July 8, 2016
Dear Miami Faculty and Staff,
The best part of beginning my tenure as Miami University’s 22nd president is the reality that Renate and I are now truly members of this extraordinary community. We experienced such a warm welcome earlier this year and at last Friday’s receptions, and are glad to be back in Ohio and especially at Miami.
We are honored to become part of the Miami Family of faculty, staff, alumni, students, and a community united by Love and Honor for this historic university. But it is you – Miami’s faculty and staff – who are the sustained, visible expression of Miami as students come to us, complete their studies, and venture out into the world as alumni. Your dedication and service are central to Miami’s success, and its achievements are a testimony to your own excellence.
During the past few months, I met with hundreds of Miamians, off and on campus, intently focused on listening and learning. Insightful ideas were shared ranging from how we can collectively develop future priorities and enhance academic excellence to how we foster multi-disciplinary collaboration among departments and units…and much more! The common thread linking these conversations has been an unwavering passion for Miami. I’ve taken all this to heart and will continue listening and engaging with you as together we build a shared vision for Miami’s future.
As we collaborate to determine specific priorities for the short and long term, there are three guiding principles we all seem to be agree on that will be the bedrock for our future success:
Shared Governance. As someone who is deeply interested in the practice of leadership, I believe shared governance leverages the faculty’s and staff’s vast repository of wisdom and institutional knowledge to improve collective decision-making. It also cultivates current and future leaders throughout a university. The role of faculty, staff, and students in the university governance process is vital. Our process must be grounded in trust and open communication as it paves the way towards a shared vision, and I welcome your ongoing ideas about continually improving that process.
Inclusive, Welcoming, and Diverse Campus Climate. At Miami, inclusive excellence – or the recognition that our future success depends on how we foster, value, welcome, and engage a rich diversity of faculty, students, staff, and alumni – must become part of our institutional DNA. We cannot be excellent unless 1) we are diverse in the broadest sense of the word, and 2) we have an environment where our students, colleagues, and community members know the importance of their contributions and are able to flourish. Inclusive excellence is not an initiative, program, or catchphrase; it is a comprehensive, transformational approach that must be embedded in every aspect of Miami. It is achieved not by top-down decisions, but by everyone’s contributions.
During the coming academic year, we will conduct two important surveys to help guide us strategically – a faculty survey being planned by Provost Callahan in collaboration with the Senate Executive Committee this fall, and a second all-inclusive, comprehensive campus climate survey in the spring. Your honest, objective, and genuine feedback will help us learn more as well as establish a benchmark from which to measure our future progress.
Openness and Transparency. My leadership style is predicated on openness and a two-way exchange of information and ideas, and I’ve heard consistently that regular communication and inviting and listening to feedback is also important to all of you. Although methods and approaches for more transparency will evolve over time, there are a few things I’ll begin immediately:
Meeting personally within the first six months with as many academic and administrative departments as possible to better understand your unique contributions to Miami, your aspirations and ideas for best using our resources, and how you would prefer the senior administration to interact with you.
Hosting an open forum later this fall to share budget information and progress on the 2020 plan.
Scheduling regular, informal conversations at various campus locations on an ongoing basis.
Writing a monthly column in Miami Matters to provide updates and responses to questions and comments sent to AskGreg@MiamiOH.edu. Although I may not respond to all emails, I will review them frequently, answer publicly the ones that seem the most pressing or universal, and share constructive ideas and feedback with university leaders.
During the past decade, Miami progressed even while facing some of the toughest challenges in higher education to date, and your dedication to students never wavered. Students have told me repeatedly how much they appreciate the way our faculty and staff at all levels devote talent, time, and passion to challenge them academically in an environment that is as beautiful as it is supportive.
The momentum, possibility, and trajectory at Miami are remarkable, and we are excited for the future. This quote from Ryunosuke Satoro encapsulates what I hope we can achieve together:
“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”
Renate and I are grateful to now be part of this special place. Love and Honor!