Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Dr. Livingston Reflects on Two Decades of Transformation at UC

From UC News:

Livingston Reflects On Two Decades of Transformation at UC

Date: 1/3/2013 12:00:00 AM
By: Greg Hand
Phone: (513) 556-1822

UC ingot   Mitchel D. Livingston retired from his position as the University of Cincinnati’s Vice President for Student Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer on Dec. 31. 

Livingston was initially appointed Vice President for Student Affairs and Services at UC in 1994. In 2007 he was assigned additional responsibilities as UC’s Chief Diversity Officer.
“As I leave the university, it is with great pride of a journey filled with special connections that have above all enriched the lives of our students,” Livingston said. “As I reflect on the past two decades, I am overwhelmed with the progress we have made and that UC is now a first choice university that is committed to diversity and excellence. “
Mitchel Livingston with Marian Spencer
Mitchel Livingston with Marian Spencer, who co-chaired UC's Diversity Task Force

When he joined the university, Livingston said he could see the tremendous potential of the Student Affairs Division and especially the commitment by many people to diversity and excellence in all aspects of university life. 

“Student Affairs is an integral part of the university with a wide range of functions expanding from technology and services to values and community,” Livingston said. “This division enjoys a unique position in its ability to impact students from the time we welcome them when they first enter the university to the time we see them depart after commencement.”

The university, he said, is more than brick and mortar and the Student Affairs division is more than just the programs and services it provides. 

“Student Affairs develops student leaders with character by instilling values in all of our interactions with students,” Livingston said. “Given this foundation and our ‘students first’ philosophy, Student Affairs will continue to thrive and be a strong contributing member to this institution.”

Livingston cited a broad array of projects he was involved in during his time at UC. Among them he lists the creation and implementation of the MainStreet concept in the Campus Master Plan, the implementation of a comprehensive Student Information System, the development of an Enrollment Management program, and values-based initiatives including Just Community, the Diversity Plan and Diversity Council and the Bearcat Bond.

“What began as a conversation with President Steger regarding the need for a new student union and a student recreation center blossomed into a more elaborate design to transform UC from a commuter campus into a more residential university,” Livingston said. “Several student life studies were conducted to identify student needs and preferences.  Following six studies and fifteen focus groups, the plan to build MainStreet emerged and was incorporated into university planning.”

Perhaps most closely identified with Livingston’s term as vice president is the Just Community initiative.
“This initiative has its roots in a similar program I developed at the State University of New York at Albany,” he said. “Upon my arrival at UC, I introduced this concept with the assistance of international personalities such as Colin Powell, Maya Angelou and Elie Weisel.  Conversations with these and other international personalities led to the creation of a set of core principles.”

The Just Community principles posted at strategic locations around campus describe the core values, such as responsibility, civility, scholarship and integrity that define an academic environment. Each incoming student is now introduced to the Just Community principles during orientation.

Livingston will continue his involvement with the University of Cincinnati when he joins the faculty of the College of Education, Criminal Justice and Human Services in 2014. He will be based in a graduate program in higher education. It is certain, he said, that he will remain active in the Cincinnati community, where he was an enduring representative of the university.

“I attended a board meeting for CET Public Television to learn more about its educational, entertainment and public service role in the community,” Livingston said. “A UC Board of Trustees member was actively involved as an officer and major contributor and she strongly encouraged me to join the CET Board.”
That involvement early in his term at UC led to many other community linkages.

“I subsequently  served on corporate and community boards including Fifth Third Bank, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Fine Arts Fund (now ArtsWave), Bridges for a Just Community, the Center for Holocaust & Humanity Education and the Cincinnati Museum Center.  Additionally, I’ve been involved with Habitat for Humanity, St. John’s Social Services Young Men’s Program and other organizations.  All combined, I have been called upon to provide community leadership across a broad spectrum of organizations accruing significant recognition for the university.”

One outcome of community involvement has been STEER, "Striving to Transform, Enrich, Empower, and Reward" a collaborative mentoring initiative between Procter and Gamble, UC, and the Freedom Center. The STEER initiative, launched in January 2010, focuses on raising the retention rates of African American students at the University of Cincinnati.  Forty professional managers from P&G have been trained and paired with students who they will assist from their sophomore year through graduation.

Livingston said he is confident that leadership exists at UC to carry these initiatives into the future.
“I am confident that the Student Affairs professionals will continue to play vital roles on campus and in the larger community on behalf of our students,” he said. “They have contributed to making this a model institution in their own unique way where diversity and excellence are celebrated.”

For additional information about Vice President Livingston’s reflections, see:

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