"Since Miami's beginning nearly 200 years ago, life outside the classroom has been a major factor in our students’ success."
A wonderful part of my job is sitting down with alumni and listening to them talk about Miami. As you can imagine, these conversations cover a lot of ground, from reflecting on how their Miami education has opened doors for them to how much college — and the campus — have changed, from kicking around whether one of our sports teams will take the MAC to how they can get involved again with the university.
Invariably during these talks, alumni tell me that their Miami years were the best years of their lives. That is always exciting to hear. They usually go on to explain how the Miami Experience set them up for success. They credit the committed faculty and staff, who dedicate their time inside and outside the classroom to our students. And more often than not, they also reminisce about the extracurricular activities that helped shape their lives, both then and now.
Since Miami’s beginning nearly 200 years ago, life outside the classroom has been a major factor in our students’ success. Meeting friends, participating in (and leading) organizations and clubs of one kind or another, volunteering in the community, even playing in intramural sports have helped Miami students develop those intangibles that have made them successful.
Recognizing the long-standing and deep importance of co-curricular life to Miami student life and success, and in recognition of the University’s Bicentennial, we are launching a campaign to build a new student center. To be located on the south side of Upham Hall, in the very center of the campus, the Bicentennial Student Center will be the focal point for student activity, bringing all aspects of student life together.
It is interesting to note that President Benton in 1909 described the virtues of "students jostling against each other" and observed that even in a small town where community is more easily achieved, "students and faculties were clamoring loudly for a student building on the campus, where all might come to know each other better and cultivate the feeling of college fellowship."
President Benton’s words ring as true today as they did 100 years ago. Imagine walking into the new BSC when it is completed. The first impression will be of the energy that flows from our engaged student body.
Imagine seeing students, between classes and in the evenings — and, yes, even during those all-nighters — spilling into informal gathering spaces throughout the building, a couple of chairs here, a couch and coffee table there, a café here, a study room there. These hangout spaces are where students will come together in pairs, small groups, or alone to study, work, and just hang out together. That interaction and having a place to call their own are at the heart of what will make this building so special.
Imagine a two-story atrium complex called the Center for Student Engagement and Leadership or SEAL. Here all 300-plus of our student-run clubs and organizations will have a presence, with a place to store their files and share common meeting rooms.
Envision the student leaders, as they come in and out of their offices, serendipitously encouraging and collaborating with each other, planning activities, and working together on community projects. That informality and common bond are what will drive the SEAL.
The Bicentennial Student Center will be a significant step forward for us. It will allow us to more intentionally enhance the Miami Experience by creating a focal point that blends our students’ academic and co-curricular lives. In my conversations with alumni, they tell me they want to be sure that all future generations of students are also able to say that their years at Miami were the best years of their lives and that their Miami Experience propelled them to success. The Bicentennial Student Center will contribute greatly to that success. It is truly an extraordinary way to commemorate our Bicentennial — celebrating our past and building our future.
You are invited to write to President David Hodge at president@MiamiOH.edu. For more about the Bicentennial Student Center, please read “The Evolution of Student Life” in this edition of Miamian and also visit the Miami University Bicentennial Student Center Web site at www.MiamiOH.edu/BSC.