Former Secretary of Treasury Addresses National Debt

December 6, 2011

Discussions on the national debt have dominated news coverage over the past few months, and on Dec. 5, 2011, former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill, addressed the many issues and policies that have led to the current situation, as part of the Garfield Institute for Public Leadership’s Seminar Series.

“We’ve been creating this problem for a really long time,” O’Neill, who served as head of the Treasury in 2001-2002 under former President George W. Bush, told a full crowd. “We didn’t start it yesterday. We didn’t start it during the Bush administration.”

He outlined policies dating back as far as the implementation of Social Security in 1935, which have led the U.S. to acquire upwards of $15 trillion in debt.

From the implementation of Medicare Part D, to the mortgage crisis, to tax cuts in the past decade, O’Neill said debt has continued to compound recently, bringing the issue to the forefront.

O’Neill suggested the country needs architectural changes – restructuring the tax code instead of raising or cutting taxes – and implementing systems that yield improved outcomes and reduced costs in healthcare and education. Many of the solutions offered so far have failed to get to the root of the problem.

Problems in the education system – with 30 percent of 10-year-olds being unable to read, write or compute – and in the healthcare system – with 300 million medication errors each year – continue to be talked about, but not changed, he said.

Yet despite the need for big changes in the way things work, O’Neill dismissed talk that the U.S. is like Rome in the early stages of decline; rather, he believes the country is one great leader away from getting back on track.

“The good news is, we still hold a position in the world economy,” he said. “We still have the economic wherewithal to pay interest on outstanding debt.”

For more information on the Garfield Institute for Public Leadership, please visit its website.

Photo by Kasey-Samuel Adams. More photos of the event are available on Flickr.

Hinsdale Street Extension Opens

November 29, 2011

Hiram, Ohio – The long awaited opening of Hinsdale Road East connecting Hiram College’s upper campus to its sports complex and residential areas on the lower campus, will be marked with a grand opening ceremony at 9:30 a.m. December 1 at the intersection of State Rt. 700 and Hinsdale Street in Hiram Village.

Read more about the ribbon cutting ceremony.

The $355,000 project, begun this fall by the Ohio Department of Transportation, will allow vehicles to move east from Rt. 700 and connect to Winrock Road that serves the College’s lower campus, sports fields, townhouse residence halls and parking lots.

The College secured funding for the project, and oversaw the planning and construction in concert with the Village. The road will be formally turned over to the village as a dedicated street.

“This is unusual, because it is usually the public entity which plans and builds the road,” said College President  Thomas V. Chema. “This will really improve the flow of traffic and access to the campus.”


Author Receives First $1 Garfield Coin at Hiram Speech, Discusses Presidency that Could Have Been

November 17, 2011

James A. Garfield was only in office as U.S. president for 200 days, but author Candice Millard believes his impact could have been tremendous, had it not been for his untimely death.

“He had a very strong character, he knew his ideals, he had strong morals, and he could stand behind them,” Millard said of the 20th president, who attended Hiram College as a student and later served as college president when it was known as the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute. “It’s my guess that he would have done good things, had he been in office longer.”

Millard, the author of New York Times Best Seller “Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President,” spoke Nov. 16 in the Kennedy Center, about her book which centers on Garfield. The event was held in conjunction with the 180th anniversary of his birth (Nov. 19, 1831).

At the speech, Doug Brattebo, Director of the Center for Engaged Ethics, presented Millard with the first $1 U.S. coin commemorating Garfield. The coin was officially unveiled a day later (Nov. 17) at the James A. Garfield National Historic Site in Mentor.

“We thought it would be meaningful for her,” Brattebo said. “The (U.S.) Mint also thought that it would be quite appropriate, given that Candice Millard has done more to refocus appreciation for Garfield than any recent author.”

In an interview prior to her speech, Millard discussed how Garfield’s time at Hiram influenced his personal life and political career.

“He was extraordinarily devoted to education and to the classics,” Millard said. “That began here, really … That was a part of his life throughout his life, while he was in Congress and while he was in the presidency.”

