State of the University Address

Neville G. Pinto, President of the University of Cincinnati (UC), gave his State of the University Address speech at the Winkle College of Pharmacy's Kowalewski Hall on Thursday, April 13, 2023. While reflecting on success, Pinto also presented his plan to move UC forward as an institution in front of attending faculty, staff and students.

The Winkle College of Pharmacy’s Kowaleski Hall was packed with staff and faculty on Thursday afternoon, April 13, as President Neville Pinto delivered 2023’s State of the University Address.

More than ruminating on today's successes, Pinto planned for how the University of Cincinnati (UC) could excel tomorrow, by unveiling the new university strategies going into 2028. These initiatives include an “Education Knowledge & Creativity Innovation,” growth plan and the “Platforms & Pathways” strategies.

“Spring 2023 has truly been a joy for me,” Pinto said, reminding everyone that, on Feb. 28, the university “celebrated five years of Next Lives Here.”

During Thursday's speech, A primary question that Pinto proposed was regarding the future of the university. “Where will we be, when we celebrate again in 300 years?” Pinto asked, describing the assembled faculty members as “stewards of this great institution.”

Pinto added, “One that is so vital, so vitally important, to our society. To our city, to our state, our nation, and the world.”

Pinto gave examples of threats facing the United States in the near future, naming population growth as an area of concern. Current projections show Earth’s population will reach 9.7 billion by 2050, with most living in urban places.

“These cities will be the economic engines of the globe, they already are,” Pinto explained, “this is where our students will be working.”

Pinto also mentioned sustainability, pondering “How do we feed these cities in a sustainable way?” and “How do we provide them energy in a sustainable way?” All of this served as a backdrop for the crux of Pinto’s speech: laying out planned renovations, expansions, and curriculum alterations, centering these changes within what he called a “growth mindset.”

In practice, this means prioritizing “experiential learning opportunities.” Referring to 17-18-year-olds as a “traditional group,” of students, Pinto stated universities must also restructure themselves to incorporate adult learners. Pinto also spoke about the ”growth of education,” expanding access to students who “typically have not had access to the type of education of the kind offered here.”

Pinto praised the increase in admittance, citing how UC has grown from a school with “44,800 as a university to just short of 48,00 this fall semester,” a “6.7% growth in enrollment overall, across all campuses.”

Likewise, he commented on increasing the number of degrees UC offers, growing from “11,000 degrees to 11,800 degrees,” suggesting that the differentials show UC is “retaining more students.” But in Pinto’s view, “the largest and most impressive growth has been in online learning. 16% of the student body are online, except for graduation they’re not coming to our campus at all,” Pinto said, later saying most virtual students are in graduate programs.

As for research and scholarships, Pinto commended  UC’s numbers as “just off the charts,” referencing the $650 million dollars UC holds, an increase of “30-40%” and citations of UC-based academics in research publications have increased by the same amount.

After summarizing UC’s accomplishments, Pinto shifted gears, segueing into a rundown of the college’s future plans.

On housing, he promised 6,000 more beds in Uptown by Fall 2026, noting the construction of Calhoun and Siddall Halls, and dismissing recent concerns. “There really isn’t a housing crisis,” Pinto said, assuring audience members the college is “addressing,” its admittedly “extensive,” waiting list.

He also acknowledged the opening of Clifton Court Hall, the College of Arts and Science’s new home. At 185,00 feet, it’ll hold 24 classrooms and 230 faculty and staff officers. Comparing the newly built Arts & Sciences building to other architecture projects – such as UC’s recently opened College of Law – Pinto added these efforts were an attempt to “help us to provide the environment necessary for good academic work.” Pinto also championed UC’s planned digital transformation, hiring Bhararath Prabhakaran as Chief Digital Officer, and establishing a “Center for Excellence,” for incorporating technological innovation into teaching.

“I want to really challenge the professors in the room here,” Pinto admitted. “We are not going to be teaching in 2050 as we do today.” Using Spotify as an analogy, Pinto asked the gathered academics if they could “create the Spotify equivalent for your teaching.”

Finally, the president spoke about Senate Bill 83, a piece of legislation that could irrevocably change Ohio’s education system.

“I want to just tell you and reassure you that we’re advocating for the university’s point of view on this piece of legislation,” Pinto stressed, recalling “constant calls, and meetings, weekends, nights, trying to get our perspective on the table.” Nonetheless, Pinto conceded “some version of the bill will pass.”

Addressing the students, faculty members, and staffers alongside him that day, President Pinto thanked them, saying, “You, as a member of this university community, are responsible for these accomplishments.” Ultimately, Pinto restated, “It’s this foundational work that’s going to elevate this university.”

News Reporter

Zurie Pope is a sophomore at the University of Cincinnati majoring in journalism with a minor in political science. His work has appeared in The Nation Magazine, Youth Journalism International, and Unpublished Magazine.