200 Days in the Life of the College

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

For an hour each week, her time is your time

By Nick Stagliano ’11

James Beslity ’11 has a problem, and he’s taking it to the top. “I have a 7-year-old sister who wants to be with my family on the Hill for Family Weekend, but also wants to be home trick-or-treating with her friends on Halloween,” Beslity tells a sympathetic listener as they sit across from one another in the Wellin Atrium of the Science Center. The dates have coincided for several years, he points out, “and it breaks my heart to have my sister choose between visiting me and staying home.”

“James, I absolutely hear you, and I understand,” says Joan Hinde Stewart, Hamilton’s president. “I will bring it up to the calendar committee, but it’s not just up to me. There’s so much going on in the fall, and there are only so many weekends.”

Beslity is one of many Hamiltonians taking advantage of the weekly Open Hour, when Stewart can be found in the atrium drinking “Opus’ fine coffee or tea” and welcoming guests to her table. Topics this afternoon run the gamut from Beslity’s concerns about Family Weekend to a request from Senior Gift Committee Co-Chair Angela LoSchiavo ’11 for suggestions from Stewart for the Class of 2011 Senior Gift.

The Open Hour tradition, begun by Stewart’s predecessor, Eugene Tobin, offers “an easy mechanism for students to talk to me without making an appointment to come to my office, and for spontaneity,” she says. She points out that she can’t always tell her visitors what they want to hear — “but then it’s invigorating when students stop by to tell me how much they love the College, or when they discuss their experiences abroad and the different perspectives it gives them on what we do here.”