Because academics were such a part of Garfield’s life, the college’s archives were one of the first places Millard came while conducting research for her book. She spent years researching Garfield’s letters and diaries, as well as news articles about his life and death, in order to portray him as a character, not just a historical figure.

“Destiny of the Republic” chronicles Garfield’s rise from extreme poverty to scholar, and then from Congressman to president. Millard said it takes a special type of person to do this and believes it was Garfield’s love of learning that helped him along the way.

“He realized that while he was (at Hiram): ‘This is something I’m really good at, that I love. Through it, I can pull myself out of poverty, I can make my life better, and maybe I can make other people’s lives better as well,’” Millard said.

While in Congress, he did make strides to better the country’s education by helping establish the first U.S. Department of Education. Millard said she has no doubt he would have continued to make those strides in the White House.

He would have been in a unique position as president, she said, because he didn’t want the job. Therefore, he could act on his own ideals, not campaign promises made to get elected.

“(At the convention) he stood up, he objected, but the votes just kept coming,” Millard said. “And he finds himself in … a very rare and unique position where he didn’t owe anyone anything. He could come, and he could do what he thought was right.”

Garfield’s time in office was cut short when Charles Guiteau, his would-be assassin, fired a shot at him in at a Washington, D.C. railroad station. The bullet did not damage any vital organs, and Millard said such an injury today would garner a few days of hospitalization and full recovery.

For Garfield, though, it meant days upon days of desperate attempts dislodge the bullet without using modern day sanitation. It involved help from inventor Alexander Graham Bell, who dropped his career in its tracks to develop technology that would locate the bullet. But it was to no avail, as Garfield died of an infection 80 days after being shot.

Though Garfield is often lumped into a group of late-nineteenth century presidents that get little mention in history books, Millard said he and the rest of them have an important place in history. Garfield was respected by the North and South and by slave owners and former slaves, something she said was unusual for a post-Civil War president.

“The country was so deeply divided at the time, but his death brought the country together in a way that we hadn’t seen since the Civil War,” she said. “Because his death was their loss, they grieved together.”

On-Demand Driving Service Idea Takes First Place in ‘ideablitz!’

November 4, 2011

More than 40 students presented their entrepreneurial ideas to a panel of judges this week at the third annual ideablitz! competition, hosted by the Center for Integrated Entrepreneurship.

On Nov. 2, 2011, the students presenting had five minutes to present their idea, followed by three minutes of questions from the judges. Ideas were judged on concept, market need, technological and competitive attributes, pricing, uniqueness and presentation. This was the largest ideablitz! to date, with ideas ranging from the food industry, new product manufacturing, alternative energy and social services.

All participants received feedback about their concepts and presentation, and three levels of prizes were awarded. The third place winner received $500, the second place winner received $1000 and the first place winner received $2000.

The first place winner was the group Worry Free D.D., who developed an idea to provide an on-demand driving service that delivers individuals and their vehicles safely back to their intended destination. In this group were Harrison Dickerhoof ’15, Oliver Dickerhoof ’12, Christian Dowdy ’15, Isaiah Gwynn ’14 and Tiffany Shields ’12.

The second place prize went to the group The Weighted Cleat, who developed an idea about an enhanced athletic shoe designed to improve strength and agility. In this group were Dario Pelemis ’15, Jeff Schofield ’15, Jayveer Sodiwal ’15 and Kamron Patterson ‘15 (not present at the competition).

Third place winners, Mifi Menu Software, developed a concept that could make going to your favorite fast food place and ordering from your vehicle even more convenient. In this group were Claudia Allen ‘15, Maryann Frank ‘14, Elidia Hernandez ’15, Kyle Meggas ’15 and Curtis Webster ‘15.

Judging for this year’s competition were Scott Altman, Managing Director of Wells Fargo Bank Investments; Dar Caldwell, Founder and Managing Partner of Launchhouse; Matt Minarik, President of Hi-Q Group; Daniel Moss, Owner of UnSwing; and Chris Romeo, Owner of Attention to Detail.

