2018 State of the University Address

As Prepared for Delivery

State of the University Address- All-University Faculty Meeting
President Neville G. Pinto

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Great Hall, TUC

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Thank you to Faculty Chair Sally Moomaw.

Because this is her last All-University Faculty Meeting before the transition to a new chair this August,
let’s give Sally a round of applause for her service and leadership the past two years.

In our audience, we also have some individuals who spend hundreds of hours over the course of a nine-year term, volunteering their time and talents to advance the University of Cincinnati.

Please give a hand to members of the UC Board of Trustees:

  • Chairman Thomas Cassady, who is representing our board this afternoon.

This has been an exciting year, and not because of my first year in this role.

Rather, this is a time like none other because we have the privilege to be part of the University of Cincinnati
at an important crossroads of two major milestones.

One is the university’s upcoming Bicentennial celebration.

It kicks off with a bigger and better Homecoming this October 6th and continues with activities through November 9th, 2019…200 years to the day of the first class convened.  


Imagine it, that classroom in 1819, attended by 70 students and led by three faculty members.

From that humble beginning it’s breath-taking to behold the University of Cincinnati today, with over 44,700 students and its fifth straight year of record enrollment; over 6,600 faculty; over 4,000 staff; and 300,000 alumni.


The second milestone signals our future: our new Strategic Direction, launched just six weeks ago at the Board of Trustees meeting.

I know I’m partial on the matter, but I am excited about our direction and very confident that it will position our university for a thriving future of many more anniversaries in the decades ahead.

Called Next Lives Here, it provides a flexible and adaptable framework to lead our way into UC’s third century.

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Let me briefly recap how we arrived at Next Lives Here:

  • As a campus, we opted for an accelerated timeline.
  • We used a process that was inclusive and engaging. 
  • We also completed four open town halls, held on each of our campuses. 
  • And, we created a dedicated website (www.uc.edu/strategicdirection) with a feedback loop to gather your insights and input – a website that will continue to be a channel for ideation. And through that work we defined our vision. 
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You have seen this before, but it’s worth repeating: Our vision is to lead urban public universities into a new era of innovation and impact.    

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Time will not allow me to go into great detail on all that this image represents, but it sums up our three  platforms:  Academic Excellence, Urban Impact and the Innovation Agenda. We currently have specified nine pathways within those platforms. As this image shows, they interconnect.

As we move forward, I want to emphasize that our strategic direction was built to be flexible and nimble so that we can advance to new priorities as we achieve progress.

So, what do we mean by “Next Lives Here”? We don’t have to look far to find examples. The University of Cincinnati already lives a “next” mindset in the colleges and units across our campuses.

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Next Lives Here in The Cincinnati Project, a McMicken College of Arts & Sciences initiative focused on creating a more equitable city right here in our hometown.

It is directed by Associate Dean Jennifer Malat and was founded two years ago.

Since then, this initiative has put more than 400 UC faculty and students to work alongside over 30 community groups to make a difference on the quality of life in Cincinnati.

One example this year is a project led by sociology graduate student Elaina Johns-Wolfe. In a course she teaches on Urban Society, she and the undergraduate students in her class use GIS to gain a better understanding of the patterns of evictions and the housing instability that results.

The clients in this case are Housing Opportunities Made Equal and the Legal Aid of Southwest Ohio. Both approached the university to find answers to their questions about where evictions happen, who is evicted,
how they are evicted and by whom.

The Cincinnati Project is an excellent example of how the Urban Futures pathway can impassion and challenge us. It asks us to deepen and broaden our impact in the community, not just locally but globally, while simultaneously enabling knowledge creation, expression, and educational experiences.

Our world is becoming more and more urbanized with the challenges and opportunities of urban life abundant –
among them water, poverty, substance abuse, technology, transportation, food and nutrition.

To move us forward, our Urban Futures pathway leader is Vice President for Research Patrick Limbach. Pat plans to create a variety of working groups before the end of the academic year. To get it started, he is forming a leadership group co-chaired by Alex Lentsch from the College of Medicine and Jennifer Krivickas from the Office of Research.

The vision, simply put, is to leave no discipline behind. We envision an environment where faculty, students and staff from across the university – whether  STEM, social sciences, humanities or the arts – forge new models to work across boundaries, address societal challenges, and find solutions.

Knowing our strengths: real-world learning, problem-based scholarship and foundational partnerships, will be an integral part of our Urban Futures strategies.

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Next Lives Here in the College of Education, Human Services and Criminal Justice, in a new program they have launched to develop a “next” workforce in a “next way.”

The program is led by Prof. Hazim Said.

The idea, developed with input from industry, is to provide a talented workforce in information technology
in a way that makes college more accessible to students regardless of their origins or their resources.


Last fall, the program enrolled its first class – not with college freshmen – but with 30 high school freshmen
at Hughes STEM High School across the street from our Uptown campus.


This approach puts innovation into action in so many ways:

  • Encouraging kids in need to get a college degree.
  • Offering financial help in doing so by incorporating paid work experience through co-op.
  • Creating an accelerated pathway to a bachelor’s and a master’s degree by allowing students to begin earning college credit while still in high school.
  • And assuring admission into UC’s IT program without consideration of entrance exam scores, as long as the student is making the grades.

Called the Information Technology Early College Program, it plans to expand next fall to a second and possibly a third high school in the Cincinnati Public Schools. The goal is to keep expanding until all 15 Cincinnati high schools have the program in place. And already in Southwest Ohio, 16 school districts and one in Cleveland have signed agreements for implementation.


Taking our commitment even further, our CPS Strong pathway will create even more impactful approaches
to improve access and degree attainment for our city’s students of promise.


Vice President for Equity, Inclusion and Community Impact Bleuzette Marshall leads this pathway. 

