Hiram College

Dear faculty, staff, and students,

These last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind for all of us. As students have been busy preparing for midterm exams, many faculty and staff have been working diligently to plan the implementation of the Tech and Trek initiative. All the while, others throughout campus have been celebrating Black History Month and cheering our athletic teams on at post-season competitions.

Tech and Trek planning was well underway this past weekend as members of the faculty, staff, student body, and trustees “retreated” all day Saturday and Sunday. During this retreat, we discussed ideas for messaging Tech and Trek, and we collectively envisioned how it could enhance classroom pedagogy. We also brainstormed ways it could improve office communication and workflow. Discussions continued Monday and Tuesday as a small group of representatives from Apple, Inc. met with approximately 100 individuals from myriad departments. The Apple team listened to feedback from campus, learned more about faculty and staff current tech experience, and helped imagine what the future could hold. Students also participated in these meetings, and our Apple reps were thoroughly impressed by the interest and in-depth questions that were shared at the student session.

The most pressing goal to emerge from our recent Tech and Trek planning was this: design the program with improved learning outcomes at its core. The commitment to do so was unanimous from all who participated in this week’s intensive sessions. That same commitment was highlighted in yesterday’s article by Inside Higher Ed (link here). I am pleased that we seem to be of common mind in conceptualizing and implementing Tech and Trek in ways that will improve individual and collective learning, bolster campus engagement, and cultivate the 21st-century competencies associated with increasingly global communities and workplaces.

As we draw this week’s Tech and Trek retreat and planning sessions to a close, one of the most powerful topics that we discussed is worthy of mention here. We began to contemplate Hiram as the “New Liberal Arts.” I see it…can you? The New Liberal Arts—integrated study, high-impact experiences, and mindful technology.

Speaking of integrated learning, students (and the rest of the community, as well) have been stimulated and moved by several of the Black History Month events organized by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Whether we were in attendance at Barbecue (a play which addresses racial politics, stereotypes, self-destruction, and survival) or listening to lectures by guest speakers Dr. Julius Bailey or Dr. Monnica Williams, we have had the chance to bring our own perspectives to the table, listen to the stories of others, and ask questions. All of this helps us reflect on the ways we can be an even stronger and more diverse community.

In addition to these “heady” events, we also enjoyed a few physical duels. The men’s and women’s basketball teams recently wrapped up their seasons with trips to the North Coast Athletic Conference Championship Tournaments. After setting a new program record in both single-season wins (17) and conference victories (9), our women’s team hosted a NCAC playoff game for the first time in program history. Similarly, the Terrier men were back in the conference playoffs for the second straight year and in coach Chris Kibler’s third season. Although both teams ended their seasons with losses, our basketball players and their committed coaches have much to be proud of again this year. 

Wow! What a week (or two) it has been.

Your President,

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Lori Varlotta