The Center for Integrated Entrepreneurship congratulates all contestants for their hard work and excellent effort in this competition. For more information about ideablitz! please contact David Kukurza, 330-569-5480,, Hiram College, Hiram, OH 44234.

Grant to Fund Creation of ‘Smart House’

November 2, 2011

Hiram will be taking one more step toward becoming “green” in coming months, as plans are in place to create a “smart house” near campus.

Hiram’s President Thomas V. Chema said a residence near the campus would be converted into the home of the Environmental Studies Department, and will be renovated using available technology and materials to make it energy efficient and environmentally sustainable. A committee is studying a number of homes owned by the College to determine which would be best to use for the project.

“The house will be different from the new construction smart houses you may have seen recently,” Chema said. “Those usually have been million dollar demonstration projects that are supported by businesses that contribute the materials or technology, but this one will be using technology and materials that are available to ordinary families.”

The project was made possible using a portion of the funds from a $383,612 grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation. The Board of Trustees approved using $95,000 of the grant on the smart house development. The remainder will be added to Hiram’s endowment, where it will be used to establish a student scholars program, and to support an annual lecture series on significant environmental and other subjects. The College has added several environmental studies programs to its curriculum this year, as well as faculty members. Next year, plans are to offer advanced environmental studies courses as one of several ventures by the College into extended learning in conjunction with area community colleges.

Hiram College has committed to making itself as environmentally sustainable and energy efficient as possible. Last year the school installed solar panels on the roof of the Les and Kathy Coleman Sports Center, which has been generating some of the electricity needed to operate the building. Other developments are in the works, including possible development of a larger solar array that would create up to one megawatt of power, enough to power a significant portion of the College.

PHOTOS: The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Oct. 21-29)

October 27, 2011

The theatre arts department’s production of “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot” opened to a full house Oct. 21, and it continues Friday, Oct. 28 at 7:30 and 10:30 p.m., and Saturday, Oct 29 at 7:30 p.m. Read more

Course Explores Autism Through Performance

October 12, 2011

Autism isn’t something that’s “wrong” with an individual.

It doesn’t equate to stupidity.

And its symptoms are evident in all of us.

Those messages are among what students in a new course hope to convey to the public as a result of their studies this semester.

Students Cara Battaglia ’12 (theatre arts), Allison Fox ’13 (accelerated biomedical humanities) and Amy Morton ’13 (integrated language arts), are enrolled in the new course “Exploration of Disease by Performance: Autism,” taught by Brittany Jackson ‘04, assistant director of the Center for Literature, Medicine and Biomedical Humanities.

The course is structured more as a project; students spent the few weeks of the semester reading fiction and nonfiction literature about autism; they are currently getting ready to interview people with autism and their relatives; and the last few weeks of the semester will be spent writing a play exploring the condition. Then, next semester, the students will perform the play at local high schools, libraries and other venues.

The idea for the course stemmed out of a conversation between Jackson and chemistry professor Colleen Fried, about getting medical students involved in theatre.

With Fried being on sabbatical this semester, Jackson took over the trial run of the class with a small group of students. In the future, they hope to expand the class and make it a staple of the Center for Literature, Medicine and Biomedical Humanities, exploring a different disease each year.

Among the works the students have read so far are “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” by Mark Hadden, a fictional novel whose protagonist is a young man with autism, and “Aquamarine Blue 5,” a compilation of essays by college students with autism.

And they say they’ve already developed a deeper understanding of autism spectrum disorder.

“Very early in my life, my perceptions of autism were that it frightened me,” Battaglia said. “I have a distant relative on the spectrum. When I was little, she scared me, but as I’ve grown, I’ve learned to know that that’s not necessarily the case. I’ve definitely learned a lot more since starting this project.”

They’ve also developed strong ideas that autism isn’t black and white, affecting only certain individuals. Its symptoms, they believe, affect the whole human race.

