Dear Hiram Friends,
The days are getting longer, and chipmunks are emerging from their burrows on their quest to find some tasty treats. These signs remind us that we are halfway through the Spring 12-week. And this semester has been packed with stimulating programs and positive campus changes. Let me tell you about just a few of them.
We have enjoyed several thought-provoking campus activities recently. On February 18th, for example, the Center for Literature and Medicine hosted Kelli Dunham to deliver her presentation “Laughter at the End of Life.” Kelli, an ex-nun and storytelling nurse comic is considered to be an expert on the intersections of art, grief, community-based caregiving and LGBT issues. Then, on February 27th, the Lindsay-Crane Center for Writing and Literature brought Dr. Stacy Erickson-Pesetski to campus to present “He’s a smooth talker like me: Reading Shakespeare with Juvenile Offenders.” Dr. Erickson-Pesetski, a professor of English at Manchester University in Indiana, has spent the last six years bringing Shakespeare into a variety of prisons in Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois. Events like these introduce our students to fascinating change agents who encourage others to contemplate how they might make their own mark on the world.
As we look ahead to other Spring programs, one of the most important ones will be Sugar Day. This year, Sugar Day will be held on April 2, 2020, and it will unfold in a new format. Rather than have Sugar Day focus primarily on a service project or an outside activity (like tapping trees for syrup), the day will be used to showcase student scholarly achievements. Accordingly, students will be encouraged to deliver oral presentation of their capstone project, design a display for the poster session, or join the “Poster and Pitch” contest. I encourage you to learn more about it here and join us that day to experience our students’ amazing work.
In addition to the programs we have been planning and delivering, we have also undertaken significant projects related to our physical plant. The first floor of the Library, for instance, is undergoing a major redesign that will transform the space into a true library commons. In our case, the commons will include the Hiram Connect Office, the Career Center, Academic Development, the Office of Learning Technologies and Tech & Trek service desk, and renovated library circulation. The space will also include a public computer section with wheelchair accessible stations, an ADA-compliant collaboration space, four gender-neutral and ADA-compliant restrooms, and a self-serve micro bistro with grab-and-go selections. We expect all renovations to be complete by early Fall.
Also this summer, the dust will be flying all around the first floor of Hinsdale Hall as we morph this space into the hub for the Scarborough School of Business & Communication. The modernized space will include updated faculty offices, redesigned classrooms, and an attractive collaboration area where students can practice their presentations, share media using a smart TV, and gather for small group assignments. Two gender-neutral restrooms will be added to both sides of the building, and all classrooms, collaboration spaces, and restrooms will be ADA compliant. This project is on a highly aggressive timeline as we are aiming to have the space ready by the fall semester.
The third major project we expect to undertake this spring and summer is the renovation of the Garfield-Robbins-Zimmerman House—the century home where our most famous alumnus and college president, James A. Garfield, lived in the 1850s. The College has contracted with DS Architecture in Kent who will help us convert the space into the new welcome center for Admission. As such, this will be the place prospective students and their families first visit when they arrive on campus. Prospective students will be able to park their cars in a newly paved driveway, sit in a furnished parlor before embarking on their campus tour, enjoy a cozy space while meeting with a friendly admission counselor, and meet a faculty member or coach who might stop by to introduce themselves. Like other renovations underway, we are configuring the Garfield-Robbins-Zimmerman House with accessibility issues in mind. The driveway and interior non-historical portions of the first floor (including a new restroom) will be ADA compliant.
As you know, we have all worked hard to bring many positive changes to life at Hiram College. I thank all of you who have played myriad roles in helping to accelerate our progress. Your support has been crucial, and we are grateful to have it.
Lori E. Varlotta