Hiram College celebrated its rich past while looking forward to new beginnings as Lori Varlotta, Ph.D., was officially installed as the College’s 22nd president on April 24, 2015.
Dr. Varlotta, who officially took office on July 1, 2014, is Hiram’s first female president. Her family and friends; Hiram Trustees; staff, faculty, students and alumni; elected officials; delegates – including many presidents from other colleges and universities; and the community, came together to celebrate the historic occasion.
“Like all institutions of higher learning, we have had amazing successes and our share of challenges,” said Ken Moore, J.D. ’69, chair of the Board of Trustees, in opening remarks. “Two themes have remained constant: our continued quest for educational excellence and our never-ending desire to do more for our students.”
“Today, I feel more confident than ever that President Varlotta is the right leader to take us to even higher planes of excellence.”
During the official investiture, Board Chairman Moore; Paul Gaffney, Ph.D., faculty chair and associate professor of English; Detra West, M.A., staff chair and associate dean of students; Emily Lewis ’17, president of Student Senate for 2014-15; and Chris Schmidtt, J.D. ’04, president of the Alumni Executive Board, presented Dr. Varlotta with the official presidential medallion as she officially accepted the responsibility to advance and serve the causes of Hiram College.
“Hiram College … (has) strived over the last eight months to do many things in ways they have not been done before,” Dr. Varlotta said. “I urge us to keep going in that same spirit. We must strive to continue creating a culture that is built on trust, integrity and commitment – the very things that no endowment and no budget, no matter how big, can build alone.”
During her inaugural address, she focused on three things for which Hiram College is striving:
- to use and celebrate the institution’s history as it looks to the future.
- to stay focused on the liberal arts in a classic and contemporary sense.
- to integrate interdisciplinary learning across the curriculum and integrate classroom activities with out-of-classroom learning experiences.
“I have worked at eight excellent colleges and universities, but none of them have expected students to routinely step back, reflect and explicitly integrate classroom and out-of-classroom experiences,” Dr. Varlotta said. “If Hiram can truly promote this type of deep and widespread reflection — this type of wonder and ponder — as another part of its ethos, then it will differentiate itself in this way, as well, from most other institutions of higher learning, including some of the country’s very best liberal arts colleges.”
Terry Hartle, Ph.D. ’73, senior vice president of the American Council on Education, and Eric Premack, M.A., founder and executive director of the Charter Schools Development Center and Dr. Varlotta’s husband, gave remarks prior to the official investiture.
Dr. Hartle spoke about higher education’s long history of innovation as he debunked myths – made popular by the national media – about higher education’s demise. Premack, adding a touch of humor, offered advice to the Hiram community for working with his wife. He also spoke about parallels between K-12 education and higher education, adding that the liberal arts have never been more relevant in this age information overload.
Dr. Varlotta’s niece, Elisa Varlotta, of Pittsburgh, and the Western Reserve Festival Choir, led by conductor Dawn Sonntag, D.M., associate professor of music, also performed musical interludes. Dr. Sonntag composed “Fiat Lux” specially for Inauguration. The Hiram Wind Ensemble, conducted by Matt Salvaggio, M.M., performed the processional and recessional marches.
Eleanor Beach, Ph.D., closed the ceremony with a special benediction.
“May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and live from deep within your heart.” Read the benediction in full.
Photos by Kasey Samuel Adams. View all Inauguration photos.