It will start with an inventory of the multiple touch points our colleges and units already have in place
with our Cincinnati Public Schools.

And it will focus on five areas to benefit CPS students:

  • Access and recruitment;
  • Retention and campus engagement;
  • Personal and professional development;
  • Graduation and placement;
  • And alumni engagement.

The submitted data will provide a baseline report on UC’s current investment with our Cincinnati Public Schools as well as our impact on student success.

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Next Lives Here in Human Resources and its efforts to support and develop our talented staff as critical contributors to UC’s mission of education, research and service.

Each of us, whether faculty or staff, has a stake in owning our UC culture and creating the kind of university
we want UC to be.  In turn, the university bears a responsibility to nurture the skills and talents of employees through professional development opportunities and more.

Over the past several years, our Human Resources office has made significant improvements in professional development offerings for university employees. Among them are the HR Academy and the new SuccessFactors system for staff learning opportunities,
recruiting and onboarding.

In exactly one week at noon on April 12th, I am excited to report, we will celebrate the grand opening
of our new Staff Success Center in Room 440 University Hall. The Staff Success Center, under the direction of Tanya Ladd, will be a one-stop shop for:

  • Professional development workshops and certificate programs;
  • Mentoring programs as well as interview and resume coaching;
  • Online and instructor-led training;
  • Team building and consultative services;
  • And systems education such as UCFlex, Catalyst and Concur.

I look forward to the impact that the new center will have on our employees here at UC. 

Likewise, in our Faculty Investment pathway, the provost is developing plans for a future Faculty Enrichment Center.  Stay tuned after my remarks for more details in the provost’s report. 

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Next Lives Here in our Opioid Task Force. Housed at the Academic Health Center, it is co-chaired by the two people you see in this photo:

  •  Neil MacKinnon, dean of the Winkle College of Pharmacy,
  • and Melissa DelBello, professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience in the College of Medicine.

The opioid crisis is arguably the greatest public health problem in our nation right now. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans ages 50 and under. Last year, 64,000 Americans died of a drug overdose.

The UC Opioid Task Force is a very good example of the critical importance of foundational strength in basic snd applied research, which has enabled us to assist our community in this time of crisis. Our Task Force has brought together over 50 faculty members, researchers, clinicians and educators to learn from one another
and work with community agencies to develop innovative solutions.

Founded in 2017, the task force has quickly had impact:

  • UC is partnering with Cordata systems and received $1.5 million in funding from the Ohio Third Frontier to use predictive analytics to improve response-time to overdoses and forecast where overdoses may occur.

  •  A UC team led by Michael Lyons in Emergency Medicine is also collaborating with Hamilton County on wider distribution of Narcan throughout the area.

    As a part of this project, UC researchers will analyze the program
    and determine its impact on overdose deaths.

The University of Cincinnati, home to the only academic healthcare center and the only Research 1 institution in the region, has a vital role to play in helping our community become a healthier place to live.

Ohio ranks  among the least healthy states at No. 39 overall and Hamilton County ranks 65th among Ohio’s 88 counties in health outcomes.  (Sources respectively: United Health Foundation 2017 Health Rankings Annual Report and the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute).

Healthcare and healthcare delivery represent only a part of the solution. Equal attention must be paid to the economic, social, educational and environmental health of our citizens. To address these issues, we will need to enlist the help of faculty, students and staff across the university, not just those at the Academic Health Center.

Senior Vice President for Health Affairs and Dean of the College of Medicine William Ball leads our new Urban Health pathway.

To begin these efforts, he has created a Steering Committee representative of all colleges, regional campuses and units to collect and listen to ideas.  Most important will be our efforts to reach out in partnership to a vulnerable but strong community to listen and learn what they know better than we do. And that’s where our efforts should focus to do the most good.

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As you can see, Next Lives Here now at the University of Cincinnati. You are living and breathing it
every day across our campuses. As we look to the future, we believe that anything is possible
if we call on our collective ingenuity and creativity.

Our strategic direction asks us to:

  • scale up,
  • maximize our impact,
  • cross pollinate among disciplines
    for fresh new thinking on the world’s complex problems,
  • and reshape education so that more of our students
    get the truly transformational opportunities
    for experiential  learning.

How will we get there?

This is not just about planning. This begins and ends with culture. It’s about creating a culture that’s “owned, not rented.” It is driven by a high-level strategy of: “Excellence, Impact and Innovation.” And, the call to action is: “Think Next, Act Now.”

To help us achieve our vision, our university is very fortunate to have a team of smart and caring leaders, including Provost Kristi Nelson, whom I have charged with leading the implementation of Next Lives Here. With her 35 years of experience in higher education, we could not ask for a more experienced
and dedicated chief academic officer. Kristi, will you please rise so we can show our appreciation?

Also part of the core leadership team are our outstanding deans. Will our deans please stand for recognition?

Our outstanding leaders also include the President’s Cabinet. Will members of the Cabinet please rise?

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What comes next for Next Lives Here? Provost Nelson will be convening a regular working session
of our Platform and Pathway leaders to ignite connections and spark collaborations. She will also be developing plans for each pathway to seek input from the UC community so that we can truly be strategic and unified
as we move ahead and ensure that our communication is a two-way street.

This year, we are privileged to stand at a unique crossroads-- joining 200 years of UC impact to the university’s future, and what that future might hold. What an exciting moment, brimming with possibility.

Ultimately, we each have a role in our vision and its next steps. Let’s each of us commit to renew our passion for making a difference in the lives of our students…our passion for bringing about a better world…and our passion for the new and the next. If we do, I know the University of Cincinnati will soar into its next century more boldly than ever.

And now, we have time for questions.