Some would walk away with a sense of fulfillment: Mission accomplished. If you’re Hamilton College, though, you raise the bar and keep working.
That’s what the Board of Trustees decided to do this spring, after the College’s Bicentennial Initiatives campaign shot past its $117 million goal a full 16 months ahead of the campaign’s scheduled conclusion next June 30. The board voted in June to hold to the original schedule while raising the goal to $133 million. The campaign effort was the centerpiece of a record-shattering 2011-12 fiscal year in which the College raised $42.5 million, easily surpassing the 2006-07 mark of $30.8 million.
Bicentennial Initiatives is focused primarily on three objectives: endowed funds for need-blind financial aid, improved arts facilities, and unrestricted contributions for the annual operation of the College.
“Our objective was not to set a fundraising record, as nice as that may be,” says Jeff Little ’71, who serves as campaign chair as well as vice chair of the board. “This campaign was about meeting critical needs for the College. We asked our supporters to help us keep a Hamilton education affordable, with new resources for financial aid, and to help us upgrade facilities that are limiting the creative potential of students and faculty.
“They have responded generously despite a difficult economy, and we are very grateful.”
Among the campaign contributions is the largest gift in the College’s history, $16 million from the SunUp Foundation for scholarship aid, faculty research and new arts facilities. Hamilton alumnus Edward Taylor ’46 and his wife, Virginia, direct the foundation.
The College has taken another giant step toward completion of its extensive new arts complex, breaking ground July 20 on studio arts and theatre facilities. Along with the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art, completed this month and due to be dedicated during Fallcoming Weekend (Oct. 5-7), the $46.8 million theatre and studio arts spaces will transform the ways in which Hamilton students can explore and create, teachers can lead and engage, and alumni and the community can share in the life of the imagination.
A key part of the new facilities is a unique kind of studio art space — large common areas for classes and exhibitions, smaller workshops and studios surrounding those areas, and a new interdisciplinary, digitally based Studio for Trans-media Arts and Related Studies (STARS). The combined spaces far surpass the offerings of the List Art Center, which was built in 1970.
The new theatre will enable the department to expand its productions and provide students with vastly improved performance and teaching venues. “It will give more Hamilton students additional opportunity to acquire and practice the art of producing and acting,” said F. Eugene Romano ’49, who made a $2.8 million lead gift for the theatre. “I would like to see more Hamiltonians give their unique touch to Broadway.”
Construction is being carried out by the Charles A. Gaetano Construction Corp. of Utica and is expected to be complete in summer 2014.
Four retiring Hamilton professors with nearly a century and a half of service to the College among them — Professor of Anthropology Charlotte Beck; Jim Bradfield, the Elias W. Leavenworth Professor of Economics; Professor of Government Ted Eismeier; and Jay Williams ’54, the Walcott-Bartlett Professor of Religious Studies — were feted by Dean of Faculty Patrick Reynolds and their colleagues on May 16, at the academic year’s final faculty meeting.
Beck, at Hamilton since 1985, was honored not only as “a nationally and internationally known and well-respected archaeologist” and “one of the pioneers of the field of evolutionary archaeology,” but also as “one of the warmest and most supportive colleagues” at the College.
Bradfield, who arrived at Hamilton in 1976 and has authored two major economics textbooks as well as serving twice as associate dean of students, was recognized as “a teacher of the highest rank, a generous colleague and a caring friend.”
Eismeier, who joined the Government Department in 1978, was lauded as “tirelessly dedicated to his students” while serving the College in a variety of administrative and academic positions, publishing two books on American politics.
Williams, who returned to the Hill to teach six years after graduating, pioneered the expansion of the Religious Studies Program and has become a legend among alumni and students in teaching more than 30 different courses across more than five decades. “We and our students have had in Jay … a great model of the joy and expansiveness of learning and discovery,” a colleague said.
And another colleague’s tribute to Williams might be applied to each of the four: “I remember, in addition to Jay’s scholarship and teaching, his long contribution to the life of Hamilton. He is one of those faculty for whom Hamilton is a life, not a profession.”
Andrew Cohen has a string of dramatic successes on his football résumé, having helped build dominant defenses at Bowdoin College, Columbia University and Bucknell University over the last decade. The 1993 graduate of Marist College is also a veteran of coaching in academically prestigious conferences — NESCAC, the Ivy League and the Patriot League — and embraces a campus culture where true student-athletes are the rule rather than the exception.
