Hiram College

Opening Assembly 2018

Talk is Cheap, Highly Proofed Pudding is Not

“Talk is Cheap, Highly Proofed Pudding is Not”

Opening Assembly:  August 17, 2018

Welcome Back

It feels good to welcome you here today and to talk about the positive path we are traveling together. Now, several months after a spring semester that catalyzed all kinds of change, we are rebuilding a campus culture where respect and cooperation are paving our way to success.

As I always say, the proof is in the pudding. We start our 2018-19 year with a 13-proof pudding that reflects the positive changes and the visible strides forward we have made during this summer season.

Let me tick through the accomplishments that we have achieved together.

Academic Redesign

1. Summer Work Groups. Over two-thirds of our faculty, joined in many cases by staff, collaborated in summer work groups that were constituted to operationalize pieces and parts of the New Liberal Arts. These colleagues tackled many projects, including but not limited to:

  1. School Names and Clusters. This work group was chaired by Professor Brad Goodner with professorial colleagues that included Cathy Erbes, Paul Gaffney, Willard Greenwood, Nick Hirsch, Ella Kirk, Jen McCreight, Louis Oliphant, and Janet Pope. The group sent a list of recommendations to me at the end of June. Together with the Senior Cabinet, I accepted almost every one of their recommendations. Thank you to all who helped us get this structure in order. This final version of the Schools and their clusters are posted below.The Majors, The Minors and the Schools
  2. Sport Management. Professors Andrew White, Dave Strukel, and Michael Rebold assisted by Ellen Dempsey, Jim Johnston, and many other members of the Athletics staff have designed the curriculum for this new major. I have approved a budget for the program, and the curricular pieces will be reviewed by the Academic Program Committee early this fall.
  3. International Studies. Professor Jugdep Chima is developing this new major, and we are waiting to see the ideas he brings forward.
  4. Visual and Performing Arts. Professors Chris Ryan, Betsy Bauman, and Dawn Sonntag are reconfiguring and integrating the stand-alone visual and performing art majors. Soon, there will be two interdisciplinary majors going forward, and we are awaiting a formal proposal of what they suggest we adopt.
  5. Criminal Justice. Our recently hired sociologist, Elena Fox, will be helping to spearhead early movement in this area.
  6. Co-curricular Groups. There are a least two or three groups brainstorming ways we can further strengthen our co-curricular programs and link them more explicitly to the academic pursuits of our students. I encourage those of you in these groups to work with Vice President Liz Okuma and the Student Affairs staff.
  7. Field Station Group. Dean Judy Muyskens has appointed Professor Jenn Clark to serve as the academic leader of the James H. Barrow and the Northwoods Field Stations. I have asked Professor Clark to work closely with her co-director, Jim Metzinger, and others to create a Strategic Plan for both Field Stations. This plan will align closely with the College’s Strategic Plan and the emerging New Liberal Arts model.
  8. Core Curriculum Groups. Four groups have worked over the summer to draft “Pathways” that lead to a new core curriculum. Leaders of these groups attended a weeklong General Education Institute in Salt Lake City hosted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and I am very excited to hear the ideas that all four groups will share with us soon.

2. Infographics and Visuals. As we prepare to rollout several of the forthcoming changes, our graphic designer Jenny Taraba and I have worked with several others to create a set of infographic visuals that help explain the New Liberal Arts. It is our hope that these “pictures” will tell a thousand words.

3. School Leaders. Dean Judy Muyskens has mapped out a process for soliciting input regarding the appointment of new School Leaders. In the coming weeks, she will sit down with every full-time faculty member to gauge their interest in the position or to ask them to nominate a colleague for these critical new roles. Last week, Judy sent out a job description of School Leaders, the corollary stipends, leadership resources, and the like.

4. Centers of Distinction. Professor Sandy Madar is leading conversations with the Directors of the Centers of Distinction regarding how and where they would like to see the Centers woven in to the New Liberal Arts and the new School model. I will soon be bringing other voices to the table to glean their perspectives on this important issue. By December, I expect to have a plan—informed as always by many perspectives—to share with all of you.

