With a commitment to its liberal arts foundation and to preparing 21st century students for the ever-changing world and workforce, Hiram College moves boldly forward in implementing its most recent strategic plan (Hiram College’s Strategic Plan 2017-2020). The plan is ambitious: aiming to position Hiram as a national model for the New Liberal Arts.
The strategic plan was finalized in July after a yearlong process of inquiry, input, and vetting. The college started positioning itself as the New Liberal Arts last spring when it announced Tech and Trek, Ohio’s first campus-wide 1:1 mobile technology program at a four-year institution. Thanks to Tech and Trek, Hiram College is the place where mobile technologies meet mindful technology.
Tech and Trek is just one of several new programs the college has added in the last year. Adding programs is the “easy and fun part,” says Dr. Lori Varlotta, president of Hiram College. “But like most tuition-driven liberal arts colleges, we don’t have unlimited resources. To be financially strong, sustainable, and future-focused, this strategic redesign prompts us to add in some areas and reduce or shrink in others,” she states.
The redesign will be informed by an analysis of all academic programs. Like just about every process Varlotta launches, this one will be inclusive, data-driven, and transparent.
Early stages of the process are now underway. The Interim Dean of the College, Dr. Judy Muyskens, has been charged to work with faculty to formulate an academic prioritization process. Muyskens has recently constituted a faculty committee called the Strategic Academic Team (SAT) who, in turn, has created three faculty subgroups. The subgroups are examining the core curriculum, academic majors, and short-term cost savings to ensure programs are mission-driven and market wise. Their work will feed into the prioritization of academic programs.
“The end goal,” says Dr. Muyskens, “is to achieve a curriculum redesign that is simultaneously true to our history and mission, and aligned with the emerging and future workforce demands projected by the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics.”
Hiram is on solid ground as it strives to fuel its forward progress. The college celebrated a sizable increase in new student enrollment this fall and two record-breaking fundraising years in 2016 and 2017. “It truly takes a village,” Varlotta says, “I think our village here at Hiram can once again do the good, but hard work that needs to be done.”