State of Miami University academic and sports leadership

I’m in no mood to create a lengthy diatribe, nor do I have the energy. Will leave my overall sentiment at this: I have seen enough of the current leadership of MU (administratively, academically, and athletically). Bottom line is that I have much higher expectations for Miami than is being currently delivered on most every level. We’ve witnessed a noticeable decline in admissions selectivity, national rankings, and overall prestige. Culturally, I don’t feel that MU is currently doing a very good job of attracting top students. And, quite frankly, kids want to attend a school that is a winner. Yes, that means on the field. Seeing social media that celebrates players acting cool on the field during a game they LOST is embarrassing. Bottom line - I’m proud of my Miami degrees, and frankly expect more.

11 Likes

Indeed.

2 Likes

Maybe it’s my perception, but Miami does not seem to have the academic reputation it had when I attended nor when my daughter attended. If I am correct, that is disappointing.

I am certain that the football and basketball programs do not strike fear in our opponents that they once did. That is disappointing also.

2 Likes

I’ve felt for years that Crawford and Martin sit around remembering Notre Dame and whining about being stuck in Oxford. So below them, when they are dragging us down.
That’s my conspiracy theory anyhow.

4 Likes

A former university President whom I knew casually (not a Miami U President BTW) said that athletics should be the front porch of the University.
I also happened to be speaking with Christina Johnson, current President of THE (sorry about that) Ohio State University about a month ago about the impressive Medical School they have in Columbus (The Wexner Medical Center) and, even she acknowledged that when people think about Ohio State, football is the first thing the vast majority think of…not academics and not the Medical School, etc.

2 Likes

I attended the combined 50th Anniversary class reunion at 2022 Alumni Weekend. After sitting in on an almost hour long State of the University presentation by President Crawford, I have absolutely no doubt about his commitment to Miami, his passion for excellence, and his ability to lead our alma mater. His ability to package and market Miami is simply incredible.

Miami continues to make progress on numerous fronts, academically and physically. The new West Chester Center is up and running, giving us an important presence in the north Cincinnati suburbs and within the Queen City’s business community. New academic buildings are being built, residence halls have been refurbished and new programs are coming online. Athletics facilities - particularly football - have been upgraded. Funds are being raised at historic rates.

Living in the rural shadows of much larger OSU and UC sometimes hides the gem of an institution Miami is. Miami alumni have become somewhat self-deprecating as those two institutions continue to gain prominence. But our obsession with mediocre performance in football and basketball the past several years should not cause us to cast dispersions upon our entire university community.

I agree that we should make the same commitment to athletic excellence that we make to academics and facilities. Success on the gridiron might eventually bring College GameDay to Oxford, giving America a glimpse of what a special place it is. If we ever get to that point, I have no doubt that our turnout would not embarrass us on national TV.

I have lived in almost every corner of America and have spent much time on colleges campuses in every region. In many ways, I fear Miamians have no idea how envious people in numerous other states would be to have a university, campus and college town like Oxford in their state.

Love and Honor!

8 Likes

I love the pride and positive look at it @NESCACDAD . Hoping I am looking at cup half empty vs. cup half full. I will say the then next 5-10 years are critical and will be telling as to the impact current leadership is making. Needing further evidence….

2 Likes

I think this is completely offensive and belittles the work Crawford has done for the University. Want to know what companies recruit at Miami? Just about any company you’ve heard of. I helped with recruiting at a former company and they were concerned they didn’t have the same brand recognition at career fair as Amazon, Microsoft, the big 4, and others, so there was a conversation about if we’d continue to recruit in Oxford. Then we looked at our succession plan, and almost every single important position had a Miami grad as “next up”. We pretty immediately realized we needed to find a way to out-recruit other companies rather than give up. I left that company a couple years ago, but this was the outcome:

If you want to look at rankings that focus on citations, you’re not going to see Miami up on the list. If you want to focus on graduate outcomes, you will. That decision was made by Crawford and it’s been one of the best things for the student body. It says something that a company is willing to donate millions so that they can hopefully land 1-2 students they wouldn’t have each year.

Those are just the doors Crawford has helped open academically. I want to be clear, OSU is probably the only other university in the state that has the same types of companies recruiting there as Miami.

Now I can’t wait to see what he can do with an extra billion dollars. Oh wait, you mean no other university president has raised that much? You mean in order to raise that much, you’re on the road away from home constantly? Just absolutely belittling the work done.

I guess love and honor only matters when the University follows your roadmap, even when the one being used seems to have more successful outcomes.

4 Likes

Sorry to offend - I believe we care about the same things, but are looking at this through different lenses. When I see Miami consistently sliding in the rankings that are available to me, note where top students in our local school are choosing to matriculate, see other schools gravitating north in rankings/trends relative to Miami, and see poor performance in athletics, I have a hard time biting my tongue for fear of offending. It is hard when I see excitement for things like Homecoming at other schools. They have homecoming courts. They have students on campus. There is some excitement to their athletic product.

I want all of these things for Miami, and continually struggle to understand why such stellar work results in what I (and MANY others I speak with) view as a slide.

1 Like

Miami is also a leader in the percentage of graduates it sends to Graduate Schools and Professional Schools like Medicine, Law and Denistry.

Coincidentally, my anesthesiologist for a TKR here in NC was a Miami alum - a SIgma Alpha Mu! We met as he was putting me to sleep. Lol

3 Likes

One other note: I have noticed Crawford’s enthusiasm. I applaud it and appreciate it. I also understand he and his spouse both work tirelessly. All of that is fully understood and appreciated. I have had an opportunity to speak at length with him. I stayed in Marcum with my family to attend the game against Central Michigan last fall. President Crawford was in the lobby making an effort to connect with people, and he happened to walk over. I enjoyed and found tremendous merit in his approach, warmth, sincerity, etc.

