The spring season marks a period of reflection and renewal. With half our academic year complete, this is the perfect time to contemplate our recent accomplishments and envision the initiatives that will guide our work over the next few months. As you will see below, there is good reason to be proud of our successes and energized for what’s to come.
Our achievements in 2017 have been widespread. Thus far, we have introduced key programs that both strengthen our liberal arts tradition and prepare students to develop the skills required in the 21st-century workforce.
- We built upon 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 foster a healthy campus community. In early February, we approved a new Public Health major that will be “on the books” in Fall 2017. The new program is a perfect complement to other health-related majors that carry on our long tradition of preparing compassionate caregivers to develop the clinical and interpersonal skills required to care for the whole person.
- We strengthened Hiram Connect – Hiram College’s way of doing the liberal arts – by establishing and institutionalizing guidelines for experiential learning and by incorporating structured reflection and interdisciplinary learning into coursework in meaningful and strategic ways.
- We bolstered the number of faculty and staff in our nursing program and hired new faculty in classics, economics, mathematics, and public health, thus strengthening our commitment to the provision of a well-rounded, liberal education.
- We also overhauled our entire College website, providing improved functionality for mobile devices and highlighting key areas, such as admissions and student services.
While we have already made great strides, we have much ground yet to travel this year. Throughout the spring semester, several projects will be shaped, launched, and refined.
One of the big ones will be the 50th anniversary of the Field Station—Hiram’s largest (at 550 acres) and most beautiful “classroom.” We will use this celebration to reinforce the College’s commitment to an interdisciplinary sustainability program that uses this wonderful natural resource as a learning lab for various science, art, and environmental studies programs.
We will complete the “design phase” of our comprehensive strategic plan by sharing subcommittee reports with the entire campus, vetting emerging ideas, and including the best ones in the next draft of the plan. That draft will be written in April and then readied for distribution at the late spring or midsummer meeting of the Board of Trustees.
Our most transformational program will be the launch of Tech and Trek, a mobile technology initiative that will equip all full-time, traditional college students with an iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, and keyboard bundle in Fall 2017. The first of its kind in Ohio, Tech and Trek will utilize the latest technology to enhance the already strong teaching and learning that takes place in classrooms across campus and on the myriad treks students take as part of their Hiram College journey. Indeed, Tech and Trek will ensure that “mobile goes mobile,” as students use 21st-century technology to capture, synthesize, analyze, and reflect upon the experiences they encounter on study abroad trips, internships, service learning projects, and field assignments.
Students often share with us that these high-impact learning experiences, many of which occur outside the classroom, are the ones that change their lives. At Hiram, this combination of hands-on learning and top-notch classroom experiences prepare our students for so much more than the many careers they will hold throughout their lives. It helps them shape a life worth living.
Let’s all strive for such a life.
Dr. Lori E. Varlotta