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 three fiscal years, for example, she and the development team have logged in record fundraising years, securing almost $30 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.
Now in her fifth year, Varlotta continues to work with colleagues across campus to implement the enrollment growth plan that she, the admission team, and the Senior Cabinet have designed specifically 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™.
In terms of the latter, mindful technology has been brought to life at Hiram through Tech and Trek™—a 1:1 mobile technology program that integrates 21st-century technology with Hiram’s liberal arts curriculum. The first of its kind in Ohio, Tech and Trek issues an iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, and keyboard bundle to each of the College’s full-time, traditional college students. Students are taught how, when, and where to use their mobile devices and when they should put their devices down and be present without them.
In terms of curricular changes, Varlotta and her team have supported faculty in building new academic majors (such as Integrative Exercise Science, Public Health, Sport Management, International Studies, and Criminal Justice) and in redesigning the entire core curriculum. She has also worked with staff in athletics to add new intercollegiate offerings (such as Men’s Volleyball and Cheer/STUNT). Another initiative launched in Fall 2017 was the 3-year degree pathway in 15 academic programs. As the 2018-19 year gets underway, she has charged leaders in Professional and Graduate Studies (PGS) to examine ways to bolster the partnerships that Hiram has forged with three Cleveland area community colleges. 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.
While changes of this breadth and scope do not always come easy to colleges that date back to the mid-19th century, Varlotta’s commitment to using shared governance structures as vital mechanisms of change has served the College and its community well. From the moment she arrived, President Varlotta revitalized shared governance, ensuring that faculty, staff, and students have respective structures in place that allow them to participate in relevant decision-making processes. These shared governance entities have played a role in drafting, vetting, and endorsing the most recent Strategic Plan.
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 32-year career in higher education administration extends beyond any single campus. Several years ago, Varlotta participated in the design and implementation of the country’s first voluntary system of higher education accountability, a project called College Portrait. 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; health and wellness; and community, identity, and service. More recently, her publications focus on designing and implementing systemic change and bringing disruptive innovations 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).