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Regional Campuses build autonomy through help of Task Force

By Kaelynn Knestrick, For The Miami Student

Miami University President David Hodge recently named a Task Force of Differentiation of the Regional Campuses to give the regional campuses in Middletown and Hamilton more autonomy. The Task Force is also designed to gather more information about different ways to approach the change from associate to bachelor degrees.

In 2008, Miami's regional campuses started to offer more four-year bachelor programs instead of only two year associate degrees, to align with the recommendations from the Ohio State Board of Education. However, the change has been slow.

"As with all important committees, we look to have representation from key areas, in this case both the Oxford campus and the regionals," Hodge said. "We also look to see if we have individuals who have been involved in previous studies so that they might bring that experience to the committee. And finally, we seek input from key administrators on individuals who they believe would be interested in and add to the work of the committee/task force."

Student Body President and member of the task force Cole Tyman will represent the Oxford campus student point of view. A total of five Oxford representatives and eight regional campus representatives will be present, ranging from students to professors.

One of the questions that will be discussed is whether the regional campuses should be able to provide bachelor degrees the Oxford campus has or if they should continue to only provide degrees that are not offered at the main campus, Tyman said.

"A possible outcome could be the regional campuses getting more freedom and a new system for proposing degrees," Tyman said. "It would be like the Oxford campus pushing the 'baby' or regional campuses out of the nest so they can learn to fly on their own. So there will still be supervision and approval from the Oxford campus, but not as much as before."

One of the main focuses for the task force is to provide alternate governance models that could lead to greater success for the regional campuses.

"With the shift in emphasis to baccalaureate degrees, the mission of the regionals has changed in focus and we need an administrative structure that better serves this focus in providing the best possible experience and outcomes for our students and our region," Hodge said. "We also need to be sure that there is more clarity in differences in the roles played by the regionals and Oxford."

The process for which the regional campuses propose and get approval for new bachelor degrees is one possibility that may be examined.

All seven deans of the main and regional campuses report to Ray Gorman, vice president of Academic Affairs and interim provost. A possible option could be the regional campuses getting their own provost to whom they can report, Tyman said.

The task force will create a report on how to proceed and structure their plans based on other models while taking into Miami's circumstances since Miami's regional campuses are closer in distance than most regional campuses.

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The task force's report will be given to the Provost Nov. 21, Co-Chair Maria Cronley said.

The task force will not be responsible for implementing the changes that will happen after the decisions on a direction are established, Hodge said. But their goal is to improve and make all of Miami including the regional campuses the most successful they can be.