Friday, May 21, 2004

UC's grand new education vision


Anyone with a stake in the future of Greater Cincinnati - from Clermont County to Clifton to Northern Kentucky - ought to be interested in what University of Cincinnati President Nancy Zimpher says in her inaugural address today.

Zimpher, who became UC president in October, is expected to unveil the first comprehensive academic master plan for the school. It includes everything from making sure 4-year-old children are ready to learn to attracting world-class faculty to the campus.

The long-term vision was crafted out of several town-hall meetings and refined by faculty, administrators, civic leaders and others. Called, "UC/21," the plan identifies 21 steps and six strategic goals aimed at transforming UC into an elite university.

It also extends the university's hands deeply into the community in a number of ways, including:

• Community collaboration ("creating a front door to UC resources for the community and developing meaningful partnerships," according to a UC-published summary of the plan).

• Health promotion and prevention.

• And, perhaps most important, education.

UC provides a steady stream of teachers into local school districts. It makes sense that the university becomes more involved in the success of local education, especially in Cincinnati Public Schools. Zimpher wants UC to become a national leader in the reform and revitalization of the education system by creating seamless transitions from preschool to college. To do this, UC will strengthen its ties with Cincinnati State and Cincinnati Public Schools to ensure more CPS students graduate from high school and then go to college.

Zimpher is leading the movement. A book edited by her and her husband, UC criminal justice professor Kenneth R. Howey, is being released today. The book, titled University Leadership in Urban School Renewal, is written by 14 leaders of urban universities. It encourages university leaders to reform urban teacher education and create community partnerships in support of schools.

With more than 13,400 employees, UC is the largest employer in Greater Cincinnati. We all have a stake in the university's long-term success. Under former President Joseph Steger the campus completed more than $1 billion in capital projects, featuring buildings designed by world-renowned architects. The school now is a nationally ranked research center with more than 33,000 students.

On that solid foundation, UC/21 is a vision for building success for years to come.

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