Science lovers rejoice – Science Friday is coming to Miami University

Renate and I are so excited about the second semester, and especially about one of the signature events we are bringing to the Oxford campus – the popular public radio show Science Friday. We are both physicists. We love the fundamental question, the intrigue of a hypothesis and the revelation of a conclusion. For science lovers like us around the world, it doesn’t get much bigger than Science Friday.

On April 21 at 7:30 p.m., host Ira Flatow and the Science Friday crew will host a special live performance in Hall Auditorium. Tickets go on sale Monday, Feb. 12, to the Miami family, and Feb. 15 to the general public. Visit http://www.miamioh.edu/sciencefriday/ to learn more and to purchase tickets.

Maybe you’re one of those people with a cartoonish stereotype of a scientist – wild eyes and overgrown, disheveled hair, sitting alone in a white lab coat behind a microscope. That’s not what you’ll hear on Science Friday, and see at this special show at Miami. These are people with a passion for learning, a big sense of wonder and a sharp eye on the world around them. They have the courage to challenge the accepted answers. They design creative experiments carefully and carry them out thoroughly. They are tenacious when the work grows tedious, and humble when their ideas don’t work out.

Host Ira Flatow has a degree in engineering, but is known worldwide as a science correspondent and journalist. He has been broadcasting science since 1970 – the year of the first Earth Day. He started Science Friday on NPR in 1991. The show is on 374 public radio stations with 1.8 million listeners every week. He’s also played himself on another hit show, The Big Bang Theory.

Science Friday is one of the best ways to promote science to a mass audience. In April, that message will emanate from Miami University. The live show will feature several Miami University researchers in a fun and engaging format. Let’s fill Hall Auditorium and show them how much Miami University loves science. You can bet Renate and I will be there!

Seven trends for higher education in 2018: How does Miami look?

We all know that higher education is changing dramatically. I would encourage you to read this recent article from “Inside Higher Ed,” outlining seven trends facing higher education in 2018. I found it interesting and wanted to offer you a few thoughts on how Miami is responding and will respond in the future.

First – I believe that at Miami, we are working from a strong position. We offer an immersive undergraduate experience with access to outstanding faculty and excellent research. Our students work side-by-side with our faculty, making our education highly personalized and distinctive. We offer access through regional campuses in Hamilton and Middletown and the VOA Learning Center in West Chester. Miami is routinely ranked among the top public universities nationally for our commitment to teaching, and for preparing our graduates for future success in careers or post-graduate education. Our commitment to curriculum that reaches across disciplines will pay dividends in the future. These factors continue to give us a significant edge in higher education.

Second – We will continue to invest in the things that are important. We have taken difficult steps in the last decade to become more efficient. Our Board of Trustees is crystal-clear about our priorities to prepare our students for the workforce, create jobs and investment in Ohio, increase access, attract the best and brightest, and place our graduates in top graduate and professional schools. That is where we will focus our resources. Academic enrichment and scholarships will be the focus of our investments and campaigns.

Third – We are dedicated to diversity and inclusive excellence, not as an isolated program but as a value that permeates everything we do. We want Miami University campuses to be places where everyone can fulfill their potential – period. This spring, I have charged a working group led by Professor Rodney Coates to focus on an inclusive student experience – how we leverage our diversity, promote and sustain inclusion, and create the most welcoming, barrier-free environment. Also this spring, we will communicate results from our campus climate survey and how we will use these results to enhance our university climate. We will have more information on those initiatives later in the spring semester.

Fourth – Keeping our campuses safe is not negotiable. It is paramount. We need to accept the fact that high-risk drinking, with its associated unsafe and unhealthy outcomes, is a threat to a safe and secure campus. Miami University does not condone it. We are focused on creative approaches we have developed internally as well as best practices that have demonstrated success at other institutions, and we will continue to emphasize to students the importance of making smart and healthy choices.

Comments? Feel free to respond on Twitter @PresGreg or at president@MiamiOH.edu.

