Office of the President
Thomas V. Chema, President, Hiram College
Thomas V. Chema is the 21st President of Hiram. During his presidency, Hiram has experienced tremendous growth in enrollment, new programs and campus facilities, while enjoying increased visibility and an enhanced position in the higher education marketplace.
During Chema's presidency, which began in 2003, enrollment in Hiram's undergraduate program has increased by more than 50 percent with significant gains in out-of-state and minority student populations. Hiram's nationally respected profile has remained intact with an average ACT of 23 and grade point average of 3.3.
Concurrent with growth of the student body is growth in Hiram's academic program. New programs developed during Chema's presidency include distinctive majors in nursing and accounting as well as seven Centers of Distinction built on Hiram's historic strength in the liberal arts. In just its third year in existence, the nursing major has become one of the most popular majors at Hiram and the Centers of Distinction are attracting increased students, visibility, and philanthropic support.
The Hiram campus has also been transformed during the past nine years. New facilities include the $12 million Lester and Kathy Coleman Sports, Recreation & Fitness Center; a $7 million residence hall which serves as the home of Hiram's new Burton D. Morgan Entrepreneurship Center; reconstruction of the Mecca Church, home of Hiram's Garfield Institute for Public Leadership; expansion of the James H. Barrow Biology Field Station; and renovation of existing campus facilities to house a state-of-the-art nursing education facility and the Henry C. Gelbke Fine Arts Center. Recent construction projects include a $5 million dining hall and a student townhouse complex.
Additionally, Hiram has enjoyed steady growth in fundraising support and has experienced increases in the number of donors, average gift size, and alumni participation in annual giving. Positive trends also exist in the student retention and graduation rates.
Chema has increased Hiram's visibility by serving in a leadership role in a number of national higher education associations include the Council of Independent Colleges, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the Annapolis Group, and with Ohio-based organizations such as the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio, the North Coast Athletic Conference, and the Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges.
Chema was no stranger to Hiram when he became president having served as a voting member of the Hiram College Board of Trustees for 11 years and chairing the Institutional Advancement Committee. He brought to the Hiram presidency more than 30 years of experience in business, government, and law.
A native of East Liverpool, Ohio, Chema was a 1968 graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a 1971 Cum Laude graduate of Harvard Law School. He began his career with the Cleveland-based law firm of Arter & Hadden in 1971 and became a partner in 1979. He took a leave of absence in 1983 to serve as Executive Director of the Ohio Lottery Commission. In 1985, he was asked to become Chairman of the Ohio Public Utilities Commission.
In 1990, he was appointed Executive Director of the Gateway Economic Development Corporation and was responsible for overseeing the public/private partnership that led to the financing and construction of Progressive Field and Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. He then resumed his law practice and in recent years has consulted across the country on sports and entertainment-related economic development projects as President of Gateway Consultants Group, Inc.
Chema is recognized as an expert on energy and telecommunications economics and regulation, infrastructure planning, and developing public/private partnerships. He has published numerous articles on these topics and frequently lectures throughout the country, including assignments at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University.
He is a trustee of civic and charitable boards including Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation, Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine Health System, St. Ignatius High School, Ohio Hunger Task Force, Historic Gateway Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation, and Chair of the Board of UHHS/CSAHS-Cuyahoga and Kids Voting Program.
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