do well. Emphasis has been on a human scale, on quality over quantity, on selective excellence rather than comprehensive coverage.

Still another part of this liberal arts emphasis is that, since the legislation creating Miami University stated that a leading mission of the University was to promote “good education, virtue, religion, and morality,” the University has been striving to emphasize the supreme importance of dealing with problems related to values.

An additional characteristic of Miami is that there has been traditionally a deep concern for the student as an individual. A broad range of programs is offered to meet not only the intellectual and aesthetic needs of the student, but also a wide variety of personal and social needs. The residential program and the commitment of individual faculty and staff to counseling and advising have been important factors in maintaining this emphasis.

Miami places its major educational emphasis on undergraduate instruction of superior quality. One of the means by which it has been able to ensure such quality has been the admission of students having high intellectual ability and promise, including significant numbers of talented students from out of state. As graduate study has been expanding, the commitment to a strong undergraduate program has remained undiminished. Several important facts bear this out. In the student body, there is a very high proportion of undergraduate to graduate students. A major portion of faculty time throughout the University is devoted to undergraduate instruction. Senior faculty regularly teach lower division courses. Moreover, an indispensable qualification for faculty recruitment and advancement is the ability to teach well at the undergraduate level.

A Modern University Committed to Graduate Study and Research

No less strong and distinct is Miami’s commitment to graduate and advanced professional education. A third feature, one differentiating Miami University from the liberal arts college, may be discerned in its broad range of master’s degree programs and in its continuing support and development of doctoral programs selected on the basis of faculty strength, mutual reinforcement and balance, and the needs of the society. With limited resources, the University must limit the number and scope of the programs. In the main, the expansion of graduate education has been stabilized.

The emphasis upon graduate study at Miami represents a consensus of faculty and administration. It brings with it the clear recognition that graduate programs require additional talents, efforts, and resources over and above those required by undergraduate education. The growth in graduate education belongs to the post World War II era, beginning with the differentiation of master’s degrees and reaching the present stage of offering selective Ph.D. programs in the College of Arts and Science and the College of Education, Health and Society. Giving impetus to the developments in graduate education are the demonstrated benefits to a university community from faculty with advanced teaching and research capabilities, substantially expanded library resources, new and improved laboratories, facilities such as the IT Services and Instrumentation Laboratory, scholar exchanges, and a scholarship and teaching office. Closely allied to the expansion of graduate education at Miami is the increased formal support given by the University to research as an integral part of the learning and teaching experience.

Given its progress in graduate education and research, Miami views itself as a modern university with the capacity to function at the highest degree levels.

A Residential University Aiming at Total Student Development

A fourth major feature of the University is its residential character. All of Miami’s first- and second-year undergraduate students on the Oxford campus are required to live on campus.  For students in residence, the University community is designed to be, as much as possible, a total living environment. For commuter students on all campuses, the University offers co-curricular programs and activities like those available to residential students. Provision is made for many of the personal, cultural, social, and economic needs of the individual. A wide variety of services from healthcare to career placement and counseling are provided. Contacts between students and faculty outside the classroom are encouraged and activities in which students and faculty can participate together are frequently scheduled. Special care is taken to enhance the physical environment. In these and other ways, the University manifests a commitment to the development of the students.

As a publicly assisted institution, Miami recognizes its obligation to assist in meeting the critical needs of the state and nation, but it is dedicated to the proposition that the best way of doing this, in terms of the long-range benefits for all involved, is to help individuals develop themselves into persons who are intellectually mature, morally aware, and aesthetically sensitive.

Related Form(s)

Not Applicable.

Additional Resources and Procedures

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Policy Administration

Next Review Date


Responsible Officer(s)

The President

Legal Authority

Not Applicable.

Compliance Policy


Revision History

No updates

Reference ID


Reviewing Bodies

  • University Senate
  • President
  • Miami University Board of Trustees