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Williams Challenges UC to Excel, Achieve

On the occasion of his formal investiture, UC President Gregory H. Williams unveiled a strategic plan and called on the university to move from “up and coming” to the best.

Date: 9/19/2010 12:00:00 AM
By: Greg Hand
Phone: (513) 556-1822
Photos By: UC Creative Services; video by Ashley Kempher, Jay Yocis

UC ingot   New students, new president, new plan – that was the agenda as the University of Cincinnati began its 2010-11 academic year with the traditional convocation ceremony. This year, tradition came with a new twist as Gregory H. Williams chose the event as the venue for his formal investiture as UC’s 27th president.

“Although I have served as a university president elsewhere, I have never had a formal investiture before. In fact, I did not think we needed one here at UC,” Williams said. “But members of our campus community suggested that new beginnings are important to celebrate. And so I agreed, but requested, for cost-savings and efficiencies, that it be incorporated into an existing event.”

Williams revealed another new beginning by announcing a new strategic plan for the university, titled "UC2019 Accelerating Our Transformation.”

UC2019 takes its name from UC’s upcoming bicentennial year and is based on two major outcomes, Williams said:

  • Measuring success against the elite set of peers represented by the Association of American Universities and The Top American Research Universities,
  • Prioritizing and targeting our resources by investing resources in those areas in which the university excels.

“We must organize this university and its budget around our excellence and strengths, to achieve the external recognition we seek,” he said.

The president urged the university to use the approaching bicentennial as a beacon for transformation – “our transformation from UC|21 to UC2019 …our transformation from defining to achieving…our transformation from ‘up and coming’ to the ‘best.’” UC is now No. 11 on a U.S. News and World Report list of universities dubbed “up and comers.”

Williams noted that the UC2019 plan reflects the consultation of many people.

President Gregory H. Williams
Gregory H. Williams is invested as UC's 27th president.

The plan took shape through extensive discussions with UC’s vast array of stakeholders, including the UC Board of Trustees, President’s Cabinet, deans, faculty, students, staff, alumni, donors and friends of the university.

Although built upon a foundation set in 2004 with the adoption of the UC|21 academic plan, the UC2019 plan expands its scope to include an emphasis on diversity, sustainability, economy, global engagement and health care.

The newly invested president issued a challenge to the university’s students and faculty to reach a higher benchmark by doubling the number of student awards and faculty distinctions.

“New and returning students, I challenge you to turn five Fulbrights into 10. Consider becoming a Rhodes Scholar, a Truman Scholar or a Marshall Scholar,” Williams said. “To our world-class faculty: Please join me in doubling the number of UC members in the National Academies and doubling the number of our national and international faculty awards.”

The president also announced that he was allocating an additional $500,000 to study abroad and international experiences, and $500,000 toward scholarships for National Merit Scholars, Honors students and first-generation college students. The scholarships will be known as UC2019 Presidential Scholarships.

To put the UC2019 plan into action immediately, the president reported that he had assigned newly appointed Provost Santa Jeremy Ono to move the new strategic plan forward by meeting the next day with UC’s Faculty Senate. A discussion on transforming the university, organized by Faculty Chair Richard Harknett immediately followed the convocation ceremony.

The UC2019 plan is posted to the Web here:

Read the text of the President William’s investiture speech.

View the video of President William's investiture speech.

See a slide show of the convocation and investiture.