Happy New Year, students, faculty, staff and friends!
For those of you who have spent the vast majority of your lives working on a college campus, I think you will agree: this is the real “New Year” on any calendar. Very few times of the year compare to this moment when freshmen are walking around campus for the first time, when upperclassmen and women are returning to the place they have called “home” for at least a year, when faculty are revising their course readings and syllabi to make it the best year of instruction ever, and when staff in all departments are happily serving the students who walk through their doors, live in their halls, or lounge on the grass they have watered and cut. The energy, optimism and chance to start anew are all things that make the beginning of fall semester special.
Here at Hiram, the New Year is off to a tremendous start.
Thanks to the hard work of Detra West, Ellen Walker and the first year steering committee, freshmen began their acclimation process with the academic and social enrichment of last week’s Institute. They engaged in spirited discussions about The Postmortal, this year’s common reading, met with their colloquium professors and teaching assistants, put final touches on their fall course schedule and even do-si-doed, hooted and hollered at the annual square dance. New Student Institute rolled directly into this week’s “Week of Welcome.” If you are enjoying the any of activities this week, please be sure to thank Alex Ulbricht, AVI, alumna Barb Shipley, who has generously helped fund many of this week’s activities, and others for getting us off in great style.
Like the students, I kicked off the year with a quite a bit of fun myself, as I attended an alumni gathering at Blossom Music Center. The Alumni Office, under the direction of John Coyne, had 60 or so of us singing and dancing as the Cleveland Orchestra performed their rendition of the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour. I am glad there didn’t seem to be cameras panning the 12,000 people at the amphitheater on Sunday night, because several of us (I am at the top of this list here) could have used a refresher course in 70s dance techniques.
But hey, that’s the beauty of these opening events: they allow all of us to show that unique and crazy part of ourselves in an environment that welcomes one and all. Several of you have called it the “magic of Hiram,” and I could honestly see it and feel it this week. Let’s spread that magic so that it touches all who, starting this week, will call Hiram “home.”
Here’s to a happy, healthy and very productive New Year.
Lori E. Varlotta
Every other Thursday, President Varlotta’s notes will be posted to news.hiram.edu.