The Hiram College Board of Trustees approved several academic redesign recommendations at its May 30 meeting. Most of the recommendations approved by the Board mirror those that were recommended and published two weeks ago by the Dean of the College, Dr. Judy Muyskens.
Among the exciting changes proposed, the Board voted in favor of the College adding new programs in marketing, criminal justice, international studies, and sport management in fall 2018. The Board also approved studying the feasibility of adding a math-related major in data analytics and three other new majors in: computer engineering (or other engineering majors); gaming and interactive media; and information technology/information systems. If any are deemed feasible, they would be added in fall 2019 or later.
The final recommendation to modify the music, theater arts, art history, and studio art program reflects a new approach based upon substantial faculty feedback. The original recommendation combined the four stand-alone majors into a single major called fine, performing, and digital arts. The faculty from studio art and music presented an alternative recommendation for consideration. It was this faculty-generated recommendation that the Board approved. The four stand-alone majors will become two new majors beginning fall 2018. Hiram will offer a performing arts major with an emphasis in music and theater, and a major that emphasizes art, film, and digital design. Faculty will work through the summer to refine these new offerings, helping to define the actual names and academic concentrations of the majors and minors.
“These program additions mark an exciting and pivotal moment for Hiram, one that offers students new options in majors and minors that address 21st century opportunities and challenges,” says Board Chair Dean Scarborough ’77. “The Board is pleased to support the recommendations of President Lori Varlotta and Dean Muyskens on behalf of Hiram students, faculty, and staff to advance the College in offering highly relevant academic disciplines geared to today’s students.”
The Board also voted to eliminate its religious studies major and minor, and move its economics, philosophy, mathematics, French, and Spanish majors to minors.
The curriculum changes will result in the elimination of two tenured faculty and four visiting, renewable, or tenure-track faculty.
Shaped by months of recommendations from the faculty at-large, the Academic Program Committee (APC), the Academic Tenure and Promotion Committee (ATP), and the Strategic Academic Team (SAT), the new academic disciplines will take a liberal arts approach to contemporary studies, quintessentially, Hiram’s New Liberal Arts.
“No academic redesign process is perfect,” says President Varlotta, “but when I look back at the 200 meetings that marked this process, the months of conversations, and the fact that the advisory team (SAT) and the APC were almost lockstep in terms of their recommendations, we must have done something right. Change comes hard to many institutions of higher learning. Hard though this change was, Hiram’s model of change might just be the one that other liberal arts colleges decide to emulate.”