“I don’t think there’s a single person who can claim that they’ve never experienced social awkwardness or attachment to their own ideas about what needs to be right about their environment,” Morton said. “And I think a lot of times, we like to ignore those qualities about ourselves.”

Fox agreed, adding that people have exaggerated the differences between individuals diagnosed with autism and neurotypicals (those not on the autism spectrum).

“Because there’s so much variation in people with autism and because there’s so much variation in diagnosis, and everything else, we’ve come up with this phrase that everybody is on the spectrum,” Fox said.

As they move into the next phase of the class – the interview phase – Fox said she is looking forward to learning first-hand from those who have been diagnosed.

“I’m excited to get the human answers to all the questions that I have – and not just the research answers,” she said. “I’m excited to see the behaviors and things that we’ve talked about, and see that these are real-life things going on and not just words on a page.”

And looking ahead, Jackson said she can’t wait to see what kind of performance piece the students come up with. She said the combination of students from three different majors has led to a compelling exchange of ideas and she knows the result will be high-quality and successful in raising awareness about autism.

“They’ve been amazing,” she said. “They’ve taught me throughout this process, and they’ve come up with some insights that I would have never come up with.”

Allison Fox

Amy Morton

Cara Battaglia

WEC Student Wins Best Undergraduate Paper at Communication Conference

October 6, 2011

Adam Earnheardt (left), Ohio Communication Association Executive Director, and Sheida Shirvani, Ohio Communication Association President, present the award for “Top Undergraduate Paper” to WEC student Zack Sunderman (right), at the 2011 OCA Conference.

Zack Sunderman ’12 recently received the honor of Top Undergraduate Paper at the the 2011 Ohio Communication Association Conference.

Sunderman, a Weekend College student, originally wrote the paper “Rhetorical Justice: Bush Administration Fear Appeals and the Justification of Human Rights Violations Committed by the United States” for his class, Political and Popular Representations of War, taught by Cyndy Willis-Chun, assistant professor of communication.

But knowing his future goals – and that the paper had a great chance to be accepted into the conference – Willis-Chun encouraged him to submit it. Not only was he accepted, but he earned the honor of “Top Undergraduate Paper.”

The paper Sunderman presented at the conference on Oct. 1-2, at the University of Findlay, explored speeches by former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney surrounding Guantanamo Bay and the War on Terror.

“A lot of the policies they’ve used in doing this have been illegal, or at least immoral, and are plainly against international human rights standards,”  he said. “I was basically looking to see how did they justify that, how did they sell that to the public.

“And I found that they seized a lot on fear. The gist of it would be, ‘If we don’t do this, we’re all gonna die.’ That’s how they approached it. So I did an analysis of those two speeches, and ways that fear was used to justify what would never normally be considered okay.”

This topic lies within Sunderman’s main interests, which are political, commercial and religious influential communication. He is writing his senior seminar paper on religious attack ads used in the 2010 Ohio state treasurer race. He said much of his undergraduate work has been influenced by the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, but expects to broaden his research as he goes on to graduate school.

“I was in high school when 9/11 happened,” he said. “I feel like it didn’t have that big of an impact on me, but the more I see how it’s affected how politics have worked, and how people have talked in the media, and how the public has perceived this whole thing, it’s really started to interest me even more.”

Sunderman will graduate from Hiram in May 2012 with a degree in social sciences and concentration in communication. He hopes to go on to earn his Ph.D. in rhetorical communication after taking about a year off, and then teach at the college level. Willis-Chun said it’s important for future professors to get experience presenting their work early on, and that it is partially the reason she encouraged him to do it.

Jon Gordon, associate professor of communication, has also taught Sunderman in communication courses, and said his strength lies in his ability to relate information in one subject to topics across the board – the heart of the liberal arts education Hiram values.

“He just gets it,” Gordon said. “He’s able to pull things from many different backgrounds.”

Willis-Chun said Sunderman’s success in the classroom is especially notable because he has maintained a full time job throughout his studies. Sunderman, who lives in Warren, works as a paralegal in Mentor. Until this semester, he worked five days a week, and then attended class at Hiram on the weekends. That required about three hours of driving each day of the week, and he admits he doesn’t know how he kept up with everything.

