Three longtime members of the Hiram College Student Life staff are celebrating retirement this year: Kathryn Craig, Director of Career and Academic Development, Peg Minard, administrative assistant for Campus Safety, and Eric Riedel, Vice President and Dean of Students.
In honor of their dedication and service to the College, we caught up with them for a Q&A.
Kathryn Craig, Director of Career and Academic Development (31 years of service)
What has been the best part about working at Hiram?
Hiram is an innovative college, and the faculty, staff and students are always willing to try new things and implement new ideas. As an administrator, I was fortunate to be included in a number of those projects such as Lily Grant and the Sophomore Program.
Reflecting on your time here, what moments stand out to you?
There have been many ordinary great moments, like seeing students achieve their career goals, get a great internship or job or get into the perfect grad school. Also college milestones, like wonderful new buildings that made our lives more pleasant and learning easier, and also times of tragedy when we all came together to grieve or to take action.
What are your plans for retirement?
To be more involved in community organizations, travel, read and enjoy control over my own time!
As director of the Career Center, how have you observed job market’s changes since you’ve been at Hiram?
In my years at Hiram, the job market has transitioned from a manufacturing to a technological and service economy. It has meant many adjustments for Northeast Ohio and for Hiram students and faculty in the skills that students need to develop, the experiences employers expect them to present, and the way employers connect to potential candidates. Access to the job market has changed drastically, and while networking has always been a key part of career development, social media is now the key to professional development. The increase in the cost of college and graduate school and the amount that students borrow to fund their education has also made the choice of graduate education a more strategic and important decision.
How have you adapted to the changing job market and changing students?
I’ve especially enjoying the transition to technology in career development – online employment databases, computer-assisted guidance, specialized software for interviewing like InterviewStream and Skype and information interviews online. I really enjoy the ongoing contact with alums that LinkedIn has provided. Using Twitter and Facebook as tools for career development has been fun and challenging. I’ve also made many new friends like Wally the Water Drop at the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District. Who knew!
Peg Minard, administrative assistant for Campus Safety (30 years of service)
You’ve been at Hiram College for 30 years. What made you decide to make such a long career out of your service to the College?
Hiram is a nice place to work, the employees are like family here.
What are the positions you’ve worked here?
I started in the dining service department, then to switchboard, then to campus safety.
What brought you to Hiram in the first place?
I live close by and thought it would be nice to work close to home, as I had young children when I started here. Plus, I had always heard it was a nice place to work.
How would you describe what Hiram College means to you?
Hiram is just part of me, I will never forget my times at Hiram College
What are you going to miss most about your time at Hiram?
The students coming to the office.
Are there any memories that stand out to you?
My whole experience at Hiram has been good; too many to mention.
What are your retirement plans?
I’m going to be a “great grandma” and plan on taking care of the baby so my granddaughter can go back to work.
How will you remain a part of the Hiram College community?
I have a lot of friends here and will continue to keep in contact with them.
Eric Riedel, Vice President and Dean of Students (10 years of service)
What are your most vivid memories from your time at Hiram College?
I was trying to think of an event or an occasion, but there are so many: everything from singing in the choir to commencement to the various people who have spoken here. This is an exciting place to be. And here is the thing: The most memorable thing about Hiram isn’t a specific event or occasion, it’s every day — the people. I love to come to work. I don’t think it is work; it’s a way of life, and that has been true from the moment I interviewed for this job.
What are some of your favorite things about working at Hiram?
One, I love the fact that I cannot tell you what the typical Hiram student is like.
Two, I work with really amazing people. There are so many people that I probably shouldn’t even name them because I would have to go on and on with the list, but they are just fun to work with.
Three, Hiram is beautiful. I like all four seasons, though this winter has been way too long. I like where we are — I want to be close to a city, but not in it. I like the environment; I like Ohio.
What advice do you have for current and/or future Hiram students?
Keep learning about yourself. Don’t settle. One of the things that comes with age is that you appreciate how little you know and how much more there is to learn. Don’t be afraid to keep discovering who you are. Fight for that autonomy, that independence. I think life is by no small measure an inward journey to self-discovery. Discover the core that is you.
What are your plans for retirement?
Professionally, I am moving to Boston to pursue an opportunity with Apogee Sustainable Innovations, an established group of consultants who help clients internationally and domestically, in business and in education, to negotiate transition and change. I also hope to find an adjunct teaching slot in one of the many Boston-area colleges or universities to continue teaching and learning with students.
Personally, I am a bit of a nomad as my father was. My dad’s work took him off to Japan when he was in his fifties, and he loved it. I am a decade older than my dad, and I have felt myself slowing down in ways that are natural. Travel, new relationships and fresh challenges at a pace over which I have more control is a welcome prospect and I am excited.
At the same time, I have truly loved my years on “Hiram Hill.” I also enjoyed my forty-four years of experience as a dean of students (St. Lawrence University, Lake Forest College, Bradford College, Colby-Sawyer College and Hiram College) and as one who doesn’t really believe in “goodbye.” I will take you with me and look forward to our next meeting. I hope that you will also keep me with you.
What else would you like to say about your time at Hiram?
It has been a privilege. I really appreciate having the opportunity to work with President Tom Chema. He changed the direction of the college toward an openness to change; that puts us in the strongest position that we could be in.
I have been a dean for 44 years, and I think we are in the midst of a very turbulent and unsettling time. But rather than fear innovation and entrepreneurial ways of learning and doing, Tom has borne the brunt of holding a mirror up to what is happening. I feel very privileged to have been working with someone who isn’t afraid to try the next thing.
President-Elect Lori Varlotta will do an excellent job of taking what Tom has done and moving the college in significant ways. Hiram is dynamic, it’s organic, and it’s a function of constant attention to teaching and learning and what matters. I wish I could work with her. I like her straight forwardness, and I think she has a very good sense of what Hiram is. I think she is going to make an excellent president and be right for the time, just as I think Tom was right for the time.