That balance has earned Cohen his position as the new Mary Jayne Comey and Mac Bristol ‘43 Head Football Coach. He succeeds Steve Stetson, who stepped down in the spring to become Hamilton’s head coach of men’s and women’s golf after women’s golf was elevated from club status to become the College’s 29th varsity sport.
“Andrew Cohen is a high-energy and enthusiastic individual who will work hard to build on last season’s success,” Director of Athletics Jon Hind ’80 says. “He is creative and knowledgeable about all aspects of the game and is an excellent teacher, recruiter and motivator. Just as important, he embraces the NESCAC student-athlete philosophy and expects a lot from his players on the field, in the classroom and as part of the larger Hamilton community.”
“I am going to work extremely hard to make this one of the top programs in NESCAC year in and year out,” Cohen says. The defensive coordinator at Bowdoin since 2011, he raised the Polar Bears’ total defense from ninth to second in NESCAC in one season. He previously served as defensive coordinator, linebacker coach and defensive line coach in two stints at Bucknell and as defensive line coach at Columbia, where he helped direct the Ivy League’s top scoring defense in 2006.
Cohen also underscores the importance of continuity in the program’s culture. “I believe in creating a family atmosphere where past, present and future players will always feel a part of the program,” he says, “and I look forward to being part of the Hamilton and Clinton communities for many years to come.”
The Class of 2012’s Senior Gift will stand as a memorial to one of its own — Alex Paganelli ’12, who died following an auto accident near his Massachusetts home during winter break 2010.
The Alex Paganelli Memorial Class of 2012 Research Endowment, which will fund field research, preferably in the sciences, recalls Paganelli’s own chemistry concentration. “Pags” was also a member of the lacrosse team.
“I think the Senior Gift is important because it is a great way to cement our class legacy here at Hamilton,” Mallory Dawson ’12, who with Max Williams ’12 and Alexander DeMoulin ’12 chaired the Senior Gift Committee, told The Spectator. “I am especially pleased with our class’ choice of gift because it is such a great way to honor Pags’ memory while providing students with a great opportunity to pursue a particular interest or passion.”
The Senior Gift Campaign, which is managed by student volunteers with administrative support from the Office of Annual Giving, was established in 1982 and has reached a 90 percent participation rate by members of the senior class for 15 consecutive years.
Grady honored by nation’s coaches: Retired men’s hockey coach Phil Grady is joined by former players and coaches after Grady was honored by the American Hockey Coaches Association with its John MacInnes Award in April at its annual convention in Naples, Fla. The 30-year-old MacInnes Award recognizes those who have devoted themselves to amateur hockey not only by building winning teams but by helping their players grow as individuals. (From left) Bruce Delventhal ’71, former coach at Union and RIT, now treasurer of the AHCA and director of athletics at SUNY Plattsburgh; Paul Cannata ’89, coach at Milton (Mass.) Academy; Rob Haberbusch, coach at Hamilton; Brendon Knight, former Hamilton men’s assistant coach and women’s coach, now assistant women’s coach at Syracuse; Dominick Dawes, former Hamilton men’s assistant coach, now Neumann College coach; son Brian Grady ’00, former Hamilton men’s assistant coach, now Morrisville State College coach; Grady, who amassed more than 300 victories while coaching at Hamilton from 1984 until 2008; son Kevin Grady; and Gary Heenan ’98, head coach at Utica College. “I was shocked, completely surprised and very, very humbled” by the award, Grady told the Utica Observer-Dispatch. “It’s a tribute to the great student-athletes and great coaches I’ve had a chance to work with.”
Beginning this fall, Hamilton will offer an interdisciplinary program and minor in Middle East and Islamic world studies. The addition accompanies the region’s growing role in global politics and a similar growth in student interest.
In recent years, enrollments have increased in most courses related to this subject area, including those in language, literature, history and government. A fifth term of Arabic was added in 2010 due to student demand; a course in History of the Modern Middle East has grown steadily; and interest in Introduction to Arabic Literature was so great that a second session was added last semester. Current faculty members have the research interests and offer the courses necessary to establish a minor that addresses a broad range of related subjects.
