Reflections on the Miami Code of Love and Honor – Line 3

I respect … the dignity, rights, and property of others and their right to hold and express disparate beliefs.

Our Miami community is embedded in a nation “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all (men) are created equal,” as Lincoln said, referring to the Declaration of Independence. Our national motto is “E pluribus unum” – from many, one. American history can be understood in one sense as an effort to make that assertion of human equality a reality for more and more people and groups, despite many failures and false starts. That goal of recognizing full human equality is fundamental to all of our activities on our campuses.

Recognizing our equality with others – and their equality with us – empowers us to practice the respect that this Code requires. The list of what we respect is comprehensive, from physical property to political opinions. Their dignity is no less than mine. Their rights are as non-negotiable as mine. Their property is theirs just as mine is mine. They have as much right to share their beliefs and opinions as I do. This inclusive excellence begins with empathy and finds its fulfillment in union.

All of this means that equality is far from a glib abstraction or content-free platitude. Rather, human equality is the organizing principle of authentic human society, whether the United States or the Miami University community. It resists discrimination, exclusion, bigotry, and the oppressive structures that treat others as inferiors or second-class citizens. Society guarantees its members opportunity to participate in its government and access to its goods. The public square is open to all the public. As the Myaamia language puts it, kakapaaci iišinaakosiyankwi – “we are diverse.” When we include others, we are included; when we welcome others, we are welcomed; when we listen to others, we are heard.

Equality and dignity empower us to engage each other with the same respect and openness. We do not dismiss others’ ideas or beliefs simply because they are different from ours, just as we would not steal or damage others’ property because they are different from us. This does not mean that we must accept every belief, but we must respect the right to hold and express the belief. Such openness gives us the opportunity to examine the content of ideas that we have not considered before. We can evaluate the validity of the concepts without attacking the person who holds them; this is the basis of civil discourse. Often, we may discover that the free exchange can stimulate new directions, syntheses, and synergies.

This respect for others that we honor as Miamians empowers us to live in a safe, open, innovative, dialogical community of learning where we can practice the virtues we will need for success throughout career and life. This has always been our commitment – our alma mater asserts that Miami has “embraced the generation, men and women, young and old; of all races, from all nations.” The world where we live needs such models of life based on equality, respect, and dignity.

In appreciation of Western College

Miami University’s commitment to international engagement, social justice, and diversity draws on the deep roots of Western College for Women that became part of our family through the establishment of the Western College Alumnae Association more than 40 years ago. In the past year, I have experienced the ongoing benefits of collaboration and the honor of being associated with that courageous institution and its loyal, generous, and rightly proud Western College Alumnae Association.

When it comes to international engagement, Western was far ahead of its time. In the mid-1950s, the college was recruiting international students and faculty, offering international travel seminars for students, and emphasizing global awareness and cultural studies in its courses. That’s about 30 years before “globalization” became a buzzword in business, politics, sociology, and culture.

The wonderful Western College Legacy Circle that we dedicated this summer, where the institution’s history is permanently etched, highlights this dimension with a compass design that reaches out in all directions. Our own international efforts, reaching out into the world and bringing the world to Oxford, owe much to this pioneering legacy.

At home, Western was again ahead of its time. Like many people, I knew of Western’s pivotal role in Freedom Summer, when about 800 people – including the martyred civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner – gathered for two weeks on campus for training to empower African-Americans in the Jim Crow South. What an unforgettable experience this summer to travel to Philadelphia, Mississippi, and receive the 2017 Civil Rights and Social Justice award from the National Civil Rights Conference with Western alumna Fran Hoffman while our own Ann Elizabeth Armstrong received an individual award for her community engagement efforts related to Freedom Summer. That memory inspires us in our time to uphold social justice and inclusion, recognizing the rights and dignity of every person as our Code of Love and Honor declares.

For more than a century after Western was founded, this open, inclusive, innovative, welcoming campus stood as a distinct institution alongside Miami, separated only by Patterson Avenue. Today we are enriched by the synergies, collaborations, and partnership over the years, and we look forward to how our union and our shared values will advance society far into the future.

