Dear faculty, staff, and students,
I hope that all of you are getting into your semester groove now that the academic year is in full swing. As you hit your stride, please know that members of the Cabinet and I are crunching numbers this week since the Fall 2015 “Census Date,” the date when we formally record enrollment numbers, was Monday. I will be able to share our emerging analyses with you at future meetings. For today, however, I am thrilled to be able to report many pieces of good news related to Hiram College support of all kinds.
As most of you know, we rolled out several major initiatives at my inaugural Opening Assembly just one year ago. The progress we have made as a campus on three of those initiatives – Hiram Connect, Hiram Complete, and Hiram Health – is impressive by just about anyone’s standards, including my own very high ones. As of today, each of those strategic priorities have gone through several rounds of conceptualizations. The College Executive Steering Committee, groups of faculty and staff, Student Senate, and others have shared insights and recommendations that have helped us refine and tweak our original ideas. Over the last several months, Trustees, alumni, friends, and funding organizations have all stepped forward with financial support. This means we can launch each and every one of these initiatives with gift or grant start-up monies. How great is that?
In the case of Hiram Connect, the prestigious Andrew W. Mellon Foundation informed me last week that they will fund the $100,000 grant proposal we submitted to them a few months back. Part of this money will help to fund stipends for faculty fellows, now appropriately named “Mellon Fellows.” These individuals will help to build best practices in advising and work with students on Hiram Connect. Additionally, thanks to the work of Sandy Madar and our colleagues from Northeast Ohio Medical University, we will have a few additional positions funded to aid our work in Hiram Health. Funding for these positions will come from two others grants that were submitted over the summer.
At the same time that we received good news on the grant front, members of the Board of Trustees also stepped forward in bold ways this summer. Several of them have just sent checks to support new positions in Hiram Health and Hiram Complete. A handful of others have offered to augment our market and messaging campaign by funding key activities, including a website overhaul. The level of support is high, and equally important it comes from people who know and care deeply about Hiram College on a personal basis. Soon, this type of support will literally become even more visible. By late September, drivers on interstates 480, 77, and 271 will see three new Hiram billboards thanks to a gift from yet another one of our alumna.
Finally, I write to acknowledge John Coyne and all the alumni, staff, and faculty who participated in the 14th annual Alumni Volunteer Day last Saturday. The day was a huge success, with over 175 alumni volunteering at 20 sites across the country. I thoroughly enjoyed the short time I spent at the field station learning how to drive a tractor with a trailer full of brush. Moreover, I relished the conversations I had with the volunteers I met. I never take for granted those who donate something that is often as valuable as money: their time.
As the president of Hiram College, I thank all of you who support our campus and its people. I know I stand with others who are personally touched by your generous spirit. May we all learn from you so that we can continue to give back in our own ways.
Lori E. Varlotta