Dear Hiram Friends,
While random frost events aren’t unheard of in May in Northeast Ohio, it seems that spring has finally sprung. And I assure you, late though it is, we are happy to see the sun and the flowers. At the same time, the academic year’s end is upon us; students have just completed their 3-week courses and are ready for their next phase. For many of our students, that will be a break from classes during a summer of R&R, time with family, personal projects, or internships – some of those internships are taking place at our own James H. Barrow Field Station.
For our seniors, the next phase is graduation. This year’s Commencement Ceremony will be held on this Saturday, May 12th. As the word commencement denotes, this phase marks two important beginnings: first, the start of their professional lives or advancement of their studies; and second, their membership into the illustrious ranks of Hiram College’s alumni. It is, thus, quite fitting that our alumna Carol Zelis Perez, class of 1975, and United States Ambassador to Chile will present our commencement keynote speech on the topic of change.
Here and elsewhere, change is the theme of the times. And so it is, with the change that will be brought to fruition via the academic redesign process. As you know from my article in the March newsletter, the transparent and data-driven redesign process is an important part of our strategic plan’s implementation. One of the latest steps of the redesign work took place on April 16th and 17th. That step included RAND consultants making their third multi-day trip to campus. During this visit they conducted 13 separate presentations to a variety of different groups, meeting with more than 85 faculty, staff, students, alumni, and trustees. At each meeting, they presented ideas they had gathered from what they heard during their numerous focus groups and read on the web. RAND’s charge is to tweak, refine, and accelerate the most viable of the ideas they are gathering from us. To be clear, whatever comes from this process will be a Hiram Model, not a RAND one!
Following that visit, our faculty chair, Professor Nick Hirsch held yet another open meeting on April 23rd for faculty and staff to follow up on the ideas that were shared during the RAND visit. I will keep you posted on the next steps with RAND.
In terms of next steps with the overall redesign, please know that the College Dean, Dr. Judy Muyskens, and her advisory group of faculty, the SAT, are in the midst of crafting recommendations that they will share with two other faculty committees and the faculty at large in Mid-May. The Dean will integrate feedback from all these groups and forward it to me in a comprehensive report. Based on that report, I will draft my recommendations for the Board of Trustees, who will make final decisions regarding our academic reconfiguration. I anticipate communicating the Board’s decisions and the College’s next steps in June.
This crucial academic redesign work, and the work towards other goals in the strategic plan are an investment in Hiram College’s future. Such investments have come in many forms from our faculty, our staff, our trustees, and you, our alumni. I thank all of you who contributed to Hiram Giving Day – through your collective generous contributions we raised a record-setting $531,439!!
On behalf of all of us at Hiram College, thank you for your investment in our future!
Lori E. Varlotta