Miami leader: Status quo won’t do if school is to continue to excel

Miami University’s 22nd President, Gregory Crawford, delivered the annual address Thursday on the school’s main Oxford campus. Crawford told an audience in the Armstrong Student Center that despite the school’s national acclaim, the future can not depend on the status quo in the school’s many heralded academic programs. Crawford is pictured here at a previous speech on campus.
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Miami University’s 22nd President, Gregory Crawford, delivered the annual address Thursday on the school’s main Oxford campus. Crawford told an audience in the Armstrong Student Center that despite the school’s national acclaim, the future can not depend on the status quo in the school’s many heralded academic programs. Crawford is pictured here at a previous speech on campus.

Despite recent and historic successes in academics, research and fund raising, the status quo won’t be good enough if Miami University wants to maintain its status as a nationally prestigious school.

That was the main theme delivered by Miami University President Gregory Crawford Thursday during his annual address, which was heard by students, faculty and local community leaders in an auditorium at the Armstrong Student Center on the main Oxford campus.

It was a broad brush picture of the future painted by Crawford with few details, but still keenly focused on the need to adapt to the changing world beyond the campus boundaries.

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“There is no doubt that our future will be different from our past — more innovation, more technology, more data, more competition, more diversity of people, thought, ideas and accelerating change,” Crawford told the audience and those watching live on social media.

“We have made smart decisions during the past decade, enabling us to confront our future from a position of strength. Yet, we all know that we cannot stand still (and) now we face the question — how should we plan for what’s ahead?” said Crawford, who is in his third year of leading Miami.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Miami University's main campus in Oxford is made up of 2,138 acres and has 188 buildings.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

“Sustaining our success and fulfilling our purpose will be more challenging in the years ahead. Universities are scrutinized on many fronts, with public perceptions of soaring costs and failure to innovate. From my position inside the academy, I will say that some of the fault-finding is fair — we can do much better,” said the leader of Butler County’s largest employer.

“And I will say without reservation — continuing the status quo will not succeed in the future. We must change — going beyond incrementalism and caution. We must embrace innovation, adapting to a dynamic world where exponential change is driven by accelerating technology and connectivity,” he said.

Miami University serves a total of more than 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students on its main campus, Miami Middletown and Miami Hamilton regional campuses. The school also operates the Voice of America Learning Center in West Chester Township.

The public university is regularly cited in national publications as one of America’s elite academic institutions often on par if not exceeding in some areas of study private Ivy League universities and others throughout America.

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But after Crawford cited some of Miami’s many recent honors and achievements, he then told the audience how the plan for the school’s future will be laid out.

Crawford announced the formation later this fall of a new “strategic planning steering committee” that will “include representation from across our campuses.”

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Scenes from Miami University from the Journal-News archives, showing nostalgia of the former campus life.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Sub committees of the group will research and propose initiatives in six areas: academic excellence; research and scholarly success; transformational student experience; diversity, inclusion and community; financial and resource sustainability and Miami as a national university.

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After investing more $500 million in infrastructure in the last decade, Miami must renew its focus on academics to remain viable, competitive during the first third of the 21st Century, he said.

“Like universities all over the country, we face a stark reality — we need additional resources to fulfill our academic mission and provide the Miami experience that has distinguished us for generations,” he said.

“We will need to make choices — and sometimes difficult decisions – regarding how and where to invest our resources,” Crawford said without offering further details.

Reiterating the overall optimism of his speech, Crawford ended by saying “our innovative strategic plan will position Miami University to redefine higher education. Miamians should be confident that Miami is recognized worldwide for our excellence and that this great university will flourish long into the future.”

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