Hiram College

March 21, 2020 - Novel Coronavirus Faculty and Staff Update

Dear faculty and staff, 

Amidst the great uncertainties that characterize today, I know that many of us are worried about the health of our families, job security for ourselves or our partners, immediate financial obligations, longer-term financial well-being, and the like. All of these and more are real and pressing concerns. As the President of the College, I am acutely aware of these anxieties. That awareness is playing a palpable part in the decisions that the Senior Cabinet and I are making in real time every day.

As we make these decisions, like the ones outlined below, we aim to do what is best for Hiram and the people of Hiram, what will prepare Hiram for tomorrow, and what will position Hiram to be one of the colleges that not only survives but thrives in the post-coronavirus world. That world is out there. And the Senior Cabinet and the Board of Trustees are determined to do everything we can to ensure that Hiram is one of the colleges that builds a bridge to the new world and the opportunities that world will offer.  

To build a bridge that can sustain the weight of these times, we must continue to do the kind of work we have all done during this past week. As I reflect on that very work, I am both thrilled and humbled by what we have accomplished together. Within seven days, we have laid the groundwork for a path forward—a bridge to the other side. Soon, we will figure out how to virtually celebrate these collective accomplishments. But as we go into the weekend, let’s all take some time to reflect on what we have put in place. Let’s thank those who helped us get started, and let’s spend some quality time figuring out what steps we will take next and how we will pace ourselves for the long run. One of the few things that is clearer today than it was last week is that we will be making changes on a daily basis, and this period of change will last a lot longer than many of us originally anticipated.

So, here are the latest changes and decisions we can share at this time.

The 3-week Term

None of Hiram’s classes or examinations, including those scheduled for the 3-week, will be offered in a face-to-face format. Remote learning remains in place at least until mid-May. Yesterday, Dean Muyskens sent a letter out to all instructional faculty informing them of this change. 

Student Housing Implications

The residence halls remain open for those who deem Hiram to be the best place to live and learn for the remainder of the Spring 12-week and 3-week terms. Students have received a detailed note that delineates the issues related to housing. If you are interested in seeing that note, you can find it on our website.

Spring 2020 Degree Conferral and Commencement Ceremonies

Bachelor’s and master’s degrees will be conferred, as scheduled, to all students who meet the requirements of those degrees. The occasion’s hallmark ceremony—Commencement—will be postponed until mass gathering restrictions are lifted and the College can sponsor an appropriate event. This is a heart-breaking decision that I am loath to share with our graduates who understandably relish this momentous celebration. As of now, we anticipate hosting an alternative face-to-face event during the Fall 2020 semester. We are also exploring the option to celebrate the accomplishments of all degree earners via a virtual event in May. But, frankly, we need a little more time to map out what such a celebration would look like. We will be back in touch on that one.

Federal Work Study

The College has been conferring with the Department of Education and others to determine acceptable practices on the disbursement of funds to students. Colleges have been granted some discretion in this area, and we will be sharing further details with supervisors in the near future. 

Alumni Weekend, June 19-21

We are in the midst of canceling this year’s annual alumni celebration. All or most of the events will be moved back to the June 2021 festivities. The Alumni Relations Office will be disseminating more information soon.

Giving Day

Colleagues in the Development Office have asked me to consider the cancellation of our annual Giving Day that was scheduled for April 30. They would like to divert their staff efforts from that campaign to another campaign geared toward providing assistance related to the challenges at hand. I have approved that recommendation and am hereby canceling the Hiram College 2020 Giving Day campaign.

The Bistro

Effective Monday, the Bistro will be closed. In case you are asked, students on the dining plan are able to pick up meals at the Dining Hall as follows:

Monday-Friday

Breakfast: 9-10 am

Lunch: 12-1:30 pm

Dinner: 5-6:30 pm

Saturday and Sunday

Brunch: 11:30 am-1:30 pm

Dinner: 5-6:30 pm

The Bookstore

The store is closed until further notice.

EAP

The Employee Assistance Program is available to you and your family in connection with your group insurance from Standard Insurance Company (The Standard). The Standard provides assistance that is immediate and personal. This free service is available 24/7 at www.workhealthlife.com/standard3 or 888-293-6948.

It’s not a hyperbole to say that COVID-19 has thrust us—all of us, near and far; Muslim, Buddhist, Jew, Christian; European, Australian, Asian, African, North-, South-, and Central American; rich and poor (though resources domatter, I know)—into a whole new world. No matter who we are, we are in this together; there is no escaping this one. Today’s “we” is really as big a group as I have ever contemplated. So far, the “we” I can see has done a darn good job. Let’s be the “we” we want to see everywhere.

Lori Varlotta

President