As you have been hearing and reading, over the last year and a half, faculty and staff across campus have worked mightily in designing and implementing the Hiram College Strategic Plan 2017-2020. That plan and the future it aims to secure for our beloved Hiram College have just gotten a boost, that, until now, has been unimaginable.
The Chairman of the Hiram College Board of Trustees, Dean Scarborough ’77 and his wife Janice Bini have made a $6 million gift to accelerate items in the strategic plan that will attract new students, boost student retention, and leverage the strengths of academic programs that show potential for further growth. This multi-year cash gift, to be completed by 2020, is the largest single gift ever made to the College, surpassing the second largest single gift made last year by the same two donors to fund the Tech and Trek program.
While many colleges use the word “transformational” loosely, there is no better descriptor for a gift of this magnitude and the changes it will help to support. Truly, the hope and energy that this gift will generate is even more valuable than the dollars themselves.
Future-focused donors like Scarborough and Bini understand the importance of having gifts of this size to serve as investments: a “hand up” for future generations of students. Hence, this gift, like the Tech and Trek one they made last year, is a “growth gift” or an investment in Hiram’s future. As such, they have requested their funds be used to support areas that will increase both recruitment and retention and position Hiram for decades to come.
Towards those goals, Dean and Janice have earmarked monies to renovate student residence halls, upgrade health and science laboratories, enhance wireless connectivity and classroom technologies, and bolster Hiram’s business program. As part of the latter, Hiram will extend the B.A. in marketing degree it offers at Lakeland Community College to students in the Traditional College. That means that, starting this fall, new and current students can choose marketing as a major. There are other exciting enhancements to the Business program that will be forthcoming as well.
At the same time Dean and Janice are acutely aware and supportive of the academic redesign, a key effort in the strategic plan. Therefore, they have also set aside a portion of their gift to help launch some of the innovation proposals or related ideas stemming from the redesign. In their own words, Dean and Janice state that “this gift is a symbolic and material vote of confidence in the Hiram College of today and the strategic plan, including the academic redesign and other action items that plan elicits. It is a strong show of support for the process that aims to position Hiram as the New Liberal Arts.”
Words cannot express the gratitude that I, and I imagine so many of you, feel. Make no mistake about it: this gift, like all gifts to Hiram College, helps secure the future of your alma mater. Gifts of this magnitude add notoriety to Hiram and value to your degree(s)!
As alumni, I wanted you to be among the first to hear this good news. Later today, the news of this gift will be shared via social media. I encourage you to help spread the word of Dean and Janice’s generosity, and in turn promote your alma mater, by posting or tweeting the wonderful news with your own family and friends.
With deep appreciation to Dean and Janice,
Lori E. Varlotta