We flourish following the Code

A thoughtful Miami undergraduate asked me the other day, if I could expand the Code of Love and Honor, what would I add?

I’d never considered that, and the question provided an opportunity for deep reflection. It gave me more appreciation and gratitude for the Code – and encouraged me to review its strength and the values, morals, and character it promotes.

Following the Code fortifies the individual. It encourages us to stand for something – “honesty, integrity, and the importance of moral conduct,” “good judgment and … personal responsibility.” It provides a foundation of “character and intellect” and a purpose – “to make the world a better place.”

Just as importantly, under the Code, the Miami community not only has a clear set of values; we act on them. It’s not sufficient to hold true opinions or right ideas without putting them into practice, and the Code calls us to live what we believe. It’s also not sufficient to perform an occasional good deed without a larger framework that will empower us to sustain a consistent good life, and the Code provides that structure as well.

Following the Code promotes positive relationships. This starts with being open-minded with the people around us – respecting, for example, “the dignity, rights, and property of others and their right to hold and express disparate beliefs” – but it doesn’t end there.

Following the Code means that our community will actively “welcome a diversity of people, ideas, and experiences” and support and care for fellow Miamians, a way to approach all relationships throughout life. This goes beyond tolerance and a distant live-and-let-live stance to real inclusion and meaningful connection.

The Code of Love and Honor is not a list of directives or a catalog of cases and consequences. It is a personal and individual commitment, every statement beginning with “I.”

As I reflected on the Code, I realized that it doesn’t need to be amended or extended as new situations arise because when we follow it, we are equipped to face whatever circumstances we might encounter. The effect of modeling the Code is “a deep sense of accomplishment” (without being conspicuous, of course) and gratitude for the relationships with “those who helped me earn the joy and privilege of saying, ‘To think that in such a place, I led such a life.’”

The undergraduate who asked me about the Code was, in fact, practicing Love and Honor.

He was thinking seriously about life and about our Miami community. He was willing to engage me rather than just wondering what I might think. That act of openness inspired me to reflect more deeply about our lives, too. It shows that the Code of Love and Honor provides the guidance we need to flourish in community.

This is what Love and Honor looks like

Miami University Yager Stadium - Student Section 2017

Miami University Yager Stadium Student Section 2017

Miami University Students:

This is what Love and Honor looks like. I saw it Saturday night in the student section of Yager Stadium; the multitude of students who packed the stands were magnified by a unity beyond measure. Thank you to every Miami student who turned out to show our spirit. Your presence and support mean so much to so many; to the team that played their hearts out; to the band, from which Love and Honor resounded in our fight song; to Swoop and the cheer squad that channeled our energy; to the dance team that dazzled us; to the Glee Club that led our National Anthem; to the College of Creative Arts faculty; to the ushers, staff and crew that create an exceptional game day experience; to the memory of Terry Graves ’67; to the many others on hand who received your outpouring of Love and Honor; and to Renate and me. We talk a lot about meaningful connections, and one was made on Saturday night through the enthusiasm, the noise, and the spirit of Love and Honor.

These gatherings are the family outings of the whole Miami family. Athletics, performances, plays, competitions, presentations, service projects, and the many other events we all enjoy together as One Miami. They come with the win-win of supporting others and having a good time ourselves. They express and elevate our thriving community of Love and Honor. They build our friendship, our camaraderie, our generosity, and our care for fellow Miamians. They happen pretty much every day, sometimes with many opportunities in the same evening. Our Miami Experience is richer when we attend as many of them as we can.

Renate and I love attending Miami events because we are grateful to be part of such a family, we admire the gifts of our fellow Miamians, we are inspired by your energy and optimism, and we enjoy your company. They are at the heart of the marvel of Miami: “To think that in such a place I led such a life.” We hope to see you often this semester, and, thank you so much for showing your RedHawk spirit on Saturday night. You’re the best!

