Hamilton College has opened a new center to support its increasingly diverse student population and named it for trustees Drew S. Days III and Arthur J. Massolo.
Although the center opened on the day honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the college will officially dedicate the building during its annual Volunteer Weekend in April.
The Days-Massolo Center will promote diversity awareness and foster dialogue among the growing number of cultures on the Hamilton campus. It fulfills a recommendation in the college’s 2009 Strategic Plan to create a center that “expands the dimension of a Hamilton education” and that engages “students and faculty members from all backgrounds in an ongoing examination of their similarities and differences.”
According to the Strategic Plan, “The [Hamilton] community will confront and engage most rewardingly with the issue of diversity when it is pursued not just as a social issue, but also as an intellectual one. Diversity thereby expands the breadth and augments the rigor of the intellectual life of the College.”
Hamilton President Joan Hinde Stewart said the center will serve an important function as American society changes and the college’s student population reflects the nation’s new demographic.
“Hamilton’s student body is very different from the student body of even 10 years ago,” Stewart said. “Our college is changing just as society is changing. Establishing the Days-Massolo Center is one way we are responding to an increasingly diverse student body on our campus.”
The Days-Massolo Center is located in the former Ferry Building on College Hill Road adjacent to the Afro-Latin Cultural Center and across the street from the Sadove Student Center. The first floor includes a large gathering space, study space, a fully equipped kitchen and an office for Professor of Africana Studies Donald Carter, the college’s chief diversity officer. The Womyn’s Center and two offices are located on the second floor.
Carter said Days and Massolo have drawn on their own experiences in life to foster a commitment to inclusiveness.
“Drew Days, once subjected to segregated schools, eventually worked to eliminate the very laws that prevented him from attending a local school,” Carter said. “Art Massolo grew up in a world where selected ethnic backgrounds like Italians were often subjected to various forms of discrimination and social exclusion. Understanding racial discrimination or ethnic discrimination in our past helps us to appreciate not only how far we have come but also how important it is for us to work diligently to create a more inclusive campus.”
Carter added: “Drew Days continues to devote his life to public service and a deeper understanding of social justice and the law, while Art Massolo developed a career working in a global economy in which his command of language and understanding of other cultures became an integral part of his ability to navigate a complex international business world. They share a great love of the college and unfailing support of our community. Both have lived and worked in environments where understanding social complexity was critical to the successful completion of business projects and scholarly works.”
Days graduated from Hamilton in 1963 with a major in English literature. While at Hamilton, he was a member of the Black and Latin Student Union, the College Choir and Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He earned a law degree from Yale University in 1966, joined a union-side labor law firm in Chicago and was admitted to the Bar in 1966. His Chicago law career was short-lived. After he met his future wife, they joined the Peace Corps in 1967 and served for two years organizing cooperatives in Honduras.
Returning to the U.S. in August 1969, Days joined the legal staff of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, litigating civil rights cases, principally in the South, including a case that desegregated his former school district in Tampa, Fla. He subsequently taught for two years at Temple University’s Law School. In March 1977, he was appointed U.S. Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights by President Jimmy Carter, serving until December 1980. A member of the faculty at the Yale Law School since January 1981, he took a leave of absence from 1993 to 1996 to serve as Solicitor General of the United States in the Clinton Administration Justice Department. Days first served as a member of the Hamilton Board of Trustees in 1986.
Fellow trustee Art Massolo also served in the Peace Corps. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Hamilton in 1964 with a degree in history and German, Massolo received a law degree from the University of Chicago and then served in Malaysia from 1967 to 1969. He returned to the U.S. and joined the First National Bank of Chicago where he worked until retiring in 1996 and starting Straticon, a consulting company specializing in international strategic planning. In addition to Malaysia, Massolo has lived in Denmark, Germany, Italy, Singapore, Indonesia, Panama and Brazil.
While in Chicago, Massolo was on the board and served as president of LINK Unlimited, a mentoring program that provides at-risk inner-city students with private school educations. His affiliation with LINK and his love for Hamilton led him to sponsor a number of students in order for them to attend his alma mater, and to establish a scholarship at Hamilton, named for his grandfather, for underprivileged students from the Chicago area who demonstrate promise. The first LINK student to attend Hamilton, Torrence Moore, graduated in 1992 and now serves alongside Massolo on the Hamilton Board of Trustees.
Massolo has served Hamilton as a Reunion Gift Committee member, Alumni Association officer, Career Center volunteer and Major Gifts Committee member. His son Arthur is a 1993 Hamilton graduate.
Hamilton students come from 49 states and 45 countries. Nearly one in four students is a multicultural student from the U.S. or an international student. Fifteen percent of the current first-year class is from the first generation in their family to attend college, and approximately half of the student body receives some form of financial aid. The college estimates that 50 languages are spoken on campus by students and faculty.