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President's column

Core values for the 21st century

by Nancy L. Zimpher, president, University of Cincinnati

UC President Nancy Zimpher

UC President Nancy Zimpher

Every time I walk into either the entrance of my office or my residence, I see the University of Cincinnati seal hanging on the wall. Among the items emblazoned on this pointed ellipse, which was adopted from the City of Cincinnati seal, are two Latin mottos -- Juncta Juvant, a phrase that means "strength in unity," and Alta Petit, freely translated as "she seeks the heights."

These inspiring words serve as powerful reminders that when it comes to values, we do "get it" here at UC and we have throughout our history.

In 2000, I am proud to say, UC took its values commitment a giant step forward by embracing the nine principles of our Just Community Initiative. The massive and colorful Just Community quilt, pieced together from hundreds of smaller banners made by our freshmen each year, gives me goose bumps each September when it's raised at convocation.

More recently, UC has put forward a value proposition crafted at the hands of many as part of our academic planning process. This process looked to our future as a leader in the 21st century and resulted in the strategic vision, UC|21: Defining the New Urban Research University.

These ideals were derived from literally thousands who participated in eight town hall meetings and more than 90 input sessions and made their opinions known through our UC|21 Web site.

They give meaning to all we do:

Scholarship: The pursuit of knowledge through scholarly inquiry, research, experimentation, investigation and creative production perhaps seem like obvious values for a university, but we extend this ideal outside the walls of a classroom through our art galleries, more than 1,000 performances and recitals, and alumni lectures, to name just a few.

Citizenship: We want all members of the university community to gain and apply the knowledge necessary for a responsible civic life. For example, our Cincinnatus scholars are required to perform 30 hours of community service each year. In 2003-04 alone, those Cincinnatus scholarship recipients offered more than 65,000 hours helping our community.

Stewardship: Members of our university family are stewards of knowledge with a duty to preserve intellectual inquiry and share the benefits of education with others. For instance, our Graduate Student Governance Association is sponsoring a program called Get Up and Go, enlisting nearly 150 UC students to provide free tutoring to middle- and high-school students in Cincinnati Public Schools.

Leadership: This we define as motivating others to take actions that would not otherwise be pursued. At UC, we are fortunate that a corporate partner, Procter & Gamble, sponsors leadership activities on campus, including Camp Bearcat, an overnight retreat for selected incoming first-year students. UC|21 boldly aspires to offer more leadership development opportunities for our students, faculty and staff.

Partnership: Because a university must interact with others to resolve problems, UC|21 affirms a commitment for students, faculty and staff members to engage in the community. UC's premier example of partnership is co-operative education, a program pioneered in 1906 at UC that draws the university, students and employers together and is now offered at more than 900 institutions worldwide. Furthermore, our urban location offers us an environment rich with opportunities for partnerships in the civic, private and public sectors.

Cultural Competence: The leading institutions of the future will be those that prepare graduates for a diverse and global world. This year, UC welcomed more than 2,100 international students to study on our campus, while more than 750 of our students studied abroad, and scores of others worked overseas in co-op jobs. UC|21 recognizes that when it comes to cultural competence, we need to be much more vigorous.

These are, when all is said and done, the values that we are deeply committed to as a university community. They are ideals we want our faculty and staff to model, and our students to mirror. Our success will be measured in the lives of our graduates, as they become truly lifelong learners and continue to make a difference in our world.

Links:

President's report card to UC Board of Trustees

Office of the current UC president