The New Century Campaign, the largest fund-drive in the college's 185-year history, will conclude on June 30, 2001.
"This campaign is about preserving the unique quality of one of the nation's finest small colleges," said Campaign Chairman Jeff Little, a 1971 Hamilton graduate and the president of George Little Management Company. "It is also about providing leadership and vision for the liberal arts in America.
"To date," Little said, "we already have received gifts and pledges totaling $40 million."
Little said The New Century Campaign seeks to raise $31 million for student support, including $27 million for endowed scholarships; $14 million for faculty development, including $9 million for six new named professorships; $18 million to renew Hamilton's science facilities; $5 million for programs and facilities that support the Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center, Hamilton's undergraduate public policy think tank; and $15 million in unrestricted annual giving over the life of the campaign.
"Fundamentally, we are investing in the people -- students and faculty -- who give Hamilton its unique identity and purpose," Little said. During his remarks Saturday evening, Little praised the dedication of the Hamilton alumni who "The reward for our success," he told the audience, "is the next challenge."
In addition to Little, attendees heard from three Hamilton students who paid tribute to faculty mentors and alumni benefactors. An especially moving tribute was given by Ruth Gardner, a junior from Chicago.
"My parents have been the source of my passion for learning, my love of God, and my sense of who I am," she said. "In Chicago," she continued, "I am part of a program called Link Unlimited. Link supports connections between inner-city students and people who have been successful in life and want to give back. A Hamilton alumnus, Arthur Massolo, and his wife, Karen, chose to make a connection with me. He sponsored me through high school. From the moment I met him, he talked about the importance of good grades.
"He talked a lot about Hamilton," Gardner continued. "It was always obvious to him where I would go to college. Now I know why he thought that. This is a place where words matter, no matter what you study, or what you do, or who your friends are. It is a place where conversation and community count.
"I am grateful to Art Massolo for introducing me to Hamilton. I am grateful for his advice, friendship and encouragement."
In his remarks, college president Eugene M. Tobin paraphrased author Norman MacLean, who wrote, "Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it."
"For us," Tobin said, "eventually all the things in our lives merge into one, and a college -- this college -- runs through it."
Attendees also heard from Hamilton's Board Chairman Kevin Kennedy, a 1970 graduate of the college, and Elizabeth McCormack, one of the leading and most respected voices in American higher education and a long-time member of Hamilton's Board of Trustees. A former college president, McCormack is an associate with the Rockefeller Family and vice chair of the MacArthur Family Foundation.
In addition to the kickoff dinner during which the $83 million goal was announced, a series of events were held to highlight campaign objectives.
Specifically, the college sponsored a session on undergraduate science education, during which Sheila Tobias, a member of The Research Corporation, spoke and offered her views on the subject. Her talk was followed by a discussion of Hamilton's plans for its science curriculum and the facilities needed to support that curricular initiative.
Other special programs included a "Named Professorship Investiture Ceremony," during which Hamilton honored distinguished teaching at the college, and a dinner in celebration of student scholarships. Weekend guests also were invited to participate in classes and rehearsals, and to special presentations focused on the college's innovative career services program, the work of the Kirkland Project for the Study of Gender, Society and Culture, and the programs of The Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center.
The New Century Campaign is the largest fund-raising effort in Hamilton's history. It follows the Campaign for the '90s, which over the four-year period ending in June 1994 received gifts to the college totaling $69.5 million, more than $3 million over the campaign's original goal.