Aanceelintaakani – meaning “an instrument used to change how one thinks” — is a Myaamia phrase, and has been the inspiration for Miami University’s strategic plan.
Last month, Miami’s Strategic Planning Steering Committee finalized its five-year strategic plan and presented it to the Miami University Board of Trustees.
The Strategic Plan offers 30 recommendations categorized into four groups: innovating to position Miami to thrive in a rapidly changing environment, investing towards proactive solutions, invigorating Miami’s process and culture to clear pathways for creative solutions and implementing the reforms envisioned in the plan.
The recommendations aim to transform the Global Miami Plan, due in part to a recent report by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) which gave Miami’s liberal education program a “C” grade.
Proposed changes to the Global Miami Plan include simplifying the criteria by removing the thematic sequence requirement and ensuring students engage in experiential learning through undergraduate research, entrepreneurial thinking and other skills and opportunities.
Multiple recommendations in the plan are centralized around departments and committees collaborating across disciplines.
By redesigning the academic advising process and providing additional resources for students studying away or abroad, the steering committee hopes to better assist students, according to the plan.
Additionally, the plan focuses on creating a more selective honors college, establishing a diversity, equity and inclusion committee, enhancing the university’s relations with the city of Oxford and increasing endowments for scholarships.
To keep track of the committee’s progress, the plan includes a proposal to establish an on-going strategic planning committee. They also recommend forming a committee to review the university’s undergraduate and graduate programs.
In the plan, the steering committee describes how the university has already undertaken the “Boldly Creative” project, a $50 million academic development fund to bring forward and fund proposals for interdisciplinary academic programming.
Additionally, regional campus reform — including a major shift to offering both two-year and four-year degrees in the traditional classroom setting and online — and changes to the university’s resource management model are in the process of becoming established.
For example, to support students in 1969, Miami received more than half of its operating budget from the state. Today, state support is less than 10 percent. The committee recognizes that state spending on higher education has decreased over the years and is focused on ensuring financial viability for the future by increasing endowments for scholarships and using data to inform assessment and decision-making processes to improve its system for managing resources.
“Most other schools in Ohio are currently having some level of difficulty managing the new economic model that we’re all being confronted with,” David Ellis, the Associate Vice President for Budgeting and Analysis and co-chair of the financial and resource sustainability subcommittee, said. “By and large, if you look at the University of Akron, Wright State, Bowling Green – even Ohio University – those institutions are struggling a bit this year in enrollments.”
In order to preserve tenure while providing Miami with workforce flexibility, the committee plans on aligning academic hiring plans with strategic priorities and enhancing faculty contributions through required professional development.
“There’s a lot of complications because there’s a lot of moving parts and different ideas, but in general, my experience has been beneficial,” said Robert Applebaum, professor of sociology and gerontology and co-chair of the steering committee. “I’ve been overwhelmed by the sense of dedication faculty and members of the community have shown.”
Applebaum and Julia Guichard, a professor of theatre and the other co-chair of the committee, have coordinated with six distinct subcommittees to help determine what specific issues the committee should address.
“The proof [of the committee’s success] is going to be five years down the road and is based on if we act on the strategies,” Applebaum said. “Right now we’re optimistic.”
The contents of the strategic plan are available to view on the Board of Trustees’ website.