Dear Hiram Friends,
The dog days of summer are in full blast here on the hill. Since most of us in this part of the world wish for these days during the winter months, we are relishing the season despite the heat. Some of us are spending time in home and campus gardens, others are grabbing lunch from barbecues on the green, and others still are serving balls over the outdoor net set up on the lower campus. I love summer at Hiram.
The very best part of early summer is the annual Alumni Weekend we host mid-June each year. This year was no exception. More than 900 alumni came home to Hiram last month to enjoy the intellectual stimulation and camaraderie that the weekend fuels. A total of 10 classes celebrated their major reunion years while other groups such as 4th Whitcomb residents and men’s/women’s rugby held affinity reunions. I was pleased to stop into almost all of the celebrations and enjoy a conversation or walk down memory lane with Terriers from many decades.
Mother Nature smiled upon our festivities all weeklong long. Her blessings made outdoor treks like the student-led tours of the Frohring Lab and Waterfowl Conservation Facility at the Field Station and the canoe trip with Matt Sorrick ’91 (Director of the Center for Science Education) at Camp Hi thoroughly enjoyable. Before and after sunscreen lathering, folks stopped in to hear the J. J. Turner’s address or grab a cold water or soda at the Kennedy Center which was humming with the homemade sound track put together by Andrew Cappuzzello, one of our Development Officers, and an accomplished musician himself. As tradition would have it, Saturday night rocked, thanks to Blueprint Entertainment’s hosting of the annual block party and dance under the Hinsdale Arch.
It wasn’t all fun and games, however. We put our brains to work as well. Alumni Nancy Pratt ’12 (MAIS) and Odishius Sledge ’16 (PGS) delivered a timely program that engaged attendees in a conversation on the role of the liberal arts in promoting, building, and sustaining healthy communities. Almost one hundred alums joined me; our Board Chair, Dean Scarborough ’77; and Vice Chairwoman, Betsy Juliano ’85 for a coffee chat about the current state of the College, the academic redesign, and its impact on the College moving forward. As usual, good questions and honest conversations abounded.
Less than a week after Alumni weekend, the campus co-hosted, with Cleveland’s PBS Ideastream, our inaugural Tech and Trek conference. It was a smashing success! More than 80 conventional and non-conventional educators from to middle schools, high schools, colleges/universities, and non-profit educational organizations of various kinds descended on Hiram. For three full days we came together to learn about and share ideas, experiences, and best practices related to the intersection of mobile technology and mindful technology.
Thanks to the creative work of the planning committee—Matthew McKenna (Executive Director of Information Technology), Jen McCreight (Associate Professor of Education), Litsa Varonis (Instructional Designer), and Garret Munro (Instructional Designer), and our co-organizing partner Eric Siler (Community Engagement and Education Coordinator, at WVIZ/PBS Ideastream)—attendees participated in programs for the mind, body, and spirit. A good number of them began their busy day with sunrise yoga, followed by light breakfast. They then chose between several educational sessions throughout the morning, and each afternoon included an outdoor Trek of some sort. On land, Michael Benedict (Director of Institutional Grants, and a trained ecologist) led a hike through the Field Station’s main ecosystems; and on water, Matt Sorrick guided a canoe trip at Camp Hi where three canoe teams decided to take a plunge into the river. During the late afternoon and early evenings there were more sessions and keynotes.
Attendees stayed in the residence halls so there was plenty of time for late night conversation, some of which unfolded over a Summer Solstice bonfire and s’mores at the Field Station. In all honesty, it was one of the best conferences I have attended in a decade. Evaluations from others indicated the same.
I end this month’s column with another piece of good news. In the last week on June, Jen Schuller (Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations) and I had a productive trip to Pittsburgh, PA, where we met with several alumni and friends of the College. They and many others, including you, have contributed to a new historical record-breaking fundraising year totaling just under 10 million dollars!
Thank you for all that you do for your alma mater.
Lori E. Varlotta