An interdisciplinary minor, Middle East and Islamic world studies consists of five courses from each of three divisions: language and literature (Arabic or Hebrew); social sciences (government, history, economics and anthropology); and religious studies (Islam or Judaism).
A.G. Lafley ’69, who in addition to serving as chair of Hamilton’s Board of Trustees spent a few years running a little outfit called Procter & Gamble, had a chat with the Class of 2012 during the College’s bicentennial Commencement exercises on May 20. During his address, he imparted seven pieces of wisdom he’s picked up as a Hamilton student and alumnus, a Harvard Business School graduate, a U.S. Navy veteran and one of the business world’s most acclaimed and innovative CEOs.
They are, Lafley said, “a few things I wish I’d known when I sat where you’re sitting today.… Not so my life would have turned out differently — rather, to have helped me work through some of life’s twists and turns with less drama and stress.”
Here’s how excited Don Spencer ’59 was about traveling to the Hill for the Bicentennial Reunion Weekend: The former Morgantown, W.Va., deputy mayor and council member was the first of more than 2,000 alumni to arrive, reaching campus May 30 — a day before the official festivities began — in time to enjoy a Hamilton birthday cake on Dunham Green with employees.
And he traveled more than 500 miles to do it.
Spencer, a veteran cyclist who also does resistance training and yoga, trained with his 12-year-old grandson for the odyssey and was joined for most of the nine-day ride by a friend, Frank Gmeindl. They began by following an Underground Railroad route — “a reminder that issues of inclusivity are part of our history,” Spencer notes — from Pittsburgh to western New York. He’d hoped to then follow the Erie Canalway east, but time constraints forced him to use the parallel New York State Bike Route 5 instead. He got lost twice, including once near Baldwinsville, N.Y., during which he caught “a thunderstorm with all the extras, including some hail.”
Spencer deserved the slice of birthday cake that was waiting for him on the Hill; he had turned 76 on May 25, the fourth day of his ride. “I am lucky to have sufficient health and support from family and friends” to carry out such a trip, he said.
The largest alumni gathering in Hamilton’s 200-year history was literally one for the ages as graduates from all class years converged on the Hill for an unprecedented slate of events in the wake of the College’s May 26 bicentennial: more than 150 Bicentennial Colleges, tours, workshops, exhibits, fitness and sports events, dinners, receptions, performances and other activities.
Bicentennial Colleges ranged from domestic and global politics (Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack ’72 and congressional candidate and literacy advocate Christie Bell Vilsack K’72 discussing “A Life in Politics”; Edward “Ned” Walker ’62, former ambasassador to Egypt and Israel and the current Christian A. Johnson Distinguished Professor of Global Political Theory, speaking on “The Arab Spring and the Victory of Islamic Politics”) to math literacy (“We the People,” featuring civil rights activist and The Algebra Project founder Robert Moses ’56 with Hector Acevedo ’08 and Leide Cabral ’11 of The Young People’s Project) to a primer on antique collection (antiques auctioneer and appraiser John Nye ’87’s “You Put WHAT at the Curb? Mysteries of the Auction Business”) to sessions marking the 40th anniversary of the Kirkland College charter class, blacksmithing, the College’s historic fraternity houses, Hamilton athletics and — of course — the history of the College, led by Maurice Isserman, the Publius Virgilius Rogers Professor of American History and author of On the Hill: A Bicentennial History of Hamilton College.
Saturday’s events culminated with the Bicentennial Meeting of the Alumni Association — including the posthumous presentation of the Bell Ringer Award to longtime Trustee Patricia Tolles Smalley P’93, the Half-Century Annalist Letter by Ralph Oman ’62, P’04, and the awarding of an honorary degree to founding trustee Alexander Hamilton — and the traditional Reunion Parade, led by the Mohawk Valley Frasers. Sunday’s centerpiece was the traditional Service of Remembrace, featuring performances by the Baldwin and Reunion choirs.
Don Spencer, by the way, didn’t have to pedal home. He was joined on the Hill by his wife, Carol Hamblen, and caught a ride back to Morgantown with her after a stop at the gorges near Ithaca — to hike for three days.
— Contributing: Nora Grenfell ’12, Patrick Bedard ’14, Vige Barrie, Holly Foster, Jim Taylor, The Spectator.