Our Atypical But Outstanding Year

Dear UC Community,

Commencement – my favorite milestone of the year – has once again arrived as we conclude another academic year. This fulfillment of our greatest purpose brings the fantastic news that our spring graduating class is expected to be the largest in UC history with 6866 graduates receiving well over 7000 degrees.

While the pandemic continued to take a toll throughout the year, our graduation numbers show that we responded to the challenges with hope and determination, unwavering in our mission. I want to commend each of you for this success, and sincerely thank you for all that you have done to prevail during this atypical and uncertain year.

Our campuses have been uncharacteristically quieter for over a year, although we have continued many annual traditions online. Our two Spring Commencement ceremonies will take place in person at Nippert Stadium with appropriate social distancing and facial coverings.

Reflections on 2020-21

Let’s take a moment to reflect on the ways our university continued to transform, advance and earn accolades:

SEARCH: Provost candidates are being interviewed in open virtual sessions across campus. I want to express my appreciation to Kristi Nelson for her partnership as our Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost for the past three-and-a-half years and for her nearly 40 years of service to UC.

RESEARCH: We launched, under the leadership of Vice President for Research Patrick Limbach, our Research2030 plan in March. It has two main objectives: raising our national prominence in research and pursuing research that solves problems that matter. We also announced a record $525 million received last year in contracts and awards (including our affiliates).

In Fall 2020, our student headcount reached a record level for an eighth consecutive year and included a record 23% students of color. We expect total enrollment to reach another record for Fall Semester 2021.

EQUITY & INCLUSION: Last week’s guilty verdict against the police officer who murdered George Floyd was a relief, in a killing that garnered worldwide attention and revulsion. However, there is much work yet to be done to reckon with and eliminate the inequities and racism that remain entrenched in our society across the nation.

Over the course of this year on our own campus, our discussions with students in the Black Roundtable, Student Government and United Asian Advocates have raised our awareness on actions we can take to improve racial equity and a culture of inclusion at UC.
I am personally grateful to the students I have met with and commend them for their advocacy and willingness to speak out. I also want to thank Bleuzette Marshall, Vice President for Equity, Inclusion and Community Impact, and Christopher Lewis, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, for their leadership in these discussions.
CO-OP: Once again, our co-op program rated among the top in the nation, ranking No. 5 in U.S. News & World Report. Under our Co-op 2.0 Pathway, we continue to expand experiential learning into nontraditional areas. Our Bearcats Career Studio has served 2,849 students since opening in January 2020, including via digital appointments during the pandemic.

We broke ground on Clifton Court, a new 180,000-square foot building for the social sciences in a prominent location facing Clifton Avenue on our Uptown West Campus. Completion is expected in 2023.

The new Carl H. Lindner College of Business building became our third Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building and our first on UC’s Uptown West Campus, joining the two on our health campus, CARE/Crawley and the Health Sciences Building.

Our 1819 Innovation Hub, the nerve center for the burgeoning Cincinnati Innovation District (CID), established two new partners with the additions of Microsoft and Great American Insurance Group during this academic year and four new partners in the last year.

Since opening in September 2019, our Faculty Enrichment Center has logged more than 7800 attendees in programs, both in person and online. The Staff Success Center (SSC), opened in April 2018, has logged over 20,800 SSC course completions with over 3549 unique staff, faculty and student workers attending SSC-hosted courses.

Looking ahead

Over the summer, we are scheduled to begin and complete our three-phase return to the workplace and will continue to plan for the 2021-22 academic year to have expanded numbers of courses in person. Please review our Return to Campus guide regularly for updates.

In the meantime, I hope that each of you has an opportunity for some rest and relaxation this summer. I am immensely grateful for all that our UC community has done throughout this year to keep moving forward while maintaining our health and safety. Your Bearcats spirit has shone through, and you should all take pride in this.

Please stay safe.
With heartfelt thanks,
Neville G. Pinto

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