Comments shared at the Memorial Service for Coach Ara Parseghian (’49)

August 6, 2017
Greg and Renate Crawford

Greg Crawford:
When I told Coach Ara about the opportunity to become president of Miami University last year, he responded: “I guess there’s only one place I’d let you go.” He had often told me about Miami in the years we worked together in the fight against Niemann-Pick disease Type-C (NPC). It’s where he met Katie, Class of 1950 – we call such marriages a Miami Merger. He played football at Miami, he earned a bachelor’s and a master’s in education, he became head football coach, he served on the board of trustees. More than that, he was a living example of Miami’s deepest virtues and values extolled in our alma mater, our motto, and our legendary greeting.

Our alma mater at Miami says our alumni are “sturdy hearted, pure of soul.” That’s Coach.

Our motto is Prodesse Quam Conspici, a Latin phrase that means “to achieve without becoming conspicuous.” That’s Coach.

Our deepest values are expressed in the phrase “Love and Honor.” That’s Coach.

Coach was sturdy in his determination to defeat NPC, unwavering even after his grandchildren succumbed to the disease, with the pure motive to help NPC children and families. When he was autographing a football, Coach would often sign “Best wish” – not wishes plural, but just one – because it’s the best one. I know that his best wish was a cure for NPC.

Coach achieved without being conspicuous, never calling attention to himself. Like every other boy growing up in Ohio in the 1970s, I dreamed of playing for Ara Parseghian. He was larger than life. When I wound up on his team fighting NPC, I marveled at his humility and magnanimity. You would never guess that this was the legendary coach with two national championships. He was a man who devoted his attention as well as his achievements to the service of others. When he was being honored by the March of Dimes soon after his grandchildren received their NPC diagnosis, he said, “My greatest achievement, I like to think, is maybe ahead of me.”

Coach demonstrated his Love and Honor with intense loyalty to his family – he was Katie’s husband; Mike and Karan and Kristan’s dad; a grandfather and a great-grandfather. He was loyal to his players, his alma mater, his friends, and the families suffering with NPC who needed his support. His famous lesson about unity and loyalty, reflecting Love and Honor, is my favorite quote: “You know what it takes to win. Just look at my fist. When I make a fist, it’s strong and you can’t tear it apart. As long as there’s unity, there’s strength.”

Love and Honor were shown to him. I will never forget that day last October when he and Katie landed in the little old Oxford airport on RedHawk One. Sixty years after Coach left, he was still a legend at Miami, and the student-athletes – not just football players – all lined up along the taxiway to welcome him with Love and Honor.

When I was here at Notre Dame, I visited Coach’s statue near the stadium countless times for inspiration when I was facing a difficult challenge – I found comfort passing by that famous statue. Fortunately for me, we have a statue of Ara in our Cradle of Coaches at Miami – kneeling down, that fist is open in what looks like a peace sign, catching a moment when he was calling a play from the sidelines.

One of my first acts at Miami University was to award the President’s Medal. As I read through the high standards – someone who truly exemplified Love and Honor – there was no doubt who would receive my first one. There is no greater model than Coach Ara of living Miami’s values for our students, our faculty, our staff, and our alumni. Or for me.

Renate Crawford:
On our daily runs, Greg and I often run the bleachers at Yager Stadium, passing the Cradle of Coaches where Ara’s statue proudly stands. We are glad he will forever be watching over our Miami family.

Being at Miami, we have seen the campus culture of Love and Honor that helps explain Coach’s remarkable life, his virtuous character, and his extraordinary service. All of us can look to his example for a model and inspiration of how to express Love and Honor in our family, our career, and our life to make a positive impact on others.

Coach is Greg’s favorite; always was and always will be. He is mine, too. Even if I had trouble following his football analogies, one thing is clear – what he has done for all of those mothers whose children suffer from NPC. He gave them courage, he gave them hope, he gave them optimism. He gave researchers the confidence to persevere. You are our hero, Coach, and the hero of all those NPC families and children. Watch over us from above, and call that last play that gets your NPC team over the goal line to the championship of a cure – a play call that will surely be a sign of healing and peace. We are your grateful legacy.

