Dear faculty, staff, and students,
Greetings from the Kennedy Center where I peacefully type this note after a week or so of hectic (but productive) travel. It feels good to be back on campus as the first hint of fall strikes. For the freshmen out there who do not hail from this region, please take a very close look at the trees today. Then remind yourself to look again – really watch them – over the course of the next week. I suspect you will be surprised how quickly and beautifully they change color right before your very eyes.
Speaking of things that change right before your eyes, don’t allow yourself to be too distracted as you drive on the local freeways these next few months. I hope that, like me, you will be proud to see some billboards that promote Hiram College. Yep, the following two designs can be seen as you make your way on I-480 at the Valley View Bridge, I-77 at Harvard, and I-271/I-480 near Solon Road (Bedford Hts./Oakwood). The images are attractive and the messages are bold – and worthy of discussion with friends and family. We hope these signs will prompt parents and students alike to visit our website and learn more about Hiram College. Please do your part in directing your own friends and family members to our site as we all work hard to bring in a large and talented class next fall.
Lest you think that I give you assignments without taking them on myself, think again. Last week, Jeff Mongold, assistant director of admission, and I spent the week in northern California visiting high schools and attending college fairs. I decided to accompany Jeff on this visit since I know the area well. This was the first time that Hiram College had spent significant time in and around my old stomping grounds, but both Jeff and I think that Sacramento, with its “midwest feel,” might be a viable place for us to recruit. If you are interested in seeing one of the California recruitment pieces we developed for this trip, please click on this link.
In addition to my distant travels, I enjoyed a visit to John Carroll University yesterday where I met with colleagues from other private colleges throughout Ohio. I was invited to serve on a panel of college and university presidents who discussed, among other things, the federal government’s new College Scorecard. Many of us were quick to cite the shortcomings associated with this particular “assessment tool,” as few would argue that the Scorecard is a perfect (or even excellent) tool. Still, the Scorecard helps us start conversations that are critical to the lives of everyone reading this note.
We (faculty, staff, and educational leaders) must do our part to engage our own students, parents, and local communities in ongoing dialogues about graduation rates, time to completion, student debt, graduate repayments of loans, and life after college. Like most of life’s most interesting and important dialogues, the ones about a college’s “value” are complex; they cannot be summarized by a single score or a few discrete (or interrelated) data points. They are the exact type of conversations that should be unfolding at Hiram College, and I look forward to hearing what you have to say about the topic.
Until then, I hope you can get outside this weekend to enjoy the brisk air and the start of the most colorful season of all.
Lori E. Varlotta