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.

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.

The World Needs Love and Honor

Amid the excitement of moving to Oxford and beginning my first week as president of Miami, the flag at half-staff outside of Roudebush and the continuous news reports of lives cut short – club-goers in Orlando, black men in Minnesota and Louisiana, then police in Dallas, and more – was a somber reminder of the tragedy and turmoil that gripped the nation this summer.

A reflective walk for inspiration at the Freedom Summer Memorial on Miami’s Western campus renewed my hope. These times bear striking resemblance to the struggles of the 1960s. Just as those who gathered at Western in the summer of ’64 made a difference— a difference that still reverberates today — Miamians will continue to do so.

My fervent hope at Miami is for us to continuously reflect upon our values, advance our thinking to be all-inclusive, and seek unity as we progress towards a model of inclusive excellence. We must recognize the enormous power of diversity to boost creativity and innovation, to introduce fresh ideas for consideration, synthesis, and refinement.

We must aim to become a model of how to organize our community to reflect a healthy society that practices civil discourse.  We don’t have to agree, but we have to be able to have conversations where we truly listen, with respect and a genuine desire to understand.

The values summed up in our Code of Love and Honor immediately resonated with me, especially those tied to character, integrity, and respect for “the dignity of other persons”…and welcoming “a diversity of people, ideas, and experiences.” That commitment motivated our Freedom Summer predecessors, and it is fully alive today. It forms the starting point for any solution to divisions we face, here at Miami as well as globally.

In the short time I have been here, I’ve seen the power of a Miami education every day in students, faculty, staff, and alumni who are oriented toward social justice and who are passionate about making a difference. While we have much to do on our way to becoming a model for inclusive excellence, these dedicated Miamians can be our inspiration.

The flag at half-staff reminds us of how far we have to go – here at Miami and as we move on in the world – to achieve the justice and equality that we seek. The Freedom Summer Memorial reminds us that Miamians have the wisdom and understanding to remain focused on achieving justice and equality in the midst of upheaval, violence, and complexity; the empathy to inspire unity; and the courage to lead through these tumultuous times.

Love and Honor,


Group photo of attendees at the 2015 Freedom Summer Memorial conference and reunion

Attendees gather at the Freedom Summer Memorial for the 2015 conference and reunion.