On July 1, 2014, Dr. Lori E. Varlotta became the 22nd president of Hiram College. She is the institution’s first female president.
Dr. Varlotta and the leadership team she has assembled have made visible strides both on and beyond the Hiram campus. Under her leadership, the College has celebrated many “firsts” and charted record-breaking years in key areas. On June 30, 2016, Hiram recorded the largest fundraising year in its 166-year history, receiving $9.3 million in (cash) gifts. Similarly, her laser focus in monitoring revenues and expenses in fiscal years 2015-2016 led the College to its strongest financial position in recent history.
Now in her third year, Varlotta continues to work with Admissions, Financial Aid, and faculty and staff across campus to create and leverage an enrollment growth plan. These efforts have been fueled by the collaborative relationships that mark Hiram’s familial-like campus. This cooperation has produced several exciting initiatives. One of the most impressive is the 3-year degree pathway for 20 academic programs—an option that will be made available to Fall 2017 freshmen. Also, reconfigurations in the Professional and Graduate Studies (PGS) side of the College are helping to yield positive outcomes with Hiram’s Community College Partners and other adult learners’ programs.
Perhaps Dr. Varlotta’s broadest impact on the campus has come from the establishment of shared governance mechanisms. For the first time in the College’s history, the faculty, staff, and students have respective structures in place that allow them to participate in relevant decision-making processes. These shared governance entities have played a role in identifying and promoting the academic differentiators that will set Hiram apart in the recruitment and retention of students.
On some campuses such prioritization can lead to polarization. At Hiram, however, constituent groups (from the Board of Trustees to the students) have worked positively and productively to make joint recommendations about the academic differentiators that they believe can and should be highlighted. The buy-in and participation has been wide and deep—no small feat for any campus.
Before coming to Hiram College, Dr. Varlotta spent 11 years at California State University, Sacramento, most recently serving as senior vice president for planning, enrollment management, and student affairs. There, she led 31 departments in the areas of enrollment, student life, retention, educational equity, and NCAA Division I athletics.
Dr. Varlotta’s 31-year career in higher education administration extends beyond any single campus. She has tackled — in state, regional, and national speaking venues —some of higher education’s most pressing issues: retention and graduation, planning and budgeting, transparency and accountability, health and wellness. She has published extensively on the topics of higher education assessment and accountability; student success and graduation; and community, identity, and service. Several years ago, Dr. Varlotta participated in the design and implementation of the country’s first voluntary system of higher education accountability, a project called College Portrait. Given this level of visibility and engagement, Dr. Varlotta is frequently called upon to contribute to regional and national conversations on higher education.
A proud Pittsburgh native and first-generation college student, Dr. Varlotta earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy at the University of Notre Dame (Indiana), a Master of Science degree in cultural foundations of education from Syracuse University (New York) and an interdisciplinary Doctor of Philosophy degree in educational leadership and feminist philosophy from Miami University (Ohio).