For those of us in academe, the fall semester marks the new year. It allows us to reflect on the academic year we have just finished while prompting us to look forward to what’s to come. Ponderings in both directions give me great pleasure this year as we have much to celebrate and much to anticipate.
As we close the chapter on academic year 2016, I am pleased to recap several highlights that brightened our year.
- We launched Hiram Health – a curricular and co-curricular program that positions Hiram to be the destination for undergraduates who want to study health, embody a healthy lifestyle, and help their classmates and faculty build a healthy campus community.
- We introduced Hiram Connect – Hiram College’s way of doing the liberal arts. Hiram Connect teaches students how to intentionally integrate what they learn in and out of the classroom with what they experience in their personal lives. It also helps them step back and explicitly reflect on what they are learning now and what they still want and need to learn as they imagine life beyond Hiram. As part of Hiram Connect, all students will complete an experiential component such as an internship, study away program, or research project before they graduate.
- We bolstered the number of faculty and staff in our nursing program and hired new faculty in classics, economics, mathematics and public health.
- We added new academic programs in exercise science and natural history. Hiram has a strong tradition in both of these curricular areas, and each one is expected to attract new students to campus.
- We logged in the largest fundraising year ever recorded in Hiram’s 166-year history: $9.3 million in gifts last year!
While we made great strides, we have much ground yet to travel this year. During the early months of the fall semester, several projects are in the works.
- We are spending the first few months of the academic year overhauling our entire College website to highlight admissions and other key student areas.
- We are starting to explore the addition of an interdisciplinary sustainability program that will help us leverage our 550-acre biological station as a learning lab for various science, art and environmental studies programs.
- We are gearing up to get our new men’s volleyball team off the ground as one of the first institutions in Ohio to offer the sport at the intercollegiate level.
- We are beginning a comprehensive strategic planning process that will include many faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends of the College.
As the College president, I am not only proud of what we have done and what we plan to do but how we go about our work and lives here on the Hill. At Hiram, everyone rolls up their sleeves to work together. Even when faced with the challenges common at small liberal arts colleges like ours, we keep our energies and attention focused on what matters most to all of us: student success.
Other institutions talk about putting and keeping students first, but my experiences at institutions nationwide suggest that few do it better and more consistently than Hiram College. The education we provide in our small classrooms and out in the field; via our guided research projects and study away trips; in the residence halls, the courts, the fields, and the pool is relevant, strong, and meaningful. It is the kind of education that prepares our students for so much more than the many careers they will hold. It helps them shape a life worth living.
Let’s all strive for such a life.
Dr. Lori E. Varlotta