Centers of Distinction

Sandy Madar, Professor of Biology

After a recent advising meeting, a student told Professor Sandy Madar, “You’re the first person that makes me feel good about the fact that I’m sorting my path out.”

That sentence, in a nutshell, is what “First at Hiram” means to her. Hiram College is a place where students can sort out their ideas as they figure out where they want to go in life. Students are put first as they are encouraged to discover new things, and supported as they try them for the first time.

“There should be no apology about walking through the door and saying, ‘I want to do “A,”’ and (then) taking some classes and having some experiences, doing some volunteer work … and recognizing the fact that it’s not ‘A,’” said Professor Madar, who also serves as director of Strategic Academic Initiatives.

The conversation she had with this student is typical; often times, students start college with one idea, and by the time they graduate, they’ve discovered something entirely new that they want to do with life. At a small and tight-knit college like Hiram, students are able to discover their true passions faster than they would at large institutions because they are able to reach across disciplines in a unique way.

And unlike those large institutions where professors sometimes spend more time doing research than teaching, Professor Madar said at Hiram, teaching is interwoven in everything they do. Professors depend on student assistants for their research, so it becomes a two-way street that benefits both sides.

View all profiles

“It’s part of our ethos, really,” she said. “We recognize the value of those partnerships. There’s not enough hours in the day for us to do (research) without students.”

Because of those experiences, the students become equipped with both knowledge and an interdisciplinary way of thinking.

“One of the things that you can only do in a small setting is to say (to students), ‘Now you’ve got some content, and because you know a little bit, you’re dangerous enough to have your own ideas that are based on your own life experiences,’” Professor Madar said. “And you can’t really tease that out of students in a large setting, but you can definitely tease it out when you’re working with them in small groups and one on one.” 

The Center for Engaged Ethics hosts an annual Campus Day, where students get a day off from classes to perform community service.
In March 2012, the Center for Integrated Entrepreneurship hosted the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium's idealabs 2012 competition. Several area colleges attended.
The Center for Literature and Medicine began a Disease by Performance course for the 2011-2012 academic year, where students wrote a play about autism, and performed it across the state to raise awareness.
The Center for Scientific Engagement regularly conducts research and programming at the James H. Barrow Field Station.
The Garfield Institute for Public Leadership launched a study to gauge the mood of young voters leading up to the 2012 presidential election. Scholar-in-residence Jason Johnson has provided commentary on the study on national media.
The Lindsay-Crane Center for Writing and Literature hosts a Visiting Authors Series each year. In 2012, Thrity Umrigar, author of "The Space Between Us" gave a convocation and book signing on campus.
▲  Return to Top

Explore Our Centers