Hiram College

Dear faculty, staff, and students,

We are making great strides in rolling out the New Liberal Arts. As I initially mentioned in my note to campus at the start of this semester, the faculty have been reviewing exciting new changes to the First Year Experience, and they approved these changes at a recent faculty meeting. Just this week, they also approved the addition of “signature assignments” and the use of e-portfolios. Both will be a part of the new core curricula that is still in its formative stages. While several of our faculty colleagues have been the thought leaders for this part of the redesign, special recognition goes out to Professor Colin Anderson who has done weighty work in researching, compiling, and presenting promising practices related to signature assignments and the institutionalized incorporation of e-portfolios. Please join me in thanking him.

At the same time that our faculty are working speedily on the curricular changes, another group of colleagues continue to engage the campus community in conversations about spaces and places. To aid in those discussions, we have engaged the DLR Group as our master planning facilitators. We have convened focus groups in this area over the last two months, and we are now wrapping up that phase of the work. Impressively, approximately 155 students, faculty, staff, alumni, and board members have participated in planning conversations so far.

As part of the next step, architects from the DLR Group will be on campus February 28 and March 1 to present and discuss emerging ideas based on focus group feedback. Students will have the opportunity to talk with DLR during that time and respond to emerging ideas. If you would like to be involved, please contact Shelley Gordon in the Dean of Students’ Office at gordonsd@hiram.edu.

For those of you who have already been involved or who want to see the feedback we are collecting, you can follow the master planning process through the my.hiram.edu portal. Log in and view the Campus Master Planning tab. We will be posting information beginning next week and will continue to do so as the process continues to unfold throughout this entire semester. We expect the master planning to wrap up in May with a presentation to campus and the Board of Trustees.

Last, but certainly not least, we are simultaneously making terrific progress regarding the strategic planning process at the James H. Barrow Biological Field Station. 155 must be Hiram’s magic planning number this winter. Just like the master plan above, that is the number of people who have participated in focus groups, interviews, SWOT analyses, and surveys regarding the Field Station Strategic Plan. In just a few weeks, any interested Hiram community member will be able to review and submit feedback on a draft of this Strategic Plan.

As strategic thinkers and doers have come to realize in short order, even the best of plans get changed and revised. While the plan is important, it is the planning process per se that creates and strengthens out-of-the-box ideas, collective buy-in, and a culture of innovation. It is that culture that we are striving to revitalize and reinforce as part of the New Liberal Arts.

Your president,

President Varlotta Signature

Lori Varlotta