Kaila Frisone, For The Miami Student

President David Hodge and his wife, Valerie, pose for a picture outside their home at Lewis Place on High St.reet. The couple is expecting a grandchild. (Jalen Walker | The Miami Student)

Among the array of administration initiatives David Hodge is establishing this year, the 21st president of Miami University has exciting personal news to share: he is going to be a grandpa.

President Hodge and his wife Valerie Hodge are expecting their first grandchild in March 2014.

Valerie said their son Gene and his wife will celebrate six years of marriage in November. Gene is a construction executive and his wife is a reference librarian. They currently reside near Denver, Colo.

Both David and Valerie Hodge said they are very excited to become grandparents.

Meanwhile, their daughter Meriem Hodge is living at home in Oxford while finishing her dissertation for her doctoral program through the University of Georgia.

Though the expectation of a grandchild is hard to beat, David Hodge also said he was excited about some of the new initiatives on campus, such as the “I Am Miami” initiative this year. He said it is a way for Miami students to come together and live up to these common values.

President Hodge explained that Miami has a culture of expectations created and sustained by the students. He said it is a highly competitive, but also very collaborative environment.

Using the Armstrong Student Center as an example, President Hodge said the university must be dedicated to seizing opportunities to make the academic and co-curricular experience at Miami increasingly special.

Of all the events this year, Valerie Hodge said she is most excited for this grand opening.

“I know everyone is trying to imagine how fantastic it’s going to be, but it is just beyond anything you can imagine,” she said.

President Hodge agreed with his wife, saying the project will be transformative for students. He said he is eager for the opportunity the new building presents to students and student organizations to unite in a common space.

“I’ve come to understand in the deepest way how the whole student experience is so critical to Miami – not just for the experience itself, but I really believe that it contributes to the success of our graduates,” President Hodge said.

While many projects are occurring on campus, both President Hodge and his wife are active in the Oxford community. Valerie Hodge has worked with the Oxford Community Foundation for seven years. She is a board member for this foundation that gives out money to serve identified needs in the Oxford community.

President Hodge has also worked to foster collaboration between the university and the community to mutually promote each other.

“I’ve been disappointed in the past that you walk Uptown and you often don’t see that Miami pride,” he said.

Because they are so involved in the community, the Hodges said they thought the rumor floating around that they had moved out of their home at Lewis Place on High Street was absurd.

“It’s remarkable – we keep hearing that we live in Cincinnati or other places and we’re befuddled as to how to explain that,” David Hodge said.

President Hodge also said he wanted to deny the rumor that he dislikes students involved in Greek life in light of issues in past years.

“Another rumor is that I hate Greeks, and that is absolutely positively not true,” President Hodge said.

He said it is to be expected that feelings of frustration and disappointment will arise when members of the Greek community make poor decisions. However, he also said the ideals and lasting friendships in the Greek community are admirable.

“We have always said our goal is to be a model Greek system for people across the country,” President Hodge said. “We want people to say ‘Miami has it right – people live up to their values, they have a great time and have a strong philanthropy.'”

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