On behalf of a grateful Miami University, on behalf of our athletic director David Sayler, head football coach Chuck Martin, board chair Mark Ridenour, and the entire Miami family, I say thank you, Coach. We will miss you dearly. You will forever be our coach. You will forever be my coach.

Finding Your Voice

I was recently asked to speak to Hamilton High School students on the topic “Finding Your Voice.” I enjoy interacting with high school students, so after eagerly accepting the invitation, I started wondering what finding your voice really means. Is it about me? Is it about others? How do they use their voice for others? Answering these questions was an energizing opportunity for reflection.

As Miami president, it seemed that reflecting on “How Miami students find their voice” would be most relatable to students trying to decide about college and where the rest of their future would begin. My answer is that, no matter their major, every student is helped in finding their voice through a comprehensive liberal arts education at Miami, which provides a foundation that helps prepare them no matter what path in life they take.

The term “liberal arts” comes from the Latin word liber, meaning “free, unrestricted,” and an emphasis on them in learning introduces our student to the ideas and actions of human beings throughout history and across the world. In different times and places, leaders and thinkers have responded to the world around them through philosophy, literature, poetry, music, and art. This includes the voices of oppressed peoples whose messages also inspire us. They have reported the events of their time through history, elevated their ability to communicate through languages, and sought to understand the human community through political science, anthropology, and sociology. By reflecting upon this wealth of wisdom, examples, and, in some cases, cautionary tales in the liberal arts, the student learns from many voices from the past and from others experiencing their own learning journey, as they are invited to bring their own voice to join many conversations. Finding that voice depends on the kind of character, the capacity for critical thinking, and the commitment to continuous learning that they develop.

Going a step further, I realized that Miami students, alumni, faculty, and staff don’t just find their voice – they use it for others. Their voice conveys compassion, demands justice, and creates change. They empower others to add their own voices to the conversation.

It’s everywhere you look.

Daryl Baldwin is literally revitalizing the voice of the Myaamia language at the Myaamia Center. Ann Elizabeth Armstrong is bringing the strong voices of our Freedom Summer past to new generations with her interactive walking tour and app, and she gave voice to the loss of black lives by directing “Every 28 Hours,” one-minute plays last fall. The Hamilton campus Student Government Association elevated the tone of our voice with Project Civility, which has spread to all our campuses and beyond. Armstrong Student Center building services coordinator Jim Rhodes gives voice to others suffering with ALS by continuing his courageous service and being open about his condition. “Dear World” allowed us to express our voices on our skin. And our students participate in a multitude of service projects during spring break, such as the trips to Oklahoma, the Dominican Republic, Montenegro, and Panama City as well as local connections in Hamilton and Oxford, all dedicated to helping others.

We find our voice by listening to others wherever we encounter them — in class, on campus, during trips, through service learning, co-curricular experiences, student organizations and so much more. We learn to use our voice to empower others to speak.

Every person has something to contribute to others. Being able to communicate your ideas and perspectives – finding your voice – is vital for your contribution to have the most impact. The liberal arts provide a way for finding that voice through exposure to others. They teach us how to develop our character. They provide abundant material for critical thinking, decision-making, communication, and action. The habits of study, virtue, and thought continue throughout life – finding our voice, unlike finding a lost cellphone, is not an event with a finish line but an ongoing evolution that ensures we can speak effectively in the midst of changing circumstances.

Reflections on the Miami Code of Love and Honor – Line 2

This blog series shares my personal reflections on each line of Miami’s Code of Love and Honor, a statement of the core values at Miami to which we aspire.

Line 2:
I stand …
for honesty, integrity, and the importance of moral conduct.

Intelligence, technical skills, and field expertise are important, but not adequate, for meaningful success in career and life. What a person is – the kind of character they form and express – establishes the foundation for what a person does. Without a habitual pattern of moral conduct, the person will lack the temperament, strength, and resilience required for true achievement. In particular, without honesty and integrity, they will lack the vital elements of trust, respect, and collaboration.