5. Hiram is Emerging as a National Model for Change. Over the summer, I have received inquiries from several news sources and educational organizations who are interested in writing about or publishing articles that describe the process we implemented and the results it yielded. Just this week, I have spoken with representatives from these four organizations or publications, and all of them are planning to cover the work we are doing on the hill of Hiram.

  1. Crain’s Cleveland Business
  2. Chronicle of Higher Education’s Idea Lab
  3. AACU’s Liberal Education
  4. Western Association of Schools and Colleges

6. Scarborough School of Business & Communication. I am thrilled to announce that our new School of Business & Communication will be formally named the Scarborough School of Business & Communication. The news announcement will be made next week via a formal press release, but I wanted to personally share the news with all of you during this face-to-face meeting. The naming of the School of Business & Communication is one of the many markers of the positive changes we are making. It is absolutely fitting to name the School after Dean Scarborough ‘77. Mr. Scarborough is a trustee who has not only contributed financially to his alma mater; he has contributed considerable time and energy on campus and remotely, sharing his business acumen to help position Hiram for a bright future. It is our hope that Dean Scarborough and Janice Bini’s many contributions will serve as inspirations to others for whom we can name Schools this year.

Physical and Technological Improvements

While the academic redesign has been front and center for a number of us on campus, other important work has occupied the minds and efforts of other colleagues. I want to recognize and celebrate the great progress they, too, have made this summer.

7. Philanthropy at Work. You can barely walk anywhere on campus right now and not see a “Philanthropy at Work” banner that is marking a project funded by extramural dollars. One of our most dramatic projects is the Library, where the first floor of this building is being renovated by a state grant and a Hoover Price Foundation award to create the Hiram Learning and Technology Collaborative for students and visitors.

8. Residence Hall Renovations. These renovations are well underway and will include bathrooms, new carpets, furniture upgrades, and other basic amenities that students justifiably expect.

9.Technology Upgrades. The technology project at the James H. Barrow Field Station is right on track and soon all of us will be able to use our mobile devices and other resources in most of the high-traffic places there. Seven classrooms received technology upgrades this summer, and the century homes are also getting upgraded in the near future.

  1. Tech and Trek Conference. Hiram, in partnership with WVIZ/PBS Ideastream, hosted the inaugural conference in late June. This three-day conference provided a platform for K-12 and higher ed educators to collaborate in sessions focusing on mindful technology, innovations in teaching and learning, and trekking the areas on and around Hiram’s campus. Matthew McKenna served as co-chair of the event, with Jen McCreight, Garrett Munro, and Litsa Varonis serving on the conference’s planning committee.

10. Telephone Crossover. In a month or so, the Dray Computer Center will usher us into the 21st-century telephonic world by moving us over to our new VOIP system.

Fundraising and Friend Raising Updates

Our alumni, along with Trustees and friends of the College were as generous — actually more generous than ever—last year. When we closed the fiscal books this summer, the numbers confirmed that we broke yet another fundraising record.

11. Another Record Fundraising Year. June 30 marked the fiscal year end, and I can confirm that we broke another fundraising record this year by bringing in $9.8M in cash. This marks the third consecutive banner year. We are immensely grateful that so many of the donors have earmarked their gifts for pieces and parts of the academic redesign and numerous others have made gifts for operating support.

12. Alumni Weekend 2018. We welcomed almost 1,000 alumni back to campus. The coffee chat with College President and Chairman of the Board attracted almost triple the attendees we had last year. Attendees engaged in a very positive and supportive conversation about the academic redesign and the New Liberal Arts.

13. Vision 20/20. Our fundraising success positions us very well for launching a boutique campaign called Vision 20/20 where we expect to bring in $20M in cash and $20M in pledges by fiscal year end 2020.

I always say, the proof is in the pudding. So yes, I can say “we are off to a fantastic start this year.” But getting a taste of the 13-proof pudding makes it all the sweeter (and stronger).

Welcome back…let’s keep this momentum going!