Like any small community Hamilton is made up of many complex, inter-woven relationships. Many combinations of family members work here, making Hamilton a close-knit community. We sought out some of these relationships, their backgrounds and their connection to Hamilton, and share them here with you.
For our next issue of Around the Hill, we will explore what people do during the summer. If you’d like to share your vacation experiences, a good book to read, or a fun place to go, keep us in mind.
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In 1993, Meredith Harper Bonham applied for a position in the admission office based on the recommendation of a Hamilton friend with whom she had studied abroad. Unfortunately, she didn’t get the job. Instead, they offered it to a young Hamilton graduate named Jay Bonham. When a second position opened suddenly in September (prime admission travel season), Meredith quickly got an offer. Jay, in his second week on the job, was one of the people who had interviewed her. Meredith jokes, “I’d like to think that he influenced my getting the position but truthfully I think they were just desperate to hire anyone!”
Meredith Harper Bonham (Senior Associate Dean of Students for Strategic Initiatives) and Jay Bonham (Associate Dean of Admission), have both worked at Hamilton ever since, although they have both taken time off to pursue master’s degrees. Jay has worked in Admissions, Development (Planned Giving), and then Admissions again while Meredith has held positions in the Offices of Admission, Development, the President and now Student Affairs. They have not worked together since they married in 1997.
When asked if Hamilton pops up in life off the Hill, Meredith writes, “Our lives are integrally connected with the College, both professionally because of the nature of our jobs, but also socially connected with the many friends we have here. So, Hamilton is always with us.”
Health Center Office Coordinator Francine Vaughan and Athletic Grounds Foreperson John Vaughan are another couple who both work at Hamilton. In fact, it was John who first told his wife about the job opening. He thought it was a great place to work and wanted to make it a family affair. They had children at home and the 10-month Health Center position was perfect because it allowed Francine to be home with them during the summer. Francine notes, “My children are grown now, but I can still give that motherly advice and TLC to the students that come to our office and I very much enjoy that and them!”
When Francine began at Hamilton, John worked as a custodian and cleaned the health center in the morning before she arrived for work. Since then, John transferred to Athletic grounds and then was promoted to the Athletics Foreperson. Francine has been at Hamilton nearly 14 years and her husband John has 22 ½ years of service here.
As a foreperson, John receives a lot of calls after hours, both from his crew and the coaches. In addition, they share stories about their work days on our ride home or when Francine gets home. Francine adds, “Due to the different departments we are in, we always have different experiences and interactions with students and other employees of Hamilton.”
If you call the Technical Services Department of Burke Library and ask for either “Cindy” or “Ms. Stern” you may be directed to not one, not two, but three different people, all of whom are related. Serials Assistant Cynthia (Cindy) Stern and Technical Services Assistant Catharine (Cat) Stern are mother and daughter-in-law. In addition, Lucinda (Cindy) Savage, Assistant Cataloger, is Cat’s aunt.
Cat has been at the library 1 ½ years while her mother-in-law Cindy has been at Hamilton 14 ½ years. What made Cat want to take a job at Hamilton? She says “I knew it was a great place to work and that both Cindys were happy here. Knowing that they’ve had good experiences at Hamilton made me very interested in the position. I’m fortunate to see them so often, as family and work family!”
Lucinda (Cindy) Savage, Assistant Cataloger, has strong Hamilton roots. Her late husband Johnny (Scotty) Savage and his identical twin brother, Jimmy, worked side by side as Hamilton carpenters for over 20 years. Her grandfather, Judge William F. Dowling, was a Hamiltonian and eventually a trustee. He and his wife are buried in Hamilton’s cemetery. Cindy’s younger son, Andrew, graduated in the Class of 1985 and is an attorney for Yahoo! Inc., in San Jose, CA. He enjoyed his four years at Hamilton, which included a year at the University of Galway. Cindy says it’s very normal for her to have Cat working close by.
With all these relatives working together on the first floor of Burke, you may think that family holidays are full of “shop talk,” but no. Both Sterns say that while work may occasionally come up, they really try to focus on family when not on the clock.
1973 began a Hamilton College tradition for the Brady/Wood families. Deborah (Debby) Wood joined the College in Communications and Development in October of 1973, during Joe Anderson’s tenure. After working there a few years, Debby was offered the position of Print Shop Supervisor. She’s been in that position ever since.
In the spring of 1974 Diane Wood Brady came to Hamilton to complete a work-block in the Registrar’s Office while a student at MVCC. When a permanent opening came available for the work-block position, she applied and was hired. Diane has held several positions in the Registrar’s Office, including Acting Registrar for a short stint, and is currently a Staff Assistant for Registration.
1996 brought the third member of the family to the Hill. Yvonne Durant Brady not only saw an ad in the paper for a position in Hamilton’s Print Shop in 1996, but sister-in-law, Diane, told her about the position! Yvonne moved to C&D in 2001 to take the position of Accounts and Records Assistant.
When asked if Hamilton issues come up frequently outside of work, all three stated that they are mainly able to leave work behind. Children, family and outside hobbies, take up a good portion of their off time. Diane and Debby have a small herd of mini donkeys and Yvonne is involved in local history, currently holding the position of President of the Town of Marshall Historical Society.
Debby will have been here 40 years in October; Diane will be at 39 years this spring; and Yvonne is the youngster at 17 years for combined years of service of 96 years!!
Professor of Physics Brian Collett came to Hamilton in 1986 after applying in a nation-wide job search. His wife, Katherine, came with him. She taught as an adjunct professor in the English Department from 1987-2000, finding Hamilton the best, closest and most obvious option for her teaching career. Katherine started working in the Hamilton Archives in 2001 and is very happy to have transitioned into her current position as the college archivist.
Because they have to synchronize their schedules, they often talk outside of work about College issues and education issues related to Hamilton and to their children’s colleges. Brian, like all professors, never leaves Hamilton behind because he has labs, quizzes and homework to grade. Both find many of their leisure activities, like singing in the Masterworks Chorale, are related to Hamilton too.
For many college students, school breaks are a time to get away, but not for Lauren Michaels. Instead, summer and college breaks give her the opportunity to come to work with her mother, Linda Michaels, Senior Assistant to the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty. Linda has been a part of the Hamilton family for 22 years while her daughter has spent the last three summers working with Christian Goodwillie in Burke Library.
Linda frequently returns to the Hill after work to either walk in the glens, up the hill, or around campus with her dog. She also tries to take advantage of lectures and theatre productions. Lauren often joins her when she’s home from college.