Dear Hiram Friends,
Do any of you experience the passage of time the way I do? May-August lasts two weeks and January-March lasts two years? If so, then by the time you read this, we will be nearing the beginning of the “long season.” Until then, let me bring you up to speed on many of the wonderful things happening on the hill this summer.
Professor Denny Taylor is leading his third Learning Streams International (LSI) Institute, and his participants are assessing the impacts of climate change. As is often the case, Professor Taylor has invited VIPs to join for part of the program. In that vein, just last week, we proudly hosted Mr. Richard Boyum, University Partnerships Coordinator at the U.S. Department of State. The Department of State is a major supporter of LSI. Mr. Boyum spent three days on campus. During his visit, he could see, first hand, the powerful and collaborative learning that engages American and Pakistani participants in this science and community-based, problem-solving institute.
Meanwhile, for the fifth year in a row, Dr. Jennifer Clark (Associate Professor of Biology) led Moth Night at the James H. Barrow Field Station a few weeks ago. With the help of three committed students (Kayla Cornett ’18, Andrew Runyon ‘19, and Alyssa Roberts ’21), Dr. Clark challenged participants to see just how cool moths are; you can learn more about this quintessential Hiram activity here.
Moths aren’t the only cool things that fly at Hiram. This summer, Dr. Jim Kercher, Associate Professor and Chair, Chemistry Department prompted aspiring researchers (first-year students Brett Bentkowski, Alainna Conroy, and Jake Lininger) to ask probing questions and collect scientific data by playing with drones. Let me correct myself; “playing” is not at all the right word. These scientists-in-training were using drone-mounted sensors to investigate atmospherical chemical composition above different land covers at the Field Station. Excitingly, the drones aren’t even the best part of this research. These students soon take their recently honed research methodology and data analytics skills to Switzerland. There, they will continue to collaborate with Dr. Kercher who routinely conducts research at Swiss partner institution, Paul Scherrer Institute. For more on this unique program that integrates technology, field work, and international study take a look at this site.
As we ready the campus for the start of a new year, I am beaming about the projects that Rudy Braydich III, our new Director of Physical Plant and his staff have undertaken—everything from tree pruning, exterior light improvements, painting, and minor and major repair work. I am also pleased see a number of projects humming along in the residence halls. Ed Frato-Sweeney and his staff in Residential Education have ensured that the remodeling of dorm spaces is staying on track. Thanks to generous donor gifts, the bedrooms in Henry and Whitcomb now have bright carpet, fresh paint, and new furniture. Additionally, all Whitcomb bathrooms were completely renovated, as was the first-floor bathroom in Miller. New furniture was also purchased for Bowler’s main lounge and for floor lounges in Booth-Centennial and East Hall.
Lastly, I want to share a few accomplishments from Matthew McKenna’s Tech and Trek and Information Technology staff. Over this summer, Marc Freeman (Media Services Manager) and his student team have tested classroom technology and made necessary repairs. Jess Baker (User Services Manager), Chris Klinger (Systems/Email Administrator), and Bryan Drennen (Network Administrator) laid the groundwork and started installing a new VoIP phone system across campus. Bryan has also engineered and has been supervising the installation of a 60’ tower at the Field Station, which, thanks to yet another large gift, will upgrade the WIFI network to that facility. And Jess and her student staff have been busily converting the old computer lab in Gerstacker Hall into a new active learning classroom, complete with charging tables for iPads and a laptop cart for PC applications.
As you can see, there is nothing lazy about a Hiram College summer. In this season, like in all others, we do what we do best: work with each other and our students to ensure that we are literally building the community, the infrastructure, and the conditions that allow students to thrive and maximize their potential.
Thank you for your continued support and engagement.
Lori E. Varlotta