Hiram College

Dear faculty, staff and students,

varlottaMy next note to campus was not scheduled to go out until a week from today. Since many of you will be on spring break at that time, I thought it might be a good idea to provide you with an update on Hiram Connect before you leave campus. Here are some of the highlights you may be interested in knowing.

The CESC (College Executive Steering Committee) has dedicated the vast majority of its last four or five meetings to fleshing out the details of Hiram Connect. Since CESC is functioning as a true advisory committee to the president, please be sure to bring forward any ideas, suggestions, and questions you would like us to consider.

As CESC continues to work on Hiram Connect, members are seeing more clearly the defining features discussed at its first conception. Hiram Connect will explicitly help students link classroom learning, experiential learning, and reflective learning so that they can develop more comprehensive understandings of specific issues, challenges, and opportunities. More specifically, it will require students to undertake an internship, research project, or study away opportunity so that that they can test, confirm, and challenge what they have learned in the classroom. Members of CESC agree that this structured integration of experiential learning, academic learning, and reflective learning will be a feature that marks the Hiram College experience – one that we not only talk about but implement in ways that sets us apart from other colleges who simply offer internships or study abroad programs.

In moving forward with this implementation, one of the leading suggestions made by CESC and others is to identify and assign a point person who will help get Hiram Connect launched. Already, it is clear that we need a colleague to help us gather information, compile data, search for comparable programs elsewhere that may be illustrative, and create an inventory of experiential programs that already exist at Hiram. If we put such a person in place, he/she may also take the lead to develop Connect processes, work with faculty to suggest how and why our specific types of experiences might “count” as a formal part of Hiram Connect, and be the spokesperson for addressing issues and questions related to the emerging program. I am very likely to heed this recommendation and will keep you posted as we sort out next steps.

In addition to advocating for a point person, CESC has also made two other specific requests: 1) they would like us to begin designing a process map or flow chart of Hiram Connect to help people see the various pieces and parts at play, and 2) they would like to see a timeline developed to aid in rolling out the initiative and implementing the actual program. Like the recommendation described above, I believe these two suggestions are on the mark. Therefore, I have assigned several members of the committee to work on each of those projects. I expect to have drafts of each ready to share with campus after spring break. Again, if you have any ideas for these conceptualizations, please share them with a member of CESC.

In addition to the assignments that CESC is undertaking, Hiram’s Academic Program Committee (APC) is also hard at work on other parts of Hiram Connect. As I understand it, a subgroup of APC is drafting a proposed set of Hiram Connect learning outcomes. Once completed, that draft will come to CESC and be shared with interested members of the community.

As you can see, many individuals are hard at work on Hiram Connect. The delegation of assignments to appropriate groups on campus, the opportunity for anyone reading this note to share ideas, and the formal dissemination of ideas beyond the immediate groups involved are evidence that our shared governance system is working.

I am pleased that so much has been done is a short period of time. I will continue to keep you informed as we progress.

Have a safe and enjoyable spring break.

Your president,

Lori E. Varlotta