“I guess I just really care about getting this done, I really want to do it, and I’m really driven to do it well,” he said. “If I’m here, I’m not going to cut corners. I have to get it done.”

This semester, he decided to complete a senior seminar. This research-intensive course is required for traditional undergraduates, but not Weekend College students; however, Sunderman wanted to do take it anyway. That required him to attend class during the week and take two days off work. He admits it was a tough decision, but one that he knew would benefit him in the future. He credits the Weekend College’s personal touch for allowing him to succeed in his chosen path.

“I always feel like someone knows what I’m doing, why I’m doing it and what I should be doing next,” he said. “I just feel like it matters that I’m here.”

Celebration of Research: Hands-on Learning at Work

September 27, 2011

Learning at Hiram doesn’t stop between classroom walls, after classes end at 4 p.m., or even after the last day of school. The Hiram kind of learning – hands-on learning – is lifelong.

At the Celebration of Research on Sept. 26, the College celebrated the hands-on learning, research and internships that students completed, mostly over the summer months.

From completing on-campus research alongside professors, to working in a new city or state in his or her chosen field, the students’ experiences were wide-ranging.

Students who participated in the Celebration of Research prepared a poster board of their research or internship and presented their experience to students, faculty and staff. The following is a sampling of their presentations:

Senior physics major Sambid Wasti: Local Structure in Hard Sphere Chain Molecule Fluids

Research: We worked on a model of polymers. Our model specifically specializes in the study of a Hard-Sphere chain and fluids. We look at the physical behavior of the model. We run a Simulation known as Monte-Carlo simulations and use different techniques to run the simulation and get the results.

How has the opportunity to participate in hands-on learning enhanced your education at Hiram?

Right now there is a lot of research being done in the field of various sciences using computer simulation. Doing the simulation provided me with a great opportunity and experience in this kind of research. Moreover, it increased my interest in the subject.

Senior history major Leah P. Christopher: Ending Modern Day Slavery: Trafficking in Persons Reports (Washington, D.C.)

Research: I was given the opportunity to conduct my research with The Protection Project (Washington, D.C.), where I was a research associate. During my time with The Protection Project, I conducted research on the Human Trafficking problem in various countries. I also edited and drafted reports on countries problems and efforts to suppress and prevent human trafficking. I took part in International Law where I researched and wrote speeches and question for various events, some of which are published in The Protection Project’s Journal of Human Rights and Civil Society Vol. III.

How has the opportunity to participate in hands-on learning enhanced your education at Hiram?

This opportunity was presented to me in the Fall of 2009, when a Washington Center For Academics and Seminars representative was on campus. After talking with the representative I decided that the Washington Center program was a good fit for me, so I applied to their International Affairs program, where I would spend my Fall 2010 Academic year. This opportunity  has enhanced my education at Hiram, as it brought my attention to the pandemic issue, especially its impact right here in Ohio. I am currently working with a few professors and students to begin a Human Trafficking Community Vigilance Committee to get this important issue on the minds of others in the Hiram community.

Senior biology major Tim Luttermoser: A Tale of Two Bees: Nesting and Foraging Behaviors of Solitary Bees

Research: My research this summer was focused on foraging and nesting behaviors of solitary bees in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon. I spent many hours observing adults flying from flower to flower and noting their behavior. I also dug up several nests and dissected their contents to see what kind of nests the bees were constructing underground, and any potential parasites on them.
How has the opportunity to participate in hands-on learning enhanced your education at Hiram?

While I’ve known for years that I wanted to do field research for a living, it’s not until I was actually out in the field, staring at the same patch of ground for hours at a time and enjoying it, that I was truly sure this was the right career for me. My classes on campus have been important and have prepared me well, but nothing has gotten me ready to do research for a living like actually doing research. I have a much greater idea of what grad school is going to be like, and how best to get into grad school, after this past summer.

