EducationCounsel recommendations considered 

By Emily Williams, Managing Editor

Miami University is making steps to implement recommendations from EducationCounsel, an education consulting firm that visited Miami’s campus last April.

The firm interviewed about 200 students, faculty, administrators, athletic coaches and staff about their experiences related to diversity and inclusion at the university and asked them for ideas on how Miami could improve.

Based on those interviews, as well as additional research about Miami’s population and practices, EducationCounsel provided the university with a document of their findings and recommended actions. The report was also informed by Miami’s 2020 Plan and the firm’s experience with diversity and inclusion issues nationally and with similar institutions.

“Miami University is a unique, undergraduate-focused public institution at an important moment in its history,” the report states.

As the admissions process becomes more selective and more out-of-state students continue to enroll, the university has expressed its commitment to diversity, but, according to the EducationCounsel’s interviews, “…many stakeholders on Miami’s campus believe that Miami has yet to achieve these goals fully…”

In response to the report, the university will be taking three immediate steps. President Crawford will be conducting a presidential listening tour, a process which he started upon his arrival in July and will continue throughout the semester.

The report, citing similar actions taken by presidents at James Madison University and the University of Florida, explained that the listening tour would provide the foundation of knowledge necessary to take future actions and would also demonstrate Crawford’s commitment to making significant steps toward change.

Miami will also be establishing a clear policy on diversity and inclusion. According to the EducationCounsel’s report, the university must provide a statement of its vision for and commitment to diversity and inclusion before it can meet its goals in those areas.

The report warned that, although linked, diversity and inclusion are two unique concepts — a distinction which must be clear in the statement.

Finally, a new organization, the President’s Coordinating Council on Inclusive Excellence, will be formed in response to the report’s call for an “empowered, multidisciplinary team.” The first mission of the group will be to establish a clear diversity policy statement.

According to Crawford, this process will also involve evaluating the role the existing Council on Diversity and Inclusion (CODI) will continue to play. The responsibility of the Council is to advise the president and the provost on matters involving diversity.

An addition to the three suggestions which Miami is adopting immediately, EducationCounsel recommended committing to a sustained process, starting with a reassessment of Miami’s current policies. The firms also suggested clearly defining what “success” means in terms of diversity and inclusion and establishing a detailed measurement system.

Other recommendations included improving the alignment of diversity and inclusion strategies across functions, offices and divisions.

“…there does not appear to be a common understanding of Miami’s diversity and inclusion goals or common sense of purpose toward achieving them,” the report stated.

Several recurring themes arose during the firm’s interviews, one of which was a possible “identity crisis.” According to the report, some interviewees described a tension between Miami’s traditions and its recent efforts to focus on diversity.

In an email to the student body, faculty and staff on Wednesday, President Crawford shared the full EducationCounsel report. The report has not been studied in depth, Crawford said, but he wanted to share the information immediately “in the interest of openness and transparency.”

“Moving forward, it’s vitally important that all be offered a voice, and there will be ample opportunity for everyone to be heard; we encourage you to express yourself and to participate,” Crawford said.