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1st dean of Miami University regional campuses retiring

The first dean of Miami University’s combined regional campuses is retiring, he told the Journal-News in an exclusive interview.

Associate Provost and Dean G. Michael Pratt said the time is right after leading Miami University’s campuses in Hamilton and Middletown since 2010 through a historic shift that includes transforming the once separate schools under a single administrative leadership while handling rising enrollments.

Miami University is Butler County’s largest employer, with nearly 3,300 full-time employees at its main Oxford campus, and Hamilton and Middletown campuses. Total university employment is more than 4,000 workers, including part-time employees, according to Miami.

Pratt’s announcement ends a unique career loop for the 66-year-old Middletown native who started his own freshmen college studies at the then-fledgling Miami Middletown campus in 1968 after he graduated from Middletown High School.

Among the many accomplishments of the long-time college educator, archaeologist and forensic anthropologist, is the completion of the mission assigned by Miami officials who hired him: Bring closer the two regional campuses in operations and goals.

“We have moved from a campus that was focused on offering associate degrees and moving students on to Oxford (Miami’s main campus) to having our own bachelor degrees so students can start and finish here,” said Pratt, who leaves the job in June. “And it has happened at light speed.”

Traditionally, regional campuses for Miami and other area universities have largely played the role of feeder institutions to a college’s main campus.

But climbing enrollment helped prompt Miami officials to expand the undergraduate degree offerings at regional campuses.

In the past decade, Hamilton’s campus enrollment is up more than 25 percent to 3,984 students, while Middletown’s campus has seen more than 2.5 percent increase to 2,800 students for the same period.

Under Pratt, Miami University's regional campuses in Middletown and Hamilton also saw a 480 percent increase in four-year, undergraduate degrees in recent years.

And his tenure as dean also included the expansion of the Greentree Health Science Academy at the Atrium Medical Center in Middletown and the Voice of America Learning Center in West Chester Township.

"Mike has provided a strong and reassuring voice to the university and to the community during a time of significant change," Miami University President David Hodge said.

“Under his leadership, we have set the foundations for a bright future for Miami Regionals,” he said.

Also larger are the partnerships between the regionals and their host cities.

Pat Moeller, mayor of Hamilton, said the Miami Hamilton campus “has been of huge importance to the city.”

“A lot has been accomplished under Dr. Pratt’s leadership and the school puts us on the map for a great, post-high school career option,” Moeller said.

Middletown Mayor Larry Mulligan echoed praise for Pratt’s supervision and the joining of the two satellite campuses.

“It’s been a great solution and it certainly required great leadership,” Mulligan said. “The additional degrees they offer now … open up a number of opportunities for Middletown residents.”

Miami University Provost Phyllis Callahan said an interim dean will be announced by the end of the month and at a later date, a national search will be conducted to permanently fill the position.