Headlining the event was Miami University's new president Gregory Crawford, who toured the Middletown campus, popping into classrooms and labs and energetically engaging with teachers and students alike.
“We are all one Miami here,” Crawford said.
The regional campuses — including Hamilton, which opened in 1968, and the Voice of America campus in West Chester Twp. — are “phenomenally important,” said Crawford, adding Miami University’s main campus in Oxford is closely tied to its regionals.
Miami Middletown enrolls 2,000 students and Hamilton’s campus has 3,200 students.
“We both (main campus and regionals) offer distinctive missions in parts of each campus but we also have a lot of commonality. On their distinctiveness, the regionals give open access to students, they give practical degrees and they are also so embedded in the community,” Crawford said.
“And as one (university organization) we all value the liberal arts core and we do a lot with integrated education and we’re so dedicated to learning and everyone receives a Miami degree,” Crawford said.
MORE: Miami Middletown shows many that college is not out of reach
Ohio Senator Bill Coley, R-Liberty Twp. — a long-time advocate for K-12 and post-secondary education — told the audience of invited guests that Middletown was a pre-internet version of distance learning, allowing students more access to a college education.
When Miami Middletown opened 50 years ago it “was the original distance learning facility,” he said.
“This was the original idea of spreading learning,” Coley said.
According to Miami officials, 97.5 percent of regional graduates from the 2014-2015 school year were employed or furthering their education.
And 87 percent of regional graduates “plan to live in Ohio and contribute to regional development,” according to school officials.
That’s important, said Coley, because “we’re trying to make it so Miami graduates stay in Ohio … and we want the ones who left to come back. That’s what grows our economy.”
Middletown Mayor Larry Mulligan Jr. said the positives of the Butler County city’s Miami regional campus are many.
“Middletown benefits from the student body and the school’s faculty who are very engaged in our community. And the regional campus offers access to a post-secondary education that is reasonable and affordable,” he said.