However, I am not convinced that President Crawford holds Sayler and our overall Athletic Department’s performance to a standard that I feel he should. I often feel that the approach is around wearing the Red and White proudly, championing the image, and being happy with whatever the result. This does not make President Crawford a bad guy. Just sensing that something is lacking.

I think two separate questions need to be addressed: the university at large and the athletic department.

I believe we are suffering from institutional atrophy in terms of the university. I don’t hold President Crawford responsible for this as I think that it started well before he took the helm. If anything our downward spiral accelerated under the tenure of President Hodge. I had the occasion to sit next to President Hodge at a dinner just before he retired. I asked him what I believe was a softball question, what are you most proud of during your tenure at Miami? His response was, “I kept Miami Miami.” I asked what that meant and he could not even explain. He was happy to be a college President and was fine not forwarding the mission or the status of the university.

I think there is little doubt that Miami was once the elite public university in Ohio and that is no longer the case. Ohio State clearly has a better reputation, football or not, and other schools have severely closed the gap on us. I fear that the reputation of the school now is not of academic excellence but one of where white suburban kids can safely go to school with other white suburban kids. We are no longer attracting the best from those high schools. It’s a sad reality but that’s the reality that I see. At one point our reputation was built on being a liberal arts university even with a strong business school. I think our best future returns to those roots and makes the curriculum much more interdisciplinary. Most of the changes in the past few years did not point in that direction. Miami added a more robust engineering program. I’m sure it’s a fine program but with its addition, we further lost our identity and what makes Miami unique. Unless there is some dramatic new thinking I sadly fear that the atrophy and deterioration of Miami’s reputation will accelerate. Both my kids opted to go elsewhere and did not seriously consider Miami and none of their classmates, many of whom would have looked at Miami favorably a generation ago, would even consider it.

As far as athletics, I have been a Miami fan long before I was a student. I went to football and basketball games with my father, a Miami alum from the '40s. I have some great memories from my youth and after. I was in Millett when North Carolina came to play there with Phil Ford. During my undergrad years, I was in Assembly Hall in November 1983 when Miami beat Indiana and in Millett the following weekend when Miami and Purdue played three overtime. As an alum, I was in Dayton when we beat Arizona and went to the Sweet 16 in '99, and even watched that hideous Bowling Green game on ESPN+ last weekend. I am a fan. That being said, college sports have changed and they are not going to change back. Back in the day, there were always a few games on television but not every game as there are now. Miami spends an inordinate amount on athletics directly and through student fees. The MAC is a fine conference for Miami but only because there are no other choices. I would not want to be in the Sunbelt or CUSA. There is no path for a school like Miami to join the power five. I wish it were different but it’s not. The B1G, SEC, Pac 10, ACC, and Big XII have no motivation to expand their club. Miami sports has a niche following and football has no chance of anything more than that. While I take great pride in Miami’s football history, I think the prudent course is to make a bigger investment in basketball and hockey, where Miami can make inroads and gain national recognition. The only caveat I can think of is if Miami were to be able to be in a conference with our aspirational academic peers. It’s naive to think that we are academically on the same plane as Northwestern, Duke, Rice, and Vanderbilt but to find schools that we aspirationally affiliate with makes sense. Navy, Army, Tulane, (maybe) Rice, William & Mary,… The problem is that all those schools with the exception of W&M are already in better (more lucrative) conferences. Truly athletics can be the front porch of a university but only in a neighborhood where others want to visit and Miami is not in that neighborhood right now. Playing North Texas, Louisiana Tech, or Georgia State in a minor bowl game may make the fans feel better but it doesn’t forward the mission of the university.

I end my missive by asking this question: what could be done if the money spent on athletics went to student life and make Miami a more desirable place for students academically, socially, and culturally? I’m not advocating this but I think it has to be contemplated.

6 Likes

I would disagree on many of your points - including your premise that there has been an atrophy in the quality of our current student body. After all, Miami admitted me. And I’m pretty certain the admissions office can provide some figures that show each new class is larger, smarter, and more diverse than the previous one…

Like right here:

But I do have one disappointment with regard to President Hodge and it’s not in that he “kept Miami Miami.” As an alumni base filled largely with traditionalists, most of us would be proud of that.

No. My disappointment in him is that he didn’t fulfill a promise he made to me at the reception we held for him in Seattle when, as UW’s Dean of Arts and Sciences, he was the newly chosen Miami President.

I asked him to make it a priority to get US 27 off High Street and he agreed to make it a priority. I don’t think he ever succeeded in that.

Miami can prioritize that all they want (and I totally agree with making US 27 a loop east and north of campus and Oxford), but in the end that’s an ODOT decision. And it’s not like ODOT isn’t aware of the US 27 situation in Oxford since they’ve been studying alternatives for decades.

2 Likes

Yep, and given most of the cornerstones — Scholarships, Clinical Health Sciences, Business and Entrepreneurship, and Digital Innovation and Technology - of Miami’s latest and largest fund raising campaign I fear that direction away from being a liberal arts institution will continue.

1 Like

I’m interested in this and don’t totally understand. Mind explaining?

I have no issues with any of those things. I just believe that programs should not be siloed and be interdisciplinary and within the overall ethos of the university.

I am also completely in agreement with more scholarship money, provided that it goes to attracting top students and increasing diversity which will positively impact the entire community.

1 Like
2 Likes

Totally agree regarding more scholarship money.

Thanks for sharing.