During the summer of 2014, Dr. Lori E. Varlotta became the 22nd president of Hiram College. She is the institution’s first female president.
Dr. Varlotta and the leadership team she has assembled have made visible strides both on and beyond the Hiram campus. Under her leadership, the College has celebrated many firsts and broken records in key areas. For each of the last five fiscal years, for example, she and the development team have logged in record fundraising years, securing more than $50 million in cash gifts over that time. Her laser focus on monitoring revenues and expenses during this same period has led the College to its strongest financial position in recent history.
Approaching the end of her sixth year, Varlotta continues to work with colleagues across campus to implement the enrollment growth plan that the Senior Cabinet has designed for Hiram. That plan is fueled by several new initiatives, including the positioning of Hiram as the New Liberal Arts™ – a model that combines contemporary and classic majors, prioritizes integrative and interdisciplinary learning; guarantees that all students complete an experiential activity; and promotes mindful technology through its Tech and Trek™ program. Starting in Fall of 2020, the New liberal Arts will include a new tuition model called “Learn More, Earn More, Spend Less”. Its unique features–35% reduction in sticker price, free summer classes, and paid internships–have garnered national attention. But more importantly, the model has been well received by current and prospective students.
In terms of curricular changes, Varlotta and her team have supported faculty in building several new academic majors, in redesigning the entire core curriculum, and in adding experiential requirements such as internships, guided research projects, and study-away trips. Some of those changes appear to be part of the reason that Hiram was ranked #4 in the Washington Monthly’s 2019 College Guide among colleges and universities that award bachelor’s degrees almost exclusively. Hiram College is the only Ohio college in the top ten in this category, and it is noted for academic excellence and social responsibility.
As the Spring 2020 term continues to unfold, several of her teams are leading efforts to bolster the partnerships that Hiram has forged with three Cleveland-area community colleges and to serve regional corporations in offering credentialed programs to their employees. Together, these additions and modifications have helped to usher in classes of new students that are impressive in terms of numbers, diversity, and levels of preparedness.
Changes of this breadth and scope cannot be made by mandate. Therefore, President Varlotta has ensured that shared governance entities play key roles in the change process at Hiram. Accordingly, she relies heavily on the structures that facilitate faculty, staff, and student input into decision-making processes.
Before coming to Hiram College, Varlotta spent 11 years at California State University, Sacramento. At the time of her departure, she served as senior vice president for planning, enrollment management, and student affairs, where she led 31 departments in the areas of enrollment, student life, retention, educational equity, and NCAA Division I athletics.
Varlotta’s 33-year academic career extends beyond any single campus. She is frequently invited to regional and national conferences to address pressing issues in higher education, such as retention and graduation, planning and budgeting, and transparency and accountability. She has published extensively on the topics of higher education assessment and accountability; student success and graduation; experiential and applied learning; and service and leadership. More recently, her research focuses on leading difficult processes that bring systemic and cultural changes to life.
A proud Pittsburgh native and first-generation college student, Varlotta earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy at the University of Notre Dame (Indiana), a Master of Science degree in cultural foundations of education from Syracuse University (New York), and an interdisciplinary Doctor of Philosophy degree in educational leadership and feminist philosophy from Miami University (Ohio).