Miami University’s three regional campuses are now under the supervision of one dean.
The newly appointed dean, Michael G. Pratt, started oversight of the Miami University Hamilton, Middletown and Voice of America Learning Center campuses in July.
According to Pratt, the decision to combine the role of three separate campus deans into one was made after two reccommendations suggested the campuses would function “more efficiently and in a more coordinated manner” if they were under the management of a single dean.
Pratt is already familiar with Miami. He spent his first year in school at the Middletown campus before relocating to the Oxford campus to finish his bachelor’s degree.
“I’ve sort of had, from several different directions, an understanding of how people proceed through a university system in a non-traditional way,” Pratt said.
It’s through his personal and professional experience that Pratt said he is able to relate to the traditional and non-traditional students on the regional campuses.
“The regional campuses provide a number of different pathways for a wide variety of students to achieve a degree that they want,” Pratt said. “And what we’re trying to do is make that system work in a way that is more student friendly and more efficient.”
Pratt said he already has a number of changes in mind for the regional campuses, mainly to standardize the procedures on all campuses.
“One of the things we’re doing is looking at the admissions and financial aid offices on all campuses and sort of the recruitment admissions enrollment procedures to standardize procedures that right now operate differently on different campuses,” Pratt said.
This way no matter what campus a student is on, he or she will find the same answers to their questions, Pratt said.
Pratt said Miami is also looking to create a “region wide marketing structure,” which will begin recruiting more students for the spring semester.
Improvements will also be made to the academic communication between campuses, Pratt said. This includes finding ways to provide better scheduling opportunities for students on all campuses. Students will be able to take classes on different campuses depending on the courses and course times that best suit them and their schedules. This is especially pertinent to students who are part-time or working during the day and are limited to when they can take classes, Pratt said.
Cathy Bishop-Clark, associate dean of the Middletown campus, said these changes will occur slowly.
“I think the change is going to be more incremental rather than instantaneous,” Bishop-Clark said.
“The process of creating a regional system out of three different sites, two of which have operated independently for almost 40 years, is going to take time,” Pratt said.
So far, according to Bishop-Clark, the regional campus communities have been very receptive to the change.
“I think overall it’s been very positive and Dean Pratt has come in with a lot of good ideas and I think that fresh perspective is very important to have,” Bishop-Clark said.
According to Pratt, he has been doing his best to spread his time evenly between all the regional campuses.
So far, it’s been a positive experience for him as well.
“For me that’s been fun — to get to see how the campuses work and meet the people,” Pratt said.
But it’s not just the campuses Pratt is becoming acquainted with.
“Those regional campuses have strong ties to their communities, so I’m sort of becoming involved with all the communities as well,” Pratt said.