Because these intangibles are not easy to measure and certify in the way academic degrees and skills are, they do not show up on a person’s résumé. Virtuous people are not likely to brag about their honesty and integrity, much less their humility – to them, these are ordinary, baseline ways of being. As our motto on the Miami University seal declares, we seek to achieve rather than to be conspicuous. Employers know these qualities are indispensable for the success of their organization, and they will prize Miami graduates whose liberal arts education grounds them in virtues and values.

I have served on many hiring committees in the academy during my career, and I know that moral character, especially integrity, is the No. 1 quality that people expect in their colleagues and leaders. It’s more important than educational background, work experience, publications, conference talks, grants received, professional honors, or any other item that might rank high in a curriculum vitae.

Part of the reason for this focus, I believe, is the impact a person’s moral character has on the community where they live, especially when they lead. Personal values and core virtues strengthen both the individual and the community, in an upward spiral where individual contributions elevate the group while the group’s healthy functioning uplifts the individual. Those human relationships depend on trust that is impossible without honesty and integrity.

The habitual practice of honesty and integrity is as vital for the life and education of a student as it is for the life and career of a graduate. Moral life begins long before commencement. The Miami community provides a foundation for education and interaction that fosters such a life, with respected scholars practicing integrity in their groundbreaking research, mentorship, and publications, servant leaders acting openly and transparently, and everyone alert to the importance of others’ success. In such an environment, each member naturally develops the personal habits of character and intellect that will continue to flourish for a lifetime.

Beyond the classroom, honesty and integrity are also necessary for the health of our human community. They must mark all of our dealings with each other, with our neighbors in the local community, and with every person we meet. The moral conduct that governs our interactions creates an environment where we all can flourish. This environment finds concrete expression not only in academic pursuits but in residence life, dining halls, playing fields, gyms and other venues where we encounter each other with respect and camaraderie.

Reflections on the Miami Code of Love and Honor – Line 1

Even before Renate and I arrived at Miami, we were impressed by the Code of Love and Honor. It is such a distinctive statement of values among public universities. Each line has a meaning that resonates to me, personally, and the rest of this semester I’ll post a short blog about each line. I welcome your thoughts about our Code, also, which can be found on our diversity and inclusion web page.

Line 1:
I believe that a liberal education is grounded in qualities of character and intellect.

A Miami University education is not a four-year proposition but a 40-year one. It prepares students for a successful career as well as a flourishing life. Miami is a community of scholarship, teaching, and learning that imparts knowledge and wisdom from an amazing and accomplished faculty, and dedicated, committed staff. But at our foundation, we are a community, rich with human connections structured for mutual support, growth in personal values and virtues, the ability to learn, and service to others.

Our commitment to liberal education requires this human dimension. We are not in the business of merely transferring data to students so they can absorb facts and figures. Instead, we aim to bring students into an experience of the wealth of human knowledge and understanding, which finds expression in a rewarding life for individuals and societies. That life does not start upon graduation – it is an integral part of a Miami education that begins on campus and lasts a lifetime.

Liberal education at universities emerged in the 12th century to equip people for meaningful and successful life as free citizens and human beings. Its founders understood that progress, both personal and social, results from knowledge about the natural world and the ideas and achievements of people across history. They also knew that gathering students into communities was a vital element of such an education. Those principles remain relevant for the 21st century, even as dynamic progress requires attention to emerging competencies such as design thinking, emotional intelligence, entrepreneurialism and inclusive excellence.

At Miami, our grounding in these time-tested principles equips students for a dynamic synergy that accelerates learning and growth. With the Global Miami Plan at our core, we equip students for both lives and careers with high impact on the rapidly-changing world they will enter.

The intellectual and character virtues and values are not abstractions to Miamians. Critical thinking is exercised in the analysis of texts, faculty mentorship, and in-depth examination of issues. Perseverance is exercised in the arduous work of research and learning. Communication and dissemination are exercised in the production of publications and presentations. Wonder is exercised in the engagement with new questions and novel ideas. Openness and respect are exercised in dialogue.

