Hiram College President Thomas V. Chema has announced he will step down at the end of the 2013-2014 academic year after 11 years in the position. Hiram’s 21st president, Chema made his announcement at the May meeting of the Hiram College Board of Trustees.
During Chema’s presidency, Hiram has experienced tremendous growth in enrollment, new programs, fundraising and campus facilities while enjoying increased visibility and an enhanced position in the higher education marketplace. Enrollment in Hiram’s undergraduate program has increased by more than 50 percent. Concurrent with growth in the student body is growth in Hiram’s academic program. Expansion of Hiram’s academic offerings during Chema’s tenure include distinctive majors in nursing and accounting, eight Centers of Distinction built on Hiram’s historic strength in the liberal arts and enhanced and expanded offerings for adult learners through a new program in Professional and Graduate Studies.
The Hiram campus has also been transformed during Chema’s time leading the institution. New facilities include the Lester and Kathy Coleman Sports, Recreation & Fitness Center; a residence hall which serves as the home of Hiram’s new Burton D. Morgan Entrepreneurship Center; dining hall; apartment style townhouses; reconstruction of the Mecca Church, home of Hiram’s Garfield Institute for Public Leadership; expansion of the James H. Barrow Biology Field Station; and renovation of existing campus facilities to house a state-of-the-art nursing education facility, the Henry C. Gelbke Fine Arts Center and renovation of Frohring Fine Arts Building to include a black box theatre.
Hiram has seen impressive growth in fundraising support as well, experiencing increases in the number of donors, average gift size, and alumni participation in annual giving. The College has received more than 100 gifts of more than $100,000 during Chema’s presidency. Hiram’s recent Endowment Initiative, a two-year, $10 million effort, exceeded goal eight months early and has currently raised more than $12 million. The campaign is the first phase of a plan to increase the Hiram endowment to $100 million.
“There is a natural ebb and flow in any executive leadership position like a college presidency, and I believe I have accomplished the bulk of what I had planned when I became president,” said Chema. “We have established a sustainable model of operations and Hiram is now in a position to not simply survive, but to thrive. The next president will inherit a talented and committed group of faculty & staff, a strong and committed Board of Trustees and an alumni body who are happily connected to their alma mater. I’m enormously proud of what we have accomplished together and know that Hiram is positioned well for the next 100 years.”
Hiram has initiated a national search for a new president. A search committee of faculty, staff and trustees has been formed and is chaired by Trustee Robert Turner, a 1972 graduate of Hiram and Senior Vice President of the Union Pacific Corporation. Plans call for Hiram’s 22nd president to begin on July 1, 2014.