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.

Greg:
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.

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,

Greg

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.

Big problems require the fusion of the liberal arts with science, technology

Much attention is rightly given to the ways that science and technology can help solve big challenges in our time, from human health to energy and the environment. Yet, science and technology alone cannot solve the problems of political polarization, economic oppression, or mistrust and misunderstanding among human beings. Global trends have exacerbated these problems, as we see around us every day in inflammatory rhetoric, racial and religious bigotry, and class-based hostility and resentment.

For holistic solutions, we need the liberal arts, which require thoughtfulness and mutual understanding achieved through openness, respect, empathy, inclusion, and civil discourse – in short, the virtues and values instilled through a liberal arts education. Liberal arts in complement to science and technology creates holistic approaches to problems.

Consider: The medical humanities melds the complexity of hard science with humanistic qualities to improve healing and outcomes through compassionate care; medical schools are now incorporating humanities components – including literature and sociology – into entrance exams and medical education; powerful results have been seen from music and art therapies on special needs and aging populations.

Problem solving dialogue requires respect, not agreement

The dynamism of the modern world drives us to pay more attention to outcomes, a feature of “design thinking” that starts with empathy and considers a wide array of innovative possibilities and syntheses, with a view towards a better world. Achieving solutions requires welcoming insights and perspectives from people of different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences – the problems are too big and too complex to exclude ideas from those who seek to contribute. Such reasoned, evidence-based dialogue requires respect, not agreement. As Aristotle said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

The liberal arts prepare us for precisely this kind of engagement. Knowledge of history, sociology, and anthropology can foster empathy for others by boosting our understanding of their experience. Encounters with poetry, fiction, art, and other imaginative works can elevate our insight into the shared human condition as well as its unique expressions. Exposure to philosophy can provide a framework for structuring and communicating a clear, coherent worldview that remains open to new information and insights from others.

In synergy with design thinking, innovation, and inclusive excellence, a liberal arts foundation energizes people with passion and a capacity to fashion a more humane future.

Liberal arts universities position graduates to address the challenges of our time

Universities such as Miami University with deep roots in the liberal arts have always borne fruit in commitment to service, social justice, and building a better future for individuals and society as a whole. Infusing all majors with a liberal arts core positions our graduates as leaders capable of addressing the challenges of our time with the courage and optimism brought on by broad-based knowledge and an ability to solve problems and communicate well. Adhering to liberal arts values – which at Miami are expressed in our Code of Love and Honor – helps them do so with empathy, compassion, respect, and integrity.

Miami’s focus on the liberal arts upholds the heart of university education since the first institutions were founded in Europe in the 12th century. That focus also equips Miami graduates to flourish in the evolving 21st-century environment, a globalized world where the traditional elements of critical thinking, rigorous debate, and intellectual virtues operate in synergy with contemporary competencies such as entrepreneurship, design thinking, globalization and inclusive excellence. The aim of the liberal arts education remains the same – to equip individuals for full participation in society as free, responsible, engaged citizens and human beings.

In contrast to the geographically constrained and rather homogeneous milieu of the original universities, ever-accelerating advances in technology, communication, and transportation provide instant contact with others around the globe. Presumptions of static permanence have yielded to a dynamic, evolutionary understanding of life that expects the future to look different from the past. Presumptions of hierarchical status and superiority for particular groups have yielded to a recognition of human equality with increasingly democratic and inclusive approaches that provide more opportunity for individuals to participate in the shaping of society.

In more practical terms, demographic shifts signify that within a generation there will be no majority ethnic group in the United States. Thus, the importance of a liberal arts education, already vital today, will increase in the future as we strive to understand each other more fully.

From a more personal perspective, in high school I was a math and ‘hard science’ kid, interested only in being a physicist. I gave little thought to the humanities. In college, my main focus never changed, but with more exposure to humanities courses, my breadth of knowledge transformed me. I entered wanting nothing more than to be a physicist. I graduated with a better understanding of what it means to be human.