Hiram College


Hiram College recently received a $100,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to bolster Hiram Connect, a program that will connect students’ classroom and internship/hands-on experiences to their future careers.

This is the first grant Hiram has received from the Mellon Foundation, which is dedicated to nurturing and supporting institutions of higher education and culture in their pursuit of deeper understanding of the human condition and experience.

“We’re both humbled and honored to receive this recognition and support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation,” said Robert Haak, Ph.D., vice president and dean of the College. “It’s an endorsement for the way we intend to teach the liberal arts and prepare students for their careers and callings through Hiram Connect.”

Hiram College rolled out Connect at the beginning of the 2015-2016 academic year to provide students a structure and set of experiences that will help them answer questions like, “What are my strengths and values?” and “What change do I want to make in the world?” As students complete four academic milestones, including a newly required internship, research experience or study abroad trip, they will engage in meaningful reflection that will guide them in connecting their classroom experiences to their careers and callings.

“When my own parents asked me, ‘What will you do with a degree in philosophy?’ 30 years ago, I stumbled trying to answer them,” said Hiram College President Lori Varlotta, Ph.D. “It is my goal that every Hiram student is not only able to answer this question about their major in a poised and passionate way, but is able to appreciate and articulate the intrinsic value of a liberal arts education in developing character, calling and community.”

 Funds from the Mellon grant will be used over a course of two years, through fall 2017, and will help to fund the work of five “Mellon Fellows.” These five faculty members, Colin Anderson, associate professor of philosophy; Nick Hirsch, associate professor of biology; Jeff Swenson, associate professor of English; Amber Chenoweth, assistant professor of psychology; and Debbie Kasper, associate professor of environmental studies; will take a leadership role in continuing to implement Connect across campus. Specifically, Mellon Fellows will:

  • revise the First Year Colloquium to incorporate interdisciplinary thinking and learning.
  • attend professional development opportunities and host on-campus workshops on the topics of proactive student advising, interdisciplinary learning and more.
  • revise the senior capstone experience and implement a spring showcase of all student capstones.
  • teach and pass on their findings and experiences to other Hiram faculty and staff members.

“In this ‘teach the teacher’ model, everyone teaches and everyone learns,” said Dr. Varlotta.

In addition to the work of the fellows,the grant will fund:

  • outreach to nearby arts and culture organizations.
  • internships in the humanities.
  • funds for faculty and students to participate in conferences.
  • materials for the revised First Year Colloquium.

About the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Founded in 1969, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies by supporting exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work.

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