2014 Commencement Speaker: Retiring President Tom Chema
Retiring Hiram College President Tom Chema will deliver the institution’s 164th Commencement address at graduation ceremonies planned for Saturday, May 17. A total of 299 graduates will be awarded degrees.
Chema has served as president for 11 years. During his presidency, undergraduate enrollment has grown by more than 40 percent; the Hiram campus has been transformed with more than $50 million in physical enhancements, including 11 new or renovated buildings; fundraising attainment has grown dramatically with more than 100 gifts to Hiram of more than $100,000; and distinctive academic programs have been developed and implemented, including eight Centers of Distinction.
Hiram’s 21st president, Chema is looking forward to the opportunity to address this year’s graduates.
“I am very much like many of our students,” he said. “I was the first in my family to attend college and the experience transformed my life. Because of my liberal arts education, I was able to reinvent myself many times and have a number of successful careers. Students graduating in 2014 will not only have many different jobs in their lifetime, they will have many different careers. Hiram has prepared them to live and work in a rapidly changing and complex world. Our graduates leave Hiram with an opportunity to make a difference in a world that needs difference makers.”
Chema was no stranger to Hiram when he became president having served as a voting member of the Hiram College Board of Trustees for 11 years and chairing the Institutional Advancement Committee. He brought to the Hiram presidency more than 30 years of experience in business, government, and law.
A native of East Liverpool, Ohio, Chema was a 1968 graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a 1971 Cum Laude graduate of Harvard Law School. He began his career with the Cleveland-based law firm of Arter & Hadden in 1971 and became a partner in 1979. He took a leave of absence in 1983 to serve as Executive Director of the Ohio Lottery Commission. In 1985, he was asked to become Chairman of the Ohio Public Utilities Commission.
In 1990, he was appointed Executive Director of the Gateway Economic Development Corporation and was responsible for overseeing the public/private partnership that led to the financing and construction of Jacobs Field and Gund Arena in Cleveland.