Our goal is to position each student as an active participant in the community, respected as the agents of their own education, and expected to add their own contributions. Inspired by our faculty, students are creators of knowledge, not just absorbers of it. They learn to collaborate with others, including their professors and classmates, in teams where diverse insights are welcome. Growth in both character and intellect is accelerated by such relationships and interactions.

The Privilege of Voting – A First for Many Students

Tomorrow is Election Day, the great opportunity for all of us as citizens to participate directly in the choice of who is going to govern us, from the President of the United States down to our local officials. For many of you, this may be the first time you have had the opportunity to vote – the right has been guaranteed to anyone 18 or older by Constitutional amendment since 1971.

One great beauty of the American system is that your vote is your own. No one can tell you how to vote. No one has the right to know how you voted. You can broadcast your choice enthusiastically, or you can keep it completely secret, and all your fellow citizens must respect your decision.

This is a good time to consider the value of your education in your practice of citizenship. Our emphasis on the liberal arts here at Miami is based on the understanding that this education is designed to help you succeed as free persons and citizens who participate in the organization of their own society. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”

If you are voting for the first time this year, welcome to a lifetime of civic engagement and sharing with your fellow citizens the great responsibility and privilege of shaping our common future together. Please keep in mind the value of your Miami education in helping you make those choices now and in the future.

Love and Honor,


Words Matter

Some of us grew up with the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” It was a line of defense on the childhood playground, a way to rebuff verbal bullies and avoid a fistfight. It is also false. Words can hurt – sometimes more deeply and with more long-lasting effect than sticks and stones. Words can also heal, inspire, uplift, and unite. Words matter. It’s hard to imagine anything with more impact on us as individuals and on our community than how we speak to and about each other.

At Miami, The Code of Love and Honor guides what we say and do, including respecting the dignity and rights of others and “their right to hold and express disparate beliefs.” Honoring that sentiment is vital for our growth, for problem-solving, for unity, and for our success. Insensitive or insolent words divide and weaken us. Mutually respectful dialogue helps us flourish.

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to witness the importance of words first-hand. At a demonstration near the Armstrong Student Center, words of division, bias, and intolerance were used by an outside group – words that could easily have caused hurt. What happened instead was that Miami students responded with words of their own – words of acceptance, tolerance, and support for those being targeted by protestors, their fellow Miamians. What a powerful gift many of them shared by living this line of the Code: “I demonstrate Love and Honor by supporting and caring for my fellow Miamians.”

Words are the way that human beings shape the world. We each seek coherence and meaning to the vast encounters we have in our environment. Language gives us the ability to understand, but it also puts us at risk of misunderstanding. Misunderstanding one word’s meaning can lead to completely misunderstanding everything a person may be trying to say.

As anyone who has studied a second language knows, most words don’t have only one meaning; they can be interpreted many ways. One challenging task of translation is selecting the most precise equivalent for the particular text from among an array of choices. A similar challenge sometimes arises in our conversations with each other. We might hear someone make a remark that is negative in our personal vocabulary, but we shouldn’t assume that’s what they intended to convey. That’s why dialogue is indispensable. Instead of reacting to a remark with “That’s not true,” dialogue starts with “What did you mean by that?” Through dialogue, we might discover how much we have in common despite the differences in word choice.

More than ever, we need such respectful engagement in the 21st century. We’re living in an increasingly diverse world, and we’ll have to learn to talk to each other to ensure that our differences are a source of creativity, delight, and enrichment rather than division and pain. We should, for example, respect the rights of groups to choose the names that are applied to them by others, and avoid using those names in any negative way.

Our commitment to Love and Honor, our history of standing up for human equality, and our virtues of openness, respect, honesty, and generosity put Miami in a strong position to model and convene civil discourse and fruitful conversations about the great challenges facing us as individuals and as a society. Knowing words can hurt, we can choose instead to use them to heal, elevate, and unite. We are One Miami.