The following is edited excerpts of President Williams' investiture speech made on Sept. 19 at Fifth Third Arena, part of the New Student Convocation.
In 2019, UC will celebrate the bicentennial of its founding. As this hallmark date draws closer, we have a unique opportunity to make sure our university is positioned among the most prominent institutions in our nation. Thus I announce our strategic plan, called "UC2019 Accelerating Our Transformation."UC2019 takes us in a new direction, while building on the past. The university's previous plan, UC|21, was about defining. UC2019 is about achieving.
You may ask, "Achieving what?" If you take away nothing else from my address today, I hope that you will remember the two main outcomes that I challenge us to accomplish:
No. 1: External validation, which UC deserves based on its strengths — We will measure our success against an elite set of peers, represented by the Association of American Universities and "The Top American Research Universities Report," also known as the Lombardi report. We will move up the ladder as we benchmark ourselves among them, using clear, focused metrics.
No. 2: Prioritizing and targeting our resources — We will invest our resources in those areas in which we excel. We must organize this university and its budget around our excellence and strengths to achieve the external recognition we seek.
UC2019 challenges us to make sure that, by the end of the decade, our peers across the country and around the world will acknowledge that the University of Cincinnati stands shoulder to shoulder with the finest universities anywhere.
In the spirit of UC2019, I call on our university to accelerate our transformation within the next five years:
- By leveraging our global prominence in cooperative education to create unique university-business partner-ships — As the founder of co-op more than 100 years ago, UC has a distinct advantage in creating its next iteration. New models of co-op, internships and service learning need to focus on innovation and the generation of new ideas.
- By embracing and enhancing our capacities, not only to innovate but also to collaborate — I plan to announce an example of this as the EPA taps the university and Cincinnati as a world leader in water quality. We will work together to create an effective government-university-business partnership to ensure safe water for our nation.
- By counting sustainability among our key measures of success — We cannot delay on an issue so important to future generations.
- By doubling the number of our student awards — Our students can compete with the best. This year, five of UC's best and brightest students will travel abroad as part of the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship Program. I challenge new and returning students to turn five Fulbright awards into 10.
- By doubling the number of national and international faculty awards — I invite our world-class faculty to join me in doubling the number of UC members in the National Academies and doubling the number of our national and international faculty awards. We cannot be timid about showcasing our talents.
- By doubling the number of students studying abroad — As a demonstration of my commitment to enhancing education through international experiences, I am going to allocate an additional $500,000 toward this goal.
- By strengthening diversity — The Princeton Review has ranked the University of Cincinnati among America's Top 20 most diverse campuses. But we can do better. We are developing a five-year enrollment plan, as well as a diversity plan, to help assure the alignment of diversity with learning and excellence.
- By increasing the number of our National Merit Scholars — All of our new students and their families know how difficult it is to pull together the resources necessary to begin the college journey. I will allocate $500,000 toward UC2019 Presidential Scholarships for National Merit Scholars, as well as University Honors and first-generation students.
- By increasing our private support — To this end, I have asked the UC Foundation to improve our alumni-giving rate from its current 11 percent to at least 18.19 percent, echoing UC's founding date. In an age of scarce resources, UC must reach out more broadly to our more than 200,000 living alumni. For total giving from alumni and other supporters, I am setting our target at $125 million a year.
- By examining our administrative structure — I will call on an outside consultant to take a close look at our administrative structure to make sure it is as efficient and effective as possible, and to make sure that it allows us to achieve the goals of our strategic plan.
We have a beacon just nine years from now — a bicentennial that will launch the university into its third century. As we approach that watershed, our collective success as an institution will be measured by our ability to meet our UC2019 goals. And likewise, our individual success will be gauged by our ability to contribute to the collective success. In other words, each of us must be held accountable for meeting these goals.
I want you to join me in accelerating our transformation — our transformation from UC|21 to UC2019, from "defining" to "achieving," from "up and coming" to the "best."
The University of Cincinnati is poised to earn the recognition it deserves. The University of Cincinnati is poised and ready to soar.
Read about President Williams investiture.