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Hamilton College
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Clinton NY 13323

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alumni@hamilton.edu
866-729-0314
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Alumni Association

1980 Bell Ringer Award

Presented to Karl H. Hinke ’27

He came to Hamilton from Auburn in the fall of 1923. An economics major at a time when the words “inflation” and “recession” had yet to make that discipline fashionable, he went to work for Marine Midland Bank after graduation in 1927. His first job in what proved to be a long and productive banking career- despite the inauspicious beginning afforded by the Great Depression of 1929- placed him in the back office of a Buffalo branch with responsibility for internal procedures and methods. Come the Second World War, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and was assigned to the Post Exchange as an auditor, where he eventually rose to the rank of captain. With a return to peace, he came home to Buffalo and Marine Midland. Thereafter, his rise was swift. By 1959, he had been named Senior Vice President in charge of business and development, from which position he came to oversee the company’s entire computer operation, even though he himself knew nothing about computers. Credit cards had also become an indispensable element of twentieth-century banking and, if Marine Midland were to keep pace with its competitors, it would have to design an internationally accepted charge system. The challenge fell to Mr. Hinke. By that time an Executive Vice President of the corporate organization, he came up with the Master Charge concept- a unique system open to every bank throughout the world and, for that reason, the most desirable system then available. So invaluable was his leadership at this juncture that, in 1967, he was made President of Interbank, the founding company for Master Charge. Following retirement in 1971, Karl has remained active in business as a private investor, operating with others in directing several smaller companies with declining balance sheets to more profitable status. To the many honors- both professional and civic- gained since Hamilton awarded him his Bachelor’s degree some 53 years ago, the Alumni Council now adds its own accolade, citing this alumnus for the many and varied accomplishments of a long and fruitful life.

Citation presented by
Chairman, Alumni Council
October 11, 1980

Cupola