Adam Giffi, Senior Staff Writer

The results are in on the Strategic Priorities Task Force (SPT). The university senate met Nov. 22 to hear President David Hodge’s final word on the report.

The original report included a total of 35 recommendations designed with the goal of placing Miami University in an increasingly competitive position in the future. According to Hodge, all of these recommendations have been accepted. 

Some tweaking has been done on the report, however.  Four of the existing recommendations have been adjusted and one new recommendation has been added.

“The first is that the scholarship recommendation called for $40 million over the next five years of new scholarship money,” Hodge said. “That is being increased to $50 million.”

Hodge said scholarships need to be a priority for the university. He said a major campaign for raising money for these scholarships is being prepared and will be launched later this academic school year. Hodge said athletic scholarships are not included in the recommendation.

Another adjustment being made is to the recommendation on the faculty retire/rehire policy. This recommendation has been adjusted to find a way to reduce costs while still leaving some retirement incentives.

The third adjustment was made to the budget reduction recommendation proposed for Intercollegiate Athletics (ICA).

“The task force report called for a 3 percent per year reduction in total budget, which was considerably larger than any other reduction,” Hodge said. “I will be recommending that 2 percent per year reduction on the university subsidy for this activity.”

Hodge said this means the university support of ICA will still be decreasing but it will be declining at a rate that matches other decreases recommended in the report.

SPT also suggested a study group to look at the divisional structure of the university.

“I don’t really think we are going to do anything major about restructuring the divisions,” Hodge said. “On the other hand, what we really must do a better job of is to foster more interdisciplinary teaching and research throughout the university.” 

The new addition to the recommendations is designed to stimulate a focus on the retention and graduation of students. Hodge said increasing these rates will generate more revenue for the university, further build a nationwide reputation of academic success and create a better environment for all students.  He said this will entail looking at things that prompt students to transfer.

“One of the challenges we have is that we have pretty severe penalties for bad grades,” Hodge said. “Students that make a mistake as we try to push them out of their comfort zone need to be able to recover from that.”

Hodge said adjusting this policy could result in a process for replacing a grade so a bad mark will not necessarily be permanent. Overall, the senate seemed to feel ensuring retention should be a priority of all Miami staff. Marla McKinney, an administrative assistant in University Advancement, verbalized this sentiment to the senate.

“I think we can all agree that we are all accountable for each and every student,” McKinney said.

Hodge will make the changes official and set the implementation plan into motion at the board of trustees meeting Dec. 10.

“This is not about any one person’s agenda, this is about the university’s agenda,” Hodge said. “We have to collectively figure out how to make this stuff work.”  

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