Miami president says school must adapt

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Miami president says school must adapt

OXFORD — Miami University President David Hodge said permanent change was coming to higher education as universities adapt to decreased funding, increased competition for students and other challenges.

“In the past we just tightened our belts, made adjustments, but returned to normal when it was over,” Hodge said to around 150 faculty and students Thursday during an annual address in Hall Auditorium.

Hodge said he and the Strategic Priorities Task Force are working to identify fiscal and structural changes, which Hodge said are not easy decisions to make, but necessary to compete.

“The task force was set up to make the right decisions that ensure our future,” he said.

To offset an expected drop in state funding, the school will need to focus on alumni giving, Hodge said, noting that Miami’s endowment is considerably lower than its peer universities.

Also, to attract quality students, Hodge said Miami University must make the undergrad experience one that surpasses all competitors.

Specifically, Hodge said he hopes to give students more ability to recover if they are struggling in a class, to restructure gateway courses intended on narrowing prospective students in a major, to enhance academic advising, to increase study-abroad rates, and to do more to foster professor-student academic relationships.

Mick Pechan, professor and chairman of physics, said Hodge’s address gave a broad overview on the direction the university should be heading. 

“He’s encouraging us to be creative and disciplined in meeting academic challenges,” he said.

Despite the problems in higher education that he addressed, Hodge was optimistic for the future of Miami.

“I believe it’s a bright future,” he said. “It’s a challenging one, but a bright one.”

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