Hiram College

Good afternoon. It is my pleasure to be at this year’s Golden Terrier luncheon. This event is an important one as it marks a milestone for several of you in the room. Will classmates of 1966 please stand? Congratulations to each of you on your 50th reunion celebration.

Many others of you have celebrated this milestone in years past, including William Boyd, Jr. William is the eldest alumnus joining us this weekend. As a member of the Class of 1947, he is celebrating his 69th reunion. We are honored to have him joining us today.

We are pleased to have so many Golden Terriers back to Hiram College. It is my hope that you will enjoy the many festivities planned for you and the time you will take visiting with us and with each other.

I look around this room, and I know there are many stories amongst this bunch. A visit to your alma mater can certainly stir up a lot of memories. I’m certain there are more than a few stories of residence hall mischief, athletic victories, coming of age, educational discoveries, and even a story or two of finding true love. I look forward to hearing at least some of those stories later on today.

Although I have only been here for two years, I have already begun building my own memory bank of Hiram memories. Many of those memories revolve around meeting with alumni and friends and celebrating the accomplishments they achieved on and well beyond campus.

Though we have much to celebrate this weekend, we also have much to be mindful of. Like many other liberal arts colleges today, Hiram is experiencing its fair share of challenges. We continue to face a shrinking demographic of college-aged students, which makes it difficult to meet enrollment goals. And as you can imagine, falling short of our enrollment goals means falling short of tuition revenue. Having less revenue means we have more budget challenges. So as we work diligently to bolster enrollment and begin to overcome those challenges, we need alumni like you to help spread the word about how special a Hiram College education is. So today, I want to talk to you about “The ten things you should know about Hiram today.” And please share this information with your grandchildren!

  1. We know that college is increasingly expensive, so we help students and families plan for their collegiate expenses by offering the Hiram Tuition Guarantee. The tuition guarantee allows freshmen to lock in the tuition price during their four years at Hiram. This means there are no unwelcome surprises. As an aside, though, our all-in tuition, room and board totals just over $40K, almost 100% of our students get some type of aid. Don’t let the sticker price scare you!
  2. Hiram’s academic format or semester schedule, called the 12-3 Hiram Plan, is distinctive. Students take four “regular” classes during the first 12 weeks of the semester. Then, they spend the last three weeks of every semester totally immersed in the study of a single subject in a single course. The intensive, three-week course is marked by a high-impact activity that offers students the opportunity to study abroad, study away, or engage in focused research.
  3. Starting this year, every Hiram student will complete an internship, study abroad trip, guided research project before the graduate. We call the new program Hiram Connect as it connects classroom learning with real world, hands-on learning. The type of learning exposes students to new opportunities and new worlds—be it the world of international travel, the world of corporate America, the world of non–profit agencies, or the world of research and development. All of these worlds prompt student to think about their next phase in life, whether it is graduate school, a career path, or a volunteer assignment like the Peace Corp, you name it!
  4. The rhetoric of liberal arts and interdisciplinary is a reality at Hiram. As was the case 50 years ago when you were here, Hiram students learn broadly and deeply. Their academic pursuits extend beyond any single major as students are prompted to apply theories, research methodologies, and inquiry processes across disciplines. In consultation with a faculty advisor, students also have the opportunity to design their own academic program and course of study if they so desire. And, Hiram’s focus on writing ensures that students develop the skills to convey their thoughtful, interdisciplinary ideas in a clear fashion.
  5. Our version of the 21st-century simple life reinforces sophisticated and contemporary iterations of environmental sustainability. Our environmental studies major is a popular one that helps students combine the principles of sciences, commerce/economics, and social sciences. This interdisciplinary approach helps them think about the complex environmental issues we are grappling with today. In other areas, we “walk the walk” as a larger campus, having substantially decreased our energy consumption over the past five years through smart technology. We are now using automated systems that help us conserve water and electricity. And we have a large solar panels system behind the Gelbke Art Building and on the roof of the Coleman Center to harvest the bright sunshine for which Northeast Ohio is known (kidding about that). We are thrilled to promote our TREE House – The Teaching, Research, and Environmental Engagement House – which was established just two years ago. The TREE House is an energy smart, renovated historic home. It features repurposed materials, radiant heating and recaptured water, among other features. It is home to one of our most coveted classrooms. Best of all, part of the research that went into the TREE House design was conducted by our very own students in the environmental studies program. These students continue to engage in research and concrete projects that keep the house sustainable. These students teach others around campus how to engage in environmentally sustainable practice each and every day.
  6. Students can become outdoor enthusiasts or field researchers by taking classes or participating in programs held at either of our two Field Stations. The James H. Barrow Field Station, located a few miles from campus as most of you know, is one of northeast Ohio’s most spectacular college classrooms. Students who want an even wilder environment trek up to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to study at Northwoods, our rustic camp in the Hiawatha National Forest, just minutes from Lake Superior. It is an ideal location to develop the sense of community and interdependence that is woefully lacking in the lives of many teenagers today.
  7. Thanks to the world renowned Cleveland Clinic and the growing and esteemed University Hospital system, Northeast Ohio is a hotbed for health professionals – doctors, nurses, physical therapists, psychologists, you name it. We have responded to the region’s increased need in health providers by creating a new program called Hiram Health. Hiram Health is an academic program that explicitly shapes the way Hiram faculty teach about health, the way Hiram students learn about health, and the way that all the College’s members “practice” or “do” health. Hiram Health underscores the importance integrative, interdisciplinary, and reflective learning. This means that the students who major in health programs are not only clinically competent providers…they are caring, compassionate health professionals, as well. They stand apart from those who graduate from other colleges because their humanistic, liberal arts backgrounds make them more well-rounded than most. Our graduates are exactly the kinds of physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, psychologists, and specialists that we want for ourselves and our family members.
  8. Student Athletes thrive at Hiram College. We have 15 intercollegiate sports, including a brand new offering in men’s volleyball team. Our athletes are coached directly by full-time professionals who want them to excel on the field, the court, the course, and in their classes. Our coaches understand that while studies come first, the athletic arena is the perfect place to practice teamwork, group problem-solving skills, leadership, and the like.
  9. Hiram has a long and esteemed history. As you will remember, we were founded as the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute by the Disciples of Christ. Our founders perceived the area as a perfect one for studies since they saw the Western Reserve to be “healthful and free of distractions.” And guess what, by today’s standards we remain free of distractions. It’s not only the place but the people that make Hiram College special. After all, only five large universities and one college can boast that a US President served as president of their institution and only two (Hiram and Princeton) can say that a president was both educated there and served as president of their institution before going on to lead the nation! President James A. Garfield is a part of our DNA. We proudly use our real and strong connection with him to shape the opportunities offered to students today who are part of the Garfield Center’s American Presidency program.
  10. Hiram is still a family. Almost all classes are small – many are under 15. The size of the classes and the level of genuine concern and care demonstrated by the faculty are rare, even for small liberal arts colleges. But what we do outside the classroom is equally important to our close-knit community. We still have family dinner at Thanksgiving, faculty still invite students to their homes for get-togethers, and we still rally around each other in time of need. If you know a student who wants to be understood as an unique person rather than conceptualized as a mere number, Hiram is the place to be.

For these ten reasons and ten times ten more, I am very proud to lead a college like Hiram. I am sure you are equally proud to call this gem of a place your alma mater. I hope you will go out and spread the word of who Hiram is today and tell personal and poignant stories of the Hiram that shaped you into the men and women you have become.

Welcome back to Hiram! Enjoy your day, and know how happy we are to have the Golden Terriers here this weekend.