Hiram College’s 2017-2020 Strategic Plan
Hiram College’s 2017-20 Strategic Plan emerged from a yearlong process that broadly engaged members across the entire college community. It is organized around four broad areas—financial health, infrastructure, curricular and co-curricular offerings, and faculty and staff accountability—that will help the College simultaneously leverage its history and position itself to become a national model for “the New Liberal Arts.”
A Pioneering Past and the Emergence as “the New Liberal Arts”
Throughout its 167 years, Hiram College has pioneered curricular innovations that enhance student learning and extend its mission. True to its liberal arts core, Hiram has always done more than prepare students for a meaningful career; it has supported them in finding a calling central to their personal and professional lives. And, as the mission promises, Hiram graduates students who are ready to “face the urgent challenges of the times.”
A full century before the terms “service-learning,” “high-impact pedagogy,” or “interdisciplinarity” permeated academic parlance, they existed in concrete forms at Hiram College. Hiram students have long explored complex, real-life issues via hands-on inquiry, community-based learning, and multiple disciplinary perspectives. The single-course-at-a-time plan that the College adopted in the mid-1900s also intensified such deep learning. Hiram was likely the first college in the country to structure its calendar and curriculum in this way. A few decades later, Hiram was the first higher education institution in Ohio to extend its mission to adult students; the extension came to fruition via its Weekend College program. Since 1995, the College has structured its academic calendar in an innovative fashion, offering 12 weeks of traditional coursework that is followed by 3 weeks of intensive study in a single class. In addition to on-campus learning, Hiram College is committed to offering compelling study-abroad experiences that span disciplines, relate to current issues, and deepen students’ understanding of the world and themselves. Hence, it is not surprising that out-of-the-box thinking also shaped this strategic planning process.
Four emerging academic initiatives mark the experience of Hiram students today: Hiram Connect, Hiram Complete, Hiram Health, and Tech and Trek. Together, these initiatives pave the way for establishing Hiram as the New Liberal Arts. Hiram Connect requires students to undertake an experiential learning activity such as an internship, guided research project, or study-away experience and reflect on how the experience confirms or challenges classroom theories, personal observations, and commonly held perceptions. Hiram Complete allows students at community colleges to move seamlessly from an associate degree program to baccalaureate program, completing the BA degree in two years or less. Hiram Health offers a wide array of curricular and co-curricular science and health programs that prepare future health professionals for myriad careers or graduate programs. Hiram Health students are trained to be as compassionate and caring as they are clinically competent. And finally, Tech and Trek is situating Hiram College as the place where mobile technology meets mindful technology. As part of Tech and Trek, all students are equipped with an iPad Pro and associated tools. More importantly, students learn how to creatively and critically use their devices to navigate the many intellectual and physical treks that make up their undergraduate journey.
These and other initiatives have helped Hiram sharpen its identity and attract the type of curious students who thrive in the close-knit learning community that is Hiram College. Although Hiram’s current programs are strong, this strategic plan clears a path forward for continued innovation and success.
Goals for a Promising Future
This plan is framed around the following four goals, each with measurable action items, that will accelerate Hiram’s efforts in defining and modeling “the New Liberal Arts.”
- Financial Health—increase and diversify revenues, including those that come from: Traditional College, Professional and Graduate Studies, and College Credit Plus enrollments; targeted fundraising, such as “mini” or “boutique campaigns”; expanded auxiliary services; and business partnerships such as the Hiram Inn.
- Infrastructure Improvements—upgrade and improve the physical facilities and the technological systems that fuel 21st-century teaching and learning and increase operational efficiency; align capital investments with strategic priorities that directly impact enrollment and student success.
- Curricular and Co-curricular Programs—offer an array of academic and co-curricular programs that reinforce contemporary liberal learning and 21st-century skills; deliver programmatic content in ways that challenge and support students at each major juncture of the undergraduate journey.
- Faculty and Staff Accountability and Success—recruit and retain a competent and caring faculty and staff who place students first; align faculty and staff expertise with institutional priorities to foster a culture of success and accountability.
With the broad goals of Hiram College’s 2017-2020 Strategic Plan and its dozens of specific action items, Hiram will build a synergy between active classroom learning, high-impact experiential activities, and mindful technology. This synergy forms a whole that is bigger and better than the sum of its parts. Hiram is fashioning this powerful combination—this newly configured whole—as the New Liberal Arts, and Hiram is primed to be the prototype of this very model.