Junior biology and environmental studies major Ariel Pund: Fostering Wetland Improvement and Education through Development of the Frohring Wetlands

Research: This summer I worked on creating and developing wetlands on the James H. Barrow Field Station property.  The project was funded by the Frohring Foundation.  The goal of the project was to relieve some of the stress the other bodies of water receive on the property due to the educational programs.  The entire property was analyzed for the quantity and quality of wetlands on the property.  By the end of the ten-week experience, two wetlands were determined for further development and restoration and construction plans were created for one entirely new wetland on the property.

How has the opportunity to participate in hands-on learning enhanced your education at Hiram?

Hands on learning is absolutely essential in my Hiram education.  I don’t ever plan on having a sit-down office job and I want to be prepared to do real research and field work after I graduate from Hiram. My research was one of my first steps in building my resume to get a job in the field.  My dream would be to work on rainforest conservation, but I also hope to be involved in field work with the Summit Metropark System.

Hiram Relay for Life Earns Rookie of the Year Title

September 26, 2011

After a year of planning, fundraising and endless enthusiasm, hard work has paid off for Hiram’s Relay for Life.

Despite being the smallest college to host a Relay for Life event in the East Central Division, Hiram earned the title Rookie of the Year, for having the top performing event out of colleges in Ohio and Pennsylvania hosting Relay for Life for the first time in 2011.

Co-chair Jamie Zychowski ’12, attended a conference with other division colleges on Sept. 24, where she received the news. She said the award was based not just on money raised (they had just over $28,000), but enthusiasm, effort, activities and participants as well.

Jamie and her sister and co-chair Rose ’13 set an initial goal of raising $25,000 for cancer research. After the actual event, which took place April 1-2, 2011, they had raised a good portion of that – $20,000. They reached their $25,000 goal in early summer, and the American Cancer Society, which hosts Relay for Life events throughout the world, then notified them they were in the running for Rookie of the Year in their division.

And when they heard that, there was no question: They would make every effort to win that honor.

“We didn’t know how people would respond since we had been raising money all year,” Jamie said. “So we were a little nervous to keep asking.”

But once the word got out that Hiram’s Relay for Life was in the running for winning Rookie of the Year, online chair Zach Fincham ’13, said everybody on campus wanted to see them win.

“We were getting e-mails left and right about where we were in the running,” he said, “and we didn’t know.”

Rose said having such a successful turnout in the event’s first year had a lot to do with building a community around it.

“We made it the thing to do on campus,” she said. “Nobody really knew what it was, so we were going off of a blank slate. We went into it being so enthusiastic, saying, ‘This is the cool thing to do, come do it.’”

They also didn’t try to mimic big schools who put on Relay for Life events with hundreds of teams – they made the event “Hiram’s Relay,” according to Jamie.

One way they did that was by involving faculty and staff. Jamie said Hiram was the only school at the conference she attended with high involvement beyond just students, and that faculty and staff deserve a lot of credit for the money raised.

Looking ahead, the Zychowski sisters and Fincham have set Saturday, May 5, 2012, as this year’s Relay for Life date. The theme will be Celebrations From Around the World, and teams will each choose a country to represent themselves. They are expanding the event from 18 to a full 24 hours, and are hoping for more involvement from the Hiram community – not just the College. They’re also looking to do more fundraising, recruit more teams and generate more overall interest, now that year one is behind them.

“We’re really excited,” Jamie said. “We’re going bigger and better this year.”

Hiram Relay for Life will have its first involvement meeting Monday, Oct. 3, at 6:30 p.m. on the second floor of the Kennedy Center. The Zychowskis are hoping to build a strong underclassmen base so that the event can go on after they graduate.

“We don’t want Relay to just be while we’re here,” Rose said, “we want it to be a lasting thing.”

Related articles:

Hiram community makes all-night quest for cancer research, April 4, 2011

Relay for Life Schedule of Events, March 31, 2011

Hiram Relay for Life Steps Off April 1, March 16, 2011


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