Lori E. Varlotta, President, Hiram College

Lori Varlotta became the 22nd president of Hiram College on July 1, 2014. She is the institution’s first woman president.

A Pittsburgh native, Varlotta brings 29 years of experience as a university administrator to Hiram College. She spent the past 11 years at California State University, Sacramento, most recently serving as senior vice president for planning, enrollment management and student affairs.

During her career, Varlotta has tackled some of higher education’s most pressing issues: retention and graduation, planning and budgeting, transparency and accountability, health and wellness. Her accomplishments at Sacramento State include the following:

  • Building an enrollment management team that continually hit fast-changing enrollment targets.
  • Recruiting and enrolling the most diverse student class in Sacramento State history.
  • Co-chairing the campus’s graduation and retention initiative, leading to increased retention in several cohort areas.
  • Creating and implementing an outcomes-based assessment program that has been replicated on campuses across the country.
  • Opening “The WELL,” California’s most integrated collegiate recreation and wellness facility.
  • Establishing a nationally acclaimed student veterans program.
  • Designing and overseeing a comprehensive student-athlete resource center.

In addition to the role she played on campus, Varlotta has been a resounding voice in the conversation on higher education, both in the state of California and nationwide. She has published extensively on the topics of higher education assessment and accountability, and she participated in the design and implementation of the country’s first voluntary system of higher education accountability, a project called College Portrait.

Varlotta began her higher education career as a resident director and peer tutor advisor at Robert Morris College. She worked her way up the career ladder throughout the last three decades, building a breadth of experience at colleges and universities throughout the country. Her first-hand knowledge of leading departments in student affairs, academic affairs, enrollment management, and auxiliary units will serve her well at Hiram College where everyone wears many hats.

On a more personal note, Varlotta is a first generation college student, with degrees in philosophy and education. She earned her B.A. in philosophy at the University of Notre Dame (1985), her M.S. in Cultural Foundations of Education from Syracuse University (1990) and an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Feminist Philosophy from Miami University (1997).

Her own background as a first generation student has greatly shaped her academic pursuits and leadership style.

“I have gained an immense amount of knowledge and political acumen through the academic degrees I have earned and the leadership positions I have attained,” Varlotta said. “But the values I was taught as a first generation college student from a family of modest means are what most define my sense of self and my style of leadership. Those values include honesty and integrity, an unwavering work ethic, a genuine desire to work with and learn from all types of people, and an appreciation for those who have made great sacrifices on my behalf. I believe the Hiram College presidency will allow me to ‘give back’ and ‘pay forward’ the types of opportunities that were afforded to me, and I am honored to have this opportunity.”

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