As efforts to identify an interim president are underway, President Lori Varlotta, in conjunction with the Executive Steering Committee of the Hiram College Board of Trustees has appointed Liz Okuma, Ph.D., as senior vice president and dean of students to assist the College through the transition period this summer and fall.
In her new role, Dr. Okuma will assist President Varlotta with many of the College’s day-to-day tasks during the transition. She will oversee portions of the return-to-work plan, the emerging modifications to Hiram’s intercollegiate athletic program, a comprehensive plan to help students understand and practice the types of behaviors that will mitigate their risks and the risks they impose on others as they return to campus this fall, and more.
“Dr. Okuma has served the College competently and compassionately for over twenty years and this appointment brings a stability to both the leadership team and the campus in general during a time of transition, says Varlotta. “When you combine Dr. Okuma’s nuanced understanding of campus operations with the contextualized institutional history that she has development over the years, you can see why she is an excellent choice for this position.”
Dr. Okuma earned a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary and secondary education from Bowling Green State University, a Master of Education degree in higher education from the University of Georgia, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in education leadership and human resources from Colorado State University.
Since joining the College in 1998 as an area coordinator in the Office of Residential Education, Dr. Okuma assumed progressively responsible positions over the years. In 2014, she was appointed as Hiram’s vice president and dean of students, a position in which she has supervised many departments including athletics, career and academic development, health, counseling, and disability services, residential education, and more. In addition to serving as co-chair of the College’s Campus Emergency Response Team, she served as a member of the Strategic Planning Committee, Master Planning Committee, and has helped to oversee construction of several new buildings, including a new dining hall, a suite-style residence hall, and a townhouse complex. She also re-organized the campus judicial system, created a peer judicial board, and created formal spaces on campus for commuter students.
Last year, Dr. Okuma was selected to participate in the Presidential Vocation and Institutional Mission program offered by The Council of Independent Colleges. The year-long seminar-based program is a highly competitive, national program for college and university senior administrators and their spouses/partners to read and think deeply about meaning and purpose in life as those values are applied to the presidency in independent higher education.