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Trustees unanimously approve Crawford

By Emily Tate, Managing Editor and Reis Thebault, Editor-in-Chief

On Friday, Miami University's Board of Trustees confirmed Gregory P. Crawford as the university's new president, ending a six-month secret search and a week of open forums and closed door meetings that saw the sole finalist interact with the community for the first time.

Crawford is coming off a seven-year stint at Notre Dame, where, since July 2015, he has served as the university's vice president and associate provost.

"Beyond his impressive academic record and administrative experience, Dr. Crawford brings with him exceptional vision, energy and enthusiasm, which we welcome," said David Budig, chair of both the Board of Trustees and the Presidential Search Committee. "It'll be extremely important in his role as president."

Crawford's wife, Renate, is, like him, a professor of physics at Notre Dame and will join him with their two daughters in Lewis Place next fall.

As former colleagues praised Crawford's high energy and innovative leadership style, many Miami faculty condemned the search process that culminated in his hiring.

"We're grateful for the hard work of the search committee because I know that they are doing their best for the Miami students and faculty, but all that hard work is really marred by the secret and ultimately dictatorial nature of the search," said Cathy Wagner, English professor and vice president of Miami's chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

The search, conducted behind closed doors by a search committee and an executive search firm, drew criticism from the outset.

"I think we've learned again and again and again that the more secrecy you have in government or public bodies, the more opportunity there is for problems," said Dennis Hetzel, executive director of the Ohio Newspaper Association. "So it's certainly not a good symbol for a well-respected public university to be looking for ways to do something in secret that could have been done more publicly."

And while many faculty and staff members asked critical questions in this week's forums, they are also hopeful for the changes Crawford may bring.

"He's dynamic. He's very energetic. I think he has a wider vision than perhaps we've seen recently," said Deborah Lyons, AAUP secretary. "I think he may have the potential to be an excellent president, because he's clearly thought about things like diversity, interdisciplinary, the importance of the liberal arts."

David Hodge, the current president of Miami who will retire in June, also expressed his fondness of the Crawfords.

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"Having spent some time with both Greg and Renate, I am absolutely convinced that the future of Miami is extremely bright," Hodge said.

Several trustees at Friday's meeting acknowledged Hodge's decade of service and praised him for his tenure at Miami, which oversaw large construction and fundraising projects.

Before making a motion to elect Crawford as Miami's 22nd president, Mark Ridenour, who also served on the Presidential Search Committee, wanted to comment on this historic season for the university.

"It's a bittersweet time as we say goodbye to one president and welcome another," Ridenour said.

After Sharon Mitchell, a trustee who is retiring from her position, seconded the motion, the board unanimously approved Crawford's appointment as president.

The resolution also includes Crawford's tenure and full professorship within the Department of Physics.