Dear faculty, staff and students,
Welcome back to campus and to the new year of 2016. I hope that everyone was able to take some time with friends and family relishing the spirit of the season. I was in California with Eric enjoying the company of friends and taking recreational advantage of the deep snow that made cross-country skiing and snowshoeing the best ways to get around for several days. Since we were away from the hubbub of all our nieces and nephews, we had a quiet but special break. There were few packages and bits of shiny paper strewn around the house, but I received a few very special “presents” that I share with you today.
One of those surprises came in a legal-size yellow envelope postmarked Hiram, Ohio. Much to my delight, two of our alumni from the classes of 1939 and 1942 sent me a short pile of neatly typed reports written by Hiram College President Kenneth Brown to the Board of Trustees during a three-year period during the Great Depression. The contents of the 80-plus year-old reports – the financial difficulties of the times marked by the collective commitment of faculty and staff to do whatever it would take – put me in a reflective but appreciative mood. I was once again struck by our history since it is such an interesting and strong one.
I was also struck by the fact that elders in our community would take the time to handwrite a nice note, gather all the reports, and mail them to me for safe keeping (the reports will be placed in the Library archives shortly). The last line of the cover letter made me smile: “Excuse the paper and the printing. Sold my typewriter – never had a computer.” Truly, the cover letter and the reports were the most meaningful gifts I received this season.
Another gift came to me right before the start of the spring semester. Again, it was a letter, but this time from the parents of a soon-to-be Hiram College graduate. They wrote me in appreciation of the committed faculty (one in particular) who had worked with their son to face and tackle the type of learning disabilities that would make any student’s journey to the degree a challenging one.
Letters like these, and several of the ones that accompanied financial gifts that came in right before the clock struck midnight on December 31, reminded me of the reasons why Hiram College is special.
Enjoy the long weekend ahead in tribute to another leader from whom we can all learn.